German Muslim soldier criticizes racism following Cologne attacks | News | DW.COM | 26.01.2016

She even had to contend with people who accused her of not understanding the plight of the women who had been harassed. “Sexual harassment – against women, men or children- is bad,” Reinke said. “I don’t want anyone to experience this.”Reinke’s Facebook post begins with her saying she is a “German and a Muslim.” She says she was “ashamed” and felt “sick” when she heard that there were several Moroccans among the men who harassed women in Cologne on December 31.”My parents worked very hard to establish themselves here …” Reinke told DW. “I cringe when I hear these people who sexually assaulted women were from Morocco.”Reinke said she also feels bad when she hears about a refugee home being attacked. “For me it is attempted murder … because then people say, ‘All Germans are Nazis.’ And that makes me cringe too.”Reinke’s message unleashed an outpouring of reactions. She said her supervisors at the Bundeswehr and her organization Deutscher Soldat, which volunteers for refugee causes, were very cooperative. “I did not realize that it had been shared so much,” she said, adding that she was on holiday and looking for wedding dresses with her best friend who was getting married.

Source: German Muslim soldier criticizes racism following Cologne attacks | News | DW.COM | 26.01.2016

Man Killed by Chicago Police Called 911 Before Being Shot – The New York Times

A man who was fatally shot by the police in December as he emerged from a home with a baseball bat had called 911 seeking help from the police three times in the minutes before the shooting, but was met with curt dispatchers, according to audio of the calls made public on Monday. One of the dispatchers hung up on him when he was unwilling to elaborate on what was wrong.The man, Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old college student whose family members have said experienced emotional troubles in the months before his death, first called 911 from his father’s house at 4:18 a.m. on Dec. 26. He said he needed a police officer to come to the house, but would not give details about why or provide his last name.

Source: Man Killed by Chicago Police Called 911 Before Being Shot – The New York Times

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Fraud | Inter Press Service

The modest benefits projected make it crucial to consider the nature and scale of costs currently ignored by all available modelling exercises. The TPP will impose direct costs, e.g. by extending IPRs and by blocking or delaying generic production and imports.The TPPA’s investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions will enable foreign investors to sue a government in an offshore tribunal if they claim that new regulations reduce their expected future profits, even when such regulations are in the public interest. As private insurance is already available for this purpose, ISDS provisions are completely unnecessary.Jagdish Bhagwati, a leading advocate of free trade and trade liberalization, along with others, have sharply criticized the inclusion of such non-trade provisions in ostensible free trade agreements. Instead of being the regional free trade agreement it is often portrayed as, the TPP seems to be “a managed trade regime that puts corporate interests first”.The TPP, offering modest quantifiable benefits from trade liberalization, is really the thin edge of a wedge package which will fundamentally undermine the public interest. Net gains for TPP partners seem doubtful at this stage.Only a complete and proper accounting based on the full text can settle this key question. The TPP has, in fact already been used to try to kill the Doha ‘Development’ Round of multilateral trade talks, but may well also undermine multilateralism more broadly in the near future.

Source: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Fraud | Inter Press Service

Danish teen fought off her attacker – now she’ll face fine – The Local

The teenager told police that she was attacked in central Sønderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by an English-speaking man in dark clothing. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her.  The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble.  “It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd.  The case has sparked a backlash among some Danes who point to increasing reports of sexual harassment in Sønderborg and other Danish cities at the same time that police say they are stretched too thin to properly carry out their duties.  Numerous readers wrote in the comments section on TV Syd’s story about the incident that they would be willing to pay the girl’s fine, which will most likely be 500 kroner.  The man who attacked the 17-year-old fled from the scene and has not been charged.

Source: Danish teen fought off her attacker – now she’ll face fine – The Local

A Student Lodges a Complaint of Sexual Assault. Here is Everything the Police Shouldn’t Do, But Did Do

13987070118_55bec53df1_zIn early December 2015, a student of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata, who wishes to be identified as Kunjila, attended a meeting of the institute’s Internal Complaints Committee on sexual harassment, at which female students were encouraged to speak up (the committee had been revived on her request). Several serious complaints were made by students, following which three faculty members were suspended.

