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Morocco group empowers women to fight partner abuse, rape

Victims of domestic violence are often unaware of resources available to them and are too afraid to ask. In Morocco, a new initiative aims to change that by helping women take legal action against their violent husbands. Now 23, a mother of two and an education worker, Salma remembers her marriage as seven years of being bloodied and bruised. Her husband raped her repeatedly, she said. He beat her and threatened her with murder. Her face was constantly swollen from being struck, and she developed an addiction to the drugs that he forced her to take to keep her under control. In that state, she did not have the strength to divorce him. "Domestic violence destroys the dignity of women," Salma said. Salma broke her silence, sharing her experiences on a radio station that works with Fais entendre ta voix(Make Your Voice Heard), one of several initiatives to empower women in Morocco. Though there are laws in place to provide recourse to women who are raped by their husbands, the topic remains largely taboo in Morocco. However, the radio station brought Salma's story to the public, and the initiative supported her psychologically and legally. This provided Salma with the strength she needed to divorce her husband and to report him for battery and rape. Efforts at outreach Financed in part by by the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders, the initiative encourages womenwho have experienced domestic violence to speak publicly about their suffering. The initiative serves to empower women by offering them legal options for defending themselves and escaping their abusers. It also encourages women to report violence and harassment in public spaces. "Over 120 women have taken part in our seminars," said Khadija Khafid, a founder of the initiative. In addition to working with the radio station, the organization also operates a multimedia website that presents scenarios of domestic violence, accompanied by advice on how women can take action. The families of women who have escaped abusers have expressed their support for the initiative and the assistance it has offered to their loved ones.

Victims of domestic violence are often unaware of resources available to them and are too afraid to ask. In Morocco, a new initiative aims to change that by helping women take legal action against their violent husbands. Now 23, a mother of two and an education worker, Salma remembers her marriage as seven years of being bloodied and bruised. Her ... Read More »

Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom's top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He did not name the suspects. In total, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case. Crown Prince bin Salman exonerated Khashoggi, a regular contributor to US newspaper The Washington Post, was a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His murder caused international outrage, and many believe it could not have been carried out without bin Salman's knowledge. The prosecutor, however, claimed the crown prince was not involved in the killing. He said the highest-ranking member of the Saudi leadership implicated in the operation was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has since been fired for ordering Khashoggi's forced return. A spokesman for the prosecution told reporters that plans to assassinate Khashoggi were set in motion on September 29. "The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen Khashoggi with a drug overdose that led to his death," the official said. The body was dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator, he added. He did not give any details on the location of the body. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancée raised the alarm when he did not return. After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Riyadh finally admittedthat Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a "rogue" operation. US issues sanctions On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US was placing harsh economic sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged involvement in the Khashoggi murder. In a statement, Mnuchin said: "The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions." Three of the individuals targeted in Thursday's sanctions were Saud Al-Qahtani and Maher Mutreb, both of whom are top aides to Salman, and Mohammed Alotaibi, consul general at the Istanbul consulate at the time Khashoggi was murdered. The US treasury secretary said Qahtani "was part of the planning and execution of the operation" to kill Khashoggi. The secretary stopped short of accusing the crown prince of involvement. The sanctions fall under the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and were issued as part of the US Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Such sanctions freeze targets' assets if they fall under US jurisdiction. The sanctions also forbid Americans and US companies from conducting business with them. Mnuchin's statement also said: "The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists." Trouble with the Turks The case has caused a row between the kingdom and Turkey, whose government insists the suspects should be tried in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the Saudi prosecutor's statement "positive but insufficient," insisting that Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated." Cavusoglu said the Thursday announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor fell short of his own country's expectations: "I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory" and that "those who gave the order, the real perpetrators, need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way." Cavusoglu also questioned why Saudi Arabia had only indicted 11 of the 18 suspects detained. He pointed out that the Saudi prosecutor made no mention of where Khashoggi's remains were taken: "There is a question that has not been answered yet. Where is Khashoggi's body? Where was he disposed of, where was he buried, where was he burned? There is still not an answer on this issue."

