Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Where is Lafia, Nigeria?

Today the church prays for Lafia, Nigeria, which is near Abuja, in the part of Nigeria where Boko Haram runs rampant, and where over 250 girls were kidnapped from their school in 2014. Some few escaped, most were married off to poor young Boko Haram soldiers into hardship and near-slavery. Boko Haram does not believe in educating women. The Nigerian government at one point announced that Boko Haram had agreed to return the girls, but nothing happened. The Nigerian military and police do nothing to get them back.

Screen shot 2015-01-02 at 7.08.31 AM

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January 2, 2015 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Counter-terrorism, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Faith, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Nigeria, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , | 2 Comments

Good2Go for Consensual Sex

Go figure. In spite of admonitions to the contrary, young people have sex. Problems arise when someone isn’t old enough to consent, isn’t coherent enough to have sex or is forced to have sex or participate in a sex act they don’t consent to.

 

I love this idea. It takes a little of the “he says – she says” out of the classic dilemma of who did what to whom and who should be held accountable? Was it consensual? Was it rape? Were both parties in a sober enough state to make that decision?

This is from SLATE Online magazine

 

Consensual Sex: There’s an App for That

Good2Go

Courtesy of Good2Go

Last June, Reason’s Robby Soave called for an iPhone app that would clear up pesky he-said, she-said rape cases by recording “mutual consent” to engage in sexual activity before two people do the deed: “Maybe they would have to input a password and then touch phones, or something?” he proposed. Last week, his prayers were answered: The Good2Gosexual consent app isn’t as touch-and-go as the app of Soave’s dreams, but it does encourage sex partners to assess their mutual interest in sex and record their intoxication levels before getting busy.

Here’s how it works: After deciding that you would like to have sex with someone, launch the Good2Go app (free on iTunes and Google Play), hand the phone off to your potential partner, and allow him or her to navigate the process to determine if he or she is ready and willing. “Are We Good2Go?” the first screen asks, prompting the partner to answer “No, Thanks,” “Yes, but … we need to talk,” or “I’m Good2Go.” If the partner chooses door No. 1, a black screen pops up that reads “Remember! No means No! Only Yes means Yes, BUT can be changed to NO at anytime!” If he or she opts instead to have a conversation before deciding—imagine, verbally communicating with someone with whom you may imminently engage in sexual intercourse—the app pauses to allow both parties to discuss.

If the partner—let’s assume for the purposes of this blog post, partner is a she—indicates that she is “Good2Go,” she’s sent to a second screen that asks if she is “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go,” or “Pretty Wasted.” If she chooses “Pretty Wasted,” the app informs her that she “cannot consent” and she’s instructed to return the phone back to its owner (and presumably, not have sex under any circumstances, young lady). All other choices lead to a third screen, which asks the partner if she is an existing Good2Go user or a new one. If she’s a new user, she’s prompted to enter her phone number and a password, confirm that she is 18 years old, and press submit. (Minors are out of luck—the app is only for consentingadults.) Then, she’ll fill out a fourth prompt, which asks her to input a six-digit code that’s just been texted to her own cellphone to verify her identity with that app. (Previous users can just type in their phone number—which serves as their Good2Go username—and password.) Once that level is complete, she returns the phone to its owner, who can view a message explaining the terms of the partner’s consent. (For example, the “Partner is intoxicated but is Good2Go.”) Then, the instigator presses a button marked “Ok,” which reminds him again that yes can be changed to “NO at anytime!”

Then you get to have sex.

Easy, right? When I tried this process out with a partner, it took us four minutes to navigate through all the screens, mostly because he kept asking, “Why are we using an app for this?” and “Why do I have to give them my phone number?” (More on that later.) I was confused, too: As the instigator, I wasn’t asked to confirm that I wanted to have sex or to state my own intoxication level for my partner’s consideration. (A promotional video modeling the process begins by announcing how “simple” it is, then snaps out instructions for three minutes, but questions remain.) Perhaps the process is deliberately time-consuming: The app provides the “opportunity for two people to pause and reflect on what they really want to do, rather than entering an encounter that might lead to something one or both will later regret,” the app’s FAQ reads. Or maybe I’m just old: At 29, I find it much easier to just talk about sex than to use an app for that.

