Inside Uttar Pradesh Station, Woman Raped by Four Policemen

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 02:50 a.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Policeman facing women in a protest march, Calcutta Kolkata India" Photo by: Jorge RoyanUTTAR PRADESH, India -- This past week has been a treacherous time for the safety of women living in the most populous state in India, Uttar Pradesh. The most unthinkable of these events occurred late Monday night, 9 June 2014, inside a police station in Hamirpur district.

When a woman entered the police outpost after dusk, she intended to leave with her husband. After explaining her connection to the detained man and asking for his release, the officers told the woman she would need to pay a bribe in order to see him freed. When she refused, four policemen proceeded to rape her inside of the police facility.

The highest ranking police officer has been detained, and authorities are now searching for three additional security officers still on the loose.

Several similar tragedies have occurred throughout the various rural villages that form the state of Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday, 12 June, a 19-year-old woman was hanged by a mob of men in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. This episode followed the rape and hanging of two teenage sisters in the early morning hours of 29 May, and another similar incident on Wednesday, 11 June, in the Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. In this horrific crime, a 45-year-old Indian was raped and hanged below a tree.

Therefore, since the 29 May attack, four women have been killed by the brutalities of mob sexual assault in Uttar Pradesh alone. Many are claiming that the prevalence of these attacks are nothing new, only that the reporting and discussion of such crimes are increasing.

In many Indian states, rape goes under-reported because of a stigma against the victims of sexual assault. As the number of formal charges against perpetrators rises, so too does the awareness of the problem.

The aforementioned rape and hanging of two teenage sisters generated international outrage as reports emerged, both with regard to the atrocious act as well as the failure of police to investigate initial reports that a group of men had been seen accosting the young women. The indignation of Indian and international advocates was emphatic, but did little to discourage future cruelties of the same nature.

A final note. On Thursday, June 12, two preteen girls were raped by a group of men inside a hostel in Tamil Nadu state. The hostel is affiliated with a local church, but the offenders had no apparent connection to the congregation. An undoubtedly monstrous act, the attackers held the two girls at knife point while proceeding to violate them.

While the incident in Tamil Nadu took place on the opposite side of the country when taken in conjunction with the crimes throughout Uttar Pradesh state, the faraway communities seem in closer proximity because of these paralleled events.

The first step in addressing the brutality towards women is creating an environment where women feel safe to disclose the crimes committed against them. This process is already underway, and the people of India have protested in favor of increased legislation, and seen positive results. Safeguards against such terrible acts have increased since 2012.

But when policemen are perpetrators in the crime, as in the Hamirpur case, or when officers are complicit in murder, such as the double hanging in May, the shortcomings of these individuals signal a step backward for the movement as a whole.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Pregnant Pakistani Stoned in "Honor Killing" Outside High Court

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LAHORE, Pakistan -- Islam does not allow for "honor killings." And yet, a 25-year-old pregnant Pakistani woman is the latest victim of murder at the hands of her family. The couple had been engaged for several years, and were only recently married.

Farzana Parveen was beaten and stoned to death earlier today, 27 May 2014, outside of a high court in Lahore. Parveen and her newlywed husband Mohammad Iqbal had traveled to the court earlier today to debunk claims that Iqbal had abducted Parveen. The bride's family had reported the false claims to police in order to regain custody of the woman.

Before the couple had a chance to testify their mutual love, they were surrounded by a group in excess of 20. According to police, someone in the crowd shot a handgun into the air as the mob attempted to kidnap Parveen. Their efforts were ineffective, and at this point the assemblage struck Parveen with sticks and stoned her with bricks from an adjacent construction site. The brutal public display is continuing to draw disapproval by officials and the community.

The attackers included her father and several brothers. So far, only her father, Mohammad Azeem, has been detained. Officials are now searching for the brothers and other family members that conspired in the brutal murder.

Conservative communities in Pakistan practice arranged marriage. Through matrimony, many Pakistani families seek to associate with another family of like class, wealth and ethnicity. Today, marriage outside of this tradition is performed more often, but the stigma against an unendorsed marriage is strong.