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ... Read More »

UN to investigate Saudi Arabia’s human rights record

Saudi Arabia faces international condemnation for its apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its ongoing war in Yemen. The UK and the US are reportedly working on a joint resolution to end hostilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is to debate on Monday the dismal human rights record of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The so-called Universal Periodic Review, a compulsory review carried out every four years, will also focus on Riyadh's role in Yemen's civil war. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he will lobby the UN Security Council to try and find a political solution to four years of hostilities in Yemen. At least 10,000 have been killed in the conflict between a Saudi-backed coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and half the nation faces imminent starvation. Hunt's announcement came after Washington, which has long backed the Saudis, called for Riyadh to end its airstrikes in the country. UN diplomats, speaking anonymously, told Reuters news agency that Britain and the US were working on a joint resolution to stop the fighting in Yemen. Public grilling The half-day public debate will see a Saudi delegation, headed by the country's Human Rights Commission chief, Bandar Al Aiban, grilled by other nations over its human rights record. Activists have urged countries to hold Saudi Arabia to account. "UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen," Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East director of campaigns, said in a statement. "The Saudi government's long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been willfully ignored by UN member states," she added. According to publicly submitted questions, Britain, Austria and Switzerland will directly ask about the Khashoggi case. Sweden will ask how it plans to improve respect for the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. The US will ask whether Riyadh plans to modify its counterterrorism law to ensure the definition of "terrorism" does "not include acts of expression, association, or peaceful assembly." Ahead of the review, the UN rights office published a list of concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia, including discrimination against women, continued use of the death penalty, and "extremely broad" definitions of terrorism that enable "the criminalization of some acts of peaceful expression."

Saudi Arabia faces international condemnation for its apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its ongoing war in Yemen. The UK and the US are reportedly working on a joint resolution to end hostilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is to debate on Monday the dismal human rights record of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The ... Read More »

Google employees stage global walkout for women’s rights

More than 1,000 workers around the world walked away from their desks to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct and equality issues. They also called for equal pay and an end to forced arbitration. At least 1,000 Google workers walked out of offices across the world on Thursday in protest of how the company handles sexual harassment. Employees in the Tokyo, Singapore, Berlin, London, Dublin and New York offices have already taken part, with California expected to follow suit. Google is facing an internal backlash after the New York Times (NYT) reported last week that Android software creator Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million (€79 million) severance package in 2014 after being accused of sexual misconduct. Both Google and Rubin have refuted this claim. The tech giant told the NYT that it had fired 48 people for sexual harassment since 2016, and none of them had been given an exit package. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai issued an apology on Tuesday, e-mailing employees that he was "deeply sorry for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees." The next day, Google's parent company Alphabet confirmed that Richard DeVaul, an executive accused of sexual harassment, had been fired without severance. Employees demand equal pay, end to arbitration But employees were not placated, and issued a list of demands during the Thursday walkout. They are asking Google for a concrete commitment to ending pay inequality, a clearer process for reporting sexual misconduct, and an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment or discrimination, a standard practice across many industries designed to force such disputes to be settled privately through a binding arbitration process, rather than in courts. Hundreds of Google employees in New York staged a rally in a park near the company's offices: Some employees have also accused Google of claiming to be a champion of diversity and equality, while failing to take any concrete steps towards comprehensive inclusion.

More than 1,000 workers around the world walked away from their desks to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct and equality issues. They also called for equal pay and an end to forced arbitration. At least 1,000 Google workers walked out of offices across the world on Thursday in protest of how the company handles sexual harassment. Employees in ... Read More »

