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Expat wanderer

Worse Than Crack Cocaine? Growing up Poor

From AOL Daily Finance Poverty damages children more than being born to a crack addicted mother. Poverty keeps children from attaining their full potention, and hurts us all as a society as a huge waste of potential resource:


In the 1980s, the crack baby epidemic was hard to ignore. Television show after television show, article after article proclaimed that children born to addicts of the increasingly prevalent “crack” cocaine were all-but-guaranteed to have birth defects, including extremely low IQs and severe emotional problems. This “lost generation,” commentators emphasized, would be incapable of forming relationships or reaching full emotional maturity. They would be, in the words of Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, condemned to “a life of certain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority.”

A little over 20 years later, Krauthammer’s predictions have proven almost embarrassingly inaccurate. Last week, the findings of a 24-year-long study of crack babies revealed that parental use of the drug had little or no direct effect on the children. In the process of investigating the babies, however, researchers discovered another environmental problem that did, in fact, lead to problems with depression, anxiety, cognitive functioning, and a host of other issues: poverty.

In 1989, Dr. Hallam Hurt, chair of the neonatology department at Philadelphia’s Albert Einstein Medical Center, began tracking 224 near-term or full-term children who were born to crack addicts. In the ensuing years, her longitudinal study followed the children, finding that, overall, their IQs were about the same as a control group of children of non-addicted mothers. Further, the children in Hurt’s study had comparable outcomes when it came to educational and emotional development.

That having been said, Hurt’s study found that children raised in poverty — regardless of whether or not their mothers were addicted to crack — tended to have lower IQs and lower school readiness than those who weren’t raised in poverty. A big part of the problem, she argues, is environmental: Of the children in her study, “81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside.” The children themselves acknowledged the effect of these events: “Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.”

In other words, while prenatal crack abuse may not have a major effect on children, the societal conditions in crack-ravaged communities most certainly do. As Hurt emphasized, “Given what we learned, we are invested in better understanding the effects of poverty. How can early effects be detected? Which developing systems are affected? And most important, how can findings inform interventions for our children?” Or, to put it another way, now that we understand that poverty is more dangerous for children than crack, what can we do to protect our children from its effects?

In Florida, the worst schools are those serving the poor. Many fell a full grade point in the Florida evaluations and would have fallen further if there were not a law – I am not kidding – that says they can only fall one grade point in a year. We are failing in the two most important areas that can help children pull themselves out of poverty – good health care, and good education.

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Civility, Cultural, Education, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Statistics | Leave a comment

Zemar Stranded in the Philippines!

LOL, I don’t have any friends named Zemar, and “all” she needs is $2550 wired to her as soon as possible!

Good morning,

I Hope you get this on time. I’m very sorry to bother you with my troubles but I’m in some terrible situation right now and need your urgent help, I know I didn’t mention anything about it to you but we are in trouble right now.

I’m stranded in Manila City, Philippines and need your help getting back home. I made a trip down here this past weekend but unfortunately for me, I was robbed at gunpoint at a taxi park. Everything I had on me including my phone, credit cards were all stolen, It was a terrible experience to go through but looking on the bright side, I wasn’t seriously hurt or injured and I’m still alive which is the most important thing. The good thing is that I still have my passport but I just don’t have enough money to sort my hotel bills and travel back home.

Unfortunately for me, I can’t have access to funds without my credit card since the robbers have my card now, I’ve made contact with my bank but it would take at least a week to get a new one to me. Please I would really appreciate if you could help me out here. I was wondering if you could help me with a quick Loan and I promise to refund you as I get back in two days time. All I really need is about $2,550 but if the whole amount can’t be covered, I would gladly appreciate any amount you can put in to help. Western union is the best way to get the funds to me. Please kindly let me know if this is possible so that I can provide my wiring details needed to make the transfer. Looking forward to hearing from you, I will check my email every 30 minutes for your reply because it’s the only way i can reach you.

Thank you

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Crime, ExPat Life, Scams | , | 2 Comments

FBI Operation Cross Country Rescues 105 Child Victims

From AOL News/Huffington Post:

The FBI has rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims, FBI Assistant Director Ronald Hosko announced Monday.

