Do you think sexual assaults have really increased? I don’t. I think those assaulted – it isn’t always women – are becoming braver about reporting the assaults. Until now, reporting a sexual assault has not resulted in the investigation of the assault, but has often resulted beating up the victim, especially if the one committing assault has friends in high places. The lower-ranking assault victim faces insults, lack of interest, friendly advice to just let it drop, and accusations that it was a ‘relationship.’ I’d like to believe that while the change is slow, and a long time coming, there is a change which will rein in some of these arrogant aggressors.
WASHINGTON — The sexual battery arrest of the Air Force officer who led the service’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit underscores how far the Defense Department has to go in addressing the plague of sexual crimes in the military, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told a committee hearing that a Pentagon report to be released later Tuesday reportedly estimates that, on average, there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day.
Authorities in Arlington County, Va., said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was charged with groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot on Sunday. Krusinski was removed from his post in the sexual assault unit after the Air Force learned of his arrest. He started in the post in February
“While under our legal system everyone is innocent until proven guilty, this arrest speaks volumes about the status and effectiveness of (the Defense) department’s efforts to address the plague of sexual assaults in the military,” Levin said.
The Pentagon report says that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, while the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, based on anonymous surveys, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the report.
Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force’s chief of staff, told the committee that he and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley were “appalled” by Krusinki’s arrest. Although the case is being adjudicated by the Arlington County police, Welsh said the Air Force has requested jurisdiction.
A police report said that the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman’s breast and buttocks. The woman fought him off and called police, the report said.
The Arlington County Sheriff’s office said Krusinski was released Sunday on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has spoken with Donley about the matter and “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.
Two cases involving decisions by three-star generals to overturn guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases have outraged members of Congress and propelled a bipartisan push to change the military justice system to essentially strip commanding officers of their ability to reverse criminal convictions.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command, until the Missouri Democrat gets more information about Helms’ decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.
Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, overturned the conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Wilkerson had been found guilty last Nov. 2 of charges of abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and three instances of conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. The incident had involved a civilian employee.
May 7, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Leadership, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Statistics, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | rape, Sexual assault, sexual crimes, US Military | Leave a Comment
From today’s Kuwait Times . . . .
KUWAIT: The government has sent a draft law to the parliament stipulating an increase in fees collected from expatriate residents for using public services in Kuwait, a senior state official said in statements reported yesterday by the local press.
Minister of Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah further indicated that the proposal is currently under review primarily to ensure it was in keeping with the constitution. “The state pays KD6 billion to subsidize public services, including electricity and water, while only KD2 billion of it is the average share of Kuwaitis,” he told a gathering of third constituency women voters at MP Ahmad Al-Mulaifi’s dewaniya on Monday night.
He also termed the remaining KD4 billion, a cost which supposedly the government bears for services used by expatriates, “a burden on the state.” Al-Sabah, who is also the State Minister for Municipality Affairs, added that similar steps have been adopted in the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council states to increase the state revenue from expatriates. “Unfortunately, Kuwait’s law prohibits the government from increasing the fees unilaterally,” he said, referring to regulations which stipulate that such decisions must be passed by the parliament before becoming effective.
The minister’s statement is the latest turn in the government’s efforts seen targeted at the country’s expatriate community which comprises two thirds of the population, including a Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor announcement to deport 100,000 foreigners annually as part of a ‘demographic balance restoration plan’; the details of which are yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Assistant for Traffic Affairs in the Interior Ministry, Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali, announced that 213 expats were deported in the past few days for committing ‘grave’ traffic violations. In this regard, Al-Ali told Al-Rai on Tuesday that deportations only happen in cases where people have a record of repeated violations. “An expatriate who commits the same violation over and over again must be deported in the public interest,” he said, calling a person in this case as “abnormal” and “untreatable.” According to the ministry, the violations warranting deportation include driving without a driver’s license, jumping the red traffic light for a second time, using private vehicles to carry passengers and exceeding speed limits by 40 km. Al-Ali refuted the notion that the recent deportations were connected to the MSAL’s plan mentioned above.
Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rashidi had indicated that the annual deportation plan, through which the government hopes to deport a million foreigners in ten years, is chiefly going to target ‘marginal labor forces’ or workers who usually accept menial jobs and often live without valid visas.