According to Amnesty International, 960 "honor killings" were recorded in Pakistan in 2010. That number could likely be higher, as crimes against women are often unpunished and underreported in the region. Most follow a similar equation--males execute a female family member, in order to redeem the family name for the alleged immorality of the female relative.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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Women Seeking Safety Encounter Abuse in Syrian Refugee Camps

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Michael Ransom, Senior CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:33 a.m. DST, 10 April 2014

Syria Bedouin Woman, Photo by Marc VeraartDAMASCUS, Syria – By every metric, the Syrian countryside is a war zone. Suburbs are subject to aerial attacks and corner stores have become foxhole retreats from city gunfights. The death toll now exceeds 150,000 lives. Massacres waged by Syrian troops and rebel forces alike continue to raise questions about the legitimacy of either side's agenda. All the while, ordinary people either defend their community or seek stability in a less contentious Syrian locale or border country.

Amidst the chaos, the international community places bets on either the Syrian Army or various rebel collectives. The United States, Russia and Iran make high-stakes wagers in the form of assault rifles, chemical weaponry and large-scale explosives. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also seated around this international card table. Given the current political landscape and the violations of basic human rights by the establishment and the rebellion, global efforts to arm either side are a gamble indeed.

One thing is certain. With increased weaponry provisions, a commensurate level of unfathomable bloodletting has followed throughout major cities like Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Latakia. The widespread violence and continued threat of biological warfare has been a powerful impetus for Syrian migration to more stable nations. Over two million nationals have escaped the perimeter of their home country, while millions more try to cope in the crossfire. There, they face the reality of suicide bombers and large-scale attacks carried out by both factions.

Lebanon has been the principle destination for those people fleeing the ongoing turf war. To date, over one million Syrians have claimed refugee status in Lebanon, a staggering influx for a nation numbering less than five million before civil war broke in Syria three years ago. Thousands more seek safety in the Mediterranean nation every day. Lebanon has been a gracious host to Syrians seeking asylum, forgoing required permit fees upon entry and allowing their neighbors to live outside of designated treatment centers and refugee shelters.

Syrian migrants exercise this right, but not without adversity. Women are particularly affected by sexual abuse following their relocation. Human Rights Watch reports that female refugees are subject to improper advances and verbal abuse on a regular basis while living in their makeshift communities in Lebanon. Perpetrators range from employers to volunteers from religious institutions, according to HRW. The actual scope of abuses remains unknown, as many victims presumably have outstanding residency payments or have little faith in the criminal justice system. Assailants continue to act in the shadows of fear and silence.

For many of these women, leaving home meant a better life for themselves and their children. Rape is used in Syrian warfare as a tool of power and coercion against men, women and children indiscriminately. While President Bashar al-Assad and top leaders of various opposition forces have not openly condoned sexual assault of the enemy, the act is permissible and never punished internally. Externally, retaliatory rape is not uncommon. In a society where rape is taboo, victims are hushed and assaults go unreported. But anecdotal evidence confirms the disturbing and rampant nature of the mistreatment.

Journalist Lauren Wolfe directs The Women Under Siege project and discusses abuse against Syrian women in her feature Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis. Wolfe cites a report from Ya Libnan news website in which a member of the Syrian Army was commanded to rape teenagers in late 2012. The girls were later slaughtered. Similarly, Wolfe describes a young rebel soldier who was arrested by Syrian forces. During his imprisonment, the man was forced to watch while Syrian security raped his fiancée, sisters, mother and other female acquaintances. Belligerents in both camps resort to these barbaric measures.

The mass-exodus of Syrians will continue so long as lawlessness persists. Massacres such as August's Ghouta chemical attack on civilians and the execution of 51 loyalist prisoners in July have only added fuel to vehicles of hate and violence. While the United States is heavily invested in the success of the rebellion, the White House now knows that many of these renegades are affiliated with al-Qaeda and other terror organizations. If history repeats itself, these weapons may be trained at their supplying nation in the future.

If the efforts of the States involved more non-lethal aid, certainly the people of the world would be grateful. The need for the increased protection of women is self-evident. When better mechanisms to report and convict perpetrators of sexual abuse are established in refugee camps, these facilities will truly be places of refuge.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

American Hate Mongers

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:15 PM EDT, 30 March 2012

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.” 

