Satellite Images Could Identify Slave Labor in India

sl.jpg

Picture Courtesy: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Researchers in England are hoping to help root out modern-day slavery in northern India by using detailed satellite imagery to locate brick kilns — sites that are notorious for using millions of slaves, including children.

A team of geospatial experts at the University of Nottingham use Google Maps and dozens of volunteers to identify potential sites of exploitation and report them to authorities.

“The key thing at the moment is to get those statistics right and to get the locations of the brick kilns sorted,” said Doreen Boyd, a co-researcher on the “Slavery from Space” project.

“There are certainly activists on the ground that will help us in terms of getting the statistics and the locations of these brick kilns to [government] officials.”

Anti-slavery activists said the project could be useful in identifying remote kilns or mines that would otherwise escape public or official scrutiny.

“But there are other, more pressing challenges like tackling problematic practices, including withheld wages, lack of transparent accounting … no enforcement of existing labor laws,” said Jakub Sobik, spokesman at Anti-Slavery, a London-based nongovernmental organization.

Millions of people in India are believed to be living in slavery. Despite a 1976 ban on bonded labor, the practice remains widespread at brick kilns, rice mills and brothels, among others.

The majority of victims belong to low-income families or marginalized castes like the Dalits or “untouchables.”

Nearly 70 percent of brick kiln workers in South Asia are estimated to be working in bonded and forced labor, according to a 2016 report by the International Labor Organization. About a fifth of those are underage.

The project relies on crowdsourcing, a process where volunteers sift through thousands of satellite images to identify possible locations of kilns. Each image is shown to multiple volunteers, who mark kilns independently.

The team is currently focused on an area of 2,600 square kilometers in the desert state of Rajasthan — teeming with brick-making sites — and plans to scale up the project in the coming years.

Researchers are now in talks with satellite companies to get access to more detailed images, rather than having to rely on publicly available Google Maps.

The project is one of several anti-slavery initiatives run by the university, which include research on slave labor-free supply chains and human trafficking.

Article Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Some Rural Indian Women Challenge Ban on Calling Husbands by Name

rural.jpg

Picture Courtesy: Pixabay

When nonprofit Video Volunteers launched a campaign to tackle patriarchy in rural India, several women mentioned a seemingly innocuous custom: not being allowed to call their husbands by their first names.

Women, particularly in villages, are taught from a young age to never address their husbands — or older male relatives — by their names, as a mark of respect.

But the custom, which is less common in the cities, is deeply patriarchal, said Stalin K., director of Video Volunteers, which is based in Goa.

The Video Volunteers reports included women talking about their limited freedom of movement compared with that of men, biases against widows, the practice of covering their heads in the presence of men, and the prejudice faced by women doing jobs considered to be men’s work, such as driving tuk-tuks, or three-wheeled taxis.

Several reports were about women not being able to call their husbands by names because they were told it was disrespectful and inauspicious to do so. Instead, a woman would address her husband as the father of their child, by his profession, or simply with “please listen.”

In discussions held afterward, women practiced saying their husbands’ names aloud for the first time, said Stalin, who goes by his first name.

The women were then encouraged to talk to their husbands about the practice.

In many cases, the men did not allow their wives to address them by name, and one woman was ostracized by her village for referring to an older male relative by name, Stalin said.

But some women were told they could call their husbands by name — in private.

“That is still a step forward,” Stalin said.

“Our experience with this campaign is that these women are not passively accepting of patriarchy. They are very aware and just waiting for an opportunity to push back — in a thoughtful and considered manner, which perhaps has a greater impact.”

 

“At first glance, it seems like a small, harmless custom,” he said.

“But even these seemingly inane practices matter, as they are as much a power play as sexual assault or violence against women,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Video Volunteers trains men and women in rural areas across India to report on everyday issues that concern them.

The volunteers record short video clips on their tablets, which are then screened and discussed in the community.

About 70 volunteers in more than a dozen states were trained to report on patriarchy, sexism and violence against women.