Kunjila herself made three written complaints, one of which was about a professor at the institute who had forced her to have sex with him in 2014. The ICC submitted a preliminary report about her complaint, and forwarded the case to the police without informing her. On the night of December 23, the police came knocking at her hostel gate. She was unprepared and wanted a little more time – she wanted to speak to friends and figure out whether this was the right step for her to take. She asked the head of the Internal Complaints Committee to accompany her to the gate, where she was spoken to rudely by a male police officer, who recited names and details mentioned in the complaint in front of everyone around until the ICC head asked them to leave.

The next morning, on Christmas Day, two police officers, one male and one female, arrived. Kunjila was asked to show them the various places where the crime had taken place, so that they could take photographs. She was traumatised by the experience and questioned her decision to proceed with the complaint.

On 31st December, she appeared before a magistrate in Alipore to record her statement. The magistrate, a woman, asked for her statement but did not take it down. Her statement was recorded only after she was made to recount it again.

The police officer handling her case told her that sh’d have to attend a medical exam as part of the procedure. If she didn’t want to appear for the exam, she’d have to state this in a letter. As Kunjila wasn’t sure how a medical exam would help, given the amount of time that had passed, she decided to wait for advice from an expert, who recommended that she go through with it.

Kunjila’s case seems to have been mishandled at every step and what she went through at the hospital should never happen to anyone.

This is her account of what happened.

“I spoke to a human rights lawyer and she advised me to appear for the medical examination that I was supposed to undergo. Any proof was valid, she said. So I told the police that I was willing to appear for the exam. Since my abuse happened more than a year ago it was certain that it wouldn’t give any results but it would just show that I have had sex. I don’t know what kind of evidence that is. It’s bizarre.
On 6th January 2016 I was taken to the Office of the ACMOH (Medico Legal), South 24 Parganas, 32 Belvedere Road, Alipore, Kolkata. We had to wait for a long time till the doctor came. I tried reading and distracting myself. I was tense because I had never been in such a situation where strangers would examine my pubic region. A woman came to me and said that she was not able to hear anything on her phone, and asked if I could help her. I asked her to switch it off and on, and see. It worked. She smiled and told me ‘I don’t know these things, you know.’ I smiled back.

When it was time for my exam, I was led to a room in which the phone lady was being examined. Outside an old woman pushed my face here and there and looked for identification marks. I showed one on my palm. She said she needed another. She again started pushing my head and face. Then she pulled at my muffler. I said that I did not have any identification mark over there. She was satisfied only after pulling at my muffler, tightening its knot and making me remove it so that she could poke my neck in places.

I was asked to go in. I was going to record the whole thing in case something went wrong. The old woman asked me to keep my phone outside. I insisted to the police officers that I be allowed to take it in. It was my body after all. They told me that I couldn’t do that, that the person inside was a doctor and I had nothing to worry about. I said that whether a doctor or not, they were both strangers to me. They didn’t let me take my phone in.

When I went in the male doctor was filling up some details on a paper. The woman said aloud about my phone woman that ‘two hands could easily enter hers’. The doctor and nurse talked in Bangla. The woman said something to me. I didn’t understand and asked her to speak in Hindi or English. She knew neither. The doctor told me that she had asked me to strip. I did.

The doctor read a line ‘she was raped twice a week apart’. I said that no, mine happened more than a year ago. He said he was not talking about me. He asked me where I was studying, what course I was doing, what the professor’s job was, where he forced me to have sex, if I had made films, how long they were, if I would be making lengthier films. At this point I shouted that he had better ask me only relevant details and that I was naked all the while he was talking so please hurry up. The old woman made me sit on a bed and asked me to spread my legs. She approached my pubic area with a dirty red rag. I still haven’t understood what it was for. Then she started pulling my vagina and looking into it. It hurt. I shrieked. She asked me to shut up. She was trying to stretch my vagina and it hurt like hell. I shrieked in pain again. She said, ‘Why are you doing aargh aargh.’ I said it was hurting. ‘Thuth. What hurt’, she said. One more time she pulled it wide, and I got up and wore my pants and said that that was all I was going to stand. I left.