Lee Ann Allman, a creator of the app, says she was inspired to make it after talking with her college-aged kids about sexual assault on campuses across the country. They “are very aware of what’s happening, and they’re worried about it, but they’re confused about what to do. They don’t know how they should be approaching somebody they’re interested in,” she told me. Meanwhile, “kids are so used to having technology that helps them with issues in their lives” that Allman believes the app will help facilitate necessary conversations, encourage them to consider their level of intoxication, and remind young people that consent to sex should be affirmatively given and can be revoked at any time.

“Good2Go” is obviously a euphemism for sexual activity, but it’s not clear what that means exactly—is it making out, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, or anal sex, and with protection or not? (I guess you could always pause, grab phones, and start the process over to consent to another specific sexual activity—but at some point, you’d actually have to verbally explain what you’re agreeing to be Good2Go4.) The message that people need to consent to sex, and that they can withdraw consent, and they probably shouldn’t be totally wasted while they do it is one that college campuses are already administering to their students upon orientation. It may not always be getting though, but it’s not clear how the app (which is now being promoted through campus ambassadors) advances the cause.

In fact, Good2Go could contribute a dangerous new element to those he-said she-said rape cases. What Good2Go doesn’t tell users is that it keeps a private record of every “I’m Good2Go” agreement logged in its system, tied to both users’ personal phone numbers and Good2Go accounts. (Records of interactions where users say “No” or just want to talk are not logged in this way.) Allman says that regular users aren’t permitted access to those records, but a government official with a subpoena could. “It wouldn’t be released except under legal circumstances,” Allman told me. “But it does create a data point that there was an occasion where one party asked the other for affirmative consent, that could be useful in the future … there are cases, of course, as we know, where the accused is an innocent party, so in that case, it could be beneficial to him.”

That record may help the falsely accused, but it’s unlikely to aid a real victim. Good2Go may remind its users that consent can be revoked at any time, but there are still judges and juries that will take evidence that a person said “yes” to sex at one point, and conclude that they were asking for whatever happened later that night (or the next). Compared to that scenario, talking about sex doesn’t seem so scary.

Amanda Hess is a Slate staff writer.

 

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Character, Civility, Communication, Crime, Cultural, Family Issues, Health Issues, Law and Order, Lies, Mating Behavior, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 2 Comments

If Disney Princes Were Real . . .

I just laughed myself silly! People are so funny and so creative, and you can see the dancers in the Aladin segment are puffing they worked so hard. This is a VERY witty group of people, and the Princes come off so creepy and pathetic!

September 8, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Humor, Mating Behavior | | Leave a comment

Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned by Family for Marrying for Love

From AOL Breaking News:

Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Stonings in public settings, however, are extremely rare. Tuesday’s attack took place in front of a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight. The courthouse is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.

A police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal, 45, against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, said her lawyer, Mustafa Kharal. He said she was three months pregnant.

Nearly 20 members of Parveen’s extended family, including her father and brothers, had waited outside the building that houses the high court of Lahore. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the relatives fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, according to Mujahid and Iqbal, the slain woman’s husband.

Iqbal said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.

“We were in love,” he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman’s family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” infuriating the family, he said.

Parveen’s father surrendered after the attack and called his daughter’s murder an “honor killing,” Butt said.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying.

Mujahid said the woman’s body was handed over to her husband for burial.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

But even Pakistanis who have tracked violence against women expressed shock at the brutal and public nature of Tuesday’s slaying.

“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed outside a courthouse,” said Zia Awan, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

He said Pakistanis who commit violence against women are often acquitted or handed light sentences because of poor police work and faulty prosecutions.

“Either the family does not pursue such cases or police don’t properly investigate. As a result, the courts either award light sentences to the attackers, or they are acquitted,” he said.

 

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pakistan | , | 2 Comments

Umm Al Tawaman

My sweet niece, Little Diamond (Professor Little Diamond 🙂 ) has given birth to two of the most perfectly beautiful little babies, ever. These are the quilts I made for them, and lastly is one of the sweet babies on his quilt. Congratulations, Umm Al Tawaman, God is good and full of mercy and compassion.

00Finn This one is called Interconnected.

00Annie This one is called Desert Rose.

Finn&BabyQuilt
Isn’t that a beautiful little baby? 🙂

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Generational, Interconnected, Mating Behavior, Parenting | 2 Comments

Nigeria’s Stolen Girls

This is what I love about New Yorker magazine: they print stories no one prints, they follow stories that need following. They lead, and they do their job, alerting us to issues that matter. My heart goes out to the families, Christian and Muslim, of these girls who were abducted because they were being educated. Boko Haram believes educating women goes against Islam. Someone should read them a Quran.

