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“Kingdom Of Ants”: Film on Islamic State (IS) Atrocities on Women can be a tool against Terrorism, says Iraqi Filmmaker

Film "Kingdom Of Ants", screened in the Counter-Terrorism International Cinema forum in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan

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Peshmerga forces ride on military vehicles in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 9, 2016. VOA

Kolkata, November 15, 2016: Iraqi filmmaker Adnan Osman, who has depicted Islamic State’s (IS) atrocities on women in his latest film “Kingdom Of Ants”, says the Kurdish movie could be a tool to counter terrorism.

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Film “Kingdom Of Ants” revolves around a Yazidi girl who is a victim of IS atrocities.

“For me the most important issue is the human and social aspect but yes of course, it could be an instrument against terrorism,” Osman told the media here on Tuesday at the 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival. The film is part of the Asian Select (NETPAC Award) competition in the fest.

The title denotes instability and the film revolves around a Yazidi girl who is a victim of IS atrocities.

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“After 11 months of captivity, she gives birth to an illegitimate child whose father is unknown. The girl is then saved by a human trafficker, but her illegitimate daughter causes social problems since no one in the community accepts them,” said Osman.

Shot in several locations in Kurdistan region, the film represented Iraq at the 27th Carthage International Film Festival and was also screened in the Counter-Terrorism International Cinema forum in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Recalling the challenges during filming, Osman, who interacted with the media through a translator, said it was difficult to convince the families of the victims to talk to the filmmaking team.

“Since it was such a sensitive issue, we had to stay for three months with families whose daughters were victims of IS kidnappings,” Osman added. (IANS)

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Tackling Patriarchy in India: Rural Women Challenge Ban on Calling Husbands by their First Names

When nonprofit Video Volunteers launched a campaign to tackle patriarchy in rural India, several women mentioned a seemingly innocuous custom: not being allowed to call their husbands by their first names.

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FILE - A woman helps another in carrying metal pitchers filled with water from a well outside Denganmal village, Maharashtra, India, April 20, 2015. VOA

Mumbai, August 4, 2017: When non-profit Video Volunteers launched a campaign to tackle patriarchy in rural India, several women mentioned a seemingly innocuous custom: not being allowed to call their husbands by their first names.

Women, particularly in villages, are taught from a young age to never address their husbands — or older male relatives — by their names, as a mark of respect.

But the custom, which is less common in the cities, is deeply patriarchal, said Stalin K., director of Video Volunteers, which is based in Goa.

“At first glance, it seems like a small, harmless custom,” he said.

“But even these seemingly inane practices matter, as they are as much a power play as sexual assault or violence against women,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Video Volunteers trains men and women in rural areas across India to report on everyday issues that concern them.

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The volunteers record short video clips on their tablets, which are then screened and discussed in the community.

About 70 volunteers in more than a dozen states were trained to report on patriarchy, sexism and violence against women.

More than 327,390 crimes against women were registered in India in 2015, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2010.

Many crimes go unreported, particularly in villages, because women fear bringing shame to their families.

Women’s concerns

The Video Volunteers reports included women talking about their limited freedom of movement compared with that of men, biases against widows, the practice of covering their heads in the presence of men, and the prejudice faced by women doing jobs considered to be men’s work, such as driving tuk-tuks, or three-wheeled taxis.

Several reports were about women not being able to call their husbands by names because they were told it was disrespectful and inauspicious to do so. Instead, a woman would address her husband as the father of their child, by his profession, or simply with “please listen.”

In discussions held afterward, women practiced saying their husbands’ names aloud for the first time, said Stalin, who goes by his first name.

The women were then encouraged to talk to their husbands about the practice.

In many cases, the men did not allow their wives to address them by name, and one woman was ostracized by her village for referring to an older male relative by name, Stalin said.

But some women were told they could call their husbands by name — in private.

“That is still a step forward,” Stalin said.

“Our experience with this campaign is that these women are not passively accepting of patriarchy. They are very aware and just waiting for an opportunity to push back — in a thoughtful and considered manner, which perhaps has a greater impact.” (VOA)


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Security and Counter-Terrorism Key to Strengthening India-US Ties: Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna, at the event

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Terrorism, Tulsi Gabbard
Security and Counter-Terrorism Key to Strengthening India-US Ties: Tulsi Gabbard. Twitter

 

  • Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna
  • Gabbard also said there’s still a lot of excitement in Washington around Modi’s visit
  • Sarna pointed out at the ongoing Malabar joint naval exercise, which is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the navies of India, US and Japan

– by Radhika Bhirani

New York, July 15, 2017: A stronger partnership in dealing with counter-terrorism will give an impetus to India-US relations, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has said.