Now please imagine a woman who chooses to undergo the test soon after being raped. It is strong evidence, after all. Why should she undergo this torture of her already violated vagina being pulled open by strangers? This is rape after rape. Why should she strip in front of assholes? And yet when she goes back home after this torture, like in SRFTI, there will be people who tell her that she is lying, she is an attention seeker, a problem maker. Why are our police, our courts, our people and the whole system all so against women that we are really at a loss where to begin to clean up the mess.

The police then made me sign a paper which said that I refused to appear for the medical exam. I said that I had appeared and left half way because it hurt. A man told me that I should have asked if it hurt before I gave consent to appear. Oh yeah, it was my mistake to even think that people wouldn’t dare do anything to a woman’s already violated body.

This system has to change. I am sure my phone woman took all this in without saying a word. I would have heard from outside had she screamed. The country is not making it easier for women, it is just making women accustomed to violence. Shame on this country.”


Image credit: Stop Blaming Victims by Wolfram Burner /CC by 2.0.

The post A Student Lodges a Complaint of Sexual Assault. Here is Everything the Police Shouldn’t Do, But Did Do appeared first on The Ladies Finger.

Before You Unlock a Woman’s ‘GDP Potential’, Why Don’t You Improve Her Financial Life First?

By Sneha Rajaram


Woman selling produce in a Jaipur market. Photo by Jugal Mody.

There seems to be a growing noise around how Indian women can, and do not, contribute more to the national GDP. As more people scramble onto this misguided bandwagon, it’s important to point out how they’re grabbing the wrong end of the stick.

Last week, Dominic Barton, the global managing director of management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, wrote a list of recommendations for India’s growth that included what he calls “unlocking the [economic] potential of women.” Also last week, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared, “Decreased labour force participation of women in India is a big problem. It is very important to promote their participation, their involvement in the Indian economy.”

In his article from last week, Barton bases his recommendations on a report on gender parity in the workforce, published a few months ago by the McKinsey Global Foundation (MGI), the research arm of McKinsey & Co. This report, which contains studies on India, is titled “How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth”, and cynically incentivises gender parity with economic growth; it presents, to use its own phrase: “the economic case for gender parity”.

Women are already a very large part of the workforce – but not in the way that McKinsey, or the GDP, wants. The McKinsey report initially made news last year with headlines like this: “Indian Women Do 10 Times As Much Unpaid Work As Men: McKinsey”. At first, it sounds like MGI is telling us that Indian women contribute to 17 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product while doing 10 times the amount of unpaid care work that men do – child care included. It even sounds like McKinsey wants the government and private sector to find a way to pay for women’s unpaid work – including domestic and care work:

[…] some of it could be reduced or eliminated through improved infrastructure and automation, shared more equitably by male and female members of the household, or converted into paid jobs, including through state-funded or market-driven care services. It should be noted that some of these interventions would result in higher GDP to the extent that time saved by women is used for paid work.

And that seems to be a vindication for millions of Indian women. But afterwards, the report’s authors reveal that they actually devalue this kind of household and care work – for example, it becomes clear that they want more girls to be educated in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) areas of study, presumably because STEM contributes more to the GDP than domestic work. In its recommendations for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in this matter, the report tips its hand:

CEOs could start by determining which segment of women they would like their company to have an impact on and tailoring its strategy to that segment. They can focus on relatively well-defined groups such as less-skilled women in rural areas […]

Not only does McKinsey consider rural women’s labour to be less skilled than STEM work (which makes us wonder just how many of its authors have tried a single daily task that rural Indian women perform), but it also reveals that the ultimate goal is never gender parity and always more productivity:

[W]omen are disproportionately represented in lower-productivity sectors such as agriculture and insufficiently represented in higher productivity sectors such as business services. Shifting women into work in higher productivity sectors on a par with the employment pattern of men would contribute another 23 percent of the total opportunity. For example, in most countries, services productivity for women is lower than that of men because women are disproportionately concentrated in low-productivity sectors (as measured by GDP per worker) such as education and health services.