 

APRIL 30, 2014

NIGERIA’S STOLEN GIRLS

AP218361876356-580.jpg“I thought it was the end of my life,” Deborah Sanya told me by phone on Monday from Chibok, a tiny town of farmers in northeastern Nigeria. “There were many, many of them.” Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, kidnapped Sanya and at least two hundred of her classmates from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok more than two weeks ago. Sanya, along with two friends, escaped. So did forty others. The rest have vanished, and their families have not heard any word of them since.

Sanya is eighteen years old and was taking her final exams before graduation. Many of the schools in towns around Chibok, in the state of Borno, had been shuttered. Boko Haram attacks at other schools—like a recent massacre of fifty-nine schoolboys in neighboring Yobe state—had prompted the mass closure. But local education officials decided to briefly reopen the Chibok school for exams. On the night of the abduction, militants showed up at the boarding school dressed in Nigerian military uniforms. They told the girls that they were there to take them to safety. “They said, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to you,’ ” Sanya told me. The men took food and other supplies from the school and then set the building on fire. They herded the girls into trucks and onto motorcycles. At first, the girls, while alarmed and nervous, believed that they were in safe hands. When the men started shooting their guns into the air and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Sanya told me, she realized that the men were not who they said they were. She started begging God for help; she watched several girls jump out of the truck that they were in.

It was noon when her group reached the terrorists’ camp. She had been taken not far from Chibok, a couple of remote villages away in the bush. The militants forced her classmates to cook; Sanya couldn’t eat. Two hours later, she pulled two friends close and told them that they should run. One of them hesitated, and said that they should wait to escape at night. Sanya insisted, and they fled behind some trees. The guards spotted them and called out for them to return, but the girls kept running. They reached a village late at night, slept at a friendly stranger’s home, and, the next day, called their families.

Sanya could not tell me more after that. She is not well. Her cousins and her close friends are still missing, and she is trying to understand how she is alive and back home. All she can do now, she said, is pray and fast, then pray and fast again.

The day after the abduction, the Nigerian military claimed that it had rescued nearly all of the girls. A day later, the military retracted its claim; it had not actually rescued any of the girls. And the number that the government said was missing, just over a hundred, was less than half the number that parents and school officials counted: according to their tally, two hundred and thirty-four girls were taken.

In the wake of the military’s failure, parents banded together and raised money to send several of their number into the forest to search for the girls. The group came across villagers who persuaded the parents to turn back. They told the parents that they had seen the girls nearby, but the insurgents were too well armed. Many of the parents had just bows and arrows.

 

***

The circumstances of the kidnapping, and the military’s deception, especially, have exposed a deeply troubling aspect of Nigeria’s leadership: when it comes to Boko Haram, the government cannot be trusted. Children have been killed, along with their families, in numerous Boko Haram bombings and massacres over the past five years. (More than fifteen hundred people have been killed so far this year.) State schools and remote villages in the north have borne the brunt of Boko Haram’s violence this year. The group is believed to be at least partly waging a campaign against secular values. The kidnapped girls were both Christian and Muslim; their only offense, it seems, was attending school.

Last June, I visited Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram, to report on the insurgency and the Nigerian government’s counteroffensive, a security operation that placed three northeastern states, including Borno and Yobe, under a state of emergency as troops launched attacks on terrorist hideouts and camps. The military cut phone lines and Internet access, and, while residents were glad for the intervention, there was a sense of living in the dark. Gunshots, a bomb blast: was it Boko Haram or a military attack? Were the hundreds of men disappeared by the military actually terrorists—even the young boys? And was the government, as it claimed, really winning the war?

The military has restored phone lines in Borno. But the sole airline that flew to Maiduguri cancelled the route at the end of last year. The road to Chibok is so hazardous that Borno’s governor visited the town with a heavy military escort. Much of the northeast is now physically isolated. What is happening there that we cannot see?

Nigerians in the rest of the country had, until recently, been able to ignore the deaths. The general mood has been one of weary apathy—from a government waging a heavy-handed crackdown on northerners to civilians far removed from the chaos. That mood may finally change.

 

 

***

Sanya’s father, a primary-school teacher named Ishaya Sanya, is struggling with conflicting emotions: gratitude that his daughter has returned to him; guilt that the daughters of his siblings, friends, and neighbors are still somewhere in the bush; and an angry frustration that there seemed to be no effort to rescue the girls.

“We don’t know where they are up until now, and we have not heard anything from the government,” he told me. “Every house in Chibok has been affected by the kidnapping.” The only information that the families had been able to gather about the kidnapped girls, he went on, was from the girls who had escaped.

He remembers the exact time that Deborah appeared in front of him after her escape—4:30P.M.—and how he felt: “very happy.” But his despair soon returned. “Our area has been affected very seriously,” he told me. Parents had fallen physically ill, and some were “going mad.”

The military’s current plans are unclear; the Chibok parents hope that it is acting swiftly and cautiously. There is worry, too, that a rescue operation could result in the deaths of many of the girls; this happened during a previous attempted rescue, of two Western engineers kidnapped by Boko Haram. Last week, a military spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, said only that the search for the girls had “intensified.”

In the meantime, as in so many other ways in Nigeria, each community has to fend for itself. For a while after the abduction, girls trickled back into town—some rolled off trucks, some snuck away while fetching water. That trickle has stopped. “Nobody rescued them,” a government official in Chibok said of the girls who made it back. “I want you to stress this point. Nobody rescued them. They escaped on their accord. This is painful.”

A pastor in Chibok whose daughter is missing told me that he set out with friends on the morning after the abduction to find the girls. “I was forced to come home empty-handed,” he told me by phone. “I just don’t know what the federal government is doing about it. And there is no security here that will defend us. You have to do what you can do to escape for your life.”

I asked the pastor about rumors that Boko Haram has taken the girls outside of Nigeria’s borders, into Cameroon and Chad, and forcibly married them. He paused, and then said, “How will I be happy? How will I be happy?”

Four students walk in Chibok following their escape from Boko Haram. Photograph by Haruna Umar/AP.

 

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Faith, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Nigeria, Values, Women's Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Donna Leon and The Golden Egg

“What are manners?”

“What is ‘nice’, what does it mean?”

“What is ‘kind’?” the most adorable little boy in Pensacola asked me. It was bath time, a time when we have some of our best conversations, and you never know where the conversation will go.

 

I love these conversations because I have to think, too, but most of all, because I love to watch this little boy’s mind grow in grasping concepts and perceptions. He is four; his class in school is on the letter “U” this coming week, and already he can sound out words in the books we read together. He knows what a globe is, and how it differs from a map. He knows his address, and he can point to Pensacola on the globe.

He knows things because we talk to him, and because he goes to school and his teachers talk to him. His mind is wide open and he is eager to learn, and he asks the most wonderful questions.

 Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 2.15.00 PM

Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti has a new case that troubles him. He knows the dead man, not well, but he would see him in his quarter, and he often saw him helping out at the local laundry. He assumed the man was deaf and retarded, everyone knew that. When the dead man has no papers, in bureaucratic Italy, no birth certificate, no medical records, no finance records, no record of social aid (he is poor as well as disabled) Brunetti is troubled. How could such a familiar figure be so undocumented?

 

His mother is no help; her stories are transparent lies about travel to France and her son having grown up in the country with people whose name she cannot remember.

 

It is a troubling book. If you read Donna Leon, you will understand how close and wonderful and articulate Brunetti’s family is, how loved and cherished their children. We eat meals with them, we understand how the Venetian vernacular distinguishes those to whom one speaks more frankly and those to whom one lies. Brunetti’s a detective; the things he sees often trouble him, but this case troubles him more than most.

 

I can’t tell you more without spoiling the ending. All I can tell you is that it will encourage you to love your children, hold them closely, and give them all the benefits in their life-toolbox of attention, instruction and loving discipline that a parent (and grandparent!) can give.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, Detective/Mystery, Family Issues, Fiction, Interconnected, Italy, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Parenting, Relationships, Values, Venice, Words | Leave a comment

“Look How You Look When You are Leering at Me”

Wonderful new awareness video out of India:

December 24, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, India, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Middle East, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , | Leave a comment

“Ho Ho Ho” AdventureMan

We were leaving a restaurant and AdventureMan started laughing. “You’ve got to see this!” he said, and when I did, I just walked on and left him laughing, but when I got to the car, I had second thoughts, and said “I need to go back and take a picture,” and I was laughing, too.

AdventureMan, get your mind out of the gutter.

