BBC News – M J Akbar: India minister under scrutiny over #MeToo allegations

A former prominent newspaper editor who is now a junior foreign minister is the latest to be named in what is being called India’s #MeToo movement.

New Delhi – India, 10 October 2018. M J Akbar is accused of predatory behaviour, including inviting young women to hotel rooms for “meetings”.

Neither Mr Akbar nor the foreign ministry have responded to the historic allegations against him.

But another minister, Maneka Gandhi, said all allegations, including those against politicians, must be probed.

Mr Akbar is the most senior person so far to be named in the flurry of allegations that have been made against comedians, journalists, authors, actors and filmmakers in the last few days.

One of India’s most influential editors, he has edited leading English-language newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Asian Age.

He was first named on Monday by senior journalist Priya Ramani, who retweeted an article she had written for Vogue India a year ago titled “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world”, where she recounted what she called her first experience of workplace harassment.

Ms Ramani did not name anyone in the original piece, but said in Monday’s tweet that the article had been about Mr Akbar.

Since then, five other women have also come forward with their own stories, naming Mr Akbar. At least one other anonymous account is believed to be about him.

Apart from Mr Akbar, veteran actors Alok Nath and film director Vikas Bahl have been accused of sexual assault. Nath has denied the allegations, while Bahl has not responded.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-45808629

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The Tribune – AAP’s Harvinder Singh Phoolka resigns as MLA

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 October 2018. Aam Aadmi Party MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka on Friday resigned as legislator from the Punjab Assembly, expressing unhappiness over the state government’s alleged “failure” to initiate action against former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and retired DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in sacrilege incidents.

“I have sent my resignation as legislator of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to the Speaker through e-mail,” the Dakha MLA told PTI over phone.

However, Speaker Rana K P Singh is yet to take a call on the resignation, Assembly officials said.

If his resignation was to be accepted, AAP’s strength in the Vidhan Sabha will drop to 19 MLAs, eight of whom have formed a rebel group led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira.

Phoolka, who is fighting 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in courts at New Delhi, had been asking the state government to initiate action against Badal and Saini in connection with police firing on people protesting at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan against sacrilege incidents.

On three occasions, he had said he would resign if action is not taken on the findings of Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission.

According to the report of the Commission, that was set up to probe the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, Badal and Saini were “aware” of the proposed police action to disperse the protesters at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura using force.

It held that the police opened fire in Behbal Kalan, where two people were killed, “without any warning and without taking permission from civil authorities”. Phoolka had earlier resigned as the Leader of Opposition saying that he could not do justice with the post as he was fighting anti-Sikh riot cases.

In September, Phoolka had alleged that due procedure was not followed by the police before it opened fire on the protesters.

He said his resignation would put pressure on the state government to act on findings of the Justice (retired) Ranjit Singh Commission.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/aap-s-phoolka-resigns-as-mla/667149.html

Gentbrugge Stelplaats – Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugge Stelplaats
02 September


Tram 4 at temporary terminus
Works on the Moscou tracks are supposed to start next month

Gentbrugse Meersen
03 September


Passion flower


Through the ‘jungle’


Wonderful wild bits in a man-made park


Sheep grazing on the Scheldedijk


There where the cows graze

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

CBC News – Ontario to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets

The province joins Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba in allowing exemption, which takes effect on October 18

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 11 October 2018. Ontario will soon allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets, joining three other provinces in providing the exemption.

The Progressive Conservative government said Wednesday that the exemption, which goes into effect October 18, will recognize Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.

“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”

Last week, Tory legislator Prabmeet Sarkaria tabled a bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow the helmet exemption, but the government said Wednesday it would be bringing about the change through a regulation.

“I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now,” Sarkaria said in a statement.

“The wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity, and exemptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented in other provinces in Canada and across the world.”

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba allow exemption

Turbaned Sikhs are already exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.

The United Kingdom implemented a motorcycle helmet exemption for Sikhs in 1976, the Ontario government noted.
The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario applauded the decision. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Ford said the move to allow the helmet exemption came after listening to the Sikh community. He also said it fulfilled a promise made during the spring election campaign.

Ontario motorcycle club wants helmet exemption for turban-wearing Sikhs

The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario welcomed the government’s announcement.

“Soon we will have a right to ride with our pride,” it said in a Facebook post.

Expert raises safety concerns

Ontario’s previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

Raynald Marchand, general manager of programs at the Canada Safety Council, called the helmet exemption “disappointing” but not surprising since Ford had been signalling the move for months.

“The main implication is that we’re going to get people who will get hurt,” he said. “There’s no question that if they do fall, (a turban) will not provide the protection that a helmet would provide.”

Sikhs on motorcycles must wear helmets, Ontario government says

Marchand, an expert in motorcycle safety, said the exemption should be granted to turban-wearing Sikhs only after they receive their full motorcycle licences, not during training.

“They are most vulnerable at the learning stage,” he said. “They might also find that wearing a helmet is actually a pretty good thing.”

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-allows-sikhs-to-ride-motorcycles-without-helmet-1.4858361?cmp=rss

The Hindu – Maneka Gandhi proposes committee of legal experts to look into #MeToo cases

She asserts that she believed in the “pain and trauma” of every complainant.

New Delhi – India, 12 October 2018. The Women and Child Development Ministry plans to set up a panel of legal experts to look into allegations of sexual harassment that have surfaced in the #MeToo campaign, Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday. She asserted that she believed in the “pain and trauma” of every complainant.

More women should come out and address the issue of sexual harassment and narrate their experiences, she said.

“I believe in all of them. I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complainant,” she told PTI in an interview.

Ms Gandhi did not comment on the allegations of sexual harassment against her colleague M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, who has been accused by several former colleagues of sexual harassment when he served as editor at various media organisations.

Film director Sajid Khan and actor Alok Nath are among those accused of sexual misconduct and more.

“I am proposing to set up a committee with senior judicial and legal persons as members to look into all issues emanating from the #MeToo campaign,” Ms. Gandhi said.

The committee will look into the legal and institutional framework in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, including some of the complaints if required, and advise the ministry on how to strengthen these, she said.

‘Elephants in the rooms for the last 25 years’

“It takes a lot for women to come out like this. These cases have been elephants in the rooms for the last 25 years. The question here is how can they prove these after all these years… they have faced verbal assault, they have been touched, pinched, their clothes have been pulled…

“The first thing to do is naming and shaming these monsters. Naming and shaming will go a long way in lessening the pain these women have been carrying,” she said.

The next step, she said, was to set up a committee that could listen to the women.

Urging women to come out with their stories, Ms. Gandhi said men who sexually harassed them depend on them to be shamed into keeping quiet.

She said her Ministry had created a woman-friendly environment in which they could complain to her directly. Even anonymous complaints would be addressed.

Ms Gandhi said women could complain through the She Box (www.shebox.nic.in), which provides a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status to register complaints related to sexual harassment.

Complaints could also be lodged at min-wcd@nic.in, she said. All the cases would be closely monitored by the Ministry.

“Regarding taking action against those that are in office, I am really hopeful that the system will react because I believe that these complaints are true,” she said.

According to the Minister, protecting women had been the watchword of the present government with the ”Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign one of its flagship schemes.

“The Prime Minister has always given top priority to the rights of women. The first programme that he launched was Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. We don’t save our daughters to allow big shots to insult them later in life. I will do what I can do to help them,” she said, adding that women should raise their voices.

“They should speak out and in one jolt finish off this matter altogether so that men are frightened from ever sexually assaulting or making women uncomfortable.”

India’s #MeToo movement, which started with actor Tanushree Dutta alleging that actor Nana Patekar harassed her during a film shoot in 2008, has escalated sharply with increasing number of women coming forward with their complaints.

Demands for action against Mr. Akbar have also been rising.

While most BJP leaders and ministers have refrained from commenting, on Thursday, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said Mr Akbar himself would be better positioned to speak on the issue.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/maneka-gandhi-proposes-committee-of-legal-experts-to-look-into-metoo-cases/article25206186.ece?homepage=true