“Shifting” women “higher” into more productive work (by now it’s clear that “productive” here just means “lucrative”), rather than shifting the money towards the women, in whichever line of work they want to be, leaves a couple of questions. What happens to agriculture, education and health services? And are men going to be encouraged to “shift” into low-productivity jobs?

Contrast the global consultant’s approach with the ILO’s:

Steps are needed to recognize the contribution to economies of unpaid care and domestic work in the provision of public goods and services and infrastructure, including through social protection policies (target 5.4). Some innovations have been adopted in this regard, such as India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee, which provides households a guarantee of 100 days’ paid work on useful public projects. After nearly a decade, the NREG has reduced poverty and drawn millions of women into paid work. The region also needs to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, in accordance with national laws (target 5a).

Of course, individual women who want to move into higher productivity jobs because that improves their own lives deserve the world’s support. But can’t productivity (i.e. higher pay, to continue the decoding), better working conditions, unionisation, vacations, insurance, and pensions themselves be shifted to the work that women currently do, if they want to continue doing it? Can it be that traditional women’s work will never be compensated in the way that, say, STEM work will be, because our age of compulsive technology-mongering and war-mongering needs (or thinks it needs) STEM more than “less skilled” “women’s work”?

McKinsey’s “gender parity score”, a number they’ve come up with to compare women’s economic participation in different countries’ GDPs, is another example of its dangerous tunnel vision. How much do we want to push for gender parity in the economy, above and beyond the level of individual choice (again, the individual woman who wants a more lucrative job deserves all our support)? And what strain does that place on us women in terms of the invisible ways in which we’re stressed apart from work? The workplace is often very hostile to women (the terms ‘microaggressions’ and ‘sexual harassment’ come to mind). Simply increasing or equalising work hours does nothing except put more pressure on women.

The above are some of the things we need to think about before we start “unlocking women’s potential”. How about “improving women’s financial lives” instead? Let’s hope that we still live in a world where improving women’s lives can be done for the sake of improving women’s lives.

The post Before You Unlock a Woman’s ‘GDP Potential’, Why Don’t You Improve Her Financial Life First? appeared first on The Ladies Finger.

WHO: Influenza at the Human-Animal Interface – January 2016

 A(H5N1) cases in humans by week of onset, 2004-2016


Reports to the World Health Organization from China and Egypt on human avian flu cases are dramatically lower this winter over last, although it is not yet certain whether that has more to do with delays in reporting than with the actual level of activity.

Despite almost daily headlines in Arabic papers announcing H5N1 cases (confirmed or suspected), Egypt’s MOH continues to deny finding any H5N1 infections (see Egyptian MOH Statement: No Bird Flu Cases Since Last Summer).

Similarly, China has substantially reduced (or delayed) their reporting on H7N9 cases since February of last year, preferring to release information in batches, often weeks after the fact.

Today’s update from the WHO does provide us with information on several human infections (H5N6 & H9N2) we had not seen previously announced.

Influenza at the human-animal interface

Summary and assessment as of 20 January 2016

Human infection with avian influenza A(H5) viruses

Since the last WHO Influenza update on 14 December 2015, two new laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection were reported to WHO.

A 60-year-old male from Mymensing District in Bangladesh was hospitalized on 12 October 2015 with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI). Nasopharyngeal and throat swabs were collected upon hospital admission as part of SARI surveillance, and tested positive for A(H5N1) virus. The patient fully recovered. Prior to illness onset, the patient was exposed to live backyard poultry. The second case was in a 42-year-old male from Sichuan Province in China who had an onset of illness on 27 December 2015. He was hospitalized on 31 December 2015 and remains in a critical condition. This case had history of exposure to poultry.