The youngest of the rescued children was 9 years old, according to Reuters.

One underage victim told officials she became involved with prostitution when she was 11, according to CNN.

“Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves,” FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said, according to the network. “They are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them.”

Another victim, identified as “Alex,” told interviewers she became a prostitute at the age of 16, when she felt she had no other options to feed and clothe herself.

“At first it was terrifying,” Alex told interviewers, “and then you just kind of become numb to it. You put on a whole different attitude—like a different person. It wasn’t me. I know that. Nothing about it was me.”

The raids also resulted in the arrests of 150 “pimps” and other individuals, according to an FBI press release.

The rescues were the product of Operation Cross Country, a three-day nationwide initiative to aid victims of underage prostitution.

Operation Cross Country is a part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, a joint program by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created to fight child sex trafficking in the United States.

Since 2003, the Innocence Lost National Initiative has netted the rescue of more than 2,700 children.

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Law and Order | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uwem Akpan and Say You’re One of Them

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This is a very troubling book, and, for me, a difficult book to read. It has taken me weeks, and I will admit I have often interrupted the reading of it to read other, easier books. This book makes me very uncomfortable. The stories and images trouble my sleep.

Uwem Akpan is of the tribe of Annang, from Nigeria, and has committed to an even larger tribe, the Catholic Church, of which he is a priest, and this gives him a unique perspective. The stories in this book often focus on tribal differences, including religious differences, and although they are set in different African states, have parallels in lives lived elsewhere. Those tribal differences are between Moslem and Christian, but also between Pentecostal and Catholic, Tutsi and Hutu, and, most significantly, the differences between to tribe of the very poor and the very rich.

Each story is told through the eyes of a child living in a different African state – Kenya, Benin, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda.

In one of my favorite segments of the book, strife has broken out in Nigeria, strife between the Moslems and the Christians, but also throw in the Pentecostals and the Pagans and really mix it up. A bus is waiting in the bus station to take people back to the southern part of Nigeria, and on this bus is a young man, half Moslem, half Christian. The bus stands idle for hours, while the bus driver seeks fuel to make the trip. During this time on the bus, many conversations take place, and what I loved was how alliances shifted with each conversation. The people on the bus were from different traditions, but came together as a community. No community is without arguments and dissensions, however, and consensus builds, diminishes, shifts – it is a microcosm of the tensions and stressors pulling apart the Nigerian nation state.

Uwem Akpan treats the children in each story lovingly, treasuring their innocent perspective and the sweetness of their hearts and vision. The adults don’t come off so well, passing their days in drug-induced stupors, drunk, selling children into slavery and prostitution, chopping off their limbs with machetes, and closing themselves off into groups which protect themselves and exploit others.

It would be an easier book to read if it were about aliens, or if these stories were confined to Africa, but the stories of these abused, neglected and exploited children echo in every continent, country and city in the world.

Uwem Akpan writes prose that is poetry; the surroundings are described with such detail that you feel in the moment, you see through the eyes of each child, and you see things that are beautiful as well as scenes you did not want to see. As you can see, I have a lot of ambiguous feelings about this book. At the same time I can admire the writing, the stories have left images in my mind that cannot be erased. Dark images. There is hope in the persistence and resilience of many of the children, but concern about their long term survival. It leaves a heavy weight on my heart.

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Parenting, Poetry/Literature, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Anthony Weiner’s New Yorker Cover

LLOOLLLL, oh please, please do NOT vote for this man!

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July 27, 2013 Posted by | Communication, Humor, iPhone, Mating Behavior, Photos, Political Issues, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | , , | Leave a comment

The Official Worst Drivers in America: Miami has figured out which city has the worst drivers in America: Miami, Fla.

Slate looked at years of data about traffic accidents, automotive fatalities, alcohol-related driving deaths and pedestrian strike rates as indicators of bad driving.