Unemployed in Germany have greatest risk of poverty in the EU

Despite being one of Europe's wealthiest and economically-stable countries, Germany has the highest risk of poverty for the unemployed. According to the latest EU figures, the risk is as high as 70 percent. Those who are unemployed in Germany face a much bigger risk of falling into poverty than in any other European Union country, according to figures released by European statistics office Eurostat on Monday. After analyzing data from 2016, Eurostat found that the risk of poverty for those on unemployment benefit in Germany is at 70.8 percent - significantly higher than the average of 48.7 percent across Europe. Read more: Poverty, homelessness on the rise despite German affluence Lithuania was a distant second at 60.5 percent, followed by Latvia with a poverty risk of 55.8 percent. The countries with the lowest risk poverty for the unemployed — all under 40 percent — were France, Cyprus and Finland. Eurostat defines people as being at risk of poverty if their income is less than 60 percent of the national median. That means, in effect, that incomes of poorer people in Germany are growing at a slower rate than those above the median. Read more: The ticking timebomb of German poverty Forcing people into poorly-paid work Germans who have lost their jobs can at first claim 60 percent of their salaries as unemployment benefit (or 67 percent if they have children) - provided they have been paying social insurance contributions for at least 12 months. After a certain period, which depends on how long they were in work, unemployed people must claim a standard benefit known colloquially as "Hartz IV," - currently set at €416 ($512) a month. Housing benefits have to be claimed separately. "The new numbers don't surprise me," said Ulrich Schneider, head of the Paritätische Gesamtverband, an umbrella organization for a number of charities and social equality organizations. "This is the fruit of German social security policies. In 2005 we abolished a benefit for the unemployed that ensured that many unemployed people got something beyond Hartz IV - the result is that there is a bigger gap between the employed and the unemployed than elsewhere." Schneider also said he was baffled that Germany's welfare system has a reputation for generosity abroad. "These were conscious political decisions, because it was hoped that this would force more people into low income jobs," he told DW. "Germany's social state has been deliberately pared down since 2002. Look at health insurance: nowadays you can't get eyeglass prescriptions anymore, and waiting times for doctors have grown." The fallout, Schneider argued, is growing social fragmentation - even if Germany's poor are still better off than their counterparts in Bulgaria, say, they end up more cut off from their own society. "If I can't keep up with the average income, I get marginalized. That means many things that are natural for others are impossible for me - being a member of a sports club, for example, or allowing my child to learn a musical instrument." Opposition outrage Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister-party the Christian Social Union (CSU) have been presiding over Germany's welfare state in coalition with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) since 2013. The opposition did not waste the opportunity to attack the government. Left party leader Katja Kipping called the Eurostat figures a "resounding smack in the face for the CDU, CSU and SPD." Kipping said the coalition government "has to answer for the catastrophic situation," but has "apparently no desire to change anything." The Green party's labor market spokesmen Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn and Sven Lehmann were equally outraged, describing the figures as "sorry proof of the inadequacies of our social welfare system." "We have to improve the access to unemployment insurance for everyone, including short-term contractors, the self-employed, and others without security," they said in a joint statement. But Christoph Schröder, senior researcher at the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), pointed out that the total unemployment rate had dropped significantly in the past decade. Calculated as the percentage of unemployed people of all those available to the job market, the rate is currently at 5.8 percent, down from 11.7 percent in 2005. That equates to a total of 2.57 million people, down from 4.86 million in 2005. "I think that shows that the people that are still unemployed now are likely to be long-term unemployed," Schröder told DW. "But we have also criticized that less money is being spent on helping the long-term unemployed than previously." "We did have increasing inequality, and increasing poverty risk rates, since the end of the 1990s until around 2005, though since then there hasn't been a particular increase," he added. "There has been an increase because of the relatively high immigration rate - but if you take that out you have only a slight increase in inequality." Read more: Rich vs. poor: How fair and equal is Germany?

Despite being one of Europe’s wealthiest and economically-stable countries, Germany has the highest risk of poverty for the unemployed. According to the latest EU figures, the risk is as high as 70 percent. Those who are unemployed in Germany face a much bigger risk of falling into poverty than in any other European Union country, according to figures released by ... Read More »

Rebels attack UN peacekeepers in DRC, with more than a dozen dead and scores wounded

The attack is the deadliest against UN forces in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it "a war crime." Rebels attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's east on Thursday night, killing at least 14 soldiers and wounding more than 50 in one of the deadliest attacks on a UN mission in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the attack as "a war crime." "Today is a very tragic day for the UN family," he said, speaking of his "outrage and utter heartbreak." He urged Congolese authorities to carry out a swift investigation and find the perpetrators. Suspected Islamist rebels The UN mission, known as MONUSCO, said the raid was carried out by suspected militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). MONUSCO said was planning a joint military response with the Congolese army but was also evacuating the wounded from the base in North Kivu's Beni territory. The ADF is an Islamist group of insurgents from across the border in Uganda. Most of the peacekeepers killed were from Tanzania but at least five Congolese soldiers also died in the attack, which occurred about 25 miles (45 kilometers) from the regional capital, Beni. The UN said at least two peacekeepers remained missing. The base houses the UN's rapid intervention force, which has a rare mandate to launch offensive strikes. Because of that, the base and its soldiers have become frequent targets of the ADF. The UN-backed Radio Okapi reported that the fight lasted four hours. Almost 300 peacekeepers have been killed since the UN mission arrived in the battle-scarred country in 1999.

The attack is the deadliest against UN forces in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “a war crime.” Rebels attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east on Thursday night, killing at least 14 soldiers and wounding more than 50 in one of the deadliest attacks on a UN mission in recent years. ... Read More »

Texas church shooting leaves at least 26 dead

A lone gunman opened fire inside a Baptist church in the US state of Texas, killing more than two dozen people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church's pastor. The shooter was found dead in his vehicle. The shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a church service on Sunday left 26 people dead and 20 others injured, according to police. Speaking at a press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the attack on the church about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio was the "largest mass shooting in the state's history." The man officials identified as the killer had been discharged from the Air Force in 2014 for assaulting his wife and child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman. Abbott described the attacker as "a very deranged individual." Police have been studying social media for posts made by the suspect in the days before the attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon. The lone gunman began firing shots outside the church while the morning service was in progress, armed with what police said appeared to be an assault rifle. Dressed entirely in black, tactical-type gear and wearing a ballistic vest, he then walked inside and opened fire on the worshippers, who authorities said were aged from 5 to 72 years old. Read more: 8 facts about gun control in the US Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a press conference it was unknown whether the shooter killed himself or was shot dead by a local resident who had engaged him in the church and then pursued him by car. Martin said police did not shoot the gunman. Pastor's daughter killed The dead include the 14-year-old daughter of Pastor Frank Pomeroy. He said he and his wife, Sherri, were out of town and not at the church service. "We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends," Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to The Associated Press. "Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the Charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as I can." Witnesses said the morning church service was usually attended by about 50 people. Emergency personnel quickly rushed to the scene, with some victims evacuated by helicopter. Max Massey, a reporter for San Antonio's local news channel KSAT, said Sutherland Springs residents gathered at the town's community building awaiting news about their loved ones. 'Act of evil' Speaking in Japan on a 12-day trip to Asia, US President Donald Trump described the shootings as an "act of evil" in a "place of sacred worship." After expressing the heartbreak felt by the American people, Trump went to say the issue was not gun control, but mental health. "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, but this isn't a gun situation," he said. On Sunday evening hundreds of people, including Governor Abbott, gathered outside the church for a prayer vigil. The mass shooting comes just over a month after a gunman in Las Vegas fired down from a hotel room on a concert crowd, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more. The shootings quickly reignited a decadeslong national debate over whether easy access to firearms was contributing to more atrocities. Among those to comment on social media was Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said: "How many more people must die at churches or concerts or schools before we stop letting the @NRA control this country's gun policies?"A lone gunman opened fire inside a Baptist church in the US state of Texas, killing more than two dozen people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church's pastor. The shooter was found dead in his vehicle. The shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a church service on Sunday left 26 people dead and 20 others injured, according to police. Speaking at a press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the attack on the church about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio was the "largest mass shooting in the state's history." The man officials identified as the killer had been discharged from the Air Force in 2014 for assaulting his wife and child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman. Abbott described the attacker as "a very deranged individual." Police have been studying social media for posts made by the suspect in the days before the attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon. The lone gunman began firing shots outside the church while the morning service was in progress, armed with what police said appeared to be an assault rifle. Dressed entirely in black, tactical-type gear and wearing a ballistic vest, he then walked inside and opened fire on the worshippers, who authorities said were aged from 5 to 72 years old. Read more: 8 facts about gun control in the US Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a press conference it was unknown whether the shooter killed himself or was shot dead by a local resident who had engaged him in the church and then pursued him by car. Martin said police did not shoot the gunman. Pastor's daughter killed The dead include the 14-year-old daughter of Pastor Frank Pomeroy. He said he and his wife, Sherri, were out of town and not at the church service. "We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends," Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to The Associated Press. "Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the Charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as I can." Witnesses said the morning church service was usually attended by about 50 people. Emergency personnel quickly rushed to the scene, with some victims evacuated by helicopter. Max Massey, a reporter for San Antonio's local news channel KSAT, said Sutherland Springs residents gathered at the town's community building awaiting news about their loved ones. 'Act of evil' Speaking in Japan on a 12-day trip to Asia, US President Donald Trump described the shootings as an "act of evil" in a "place of sacred worship." After expressing the heartbreak felt by the American people, Trump went to say the issue was not gun control, but mental health. "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, but this isn't a gun situation," he said. On Sunday evening hundreds of people, including Governor Abbott, gathered outside the church for a prayer vigil. The mass shooting comes just over a month after a gunman in Las Vegas fired down from a hotel room on a concert crowd, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more. The shootings quickly reignited a decadeslong national debate over whether easy access to firearms was contributing to more atrocities. Among those to comment on social media was Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said: "How many more people must die at churches or concerts or schools before we stop letting the @NRA control this country's gun policies?"

A lone gunman opened fire inside a Baptist church in the US state of Texas, killing more than two dozen people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor. The shooter was found dead in his vehicle. The shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a church service on Sunday left 26 people dead and 20 ... Read More »

India’s domestic workers face abuse without legal protection

India's labor ministry is currently preparing legislation to provide social security for domestic workers. But rights groups say more legal protection against mistreatment is necessary. Murali Krishnan reports. Stories of wealthy families in India physically abusing and mistreating young women employed as domestic workers in metropolitan areas are becoming more common in India. In a high-profile case last July, a 26-year-old domestic worker from Bangladesh lodged a compliant with Indian police saying she had been beaten up and held captive by her employers at a home located in the upscale gated community of Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. She was freed after friends and family gathered in protest outside the apartment complex where she was being held. Her employers accused her of theft, but it was later discovered that she had not been paid for two months. The case is indicative of a larger trend of domestic workers in India being mistreated. Earlier this year, domestic workers at a posh housing complex in Mumbai went on a strike to protest the residents' attempts to standardize below-average payment. The residents eventually conceded to the workers' demands, but a few months later, all of the protesting maids were sacked. There have also been extreme cases of abuse - including the murder three years ago of a domestic worker in Delhi. A legislator and his wife were arrested in connection with the murder of the 35-year-old maid who worked in their home. It was reported that prior to her death, the maid had been physically abused with a hot iron and was hit with sharp objects like antelope horns. Read more:Hong Kong's domestic workers 'treated worse than the dogs' Where to turn for help? There are widespread reports of domestic workers in India being underpaid, overworked and abused by their employers. Incidents range from withholding of wages to starvation, not allowing time for sleep or rest, and beatings, torture, and sexual abuse. "Many resort to domestic work because of the decline of employment opportunities in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors," Pratchi Talwar, a social activist with Nirmala Niketan, an NGO that works with domestic workers, told DW, adding that domestic workers are vulnerable because they have no formal protection such as unions. Concerned about the mistreatment of domestic workers, India's labor ministry has initiated a policy paper and invited all stakeholders to contribute to a national policy for domestic workers. It is intended to provide them with legal status and the protection of social security. "The policy intends to set up an institutional mechanism for social security coverage, fair terms of employment, addressing grievances and resolving disputes," said Rajit Punhani, director general of labor welfare. "It provides for recognizing domestic workers as a worker with the right to register themselves with the state labor department or any other suitable mechanism." Read more: No social security for most of world's domestic workers A vulnerable population There is no exact figure for the number of domestic workers in India as they are mostly a floating population. Figures released from the National Sample Survey Office estimate they could range from anywhere between 4 to 10 million, many of whom migrate from the eastern states of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. But trade unions and organizations working with domestic workers are not convinced that the ministry's policy paper is specific enough. The issue, they argue, has been on the backburner for several years. "These are just guidelines which are not legally enforceable. What happens when there is sexual abuse, withholding salaries and denying leave?" Sonia Rani, project coordinator of the Self-employed Women's Association (SEWA), told DW. "Can the workers go to court? There also has to be a non-negotiable salary regime," she added. Limits of the law Other organizations like the National Domestic Workers Forum argue that neither the Maternity Benefits Act nor the Minimum Wages Act or any of the numerous other labor laws in India apply to domestic work. Domestic workers can be hired and fired at will and employers have no legally binding obligations. "We need to introduce a national policy for domestic workers, begin the process of fixing minimum wages for them and recognize domestic workers as 'workers' with legal rights," Amarjit Kaur, national secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, told DW. India has only two laws that in a roughly consider maids as workers - the Unorganized Workers' Social Security Act of 2008 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013. While the first law is a social welfare scheme, the other aims to protect working women in general. Importantly, neither law recognizes domestic workers as having legal rights. "This approach by the ministry is piecemeal and not workable. We need to have an omnibus board that looks at the rights of workers employed across sectors from construction and agriculture to domestic," Dunu Roy, social activist who has worked actively in the informal sector, told DW. Read more: Rights group urges justice for Nepali maids allegedly gang raped by Saudi diplomat Roy cites the example of Mathadi workers (head loaders) of Maharashtra, who fought a long and hard battle to secure their wages and are now governed by a welfare board that protects their rights. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also not been behind in flagging domestic workers as part of the country's invisible workforce and emphasized that more needs to be done to make decent work a reality for them. In welcoming the Indian government initiative to formulate a national policy on domestic workers, the ILO said it is an important step in recognizing the rights of millions of domestic workers. India is a signatory to the ILO's 189th convention, known as the Convention on Domestic Workers, but has not ratified it yet. "Though a number of states in India have been promoting minimum wages for domestic workers, there are not enough mechanisms in place to regulate working conditions of domestic workers,” Suneetha Eluri, ILO's national project coordinator for domestic workers, told DW. Across the world, domestic work is a rapidly growing source of employment for women and girls. Unions and organizations argue that the mindset regarding domestic workers must shift from a policy paradigm to one that focuses on workers' rights. Only then, can domestic workers' rights be defined and protected.