From 2003 through 20 January 2016, 846 laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection have been officially reported to WHO from 16 countries (Figure 1). Of these cases, 449 have died.

In this reporting period, five laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) virus infection were reported to WHO from China (Table 1). All were sporadic cases and with no further transmission among contacts.

Cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) reported in 14 December 2015 till 20 January 2016

Since 2013 through to 20 January 2016, ten cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been detected of which nine were notified to WHO and one was reported in the scientific literature.1 All nine cases notified to WHO had clinically severe disease. The case reported in the literature, a five-year-old female, was a mild case detected through routine surveillance activities.

Various influenza A(H5) subtypes, such as influenza A(H5N1), A(H5N2), A(H5N3), A(H5N6), A(H5N8) and A(H5N9), continue to be detected in birds in West Africa, Europe and Asia, according to recent reports received by OIE. Since last month’s report on detections of avian influenza A(H5) viruses in birds in France, no human infections have been identified. Although the influenza A(H5) viruses might have the potential to cause disease in humans, so far no human cases of infection have been reported, with exception of the human infections with influenza A(H5N1) and A(H5N6) viruses in China.

Overall public health risk assessment for avian influenza A(H5) viruses: Overall, the public health risk assessment for avian influenza A(H5) viruses remains unchanged since the assessment of 17 July 2015.

(Continue . . . . .)

This report also adds ten human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection were reported to WHO from Guangdong, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces of China, last December’s novel H3N2v infection in New Jersey (see my report here), and a single H9N2 infection in a poultry worker in a market in Dhaka City, Bangladesh last October.

While it is entirely possible that the actual number of human infections this winter is lower than last year, the lack openess on the part of the Chinese and Egyptian Ministries of Health over the past year make it difficult to place a lot of confidence in the numbers we’re seeing.

MMWR: Evaluation and Testing of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection



As the Zika virus continues to spread across the Americas it is inevitable that U.S. doctors will be called upon to evaluate and test pregnant women and infants for (congenital) Zika virus infection. 

While a conclusive link between maternal Zika virus infections and microcephaly has yet to be established, the CDC views the risks as too great to ignore and has already produced a good deal of guidance. 

Ten days ago the CDC released a HAN advisory for clinicians on Recognizing, Managing & Reporting ZIka Virus Infections In Travelers, while last week the CDC’s MMWR published Interim Guidelines For Pregnant Women During A Zika Outbreak, along with reports on Zika’s Spread & Its Possible Association With Microcephaly.

The word `interim’ features prominently in nearly all of these documents as the threa from Zika infection is still poorly understood, and our understanding of how to best handle its challenges may change over time.

Today, another major MMWR Early Release that provides interim guidance to clinicians on evaluating and dealing with possible maternal Zika virus infection. First the description from the CDC of this release, followed by a link to the report (which is too large to excerpt properly).

Interim Guidelines for the Evaluation and Testing of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection

The CDC has developed, in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics, interim guidance for the evaluation, testing, and management of infants born to mothers who traveled to or resided in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy.

The document provides guidance to healthcare providers caring for 1) infants with microcephaly or intracranial calcifications detected prenatally or at birth or 2) infants without these findings whose risk is based on maternal exposure and testing for Zika virus infection.
Briefly, pediatric healthcare providers should ask mothers of newborns with microcephaly or intracranial calcifications about their residence and travel while pregnant as well as symptoms of illness compatible with Zika virus disease (acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis). In addition, results of any Zika virus testing performed prior to delivery should be obtained.  Interim guidance includes consideration of clinical issues that might be encountered in caring for infants who might have been infected with Zika virus infection. Certain actions (e.g., cranial ultrasound and ophthalmologic examination) are recommended for all infants being tested for Zika virus infection, and other actions (e.g., repeat hearing screening, developmental monitoring) are recommended for all infants with Zika virus infection, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms.

Interim Guidelines for the Evaluation and Testing of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection — United States, 2016
JANUARY 26, 2016
CDC has developed interim guidelines for health care providers in the United States who are caring for infants born to mothers who traveled to or resided in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy.