The rape of Nepalese maids and the Saudi ‘Criminal Diplomat’

The recent reports of two Nepalese maids, raped and illegally confined by Saudi Arabian Diplomat Majed Hassan Ashoor, clamour for justice and protection of migrant workers in India that are often subject to abuse and fraud.

The plight of Nepalese Migrant Workers

Punctuated with debilitating economy, millions of Nepalese travel to neighbouring countries like India, which has unrestricted entry for Nepalese nationals. In a bid to support their families, many unfortunate workers are often duped by human traffickers and land in unwanted circumstances. The dream selling of so-called unscrupulous agents begin to haunt these migrant workers that are stranded on the streets in a foreign country with nowhere to go while they often become ‘victims’ of violence and fraud. According to Nepalese Official data on average around two migrant workers die abroad each day with death toll topping 240 between January to April in 2014 alone.

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In the newly discovered case of abuse of migrant workers, two Nepalese women were held at the luxurious residence of Saudi diplomat Majed Hassan Ashoor in the city of Gurgaon near New Delhi for several months until a non-governmental organisation flagged the issue and filed a complaint against alleged rape and confinement. The police rescued the women from the residence and they were sent back to Nepal later. Meanwhile, the diplomat also left India with his family flying the flag of Saudi Arabia, I presume.

A case of diplomatic inviolability?

Why was diplomat not arrested against the crime which challenge women across the world and in India in particular where rape unfortunately occurs so very often? According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Article 41, the consular in the receiving State enjoys various perks and privileges as stated in the convention and the Article 41.1: ‘Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trail, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by competent judicial authority.’

Without doubt rape is a ‘grave crime’ which hurts women physically, mentally, socially, culturally and subsequently also economically. Therefore, it is necessary to protect and safeguard women in vulnerable conditions such as these Nepalese women who left their homes and families for a ‘better’ life in India. Being a foreigner in a hostile atmosphere even further puts you at the fringes of vulnerability.

The Nepalese Ambassador in New Delhi, Deep Upadhyay told reporters that the case should be pursued even if the diplomat had left the country. ‘The victims must get justice’ said Mr Upadhyay.

What churns my stomach most is the silence and denial of Saudi government against the case in question. The sudden ‘exit’ of its criminal diplomat coupled with Saudi government claim about the case being ‘baseless’ reeks of underhand ‘deal’ between Saudi Arabia and India which was also echoed by former Indian Secretary Maharaj Krishna who dubbed the departure of criminal diplomat as ‘solution arrived at through mutual consultation’.

 The victims must get justice

Diplomats are ambassadors of a state, a well sought after public service, they are an embodiment of trust, respect and honour in any receiving country. However, for the case in point, beyond the veneer of International convention and diplomatic inviolability lies the pernicious abuse of power and lust, preying at the weak and drawn out existences of these women who for better lives, left their country to feed and support their families back home. Unknown to the future perils in the foreign land, they among others are often hoodwinked, abused, confined, assaulted and often murdered by those who in their big cars flying the flag of their state kill them – like flies in the hands of wanton boys.

A rape is a rape is a rape is a rape! The dignity of women should be protected and the criminal should be prosecuted by the law of the land. The Saudi Government must take a stand and prosecute its criminal beyond the state politics since everyone should be equal before law regardless of a rank or hierarchy.  Equally India as a host nation must act responsibly and protect the rights of the migrant workers who help spin the economic wheel of their country and must provide them a safer atmosphere in a much needed dignified way.

Shahid Khan is the viceShahidkhan-chairperson of Global Minorities Allliance http://www.globalminorities.co.uk. He can be reached on twitter @shahidshabaz

 

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A Strong Man : Watch the new film created by refugee men calling for violence against women to stop

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A group of refugee men who fled their homes in countries including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Syria to seek sanctuary in Scotland have launched an online short film* calling on other men to stop violence against women.

*(for non-English language links see below)

A Strong Man, which echoes the messages of the White Ribbon Scotland campaign, calls on men of all cultures and faiths to take pride in being gentle and to teach their friends, families and communities that violence against women is wrong. Global Minorities Alliance welcomes this inter-community contribution to the ongoing efforts to end violence against women, and supports men and women from all backgrounds who are united in their condemnation of such unacceptable attitudes and behaviour.

The film was made by 67 men from the Maryhill Integration Network’s men’s group who originate form 11 countries, with the support of Glasgow film-makers media co-op.

Firew Desta, a refugee from Ethiopia involved in the making of ‘A Strong Man’, said: “The topic of the film project is a really important one because violence against women is happening in cultures and communities all around the world.

“We wanted to send a strong message that violence against women is wrong no matter what your culture or religion. We must teach our children this; to be respectful and listen to each other. This film gives us a chance to help to change attitudes.”

Rose Filippi, Maryhill Integration Network men’s group co-ordinator added: “All of these men have fled violence or the threat of it to seek safety in Scotland, so this is an issue that resonated with them.”

“The film allowed the men to use their considerable skills, and also to find a way of communicating a powerful message to other men in their communities, in wider Scottish society and beyond. It’s been a powerful and positive process.”

Vilte Vaitkute of media co-op, who developed the film with the group over a period of eight months was impressed by the ideas and creativity the men brought to the project.

“I was blown away by the fact many of the guys have suffered torture and violence themselves in their own countries, and are so sensitive about issues of violence against women in the home,” she said.

The two-minute film, which is available in English, Arabic, Tigrinya and Amharic, reflecting the first languages of men involved, will be distributed by an online social media campaign and available for interested men’s groups, community groups and other organisations.

The film is backed by the White Ribbon Scotland. Callum Hendry, campaign coordinator, said: “It is vital that men are able to raise awareness of the nature and cause of the issue and to challenge the attitudes of those who excuse violence against women or gender inequality.”

Watch this important film here :

Arabic Version: https://youtu.be/J8zJu0paY2E

Tigrinya Version: https://youtu.be/R-eoC2vvhww

English Version: https://youtu.be/mwGEz3YhD6Y

Amharic Version: https://youtu.be/_pXPPIHH_1Q

For more information or images contact Rose Filippi at Maryhill Integration Network on 0141 946 9106 or email rose@maryhillintegration.org.uk

Tutsi and Hutus in Rwanda: a permanently difficult situation

Hutu refugee trek in 1997                                                                           (c) https://goo.gl/QZKa08

By Beatrice Maria Zanella

When we hear “Tutsi” or “Hutu”, our thoughts return to the year 1972, when the Hutu slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 victims took place, and overwhelmingly to the year 1994, when the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide shocked the world. However, the Hutu-Tutsi conflict has roots that reach back far beyond this.

In pre-colonial times these two groups were able to live in relative harmony in an area split between modern-day Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. Although the Tutsis were the minority, they traditionally belonged to the wealthier ruling class. During Colonial times (first came the Germans, then the Belgians), the Tutsis were treated with far more respect than the Hutus and allowed to keep their higher social status. In the 1950s, as Belgian interests changed, they began to support the Hutus as means of overthrowing the 500 year old Tutsi monarchy. Whereas in Rwanda the Tutsi were therefore overthrown, in Burundi, after an apparently peaceful change, the Hutus were defeated.

The aftermath of colonialism therefore saw two bordering countries governed by two different groups; the Hutus in Rwanda and the Tutsis in Burundi. Hutu power in Rwanda came to an end in 1994 after the tragic and bloody genocide of the Tutsis, but in Burundi the Tutsis still today hold most positions of influence.

Today, Hutus and Tutsis are spread between Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, currently the most conflict-ridden area. New generations are told not to accept the labels of “Tutsi” and “Hutu”. But tragic incidents still take place, such as a recent story of a Hutu policemen who told schoolchildren to divide themselves based ethnicity. After their refusal, all of them were shot. It will take a long time before perpetrators of genocide and survivors are able to coexist in peace.

How can Tutsis and Hutus be differentiated? Not so easily any more as the Rwandan government has eliminated ethnic designations on identity cards. National census on ethnicity is not carried out anymore: the question “What are you?” will elicit the answer “Rwandan” most of the time. But the memories of such a horrific event are not yet forgotten and it will take a long time for the dust to settle completely.

It is frequently highlighted how difficult it is to teach history in a neutral way. Often only the sufferings of the Tutsis are mentioned, as if they were the only victims of the genocide. Hutus are portrayed simplistically as perpetrators and slaughterers, and it is still often not acknowledged that many thousands of Hutus were also killed. For schools in Rwanda, the place where the next generation of Rwandans are shaped, this is not an easy topic to navigate. Positive steps towards a reconciliation have been taken in Rwanda by the current president P. Kagame, and many citizens plan to flee to neighbouring countries in 2017, when he plans to step down.

Given the relatively recent brutality and senseless violence of the 1994 genocide, perhaps we can look at the development progress and relative stability enjoyed by Rwandans today as something of a success story. Yet there are many steps towards a complete peaceful resolution still to come, a path which hopefully will continue to be taken over the coming years.

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