CALIFORNIA & FLORIDA, United States – This past week Americans heard or read news reports of the brutal deaths of two people apparently because of race and faith. Their stories played out on the East Coast to the West, and both deaths are symptomatic of increased levels of xenophobia in a post September 11th America.

We are speaking of the deaths of Shaima Alawadi and Trayvon Martin. Both victims of racists, these two people have fallen prey to the xenophobic fears of their murders.

In the Nahmias Cipher Report we focus on atrocious human rights violations in Africa, India and the Middle East. Because we are based in the States, some people may feel superior to these 'other' people that we write about, as if those cultures lack the appropriate moral fortitude to control their behavior.

In some cases this is true, but in the case of Ms. Alawadi and Mr. Martin, these reprehensible acts of violence bring America in parity with the rest of the world's cultures and countries with abysmal Human Rights record.

In El Cajon, California, Shaima Alawadi was beaten to death in her home by an unknown assailant. Though the identity of the murderer has not been determined, based upon the evidence that the police found at the scene, it appears that this is a hate crime.

Alawadi’s 15-year old son, Mohammed said that recently he came home and discovered a note taped to the front door of their house which read, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.”

As residents of this quiet suburban community, neither Alawadi, nor her family thought much about the note, instead attributing it to mischievous neighborhood children. Despite her husband, Kassim Alhimidi’s desire to report the incident to the police, Alawadi didn’t feel that it was warranted.

Alawadi and her husband were Iraqi immigrants who have lived peacefully in the United States for 17 years. All five of their children were born in the United States and this is the only country that they have known because they are Americans. Post-9/11 the Alawadis have experienced increased discrimination such as being called ‘terrorists,’ but they shrugged off these slurs as ignorance.

But last Wednesday, Ms. Alawadi was discovered by her 17-year old daughter, lying unconscious in a pool of her own blood.  Badly beaten, with a severe head wound, her daughter discovered another note similar to the earlier one, lying next to her mother.

Though the police are reticent about proclaiming this killing as a ‘hate crime,’ many Muslims in the El Cajon community feel that Alwadi’s death was definitely a 'hate crime' because she was easily identifiable as Muslim. Ms. Alwadi wore the tradition Hijab of observant Muslim women, which may have contributed to her being singled out.

Like many communities across America, as war and strife rage out of control in nations across the globe, and particularly as factions fight over resources in emerging economies, the citizens of these countries pay the highest price. In an effort to secure a better, safer future for their families they often leave their countries and immigrate legally or illegally to more stable countries like America or other European nations.

Thus, there has been an increased influx of immigrants from heavily Islamic nations in Africa and the Middle East where America is currently engaged in war. For instance, in Lewiston, Maine, where I went to college, there is a thriving community of Somalis who have fled the strife of their unstable government or lack thereof.

Here in Northern Virginia, there is an equally large community of Middle Easterners from all across the Arab world.  In fact, one of my best managers is a Palestinian who immigrated to the States from Jordan nearly twenty years ago.

In Miami, where I lived for nearly a decade, the predominant immigrants are the Cubans, but other South and Central American Spanish speakers have also taken root. This has occurred to such an extent that one can drive through neighborhoods where the signs are in Spanish and many of the people who live there don’t speak English.

Just like these three areas of the East Coast, El Cajon, just northeast of San Diego, was also transformed from a largely white and English-speaking area into a more multicultural and diverse community. Two decades ago, as wars in their homelands increased in intensity, more and more Iraqis and other Middle Easterners immigrated to the States.

El Cajon now houses one of the largest Iraqi communities in the country. Like Miami with the Cubans, El Cajon now has numerous Middle Eastern grocery stores and restaurants, Mosques and other religious centers, and many of the pedestrians can be heard conversing in Arabic.

Yet there are xenophobes in this nation that still believe if you are Middle Eastern then you are not a citizen, and were born outside of America.  If you wear a turban, like many Indian Sikhs, then you are a terrorist. And for the purposes of this report, if you are an Iraqis who lives in El Cajon then you are Muslim, when in fact many Iraqis who reside in that community are Christian.

The case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, harkens back to the racism of the Old South in which Klu Klux Klan members could burn, tar and feather, hang, decapitate, and castrate black men with impunity. That is what makes the case of Trayvon Martin so polarizing.

The fact that his killer, remains free despite police tapes which indicated his culpability, reinforces the stereotype that if you are a ‘black’ male in America then you are a violent criminal who must be subdued at all costs, including deadly force.

George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood ‘watchman,’ shot and killed an unarmed black teenager because he was ‘walking’ in the gated community where the vigilante lived.  Zimmerman who claims that he is ‘white’ has been identified as Hispanic, another population which has experienced a great deal of discrimination over illegal immigration issues.

However, this did not stop Zimmerman from singling out Trayvon Martin, 17, and shooting him because he looked ‘suspicious.’ Martin was reportedly on his way home when he was confronted by Zimmerman who asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood. Zimmerman, who was on the phone with the police, could be heard talking to teenager in an accusatory tone.

Since a car had been dispatched to the scene, the police advised Zimmerman to stop following the youth, as they were on their way. Zimmerman pointedly ignored the injunction and continued to pursue Martin. It is unclear what occurred next, but Zimmerman, a man twice the size of Martin, claimed that the teenage attacked him and that he fatally shot the teenager in self-defense.

Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood ‘watchman,’ was taken into custody shortly after the police arrived to find Martin dead; however, he was subsequently released and has remained freed since the shooting, despite nationwide calls for his arrest.

Much like the story of Sub-Saharan Africans who are being targeted in Libya, America’s struggles with race have seemingly digressed since the election of President Barak Obama. One would think, like the election of former South African President Nelson Mandela, another first ‘black’ president; that there would be a more profound paradigm shift in America.

However, the exact opposite has occurred as people so steep in racism and xenophobia feel inspired to act out their racism by deliberately violating the human rights of fellow Americans who have done them no harm. As one reader pointed out, there are just as many good people who are outraged by the behavior of racists, but the fact remains that incidents like these are on the rise.

It remains to be seen if the perpetrators guilty of killing Alawadi will be found, convicted and sentenced to death, a sentence which they unilaterally meted out against her for no just cause. Or if Zimmerman will be charged, convicted, and sentenced to a long jail term for murder; a crime which if a ‘black’ man had committed but the circumstances were in dispute, he would certainly be incarcerated pending the outcome of the investigation.

Shame on these people and as Alawadi’s son said, “There’s only three people that know what happened, God, my mom and the guy who did it.”

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Juárez, Mexico | Hell on Earth?

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:35 AM EDT, 23 February 2010

Update: 10.05.11  CNN 'Two headless bodies found in Juarez, third body found at Church

Santiago Meza

JUAREZ, Mexico - The atrocities imagined in the 14th Century epic poem the "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri seem to prognosticate the horror that encompasses the daily lives of the inhabitants of Juárez, Mexico. The town "stands on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte), across from El Paso, Texas.

El Paso and Ciudad Juárez comprise one of the largest binational metropolitan areas in the world with a combined population of 2.4 million people. In fact, Ciudad Juárez is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, in spite of the fact that it is "the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones."[1] With an average daily death toll at 12 a day and the most recent massacre of 16 innocent teenagers, Juárez is synonymous with senseless, brutal deaths and is the epitome of avarice and the inhumanity and depravity which are its natural by products.

The violent deaths and murders of both the innocent and guilty have shocked the world and anesthetized the inhabitants. Only in this cauldron of mayhem and destruction could Santiago Meza, known as "The Stew Maker," find purchase and purpose.

Meza, a scruffy, non-descriptive man was known as "El Pozolero" because he dissolved the bodies of the enemies of a local drug baron in industrial drums of acid turning them into a gelatinous soup which he later poured his property.

Over several years he claims to have “disappeared” 300 enemies of Teodoro García Semental, a former henchman for one of the largest cartels in Mexico. Meza stated that he was paid $600 a week by García and during one interview he said, "they brought me the bodies and I just got rid of them. I didn't feel anything."

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aci_wE6csQ]

If Inferno or Purgatorio exists, the innocent citizens of Juárez must ask and wonder what they have done to deserve such a fate, while we ponder if there is justice in this world or the next for those who would blithely take human life over pieces of paper called the dollar.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wREQUO8WG4U]

[1] Wikipedia