India’s labor ministry is currently preparing legislation to provide social security for domestic workers. But rights groups say more legal protection against mistreatment is necessary. Murali Krishnan reports. Stories of wealthy families in India physically abusing and mistreating young women employed as domestic workers in metropolitan areas are becoming more common in India. In a high-profile case last July, a ... Read More »

UN Rohingya conference: EU pledges millions in aid for refugees

سوئس شہر جنیوا میں آج دنیا میں پیدا ہونے والے مہاجرین سب سے بڑے بحران کے موضوع پر ایک ڈونر کانفرنس کا انعقاد کیا جا رہا ہے۔ اس دوران روہنگیا پناہ گزینوں کے لیے رقم جمع کی جائے گی۔ اقوام متحدہ نے مختلف ممالک سے درخواست کی ہے کہ جنیوا اجلاس کے دوران روہنگیا برادری کے لیے کم از کم 434 ملین ڈالر اکھٹے کیے جائیں۔ روہنگیا کی ہجرت کا معاملہ بنگلہ دیش اور میانمار کے مابین تیزی سے ایک بحران کی صورت اختیار کرتا جا رہا ہے۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ادارے برائے مہاجرین کے سربراہ فیلیپو گرانڈی کے بقول، ’’یہ بہت ہی نازک صورتحال ہے اور اس سلسلے میں امداد کی شدید ضرورت ہے۔‘‘ یہ رقم اقوام متحدہ کے ان مختلف منصوبوں پر خرچ کی جائے گی، جو بنگلہ دیش میں رہائش پذیر روہنگیا کے لیے جاری ہیں۔ بتايا گيا ہے کہ اس امدادی رقم سے آئندہ برس فروری تک کے ليے روہنگيا مسلمانوں کو بنيادی سہوليات فراہم کی جائيں گی۔ تشدد کی وجہ سے میانمار سے فرار ہو کر بنگلہ دیش پہنچنے والے روہنگیا کی تعداد تقریباً چھ لاکھ ہو چکی ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش کا شمار ایشیا کی غریب ترین ریاستوں میں ہوتا ہے، تاہم اس کے باوجود اس ملک نے اپنی سرحدیں روہنگیا مسلمانوں کے لیے کھولی ہوئی ہیں۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ہنگامی امداد کے ادارے کے سربراہ مارک لوکوک نے کہا ہے کہ سالوں سے روہنگیا برادری کے خلاف جاری ظلم و ستم، زیادتی اور نقل مکانی کی وجہ سے اسے کوئی علیحدہ یا الگ تھلگ بحران قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا ہے۔ رپورٹس کے مطابق ہر دس روہنگیا مہاجر میں سے چھ بچے ہیں اور ان میں سے اکثریت کو کم خوراکی کا سامنا ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش میں شہر کوکس بازار میں اور اس کے ارد گرد قائم مہاجرین کے مراکز میں مقیم روہنگیا کو پانی کی کمی اور نکاسی آب کا نظام نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ان کیمپوں میں بیماریوں کے پھوٹ پڑنے کے خطرات بڑھتے جا رہے ہیں۔

The EU has pledged €30 million as the UN holds a fundraising conference to aid Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh amid persecution at home. The European Commission on Monday promised to give €30 million ($35 million) as the United Nations opened a fundraising conference in Geneva that aims to secure some ... Read More »

Afghanistan mosque blasts: Dozens dead in suicide bomb attacks

افغان دارالحکومت کابل کی ایک شیعہ مسجد پر آج جمعہ بیس اکتوبر کو حملہ کیا گیا۔ حملے کے وقت شیعہ مسلمان شام کی نماز کے ادائیگی کے لیے جمع تھے۔ افغان دارالحکومت کےایک سینیئر سکیورٹی اہلکار نے بتایا ہے کہ کم از کم تیس نعشیں مسجد سے باہر لائی جا چکی ہیں۔ افغان وزارت داخلہ کے ایک اہلکار نے بھی ان ہلاکتوں کی تصدیق کر دی ہے۔ یہ حملہ کابل پولیس کے تیرہویں ڈسٹکرکٹ دشتی برچ میں واقع امام زمانہ مسجد پر کیا گیا۔ کابل میں مسجد کے باہر خودکش حملے میں چھ ہلاکتیں کابل، شیعہ مسجد پر خودکش حملہ، ایک درجن سے زائد ہلاکتیں اشتعال انگیز لیف لیٹ کی اشاعت پر امریکی جنرل کی معذرت ’افغانستان میں امریکی فوجیوں کی حقیقی تعداد گیارہ ہزار‘ کابل کے سکیورٹی ادارے سے منسلک ایک سینیئر اہلکار میجر جنرل علی مست مومند نے حملہ آور کے بارے میں بتایا گیا کہ وہ پیدل چلتے ہوئے امام زمانہ مسجد میں داخل ہوا تھا۔ اس خود کش حملہ آور نے نمازیوں کے درمیان پہنچ کر اپنی بارودی جیکٹ کو اڑا دیا۔ کابل شہر کی پولیس کی کرائم برانچ کے سربراہ جنرل محمد سلیم الماس نے نیوز ایجنسی اے ایف پی کو بتایا کہ حملے میں بارودی جیکٹ اڑانے سے قبل دہشت گرد نے مسجد کے اندر موجود افراد پر فائرنگ بھی کی۔ پینتالیس دیگر نمازیوں کے زخمی ہونے کا بھی بتایا گیا ہے۔ ان زخمیوں میں کئی کی حالت تشویشناک ہے۔ ہلاکتوں میں اضافے کا خدشہ ظاہر کیا گیا ہے۔ زخمیوں کو شہر کے استقلال ہسپتال کے علاوہ دوسرے طبی مراکز میں پہنچایا جا رہا ہے۔ کابل کے محکمہٴ صحت نے دس ہلاکتوں کی فی الحال تصدیق کی ہے۔ ہلاک شدگان اور زخمیوں کی حتمی تعداد کا تعین نہیں ہو سکا ہے۔ اس مناسبت سے متضاد رپورٹس سامنے آئی ہیں۔ امدادی کارروائیاں شروع کر دی گئی ہیں۔ ابھی تک کسی گروپ یا تنظیم نے اس حملے کی ذمہ داری قبول نہیں کی ہے۔

At least 39 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Afghan capital Kabul. A separate bombing at a mosque in Afghanistan’s central province of Ghor left 20 dead. A suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a Shiite mosque on Friday in Kabul as worshippers gathered for evening prayers. An Afghan official at the Interior Ministry ... Read More »

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