Three out of the five cities with the worst drivers are found in the Sunshine State, with Miami topping the list as the absolute worst. Miami is first in auto fatalities and pedestrian strikes and, according to Slate, first in “obscenity-lace tirades of their fellow driver”. Fellow Floridian cities Hialeah, which comes in at number three, and Tampa at number four also seem to host a populace with a passion for running down pedestrians and fatal car accidents.

Miami shows up on more than just’s worst list. The Huffington Post reported that Miami also had the most hit-and-runs in Florida last year, an incredible 35 a day. Transportation for America also ranked the most dangerous cities in America to drive in, with the top four all in Florida. Maybe Floridians should look into buying heavy-duty trucks and steering clear of sidewalks.

From the original report at where you can read the entire article:

Adjusting the Allstate rankings for mileage this way has significant effects. Washington, D.C. remains the worst driving city using the insurance claims data, but Philadelphia surges to second worst. Hialeah drops seven places, from fourth to 11th.

Next we consider additional indicators. Car crashes are bad, but some accidents are worse than others. In July 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published automobile fatality data for major cities and metropolitan statistical areas from the year 2009. It’s useful for our purposes, but it comes with a couple of caveats. The researchers didn’t publish data for some of the smaller cities on our list. In those cases, we’ll use data from the larger metropolitan area. In addition, three cities (Boston, Newark, N.J., and Providence) had fewer than 20 fatalities, but the precise number is unpublished. We’ll assume that each of these cities had 10 fatalities, so we have a number to enter into the calculations.

Drunk drivers are bad drivers, and some cities have far more of them than others. Not all locales publish reliable data on drunk driving fatalities, so we’ll turn to the Century Council, an association of distillers organized to combat drunk driving. The group published the number of fatalities from alcohol-related car accidents in 2011. The data are, unfortunately, broken down by state rather than city. So, for our purposes, the sins of the state will be visited upon the cities. (New York City has reliable data, so we can use city-specific data in that instance.) We can’t adjust the statewide data for mileage, because our mileage numbers relate only to cities themselves. So DWI fatalities will have to be computed per capita, unadjusted for how many miles residents of a city drive.

Pedestrian strikes are another key metric. For this indicator we turn to the CDC’s WONDER, a searchable database of morbidity and mortality statistics. It’s a priceless epidemiological tool as well as a bottomless source of trivia. The most granular data on pedestrian injuries and deaths is by county.

You might object to the use of pedestrian injuries as a metric of driver incompetence, because some cities have far more pedestrians than others. That’s a fair point, but consider New York City. It is, by far, the most walked city in the United States. Two-thirds of New Yorkers either walk or use public transit to get to work. According to the website, only 2 percent of New Yorkers live in neighborhoods where cars are necessary. While every pedestrian strike is a tragedy, there are fewer in New York than you might expect. Miami-Dade County, a significantly less walked city, had 20 percent more pedestrian strikes per mile driven between 2006 and 2010 than New York.

. . . . .

And now, America, on to the cities with your worst drivers.

No. 5: Baltimore. Baltimoreans just can’t keep from running into each other. They were outside the top 10 in fatalities, DWI deaths, and pedestrian strikes, but their rate of collision couldn’t keep them out of the top five overall.

No. 4: Tampa, Fla. Tampa doesn’t do any single thing terribly, but it is consistently poor: 18th worst in years between accidents, fifth in traffic fatalities, tied for 11th in DWI fatalities, and 10th in pedestrian strikes. If the city had managed to get outside the bottom half in any individual category, Tampa residents might have avoided this distinction.

No. 3: Hialeah. The drivers of Hialeah get into a middling number of accidents, ranking 11th among the 39 candidates. But when they hit someone, they really mean it. The city finished third for fatalities. They also have a terrifying tendency to hit pedestrians.

No. 2: Philadelphia. Drivers in the city of brotherly love enjoy a good love tap behind the wheel. Second-places finishes in collisions and pedestrian strikes overwhelm their semi-respectable 16th-place ranking in DWI deaths.

No. 1: Miami. And it’s not even close. First in automotive fatalities, first in pedestrian strikes, first in the obscenity-laced tirades of their fellow drivers.

A couple of other noteworthy findings: Californians did reasonably well. Although the Golden State had seven cities among our 39 candidates, only Glendale finished in the top half of the table. Louisiana’s two entries, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, finished 6th and 15th, owing to the state’s terrible record of drunk driving fatalities.

Washington, D.C., the whipping boy of the Allstate rankings, dropped to 16th, owing to low numbers of DWI fatalities. Boston drivers don’t deserve the torment they receive. They have few automotive fatalities and rarely kill people in alcohol-related accidents. It goes to show how flawed opinion polls can be.

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Health Issues, Law and Order, Safety | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Touched the Hem of His Garment

Today’s meditation from Forward Day by Day touches on one of my very favorite stories – and its opposite. It’s all about the power of belief. The woman, suffering from bleeding, would have lived a terrible life, considered unclean, untouchable, and trying everything to be cured without success. Just a touch – one touch – and her illness is gone. Jesus is astonished and tells her that her faith has made her well.

In contrast, the people in his own village are skeptical. How can good ole Jesus, son of Mary and that carpenter, how can he be anything special? In the face of such callous disbelief, Jesus can do little.


Mark 6:1-13. And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.

What a contrast, in just a few verses. Yesterday the bleeding woman merely touched Jesus’ garment, and Jesus’ power streamed into her. Today he is home, and those who watched him grow up ask, “Just who do you think you are?” and the Son of God is stopped in his tracks, like Superman when he is exposed to kryptonite.
My field education rector preached on this passage a year ago, and I was spellbound by his ending. He asked, “If Jesus came to All Saints, would he be able to do deeds of power?” Then the rector got even more personal, asking, “If Jesus came to you, would he be able to deeds of power?”

Oh, how I hope so. I’m not sure how to have the faith that allows Jesus to perform deeds of power, but I can see what kind of behavior does. It is hopeful, brave actions that seem to open the way for Jesus to work; and it is arrogant, fear-based behavior that seems to block the way.

Lord, teach us not to fear the change you bring. Teach us to reach out to touch your garment.

When my Mother was still living on her own, there was a revolving guest room, and my sister left a CD for me there, as she departed and I arrived, which contained the song above. I want it sung at my funeral. It is a succinct statement of faith; it is the song of the bleeding woman who believes and is cured, and nothing is ever the same.

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Experiment, Faith, Health Issues, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment

Get a Clue, Filner!

“Oh, I’m so repentant, I’ll go to rehab for two weeks and never harass another woman again” LLLOOOLLLL. Puhhhh-leeeeeez, Mayor Finer, give it up. Go. Let someone younger, more enlighted . . . oh wait . . . Weiner . . . well, just go.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) said he won’t resign because of sexual harassment allegations made against him, but he does plan to attend a rehab center for 2 weeks.

Filner announced his plans in a press conference on Friday, apologizing for his actions.

“Beginning on August 5, I will be entering a behavior counseling clinic to undergo 2 weeks of intensive therapy,” Filner said.

“The behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong,” Filner said during the press conference. “I apologize to my staff, I apologize to the citizens and staff members who have supported me over the years, I apologize to the people of San Diego, and most of all, I apologize to the women I have offended.”

Several women have made sexual harassment allegations against Filner in recent weeks. The city’s former chief operating officer Veronica “Ronne” Froman claimed Filner once blocked a doorway, ran a finger up her cheek and asked if she had a man in her life, and the mayor’s former press secretary Irene McCormack Jackson said Filner once asked her to “get naked” and kiss him.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department set up a hotline for those who have information about alleged sexual harassment by Filner.

Both the Democratic Party of San Diego and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) have called on Filner to resign. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said Filner needs to “get a clue.”

On Thursday, Filner was removed as the keynote speaker at an event on military sexual assault.

This story is developing and has been updated.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Privacy, Social Issues, Values, Women's Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Saudis Say MERS Virus Not Following SARS Path

What do you think? While ministers in Saudi Arabia seem unconcerned, this virus, which appears to have originated among an as yet unidentified animal in Saudi Arabia, kills about half the people infected with it. And soon, with the Hajj, the Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca, thousands will travel to Saudi Arabia, testing the theory that this virus does not spread easily. . .

Mers: New virus ‘not following Sars’ path’
By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News

The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is “unlikely” to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say.

Most of the 90 Mers cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia.

Mers is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and Sars, which killed 774 people.

However, a detailed analysis of the Saudi cases, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, did warn of “major gaps” in understanding of the virus.

The Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus (Mers) emerged in 2012 and has infected 90 people worldwide, 45 of them have died.

The global concern is that cases could spread much further, echoing the Sars outbreak.

Cases have been centred on the Middle East – with patients in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additional cases in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the UK have all been linked to travel to the Middle East.

Researchers in Saudi Arabia have published details of the 47 cases reported in the country.

They suggest a pattern of mostly older men being infected. Most cases were also in people with other medical problems, more than two-thirds of the reported cases also had diabetes.

Low threat
The lead researcher and Deputy Minister for Public Health, Prof Ziad Memish, said: “Despite sharing some clinical similarities with Sars, there are also some important differences.

“In contrast to Sars, which was much more infectious especially in healthcare settings and affected the healthier and the younger age group, Mers appears to be more deadly, with 60% of patients with co-existing chronic illnesses dying, compared with the 1% toll of Sars.

“Although this high mortality rate with Mers is probably spurious due to the fact that we are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases.

“So far there is little to indicate that Mers will follow a similar path to Sars.”

A report earlier this month showed that the virus struggled to spread in people.

However, it and the latest Saudi investigation both highlighted the need to find where the virus was coming from.

Prof Memish’s report said: “Reducing the rate of introduction of Mers coronavirus into human beings is unpredictable because the source of the virus is not yet known.

“We are searching vigorously for the source.”

Here is a graph from a private report called Virology Down Under, a fascinating read on the identification and development of the MERS Virus by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)..

Last Updated 19-Jul-2013
Written by Ian M. Mackay, PhD on his personal time.
All opinions are his own and do not represent medical advice or the views of any institution.:

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July 26, 2013 Posted by | Health Issues, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual, Travel, Work Related Issues | | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s Swat Valley Women Fight Back with Jirga

I love this. Women are using technology – and the traditional system – to persist in seeking justice for women who are often little more than slaves to their husband.

From BBC News:


Women in Pakistan’s Swat valley are making history, and perhaps some powerful enemies, by convening an all-female jirga, a forum for resolving disputes usually reserved for men. Some readers may find details of this report by the BBC’s Orla Guerin disturbing.

Tahira was denied justice in life, but she continues to plead for it in death – thanks to a grainy recording on a mobile phone.

As she lay dying last year the young Pakistan wife and mother made a statement for use in court.

In the shaky amateur video, she named her tormentors, and said they should burn like she did.

Tahira was married off at the age of 12 and died last year following a suspected acid attack

Tahira’s flesh was singed on 35% of her body, following a suspected acid attack. Her speech was laboured and her voice was hoarse, but she was determined to give her account of the attack, even as her flesh was falling off her bones.

“I told her you must speak up and tell us what happened,” her mother Jan Bano said, dabbed her tears with her white headscarf. “And she was talking until her last breath.”

Tahira’s husband, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were acquitted this month of attacking her with acid. Her mother plans to appeal against that verdict, with help from a new ally – Pakistan’s first female jirga.

Under the traditional – and controversial – jirga system, elders gather to settle disputes. Until now this parallel justice system has been men-only, and rulings have often discriminated against women. The new all-women jirga, which has about 25 members, aims to deliver its own brand of justice.

It has been established in an unlikely setting – the scenic but conservative Swat valley, formerly under the control of the Pakistan Taliban. We sat in on one of its sessions in a sparsely furnished front room. Women crowded in, sitting in a circle on the floor, many with children at their feet. Most wore headscarves, and a few were concealed in burqas.

Probing injustice
For more than an hour they discussed a land dispute, problems with the water supply, unpaid salaries, and murder. The only man in the room was a local lawyer, Suhail Sultan. He was giving legal advice to jirga members including Jan Bano who he represents.