He thinks this is hilarious.

00AMDirtyMind

“That reindeer is having a very merry Christmas!” chortles AdventureMan.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Gardens, Humor, Mating Behavior | Leave a comment

Expat Teacher Murdered In Qatar After Night of Clubbing?

The prosecutor says violent crime is rare in Qatar.
If, by violent crime, the prosecutor is excluding abduction, rape in isolated sites in the desert, and expats who quietly exit the country when they discover the justice system is not going to prosecute Qatari citizens, only if those are excluded, along with the rape and abuse of local domestic workers, then he can say violent crime is rare.
Violent crime is not rare. It is not talked about.
This girl met up with people who seemed trustworthy. They were probably educated, and spoke English well. They might have even seemed gentlemanly. They offered her a ride home. They dropped off her friend.  But this girl never made it home.
One of the bravest women I ever knew, at 16, told me she was lucky to be alive. She accepted a ride home; they were brothers of a school friend. She reported them to the police. The boys were held – briefly – and she forced them to strip during the line-up to have them endure just a tiny amount of what she had endured. The prosecutor ultimately told her that they could not be prosecuted. Her family, shattered, left the country. It was a very common story, this ride home from a club turning into a nightmare, through which some victims live – and some don’t.
The 16 year old was very stoic. She said if she let it get to her, they won, they would be in her head. For most victims, the memories and the nightmares resonate for a long time.

Qatar expats shocked after UK teacher’s suspected murder

Yolande KnellBy Yolande KnellBBC News, Doha, Qatar

Lauren PattersonLauren Patterson had gone to a nightclub with a friend before she went missing

The suspected murder of a young primary school teacher from south-east London has deeply upset British expatriates living in the Gulf state of Qatar.

However, two weeks after Lauren Patterson disappeared following a night out in the capital, Doha, officials have given few details about her disappearance.

DNA tests have been carried out on the remains of a body found in a remote area of desert but the results have not yet been released.

At the Newton British School, where Ms Patterson worked, one mother paid tribute to a talented teacher who she said had been a favourite of her little son.

However, staff refused to comment, saying they had been advised not to.

“We’re a small, close-knit community and we’re all in deep shock,” explained headteacher Katherine Dixon. “We are dealing with small children here.”

Security camerasWhen 24-year-old Ms Patterson went out on 11 October she had just returned from a trip home to the UK for her grandmother’s funeral.

She and a female friend decided to go to Club 7 on the seventh floor of the luxury La Cigale Hotel.

It is a popular venue where all nationalities mingle on the dance floor as DJs play ambient house music.

High living standards and high tax-free salaries draw thousands of Britons to Qatar

Groups sip cocktails around low tables decorated with colourful, illuminated ice buckets.

Everyone entering the club has their ID checked and they are watched by burly bouncers and security cameras.

It is believed that in the early hours of the morning, the two women left with two local men they knew who had offered to drive them home.

Ms Patterson’s companion was dropped off safely but she went missing.

The alarm was raised by her friend who called the police the next day.

Arrests

Reports say a falconer found a badly burnt corpse shortly afterwards. Two suspects were detained although no details about them have been confirmed.

Mohammed Rashed al-BinaliPublic prosecutor Mohammed Rashed al-Binali says violent crime is “very rare” in Qatar

The case has been referred to the attorney general.

“Violent crime is very rare in Qatar,” public prosecutor, Mohammed Rashed al-Binali told me in his smart office surrounded by shining skyscrapers in central Doha.

“We are continuing to investigate the case. We cannot give more details at the moment but the Ministry of Interior did arrest the suspects within 24 hours.”

Alison Patterson has flown to Doha and is awaiting further news about her daughter.

She told the BBC she would only make a statement “when I feel the time is right and I have received all the information concerning Lauren”.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office says it is providing the family with consular assistance.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup, is generally considered one of the safest places in the Middle East for Westerners.

The tiny, but very wealthy Gulf state, which is the biggest exporter of natural gas in the world, relies heavily on its growing foreign workforce.

It now has some 17,500 British residents. Most are attracted by the high living standards and high tax-free salaries.

Yet work permits can be easily revoked and this makes employees from overseas very wary of upsetting the authorities.

While Qatar has recently supported opposition movements pushing for greater freedom across the Arab world, the nation itself remains very conservative and tightly controlled.

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Crime, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Lies, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Qatar, Safety | , | Leave a comment