More than 327,390 crimes against women were registered in India in 2015, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2010.

Many crimes go unreported, particularly in villages, because women fear bringing shame to their families.

Article Courtesy: VOA NEWS

British Princes Regret Rushed Conversation with Mother Diana

Britain’s Prince William and Harry have spoken of their regret over the last conversation they had with their mother Princess Diana before she died, saying the telephone call was “desperately rushed.”

In a documentary called “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, the two princes said they spoke to their mother shortly before she died.

“Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know ‘see you later’ … if I’d known now obviously what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been so blase about it and everything else,” Prince William said.

Prince Harry said: “It was her speaking from Paris, I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.”

Nick Kent, the film’s executive producer, told Reuters he believed the document offered a glimpse of “the private Diana”. “Nobody has ever told this story from the point of view of the two people who knew her better than anyone else, and loved her the most: her sons.”

The princes recall their mother’s sense of humor, with Prince Harry describing her as “one of the naughtiest parents”.

They also recall the pain of their parents’ divorce and how they dealt with the news of her death and its aftermath.

While the film addresses aspects of Diana’s life such as her charity work involving HIV and landmines, it shies away from some other issues, such as extra-marital affairs.

According to the makers, however, the British royals were very open and did not put any subject off limits. Rather, they wanted to cover new ground and make a different type of film.

“What we had in mind is that in years to come, Prince William and Prince Harry would be happy to show this film to their own children and say this is who your grandmother was,” Kent said.

“Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” will be broadcast on British and U.S. television on July 24.

A number of commemorative events have been planned to mark Diana’s death.

William and Harry attended a private service this month to rededicate her grave and the brothers have commissioned a statue to be erected in her honor outside their official London home.

Rarely-seen possessions of Diana, including her music collection and ballet shoes, went on display on Saturday at Buckingham Palace. An exhibition celebrating Diana’s fashion opened in February.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Picture Courtesy: http://showbiz.mirtesen.ru

Nobel Winner Malala, in Nigeria, Speaks Out Against Boko Haram

Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai was greeted with cheers Tuesday by dozens of young women in northeastern Nigeria, where she spoke out for the many girls abducted under Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency.

The Pakistani activist, 20, told The Associated Press she was excited by the courage of the young women who are undaunted as they pursue an education amid one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

“This is part of my girl power trip, visiting many parts of the world,” said Yousafzai, who also met with the freed Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction by Boko Haram more than three years ago. “I am here now because of the Nigerian girls, fighting for them and speaking up for them.”

Yousafzai visited internally displaced camps in and around Maiduguri, where thousands have sheltered from Boko Haram’s violence. The extremist group continues to carry out deadly attacks there, often using young female suicide bombers.

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, center right, visits a school in Maiduguri, Nigeria, July. 18, 2017. The Nobel Peace laureate spoke out for the many girls abducted under Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency.

“They have lived in the period of extremism,” Yousafzai said of the young women around her. Many have seen family members killed.

Shot by Taliban

Yousafzai was 15 when she shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012, targeted because of her advocacy for women’s education.

The Nobel winner said her Nigeria visit was significant because it was the partial fulfillment of what she advocated the last time she was there. In 2014, she pressed then-President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the rescue of the more than 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

On Monday, Yousafzai met with more than 100 who have since been rescued and now stay in the capital, Abuja, for what the government calls rehabilitation.

While she told the AP she shared their joy at being freed, she said she was not happy that the girls haven’t been allowed to reunite fully with their families.

She said she hoped they would “live with their family, live a normal life.”

Many others remain in Boko Haram captivity, “and the government must unite so that they should make sure that these girls are released,” Yousafzai said.

“Boko Haram themselves should learn that in Islam, such things are unacceptable,” she added. “This is against humanity, this is against Islam.”

Nigerian activist Amina Yusuf, left, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and acting Nigerian President Yemi Osinbajo are pictured at the presidential villa, in Abuja, July. 17, 2017.

Yousafzai also met Monday with acting President Yemi Osinbajo, speaking up for the more than 10 million children displaced by Boko Haram and pressing for the declaration of a state of emergency for education in Nigeria.

ml

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

She also urged the international community to address the crisis in the country’s northeast.

Inspired by visitor

Girls at the internally displaced camps said the Nobel winner’s story of courage gave them inspiration for a brighter future.

“Her story gives us hope. That’s why we, too, want to go to school and become something in life,” said Fatima Ali, 15. “We have to bear all pains like hunger to go to school. We barely eat once a day here. We have not eaten since morning because government people no longer bring us food for about two months now.”

Three million children in Nigeria’s northeast are in need of support to keep learning, according to the U.N. children’s agency. Nearly 1,400 schools have been destroyed during Boko Haram’s insurgency, which began in 2009, and more than 2,295 teachers have been killed, the agency says.

Ali said she was in school when Boko Haram attacked her town three years ago. “I want to become a soldier so that I could help my community to fight and kill Boko Haram, because they are not good people,” she said.

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, far right, speaks with schoolgirls in Maiduguri, Nigeria, July. 18, 2017.

Another student, Fatima Grema, 15, said she saw herself in Yousafzai.

“Boko Haram abducted me and wanted to marry me,” she said. After being taken from the town of Baga to a location near the Cameroon border, “I later managed to escape,” she said. “I was not in school until I came to the camp here.”

Grema said she now wants to become a teacher.

UNICEF’s country representative, Mohamed Malick Fall, said Yousafzai’s visit was a symbol of hope, and “we will do everything in our power to make sure all children can keep learning.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Will Women Rule the 2017 Summer Box Office?

wd.jpgWomen are flexing their muscles in Hollywood this summer with the female-directed film Wonder Woman soaring past $600 million at the box office worldwide and another woman-led production, The Beguiled, picking up the coveted Palm D’Or for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.

Women have always been an essential component of Hollywood as lead actresses in the romance genre, in comedy and drama. But they have had difficulty establishing themselves in roles traditionally claimed by male actors such as action heroes.

Women have also found it difficult to secure directorial roles in the film industry, because studios are generally reluctant to put big budget films in the hands of female filmmakers.

Breaking barriers

However, this summer a big crack in that ceiling was made by women using their talents in front of and behind the camera to conjure up high earnings at the box office.

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, has so far grossed $600 million and continues to draw audiences. Actress Gal Gadot portrays Wonder Woman, whose strength, courage and grace help end the war of all wars. Gadot plays Princess Diana of Themyscira, a Greek goddess, who decides to leave her utopian world to fight against Ares, the God of War, a thinly veiled metaphor for Nazi Germany in World War II.

In real life, Gadot, an Israeli actress and model, once served as a combat trainer in the Israel Defense forces. She and American filmmaker Jenkins have achieved an impressive feat by breaking the box office record for a female director.

Jenkins doesn’t focus on the gender issue. She believes her success is due to her love for Wonder Woman. As a filmmaker, she aspired to make the best Wonder Woman ever.

“The fact that I’m a woman or she is a woman or we are all women or whatever, was a wonderful deep part of it, but you just tune it out completely because I’m just a filmmaker trying to make a film that I care about that much anyway,” she said.

Jenkins says she saw Wonder Woman as a superheroine who channels her raw power through empathy and compassion.

“Being a hero is often not a proactive state of being, of going and punching somebody out and therefore things being over,” she said. “It ends up being so much more on an everyday scale about understanding and love and forgiveness and the complexity of life.”

Chris Pine and Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman.” (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Next to this great woman is good man, pilot Steve Trevor, played by actor Chris Pine.

Gadot offers glowing reviews of her co-star, who, she says, made her laugh so often during filming that they had to repeat many takes of sequences to do them straight-faced. Gadot is grateful Jenkins had the same mindset about the film and the character as she did.

“I am so lucky that Patty was the one to direct me. Her vision for Diana was in line with mine,” she said.

The dynamic duo of Gadot and Jenkins is more proof that Hollywood studios can entrust big budget productions to women.

Coppola and The Beguiled

Filmmaker Sofia Coppola recently received the coveted Palm D’Or for her remake period drama The Beguiled, a film first made in 1971 by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood.

“The original movie is from the male point of view, the soldier’s point of view of this woman’s world,” Coppola said, “and I thought, ‘Oh, it would be so interesting to go back and find the book and tell the same premise but from the women characters point of view.’”

Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, writer/director Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst seen at the U.S. premiere of “The Beguiled” after-party at Sunset Tower, June 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.

The film offers poetic cinematography and an all-star female cast. Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst play the lead roles as teachers in charge of an upper-class boarding school for women, fending for themselves during the U.S. Civil War. Their orderly life is disrupted by a handsome wounded Union soldier who seeks refuge at the school and sows discord and jealousy among the women.

Coppola is only the second woman to win best director at Cannes in 71 years, opening her road to the Oscars. Although many would argue she has an advantage in the industry coming from the Coppola filmmaking dynasty, her talent is undeniable.

During the Cannes Film Festival, actress Nicole Kidman noted the gender gap among Hollywood filmmakers. “Still only 4 percent of women directed, I think, the major motion pictures of 2016,” she said.

Wonder Woman’s box office triumph and The Beguiled’s artistic recognition are opening the door for more female auteurs in mainstream Hollywood.

Other films directed and headlined by women that are out this summer include Gabriela’s Cowperthwaite’s war drama Megan Leavey, Eleanor Coppola’s Paris Can Wait, and Lucia Aniello’s Rough Night starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Zoe Kravitz.

Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Modern Slavery

pixa.jpg

Photo Courtesy: Pexels/Pixabay

An Indian charity is using big data to pinpoint human trafficking hot spots in a bid to prevent vulnerable women and girls vanishing from high-risk villages into the sex trade.

My Choices Foundation uses specially designed technology to identify those villages that are most at risk of modern slavery, then launches local campaigns to sound the alarm.

“The general Indian public is still largely unaware that trafficking exists, and most parents have no idea that their children are actually being sold into slavery,” said Elca Grobler, the founder of My Choices Foundation.

“That’s why grass-roots awareness and education at the village level is so important to ending the human traffic trade,” Grobler said in a statement released late Tuesday.

The analytics tool — developed by Australian firm Quantium — uses a range of factors to identify the most dangerous villages.

It draws on India’s census, education and health data and factors such as drought risk, poverty levels, education and job opportunities to identify vulnerable areas.

Red alert

There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide, with more than 18 million living in India, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. The Index was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, a global organization seeking to end modern slavery.

Many are villagers lured by traffickers with the promise of a good job and an advance payment, only to find themselves or their children forced to work in fields or brick kilns, enslaved in brothels and sold into sexual slavery.

 

Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year, according to government data.

In 2014, My Choices Foundation launched “Operation Red Alert,” offering educational programs to inform parents, teachers, village leaders and children about traffickers.

But with more than 600,000 villages across India and limited resources, the charity teamed up with Quantium to build the new data tool and use methods old and new to fight the criminals.

“We are helping to banish human trafficking, one village at a time, through a combination of highly sophisticated technology and grass-roots … education,” said Grobler.

Prevent Child Abuse

Child sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching activity. Some examples of touching activity include:

  • touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure
  • making a child touch someone else’s genitals, play sexual games or have sex putting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or penis) inside the vagina, in the mouth or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure

Some examples of non-touching activity include:

st1.jpg

Illustration Courtesy: safecity.in

  • showing pornography to a child
  • deliberately exposing an adult’s genitals to a child
  • photographing a child in sexual poses
  • encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
  • inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom

As well as the activities described above, there is also the serious and growing problem of people making and downloading sexual images of children on the Internet. To view child sexual abuse images (also known as child pornography) is to participate in the abuse of a child. Those who do so may also be abusing children they know. People who look at this material need help to prevent their behaviour from becoming even more serious.

Text Courtesy: https://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/home.htm