“In your case the police is the bad guy,” he told her. “They are the biggest enemy. ” He claims the police were bribed by the accused, and were reluctant to investigate the case properly.

The jirga tackled land disputes, water supplies, and murder

The jirga is making history, and perhaps making enemies. In Swat, as in many parts of Pakistan, men make the key decisions – like whether or not their daughters go to school, when they marry, and who they marry. And oppression starts early. Tahira was married off at just 12 years old, to a middle-aged man.

“Our society is a male-dominated society, and our men treat our women like slaves,” said the jirga founder, Tabassum Adnan. “They don’t give them their rights and they consider them their property. Our society doesn’t think we have the right to live our own lives.”

This chatty social activist, and mother of four, knows that challenging culture and tradition comes with risks. “Maybe I could be killed,” she said, “anything could happen. But I have to fight. I am not going to stop.”

They glued [my daughter’s] mouth and eyes closed. Just her face was left, the rest was flesh and broken bones”

Taj Mehal
As we spoke in a sun-baked courtyard Tabassum got a disturbing phone call. “I have just been told that the body of another girl has been found, ” she said. ” Her husband shot her.” She plans to investigate the case, and push the authorities to act.

“Before my jirga women have always been ignored by the police and by justice, but not now. My jirga has done a lot for women,” she said.

There was agreement from Taj Mehal, a bereaved mother with a careworn face, sitting across the courtyard on a woven bed.

Her beloved daughter Nurina was tortured to death in May.

“They broke her arm in three places, and they strangled her,” she told me, putting her hands to her own throat to mimic the action. “They broke her collarbone. They glued her mouth and eyes closed. Just her face was left, the rest was flesh and broken bones.”

She speaks of her daughter’s suffering with a steady voice, but grief is wrapped around her, like a heavy shawl.

“When I looked at her, it was like a piece was pulled out of my heart,” she said. “I was turned to stone. I see her face in front of my eyes. I miss her laughter.”

Women are a rare sight on the streets of Mingora
Nurina’s husband, and his parents, have now been charged with her murder, but her mother says that initially the courts took no interest.

“Whenever we brought applications to the judge he would tear them up and throw them away,” she said. “Now our voice is being heard, because of the jirga. Now we will get justice. Before the jirga husbands could do whatever they wanted to their wives.”

Women are little seen or heard on the bustling streets of Mingora, the biggest city in Swat. Rickshaw taxis dart past small shops selling medicines, and hardware supplies.

There are stalls weighed down with mangoes, and vendors dropping dough into boiling oil to make sugar-laden treats. Most of the shoppers are men.

‘No justice’ at jirgas
When we asked some of the local men their views on the women’s jirga, the results were surprising. Most backed the women.

“It’s a very good thing,” said one fruit seller, “women should know about their rights like men do, and they should be given their rights.”

Another said: “The jirga is good because now finally women have someone to champion their cause.”

The response from the local male jirga was less surprising. They were dismissive, saying the women have no power to enforce their decisions.

Most local men who spoke to the BBC expressed support for the women’s initiative

That view was echoed by the prominent Pakistani human rights activist Tahira Abdullah. “I don’t see it as more than a gimmick,” she said. “Who is going to listen to these women? The men with the Kalashnikovs? The Taliban who are anti-women? The patriarchal culture that we have?”

Ms Abdullah wants jirgas stopped whether male or female. “The jirga system is totally illegal, and has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It can never be just. There are several extremely notorious cases where we have noticed that women do not get justice from jirgas, neither do non-Muslims.”

One of those cases took place last year in a remote region of northern Pakistan where a jirga allegedly ordered the killing of five women – and two men – for defying local customs by singing and dancing together at a wedding.

And there are regular reports of jirgas decreeing that women and young girls be handed over from one family to another to settle disputes.

But for some, like Jan Bano, the women’s jirga is bringing hope. Every day she climbs a steep hill to visit Tahira’s grave, and pray for the daughter whose voice has still not her heard. Her video recording was not played in court.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Family Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pakistan, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment