20 July 2013

Pakistani clerics ban women from shopping alone!

As an intelligent, educated, freedom loving western woman I am continually horrified at the misogynistic antics of a lot of Muslim men. I was appalled at this latest attempt to imprison Pakistani women even more so than they already are, which was cooked up by some particularly unpleasant clerics (aka. religious nutjobs) in one of the more backward areas, near the Afghanistan border (Yup, that figures!) Makes me even more glad I won the lottery of life as a woman when I was born in the good old U.K.!

(Reuters) - Clerics in northwest Pakistan have issued a temporary ban on women shopping unless accompanied by a male relative, a police official said on Saturday, in a step designed to keep men from being distracted during the holy month of Ramadan. Police are supporting the ban, announced over mosque loudspeakers on Friday in Karak district in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, district police official Fazal Hanif told Reuters.
 
Unaccompanied women will be arrested and shopkeepers may be punished for selling items to women on their own. One trader said he feared the ban would affect business and damage the region's reputation. "We never supported this ban and convened a meeting on Wednesday to protest over the clerics' decision," Munwar Khan, one of the merchants in the region, told Reuters. 

Vast swathes of rural Pakistan, whose name means "Land of the Pure", are deeply conservative. Thousands of women have been killed in recent years for behavior their families considered improper. The mosque announcements said the ban was intended to stop men from being distracted during Ramadan, when Muslims are meant to fast from dawn to sunset. The annual period of fasting and prayer falls in July this year. 

The ban was proposed by a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party led by Fazl-ur-Rehman, local administration official Sarfaraz Khattak said. Such religious parties have typically performed poorly in Pakistani elections, winning only a handful of seats. But mainstream politicians are often slow to criticize religious leaders, partly for fear of being targeted by their supporters. 

Some residents of the area also oppose the ban. "The male members of the family don't have enough time to take women to the market," said Mohammad Naeem Khattak. "Where can women go for shopping if they are banned in the market?" (Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Four men found in Houston 'dungeon' home may have been held hostage for up to TEN YEARS!

Four men have been found living in 'deplorable' conditions in a north Houston home, where police say they were being kept captive so a suspect could claim their welfare checks. The men, including a military veteran, were so malnourished they were almost invalids, according to police who were tipped off by a neighbor. Three of the men were found in the garage, where they allegedly were forced to sleep on the linoleum floor, and a fourth was found in a room that had locks on the door and window.
Police believe the alleged victims, who were aged 54, 65, 74 and 79, may have been homeless and that they were being kept at the house so the suspect, who has been arrested, could cash their welfare checks. Sergeant Steve Murdock told the Houston Chronicle that residents in the house had been taking the men's social security checks.

A man in his 40s, who is not believed to live at the house, has been arrested but no charges have been made. Houston police were tipped off about the men by a neighbor, and then called at the house at about 8.30am to do a welfare check. Sergeant J W McCoy added: 'One of the men seemed to think he was just picked up off the street, kind of recruited to come and stay here. In exchange for beer and cigarettes, and a place to stay, he had to turn over his social security checks,' he told ABC 13.

The room where they were found had no furniture and one of the alleged victims, who has been taken to hospital, told officers the house 'was a dungeon'. 'They were apparently given scraps to eat, very little food was provided to them. They didn't have access to a restroom,' police spokesman Jodi Silva said. She told Fox: 'They clearly stated to us they were being kept against their will.' 'They were prisoners in that house,' Sergeant Murdock said. He added that police found evidence that other men had also been held there.
When police arrived at the house they found the door nailed shut. The converted garage that the men were in had no furniture except for one chair, a malfunctioning air conditioning unit, and was filthy, with police describing it to ABC 13 as like 'a warehouse for people'.

Three of the alleged victims were so weak they had to be taken from the house on stretchers. The fourth man, who said he did not want to leave, was due to be taken to a hospital for veterans. Police said as well as the alleged victims, four women were found living in the main part of the house. Three of them appeared to have mental disabilities, Ms Silva said. She added that the fourth woman appeared to be a caregiver, and said their living conditions inside the house were more normal. Neighbors said they recognized the men who were taken to hospital but did not know about the alleged conditions inside the house. One of the men said he had lived there for about six months and, although the conditions were not good, he wanted to stay.