BBC News – Is India really the most dangerous country for women?

A survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women, ahead of Afghanistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. But is this really true?

New Delhi – India, 28 June 2018. The poll surveyed 548 experts on six different indices, healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual and non-sexual violence, and human trafficking. They were first asked to name the five most dangerous countries from the list of 193 United Nations member states.

And then they were asked to name the worst country in each of the above categories. India topped three – cultural traditions, sexual violence and human trafficking.

A similar poll seven years ago had ranked India fourth, with Afghanistan top of the list.

The new survey has been criticised in India, with many questioning how countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, which grant far fewer rights to women, managed to perform better.

The country’s National Commission for Women rejected it outright, saying that countries where women could not speak out had done better. They also pointed out that rape, harassment and other forms of violence against women appear to have risen in India because more cases are being reported, driven by public outrage.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development said in a statement that using “an opinion poll to peg India as the most dangerous country for women is clearly an effort to malign the nation and draw attention away from real improvements seen in recent years”.

How did the report reach this conclusion?

It relies completely on the opinion and verdict of the 548 experts. They include academics, policymakers, journalists and those working in healthcare or other development sectors.

The foundation’s head, Monique Villa, told the BBC that 41 of the experts were Indian. However there is no clarity about the nationality of the other experts and how widely other countries were represented. Furthermore, the report states that of 759 experts contacted, only 548 replied – no other information about them is available.

Sanjay Kumar, director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), one of India’s top independent research organisations, said this “lack of transparency” was extremely worrying.

“How were these people chosen? What is the gender divide? Where are they from? This is very important to know, but there is no information available on it,” he said.

But Roop Rekha Verma, a college professor and social activist, welcomed the report.

“I am not unhappy about this report and its findings – it is enough to make us sit up,” she said. “A better methodology, rooted in intensive data and empirical work, could have been used of course, but if more than 500 gender specialists view it like this, it has to be taken seriously. These aren’t perceptions from people on the street – these are well-informed experts.

Was the right methodology used?

No, according to Mr Kumar. He points out that government or other public data is available for many of the parameters used to rank nations, and to ignore that in favour of perception is an “extreme shortcut”.

“Data, even if unreliable, should form the basis of any ranking. Perception should form the basis for a ranking only when there is no available data,” he said.

Mr Kumar added that the survey admitting to use “mixed methodology” – that is a mix of face-to-face, online and phone interviews – was also very problematic.

“I can tell you from experience that different interview techniques always give you different outcomes. There has to be one base. It seems that in this case the interviews have been carried out on the basis of convenience – one can only assume this as no further explanation is given.

“This is no way to conduct a survey – especially one that you are publicising so much. It’s a shortcut and should not be taken seriously.”

The Tribune – MP meets Pakistan youth after kin sought help via video

Tribune News Service

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 28 June 2018. The family of Pakistani youth Mohammed Asif, who had crossed the border to get killed by BSF personnel, has made a video, requesting Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann to get through to him.

Following this, Mann went to the Ferozepur jail to meet the 24-year-old youth and informed his family that he was safe.

“When I showed Asif the video, he identified the person as Malik Mohd, a social worker in Kasur district. The youth told me that he did not want to share his problem and the reason why he crossed the border. He was arrested by the Mamdot police on May 28 and sent to the Ferozepur jail on May 30,” the MP said.

Mann said: “Asif is from Jalloke village, which falls under the Usman Wala police station of Kasur district. His father is Khalil Numberdar while Malik is his friend.”

The man, who had sought Mann’s help, did not disclose his identity. Mann contacted the BSF authorities and finally got through to two youngsters Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Naees, who were arrested on May 28.

“Initially, I showed the video to Naees, but he did not identify the man in the video. Then, I showed it to Asif. Now, I have to see what I can do to help the youth,” Mann said.

The MP also got the number of Asif’s father and called him up. “I told him his son had tried to cross the border and was in the Ferozepur jail,” he said.

“We thank Mann sahib for locating our missing son. We hope he will get him released,” said the youth’s father.

Gentbrugse Meersen – Kortrijksepoortstraat – Braemstraat

Gentbrugse Meersen
15 May 2018

Which tree ?

18 May 2018

Citroën Deux Chevaux
Lelijk eendje

Citroën Deux Chevaux

Lelijk eendje

18 May 2018

Strange coloured zones on our new street

Are these to give cyclists a false sense of security ?

Opposite our ‘humble abode’
Too wide for cycle lanes
Too narrow for bus lanes

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Express Tribune – Sikhs bar Indian diplomats from event

Asif Mehmood

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 30 June 2018. The 179th death anniversary of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was observed on Friday and the central event was held at Gurdwara Dera Sahab Lahore.

Sikh pilgrims from India attended the central event, while Indian diplomats were barred from entering Gurdwara Derah Sahab by the worshippers.

Indian diplomats and members of the Sikh community have been at loggerheads ever since an April 18, 2018 Indian Supreme Court verdict over the Khalistan movement and it’s allowing the release of a controversial film on Guru Nanak Devji.

The ceremony of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s death anniversary was held at his shrine in Gurdwara Dera Sahab. Those prominent among the Sikh pilgrims, who came from India, were offered “saropay” to wear.

The ETPC chairman attended the ceremony for the first time and said swift work was underway to restore and renovate the sacred places of Hindus in the region. “Sikh pilgrims are always welcome in Pakistan and they are provided with every facility”.

India protests with Pakistan after diplomat ‘barred’ from entering gurdwara

Sikh pilgrim group leader Balvinder Singh, who arrived from India, said Pakistan is like a second home. He added that followers of the faith considered Pakistani land as sacred. Singh continued that Pakistan was setting an unprecedented example when it came to caring for minority groups.

“Pakistan has given love and respect to Indian Sikh pilgrims. We cannot forget that and pray for the unity of both countries (India and Pakistan).

Former Prabandhak Committee’s chief Sardar Bashan Singh said the way Sikhs are being treated in India is condemnable. “They tormented us by making a controversial film about the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

He added the Sikh nation would not accept a ban on the Khalsa slogan.

Dawn – Domiciled Christian voters of Quetta

Muhammad Akbar Notezai

Quetta – Balochistan – Pakistan, 30 June 2018. To the north of Quetta, in the centre of Nawa Killi, a neighbourhood predominantly populated by the Pakhtun community, is a Christian colony called Bashirabad. It is not an old settlement.

In fact, not long ago, the entire area was nothing more than fields, with no one except the Christian community as its only inhabitants.

“The main road along Quetta cantonment was visible from Bashirabad,” recalls Saqib Masih, a resident reminiscing about the quieter past. “Except us [Christians] there was no one else around. Gradually however, Pakhtuns from neighbouring Afghanistan began to pour in and settled across the area.”

My host in Bashirabad, Arif Gill, is a retired mechanic who worked for the Army. As soon as I met him at the main gate of the colony, he told me that he was disappointed I had come only with a pen and a notebook.

“I thought you were going to come visit us with a camera, and a crew. But I forgot that you’re not a TV wala,” said Mr Gill with a smirk. “At least you have come to see that we also exist in Quetta!”

Bashirabad is spread across four acres, and though overcrowded, the neighbourhood is clean. Inside the colony, in one end called Pakkay Mohalla, there are 24 residential quarters for homeless Christians.

The residential block was built back in 1988 on orders of General Ziaul Haq.

After General Zia, the right to elect our representatives was taken away from us. All those who come and go claiming they represent us, are handpicked by their political parties and given reserved seats. We do not have the right to vote, and that is why we have been driven into a corner.

The streets near the quarters are filled with children playing games, as their parents walk about chatting about their days. Javed Masih, one of the oldest residents of the area, sits down to speak to us. His was one of the first families to come to live in the quarters.

General Zia is often remembered for nothing else than sowing the seeds of extremism in our society,the heavy price of which we still continue to pay. Javed however, quite ironically, does not agree.

“We used to live in a Qabristan, in Quetta cantonment. We were homeless, and we lived in the cemetery because we had no place to go. The graves were our houses.”

By his account, General Zia during one of his visits to the city, saw Javed’s family in the cemetery. “After he saw our pitiful condition, General Zia asked about us and was told that we are homeless Christians.

Apparently, the general was appalled and ordered our representative in the provincial assembly at the time, Bashir Masih, to build quarters for us. We are indebted to the general,” said Javed.

Shortly after the authorities finished building the quarters, Christian families flocked to their new residences from all over the city. Things have slowly deteriorated since then though, as the community finds itself cramped on all sides.

The Bashirabad that was spread across 11 acres has now been squeezed down to four. “Outsiders [non-Christians] took most of our land away by intimidating us. At the time of General Zia, we elected Bashir Masih so that he could voice our concerns to the authorities.

It was due to his efforts that we ended up having our own residential area, which he named after himself,” said Mr Gill.

It was during General Zia’s administration that Christians could separately elect their candidates. Mr Gill recalled, “After Gen Zia, the right to elect our representatives was taken away from us. All those who come and go claiming they represent us, are handpicked by their political parties and given reserved seats. We do not have the right to vote, and that is why we have been driven into a corner.”

The community migrated from other parts of united India during the Raj when the British came to inhabit Quetta and use it as a military stronghold. At the time, the city was still a small village. The Baloch and the Pakhtuns already living here refused to engage in menial jobs, which is why we were brought in, Mr Gill explained.

“Most of us came from Punjab. But despite living in Quetta for over a hundred years, we still can’t say we are locals. According to everyone else, we are outsiders.” He elaborated further, “we have been residents here all our lives; but we are not recognised as being from here. Not on paper and certainly not in government records.”

The only reason Bashirabad exists is because the Christian community had the right to elect representatives, as opposed to having someone picked from among them. “We don’t have that luxury today. A former member of the National Assembly, Aasiya Nasir, a Christian woman, was supposed to represent our community.

Affiliated with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, she often sarcastically taunted us saying that she was not elected by our votes. She was brought in by her party, which is where her loyalties lie,” said Mr Gill.

The MNA, he said, often remarked that “Christians should be happy for even the tiniest bit of effort I make to help them because I was not elected by their votes. I am answerable to my party; not to the Christian community. This is the kind of things we have to hear from our Christian legislators, let alone other candidates who belong to different religions,” said a disgruntled Mr Gill.