“The number of military-to-military engagement and exercises between US and India exceeds any other partner in the region and it is only continuing to grow,” the Hawaiian Democrat said at a Ficci-IIFA Global Business Forum here on Friday.

Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna, at the event.

ALSO READ: Village in Rajasthan Bans ‘Fashion Clothes’ and Mobiles for Women

They discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last month to meet President Donald Trump and how opportunities must be explored to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

Stressing the need to boost counter-terrorism, Gabbard said: “There is a recognition of the benefit to continuing to strengthen the partnership and engagement, to ensure the countries are stable and that we deal with unconventional counter-terror threats together… Because then we will be stronger.”

Sarna pointed out at the ongoing Malabar joint naval exercise, which is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the navies of India, US and Japan. “Aircraft carriers from India and US are exercising together with submarines. This year, India has been designated as a major defence partner by the US… We need to fight this together, and we appreciate the personal reactions we got on the recent attack on pilgrims in India,” he added.

Gabbard also said there’s still a lot of excitement in Washington around Modi’s visit.

“For those of us on the India-US Caucus and those who have been working on India-US partnership for years, everyone is saying it that these are the most exciting times for friendship between both the countries.

She mentioned that economic partnerships were flourishing and so too were relationships in technology, education, culture and the Arts. “Having the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) celebrations here is appropriate given how much interest not just the Indian-American audience has, but the Americans as a whole have in films coming from India. This is increasing the understanding and affinity between the people of the two countries,” she said.

Sarna appreciated how the support for India-US engagement is “bipartisan and across the political spectrum”. He even said that during Modi’s visit to meet Trump, they “hit it off in terms of understanding, engaging each other and listening to each other’s concerns”. (IANS)

 

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Facebook Meets With Pakistan Government After Blasphemy Death Sentence

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File - In this April 18, 2017, photo, workers stand in front of a demo booth at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California. VOA
  • Pakistan believes in freedom of expression, but that does not include insulting Islam or stoking religious tensions
  • Pakistani counter-terrorism court sentenced a 30-year-old man to death for making blasphemous comments on Facebook
  • In April, a Pakistani university student, Mashal Khan, was beaten to death by a mob after being accused of blasphemous content on Facebook

A senior Facebook official met with Pakistan’s interior minister on Friday to discuss a demand the company prevent blasphemous content or be blocked.

The meeting comes after a Pakistani counter-terrorism court sentenced a 30-year-old man to death for making blasphemous comments on Facebook, part of a wider crackdown.

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy, met Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, who offered to approve a Facebook office in Pakistan, which has 33 million users of the network.

Khan said Pakistan believes in freedom of expression, but that does not include insulting Islam or stoking religious tensions.

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“We cannot allow anyone to misuse social media for hurting religious sentiments,” Khan said.

Facebook called the meeting “constructive.”

In this photo released by Pakistan's Press Information Department, July 7, 2017, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, left, meets Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan in Islamabad, Pakistan.

In this photo released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department, July 7, 2017, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, left, meets Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“Facebook met with Pakistan officials to express the company’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of the people who use its service, and to enabling people to express themselves freely and safely,” the company said in an email.

“It was an important and constructive meeting in which we raised our concerns over the recent court cases and made it clear we apply a strict legal process to any government request for data or content restrictions.”

Pakistan’s social media crack-down is officially aimed at weeding out blasphemy and shutting down accounts promoting terrorism, but civil rights activists say it has also swept up writers and bloggers who criticize the government or military.

One of five prominent writers and activists who disappeared for nearly three weeks this year later told a U.N. human rights event in March that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies had kidnapped him and tortured him in custody.

Others’ families said right-wing and Islamist parties had filed blasphemy accusations against them to punish them for critical writings.

Anything deemed insulting to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad carries a death penalty in Pakistan, and sometimes a mere allegation can lead to mob violence and lynchings. Right groups say the law is frequently abused to settle personal scores.

In April, a Pakistani university student, Mashal Khan, was beaten to death by a mob after being accused of blasphemous content on Facebook. Police arrested 57 people accused in the attack and said they had found no evidence Khan committed blasphemy. (VOA)

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