Such workers are often the victim of visa traffickers who exploit loopholes in the ministry’s system to release work permits in the name of fake companies or nonexistent job openings, and then sell them to unskilled labor forces looking for a chance to work in the oil-rich Gulf region. The system is based on the kafala (sponsorship of foreign workers) program which is often criticized by international organizations for human right violations recorded in Kuwait and the entire region.
On a related note, Al-Rai reported yesterday that the social affairs and interior ministries are studying the possibility of creating an ‘amnesty period’ during the summer to allow illegal residents to leave Kuwait or obtain a new visa without paying the cumulative fines.
Anonymous sources were quoted in the report as saying that the project depends on the two ministries’ ability to “plug some loopholes” which could make violators irresponsive to it. “For example, we cannot expect Bangladeshi nationals staying illegally in Kuwait to leave when they know that they will be banned by law in this case from ever returning to Kuwait,” one source explained. “There are violators who become stuck in Kuwait due to circumstances in their home countries combined with regulations that prevent them from issuing a residency in Kuwait.
Legal obstacles in similar cases need to be removed before an amnesty period is announced,” the source added.
I have had wonderful women who have worked for me; they were from the Philippines, from Sri Lanka, from India. They worked hard and they didn’t spend their money. They sent their money home to help support mothers, fathers, siblings, children. They had some real horror stories to tell about how they had been treated in prior employment – employers with jealous wives, touchy-feelie employers and their sons, people who seemed to assume that because they were working under their sponsorship, they owned their lives. In Qatar and in Kuwait, Labor law provides for a mandatory day off – except for house-workers. Some work from crack of dawn getting the children ready for school until the last thobe is ironed, late late in the night.
I did a little research. Here is what 38 Euros per month – slave wages – is worth:
$50.13 US Dollars (Minimum wage $7.25/hour + social security)
Qatari Rial 182.52 (Qatar has not set a minimum wage)
Kuwaiti Dinar 14.24 (Minimum wage = 60 KD per month)
Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned as “slave labour” the work conditions of victims of a factory collapse in Bangladesh in which more than 400 people have been found dead, Vatican radio reported.
“A headline that really struck me on the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh was ‘Living on 38 euros a month’. That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour,” the pope was quoted as saying at a private mass.
“Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us — the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!” he said.
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!” he was quoted as saying.
“There are many people who want to work but cannot. When a society is organised in a way that not everyone is given the chance to work, that society is not just,” he said.
Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.
If you have the time for some fascinating reading, it’s all available on the internet at the US State Departments Human Rights website; you can access by clicking here. Read – or skip – the overview, then go to the second column where you can see what is happening in every individual country. I’ve printed out labor excerpts below, but there are also fascinating observations on leadership, government, human rights and human trafficking.
QATAR: Labor Conditions according to
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law does not adequately protect the right of workers to form and join independent unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, a situation that made the exercise of these rights difficult. The law provides workers in private sector enterprises that have 100 citizen workers who are18 and older a limited right to organize, strike, and bargain collectively. For those few workers covered by the law protecting the right to collective bargaining, the government circumscribed the right to bargain collectively through its control over the rules and procedures of the bargaining and agreement processes. The labor code allows for only one trade union, the General Union of Workers of Qatar (General Union), which was composed of general committees for workers in various trades or industries. Trade or industry committees were composed of worker committees at the individual firm level.
Noncitizens are not eligible to join worker committees or the national union, effectively banning foreign workers from organizing, striking, or bargaining collectively. The law explicitly prohibits public sector workers or the military from organizing.
Civil servants and domestic workers do not have the right to strike; the law also prohibits strikes at public utilities and health or security service facilities, which include the gas, petroleum, and transportation sectors. Although the law recognizes the right to strike for some workers, restrictive conditions made the likelihood of a legal strike extremely remote. The law requires approval for a strike by three-fourths of a company’s workers committee. The Complaint Department of the Ministry of Labor in coordination with the Ministry of Interior must rule on all industrial disputes before workers can call a strike.
In organizations with more than 30 workers, the law permits the establishment of “joint committees” with an equal number of worker and management representatives to deal with a limited number of workplace issues. Foreign workers may be members of joint labor-management committees. The law offers a means to file collective disputes. If not settled internally between the employees and employer, the Ministry of Labor can be brought in to mediate a solution to such disputes.
The law requires Ministry of Labor approval for worker organizations to affiliate with groups outside the country. The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination or provide for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were not respected in practice. The General Union was not a functioning entity. Employees could not freely practice collective bargaining, and there were no workers under collective bargaining contracts. While rare, when labor unrest occurred, mostly involving the country’s overwhelmingly foreign workforce, the government responded by dispatching large numbers of police to the work sites or labor camps involved; the strikes generally ended peacefully after these shows of force. In most cases the government summarily deported the workers’ leaders and organizers. For example, on January 24, 127 Nepali workers were detained after they went on strike to protest low pay; some were later deported.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and the government generally enforced the law.
The government made efforts to prevent and eliminate forced labor during the year. The government arrested and prosecuted individuals for labor law violations; two cases each of forced labor and bonded labor were before courts at year’s end. In addition the government closed 15 recruitment firms during the year. The QFCHT and the NHRC conducted several training sessions during the year for migrant laborers to educate them on their rights in the country. The NHRC printed and distributed pamphlets that included pertinent articles of the labor and sponsorship laws in multiple languages to better educate migrant workers on their rights. In addition the Ministry of Labor opened a free legal clinic for low-income migrant workers in March.
There were continuing indications of forced labor, especially in the construction and domestic labor sectors, which disproportionately affected migrant workers. Exorbitant recruitment fees incurred abroad entrapped many workers in long-term debt, making them more vulnerable to being exploited for forced labor. Some foreign workers who voluntarily entered the country to work had their passports and pay withheld, were refused exit permits, and worked under conditions to which they had not agreed. In a critical June report, Human Rights Watch highlighted a number of these problems, including poor living conditions, employers who routinely confiscated worker passports, and a sponsorship system that gave employers inordinate control of workers.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law sets the minimum age for employment at 16 and stipulates that minors between the ages of 16 and 18 can work with parental or guardian permission. Minors may not work more than six hours a day or more than 36 hours a week. Employers must provide the Labor Department with the names and occupations of their minor employees and obtain permission from the Ministry of Education to hire a minor. The Labor Department may prohibit the employment of minors in jobs judged dangerous to their health, safety, or morals. The government generally enforced relevant laws effectively, and child labor rarely occurred in practice.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no minimum wage. The law requires equal pay for equal work in the private sector. The labor law prescribes a 48-hour workweek with a 24-hour rest period and paid annual leave days. Employees who work more than 48 hours per week or 36 hours per week during the holy month of Ramadan are entitled to an overtime pay supplement of at least a 25 percent. The law requires premium pay for overtime and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. The government set occupational health and safety standards. The labor law and provisions for acceptable conditions of work do not apply to workers in the public sector, agriculture, or to domestic servants.
Responsibility for laws related to acceptable conditions of work fell primarily to the Ministry of Labor as well as the Ministry of Energy and Industry and the Ministry of Health. The government did not effectively enforce standards in all sectors; working conditions for citizens were generally adequate, as government agencies and the major private sector companies employing them generally followed relevant laws. Enforcement problems were in part due to insufficient training and lack of personnel. There were approximately 150 inspectors in the Ministry of Labor. Fear of penalties such as blacklisting, which allows the Ministry of Labor to suspend specific operations, appeared to have had some effect as a deterrent to some labor law violations.
The government took action to prevent violations and improve working conditions during the year. According to foreign diplomats and some individual migrant workers, the Ministry of Labor’s Department of Labor Affairs was perceived to be objective within its mandate when dealing with the nonpayment of wages, health and safety violations, and other labor law violations. The department claimed it resolved 80 percent of the 6,000 complaints filed by workers during the year. The ministry referred 292 cases to the labor courts for judgment. During the first half of the year, the labor courts heard 8,101 cases, of which 813 received final verdicts, 920 received preliminary verdicts, 5,236 were still under review, 1,111 were cancelled, and 21 were linked to existing cases. The courts ordered that companies provide both financial compensation and airline tickets to their country of origin for plaintiffs in 49 cases, financial compensation only in six cases, and airline tickets only in five cases. A limited number of labor complaints were referred to the criminal courts, but statistics were not publicly available.
The Labor Inspection Department conducted monthly and random inspections of labor camps; when it found them below minimum standards, the operators received a warning, and authorities ordered them to remedy the violations within one month. If they did not remedy the violations, the Ministry of Labor blacklisted the company and on occasion referred the matter to the public prosecutor for action. Some cases went to trial. During the year inspectors conducted 46,624 observations of work and labor housing sites. Inspectors found 90 percent of companies were compliant with the administrative aspects of the law, such as timely payment of salaries and work regulations, while 70 percent were found to be compliant with safety standards. The Ministry of Labor issued 7,337 warning notices, 5,245 for health and safety reasons and 2,092 for administrative reasons. There were 377 companies that were issued reports of violations, 231for health and safety reasons and 146 for administrative reasons. Violators faced penalties of up to 6,000 riyal ($1,648) and 30 days’ imprisonment in the most serious cases, but labor observers reported that most safety and health violations were handled through administrative fines or blacklisting. The Ministry of Labor maintained an office in Doha’s industrial area, where most unskilled laborers resided, to receive complaints about worker safety or nonpayment of wages.
Violations of wage, overtime, and safety and health standards were relatively common, especially in sectors employing foreign workers, in which working conditions were often poor. Employers often ignored working hour restrictions and other laws with respect to domestic workers and unskilled laborers, the majority of whom were foreigners. A November survey by Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute found that 90 percent of unskilled laborers worked on average six days per week and 9.3 hours per day. Many unskilled foreign laborers were housed in cramped, dirty, and hazardous conditions, often without running water, electricity, or adequate food. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has repeatedly reported abusive conditions, including unexplained and work-related deaths, for migrant workers, especially in the construction sector. After an ITUC investigation of working conditions for Nepali workers, the organization alleged that work-related deaths due to problems such as heat exhaustion were wrongly attributed to heart attacks or natural causes.
Domestic workers, who are not protected by the labor law, often faced unacceptable working conditions. Many such workers frequently worked seven days a week and more than 12 hours a day with few or no holidays, no overtime pay, and no effective means to redress grievances.
According to the ITUC and other organizations, foreign workers faced legal obstacles and lengthy legal processes that prevented them from seeking redress for violations and exploitative conditions. The sponsorship law was widely considered the root of these violations. Under the country’s sponsorship system, most employees cannot leave the country without permission and are prevented from switching jobs without a “no objection letter” from their employer. Employees leaving the country without a no objection letter are barred from reemployment in the country for two years.
Kuwait Labor Practices According to
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law protects the right of workers to form and join trade unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, with significant restrictions. The law does not apply to public-sector employees, domestic workers, or maritime employees. Discrete labor laws set work conditions in the public and private sectors, with the oil industry treated separately. The law permits limited trade union pluralism at the local level, but there was only one government-authorized federation, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF). The law also stipulates any new union must include at least 100 workers, and that at least 15 of the total must be Kuwaiti citizens.
The law provides workers a limited right to collective bargaining, excepting domestic servants, maritime workers, and civil servants. There is no minimum number of workers needed to conclude such agreements.
Public-sector workers do not have the right to strike. Private-sector workers have the right to strike, although cumbersome provisions calling for compulsory negotiation and arbitration in the case of disputes limit that right. Legal strikes require permission from the Ministry of Interior, which was rarely granted. The law does not prohibit retaliation against striking workers or prevent the government from interfering in union activities, including the right to strike.
The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and employer interference with union functions, and provides for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.
However, the law empowers the courts to dissolve any union for violating labor laws or for threatening “public order and morals,” although a union can appeal such a court decision. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor can request the Court of First Instance to dissolve a union. Additionally, the emir may dissolve a union by decree.
Foreign workers, who constitute approximately 85 percent of the workforce, may join unions only as nonvoting members after five years of work in the particular sector the union represents, provided they obtain a certificate of good conduct and moral standing from the government. They cannot run for seats or vote in board elections. Both the International Labor Organization and the International Trade Union Confederation criticized the citizenship requirement for discouraging unions in sectors that employ few citizens, including much of private-sector employment, such as construction.
The government enforced applicable laws, and procedures were generally not subject to lengthy delay or appeals.
Although the law restricts freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, the government did not always enforce these limits. For example, according to KTUF, the government did not consistently enforce the requirement that foreign workers have at least five years working in Kuwait in a specific sector prior to joining a union.
The government also treated worker actions by citizens and noncitizens differently. While citizens and public-sector union leaders and workers faced no government repercussions for their roles in union or strike activities, companies directly threatened noncitizen workers calling for strikes with termination and deportation.
The government did not respect freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Worker organizations were generally not independent of the government, and the government interfered in union activities. The government essentially treated licensed unions as parastatal organizations, providing as much as 90 percent of their budgets and inspecting financial records; if a union ceases to exist, the government confiscates its assets.
While the National Trade Union Federation petitioned the government for official recognition during the year, it did not receive a license by year’s end.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor “except in cases specified by law for national emergency and with just remuneration,” but the government did not effectively enforce the law.
Forced labor and conditions indicative of forced labor occurred in practice, especially among migrant workers. Such practices were usually a result of employer abuse of the sponsorship system for noncitizen workers. Employers frequently and illegally withheld salaries from domestic workers and minimum-wage laborers.
Domestic servitude was the most common type of forced labor, principally involving foreign domestic workers employed under the sponsorship system, but forced labor in the construction and sanitation sectors also existed. Forced labor conditions for migrant workers included nonpayment of wages, long working hours, deprivation of food, threats, physical and sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as withholding passports or confinement to the workplace. There were numerous media reports throughout the year of domestic workers being abused by their sponsors or sustaining significant injuries while trying to escape from their sponsors; some reports alleged abuse resulted in workers’ deaths. Female domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Police and courts were reluctant to prosecute citizens for abuse in private residences.
See also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits child labor. The legal minimum age for employment is 18 years; however, employers may obtain permits from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to employ juveniles between 15 and 18 years old in some nonhazardous trades. Juveniles may work a maximum of six hours a day with no more than four consecutive hours followed by a one-hour rest period. Juveniles cannot work overtime nor between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Although it was not extensive, there were credible reports of child labor by domestic servants of South Asian origin and Bidoon children. Some underage workers entered the country on travel documents with falsified birth dates.
Bidoon children as young as seven worked long hours as street vendors, sometimes under dangerous conditions, according to reports by human rights NGOs. Their need to provide for their families often led to poor educational performance or abandoning school.
The government made efforts to enforce the law effectively. Approximately 300 Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor inspectors routinely monitored private firms for labor law compliance, including laws against child labor. Noncompliant employers faced fines or a forced suspension of their company operations. However, the government did not enforce child labor laws in informal sector occupations, such as street vending.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The law sets the national minimum private-sector wage at 60 dinars ($216) per month.
The law limits the standard workweek to 48 hours (40 hours for the petroleum industry), and gives private-sector workers 30 days of annual leave. The law also forbids requiring employees to work more than 60 hours per week or 10 hours per day. The law provides for 13 designated national holidays annually. Workers are entitled to 125 percent of base pay for working overtime and 150 percent of base pay for working on their designated weekly day off.
The government issued occupational health and safety standards. For example, the law provides that all outdoor work stop between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during June, July, and August or times when the temperature rises to more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.
The law and regulations governing acceptable conditions of work do not apply to domestic workers. The Ministry of Interior has jurisdiction over domestic worker matters.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was responsible for enforcement of wage and hour, overtime, and occupational safety and health regulations. However, enforcement by the ministry was poor, especially with respect to unskilled foreign laborers.
Approximately 500 labor inspectors monitored private firms. The government periodically inspected enterprises to raise awareness among workers and employers and to ensure they abided by existing safety rules, controlled pollution in certain industries, trained workers to use machines, and reported violations.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor monitored work sites to ensure compliance with rules banning summer work and recorded hundreds of violations during the year. Workers could also report these violations to their embassies, the KTUF, or the Labor Disputes Department. Noncompliant employers faced warnings, fines, or forced suspensions of company operations, but these were often not substantial enough to deter violators.
Workers submitted complaints to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s Labor Disputes Department; however, the government did not enforce the standards uniformly.
At times the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor intervened to resolve labor disputes between foreign workers and their employers. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s labor arbitration panel sometimes ruled in favor of foreign laborers who claimed violations of work contracts by their employers. The government was more effective in resolving unpaid salary disputes involving private-sector laborers than those involving domestic workers. However, during the year the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Domestic Labor Office collected 8,340 dinars ($30,000) owed to 71 domestic workers by their employers.
Foreign workers were vulnerable to unacceptable conditions of work. Domestic servants and other unskilled foreign workers in the private sector frequently worked substantially in excess of 48 hours a week, often with no day of rest.
Since labor standards did not apply to domestic workers, such workers had little recourse when employers violated their rights. There were no inspections of private residences, the workplace of the majority of the country’s domestic workers, nor did the government make significant efforts to address working conditions for these workers. Reports commonly indicated employers forced domestic workers to work overtime without additional compensation. There were frequent reports of domestic workers committing or attempting suicide due to desperation over abuse or poor working conditions.
May 1, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Cross Cultural, Kuwait, Qatar, Middle East, Family Issues, ExPat Life, Social Issues, Living Conditions, Health Issues, Statistics, Doha, Community, Work Related Issues, Civility, Transparency | Pope Francis, slaves, Labor Law Qatar, Labor Law Kuwait, Human Rights Practices | Leave a Comment
One of our recent house guests was here visiting when it was announced that the 2013 Blue Angel season was cancelled. It was a stunning blow to the Pensacola community – we ALL love the booming roar of those jets screeching over our houses when they practice. All heads look up. It might sound annoying, all that noise, but it isn’t – it’s exciting! We’re proud to be home to the Blue Angels.
“You know, I joined the navy because of the Blue Angels,” he said.
No. I didn’t know that.
He saw them when he was a boy, living in Idaho (yearning to escape Idaho) and they ignited his imagination. He didn’t need to BE a Blue Angel, but he wanted to be a part of what they were a part of.
When cutting budgets, we all gotta do what we gotta do. Budget cuts suck, no matter what level you are on. But losing a Blue Angel season – ouch! That really hurts!
April 14, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Beauty, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, Events, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Work Related Issues | air show, Blue Angels, budget cuts, Navy recruitment, sequestration | 4 Comments
Society changes. Cable television has had a huge influence, travel to other countries changes perceptions, education gives a wider perspective, The genie is out of the bottle; women are equal people. No woman should need someone else’s permission to travel, work, or to use contraception.
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, March 14 (Reuters) – Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood warns that a U.N. declaration on women’s rights could destroy society by allowing a woman to travel, work and use contraception without her husband’s approval and letting her control family spending.
The Islamist party of President Mohamed Mursi outlined 10 reasons why Muslim countries should “reject and condemn” the declaration, which the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is racing to negotiate a consensus deal on by Friday.
The Brotherhood, which was elected to power in June, posted the statement on its website, http://www.ikhwanweb.com, on Thursday.
Egypt has joined Iran, Russia and the Vatican – dubbed an “unholy alliance” by some diplomats – in threatening to derail the women’s rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.
The Muslim Brotherhood said the declaration would give “wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice last week touted at the commission – a global policy-making body created in 1946 for the advancement of women – progress made by the United States in reducing the rate of violence against women by their partners.
“All 50 states in our union now have laws that treat date rape or spousal rape as just as much of a crime as rape by a stranger,” Rice said. “We cannot live in truly free societies, if women and girls are not free to reach their full potential.”
The contrasting views show the gap that needs to be breached in negotiations on the declaration, which this year is focused on urging an end to violence against women and girls. The commission failed to agree a declaration last year on a theme of empowering rural women due to similar disagreements.
WORLD IS WATCHING
Egypt has proposed an amendment, diplomats say, that would allow countries to avoid implementing the declaration if it clashed with national laws, religious or cultural values. But some diplomats say this would undermine the entire declaration.
The Muslim Brotherhood warned the declaration would give girls sexual freedom, legalize abortion, provide teenagers with contraceptives, give equality to women in marriage and require men and women to share duties such as child care and chores.
It said the declaration would allow “equal rights to homosexuals, and provide protection and respect for prostitutes” and “equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.”
A coalition of Arab human rights groups – from Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Tunisia – called on countries at the Commission on the Status of Women on Thursday to stop using religion, culture, and tradition to justify abuse of women.
“The current positions taken by some Arab governments at this meeting is clearly not representative of civil society views, aspirations or best practices regarding the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls within our countries,” said the statement issued by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies.
Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile and head of U.N. Women, which supports the commission, said the commission was unable to reach a deal a decade ago when it last focused on the theme of women’s rights and ending violence against women.
“Ten years later, we simply cannot allow disagreement or indecision to block progress for the world’s women,” Bachelet told the opening session of the commission last week. “The world is watching … the violence needs to stop.” (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
March 14, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Parenting, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a Comment
LOL, this is from the AOL Jobs Site
Report: Saudi Arabia Faces Lack Of Swordsmen
Posted Mar 12th 2013 @ 6:00AM
Saudi Arabia has authorized regional governors to approve executions by firing squad as an alternative to public beheading, the customary method of capital punishment in the Gulf Arab kingdom, the Arab News reported on Monday.
The English-language daily gave no explanation. But another newspaper, Al Youm, reporting the measure on Sunday, said the reason for the change was a shortage in the number of swordsmen.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said he was not immediately able to comment but would look into the report. The Arab News added that a ministerial committee was looking into formally scrapping beheading as a form of execution. The kingdom has been criticized in the West for its high number of executions, inconsistencies in the application of the law and its use of public beheadings.
Capital crimes resulting in the death sentence last year included murder, armed robbery, drug smuggling, sorcery and witchcraft.
Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people so far this year, Amnesty International said this month, compared to 82 in 2011 and a similar number last year.
In its Sunday edition, Al Youm reported a circular by the government’s Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution as saying that the use of firing squads was being considered because some swordsmen were arriving late to the public squares where executions are normally carried out. “A shortage in sworsdmen and their unavailability in a number of areas” meant the executioners had to travel sometimes long distances to get to the place of executions, making them sometimes late, the newspaper reported the circular as saying.
The circular stated that death by firing squad was not a breach of sharia, or Islamic law. The Saudi legal system is based on strict version of sharia.
Al Youm said a firing squad had been used to execute carried out the death sentence against a convicted female in a case in Ha’il in northwestern Saudi Arabia a few years ago.
It is one of those glorious days in Pensacola. I love winter here anyway, I love the cold temperatures and a chance to wear some of my old German sweaters and coats, but today, the threat of deep freeze seems past, it is just warm enough to prune the roses and the bougainvilleas.
I used to garden, I gardened well. I gardened in Seattle, and in Germany, mostly, although I also had gardens in Jordan, and in Qatar. In Qatar, I will admit, my function was mostly to buy the plants and buy the pots and tell the gardener where to place them. He came to my door when I tried to do it myself, and he said “Madam, this is MY job. Please don’t take my work away from me.”
Now that AdventureMan is also a Master Gardener, my gardening responsibilities – and my gardening prerogotives – have declined substantially. I tried gardening when we got here; I can garden just fine in November – April, but the summer heat and humidity and mosquitos defeat me. Oh? Yes? You’ve heard this before? I am so sorry!
I still retain personal interest in the bougainvillea and the roses. I love the bougainvillea, and it is now three years old. I am trying to grow it tall, so it will cascade over the end of my porch area, as it does in the more tropical countries. Yes, it is a challenge.
I also love trimming, rooting, and creating new rose bushes from the beautiful old white rose bush we have, with it’s delicate coloring and scent.
I was careful. I wore leather globes. But when you are working with bougainvillea (great big huge thorns!) and with roses (smaller, but equally lethal thorns) you can get very scratched up. I did, indeed, get very scratched up, but I succeeded in getting the bougainvillea gathered and trimmed, some new bougainvillea starts made, and several new rose bushes started. I think next time I will at least wear long sleeves; my Master Gardener suggested long leather gauntlets!
The Master Gardener pruned the roses. He had a class in pruning roses a couple weeks ago, and wanted to tackle the roses, but he wanted our marriage to survive. Today was the perfect day; a day we could both be outside. We discovered we have very similar styles in pruning roses, and our marriage is better than intact
March 10, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Gardens, Home Improvements, Marriage, Pensacola, Relationships, Weather, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments
There have been some good moments in the course of this nasty cold, good enough to finish my work on a quilt for a baby who is fast making his way into this world, a Kuwaiti baby . This is a quilt he can crawl on, snuggle under, take to school for nap time, and then take off to college to put on his wall:
We had some wonderful moments in Kuwait, many of which, for me, were spent in the fabric souks of Kuwait with other quilters from many nations, including Kuwait. Many of those fabrics are quilted into this piece, along with my everlasting gratitude to the friends we had there who made the experience so much the richer for us.
February 1, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Geography / Maps, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Work Related Issues | Arabian Gulf, Iraq, Map Quilt, Persian Gulf, Quilt | 8 Comments
The National Public Radio website recommended this book as one of the best historical fiction reads, and I had never heard of it, so I ordered it. I ordered it in spite of the little voice I had in my head reminding me that this was the second in a trilogy, that the first is Sea of Poppies. I was too eager. I wanted to jump right in, and the review said it could be read stand-alone. I had read Ghosh’s Glass Palace a couple years ago for book club, loved it, and was eager to read this one.
With a raging cold and no possible way I can be around humanity, it was a good time to start. Just picking up the book, it has a dense feel. Once you start, it is like being suddenly in a whirlpool, drowning in new words, characters who have more than one name and more than one identity, whirling between England, Mauritius, Hindustan, Gujerat, Hong Kong, Macau and China, whirling between cultures and professions and trades, but oh, what a ride.
It would have been helpful to be reading River of Smoke on an iPad, where I could poke at a new word and it would give me the meaning, but in truth, you can guess a lot of the meaning of the vocabulary from the context. The seafarers all speak a language sort of like Jack Sparrow, a pidgen language filled with simplified grammar and with words from many nations and cultures. It forces you to slow down. It’s worth it. It would also be nice if you could poke on a place-name and have Google Earth show you where it is. There used to be a website called Google Books, and you could put in a book and it would show you the places in which actions in the book took place; that would be particularly handy reading this book, provide context in place-relations.
But reading slowly is it’s own reward. This book has depth, depth of character, depth of textures and senses, and depth of morality. I love a book like this where you can smell the smoke drifting over the water, where you can smell the sewer and bloated animal corpses floating outside the foreign hongs of the Canton traders, you can feel the textures of the textiles and see their colors, you can taste the exquisiteness of Macau cuisine and you can hike in a Hong Kong not yet settled by anyone, Chinese or foreign.
The scope of time covered by the major part of the story is short, although there are years of back-stories for several characters. The period is 1837-8, during which the Chinese Emperor decides to put teeth in the long established edict against opium trade to China. The edict had been in place, but not enforced, and China watched her citizens sink into opium addiction and lowered productivity. The traders were making fortunes – shiploads of money. Opium was grown in India and shipped from there to China.
When the ban against shipping opium into China is announced, many traders believe it is just another attempt to attain greater bribes on the part of the mandarins, and decline to obey. There is great debate, and while it is lively in the book, it is based on documents from that era, many of the arguments word for word. Traders stood to loose a great deal of money, in truth, it would ruin most of them to lose their shipments.
There is a side story I also like, that of the botanical trade between China and England, and the importation of many of the garden plants we take for granted today, which were unknown until sent from China. Camellia – one of which is the plant for tea, did you know that? Roses, azaleas, orchids – many many familiar plants would be missing from our gardens were it not for their introduction during this period.
Ghosh gives us disparate characters of many cultures and upbringings, and slowly weaves them together, each one tangential to all the others, some closely interwoven. It is a fascinating read, and I can’t wait for the next volume. I may have to go back and read Sea of Poppies while I am waiting.
January 30, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Adventure, Books, Character, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Fiction, Financial Issues, Food, Friends & Friendship, India, Living Conditions, Poetry/Literature, Political Issues, Social Issues, Values, Work Related Issues | Amitav Ghosh, botanicals, Canton, China, historical fiction, opium, opium wars | Leave a Comment
This is one of the best videos I have ever seen on youTube. I was looking for a video to share on Mali Djembe drummers; this puts the drums and the drumming all in context. Thomas Roebers does an amazing job of stitching it all together, and we get to watch that tree from selection, to first cuts with the ax, through roughing, hollowing and covering with a skin . . . watch for it, interspersed with rhythmic aspects of village life.
Well done, Thomas Roebers!
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