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Pope Francis approves tribunal to probe bishops over sexual abuse

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Vatican City: Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a proposal to create a tribunal within the Vatican for bishops who cover up alleged paedophile priests, as part of his reform of the city-state’s Curia or governing body.

The new tribunal will be part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, which already has the power to judge priests accused of abusing minors.

The remit of the newly-formed body will cover bishops, judging them “with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,” the Vatican said.

The tribunal was recommended by a 17-member commission set up by Francis to crack down on sexually abusive clergy, more than a decade after the scandal first emerged in the US, sullying the image of the Catholic Church.

Francis also approved “adequate resources” so bishops can report priests who abuse children and the disabled for abuse of office, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Three different bodies would be authorized to make such reports, the Congregation of bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Sex abuse victims said they feared the move was just the latest in a series of administrative reforms undertaken by the Vatican to stonewall secular authorities, leading to very few prosecutions.

Despite his virtually unlimited power, Francis is yet to sack any bishops for complicity in child sex abuse, nor has he demoted, disciplined or denounced any complicit church official, according to victims. (IANS)

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Rescued Bonded Laborers Need Psychological Help to Battle Mental Trauma: Study

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories

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Bonded laborers
India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030. VOA
  • Freedom becomes an alien concept to bonded laborers and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality
  • India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030
  • While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down
 After his rescue from abuse and overwork as a bonded laborer in a brick kiln in south India, Shanmugam Paneer has set up his own business making household items from bamboo.But the lifeless monotone he uses to describe his five-year ordeal betrays an inner struggle to move on from one of India’s most prevalent forms of human trafficking.

“For many, the process of coming out with the truth is far more painful than actually living those years in bondage,” said Loretta Jhona, a counselor with the U.S.-based charity International Justice Mission.

“Freedom becomes an alien concept and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality.”

Though India banned bonded labor in 1976, it remains widespread, with millions working in fields, brick kilns, rice mills, and brothels, or as domestic workers to pay off debts.

India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030 and to increase fivefold the compensation that is paid to them, as part of a wider drive to tackle modern slavery.

Rescued workers need more psychological help to become truly free, counselors say, as they are often too scared to admit to suffering, such as sexual abuse, for fear of retribution from their former owners.

 bonded laborers
Young Indian bonded child laborers wait to be processed at a safe house after being rescued during a raid by workers from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, at a factory in New Delhi, India, June 11, 2013. VOA

“People are released physically but not really released from the burden of the debt, or the mental trauma they have undergone,” said Umi Daniel, a migration expert at the Aide et Action International charity.

Many former slaves instinctively curl up in their beds, used to spending a couple of hours sleeping in a cramped space, Jhona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down.

“Very often there is no talk of the years spent in bondage,” said Jhona, adding that workers often find it hard to tell her of their hopes for the future.

“They ask us how they can have aspirations when even to eat or sleep they needed permission from their owners,” she said.

ALSO READ: India accounts for almost 40 percent of the worldwide laborers

“It is heartbreaking to see people with nil dreams and no aspirations, even for their children. They don’t think a better future can exist and most refuse to talk about any of it for months.”

No fear

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories.

Rukamana Deep says he finally “felt free” when he gave a lecture at the Odisha National Law University in April, describing how his family of four were trapped in a brick kiln.

Deep was able to tell his tale in detail, recounting his anger, despair, and helplessness as they worked round the clock to make up to 1,000 bricks a day for 100 Indian rupees ($1.56).

“There was no fear that day,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview from his village in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. “I just wanted to tell my story.”

Deep says his confidence comes from the fact that he knows he is not alone, after attending monthly meetings of a migrant bonded labor forum, Dadan Goti Shramik Surakshya Manch.

“We just talk about a lot of things, including the present challenges and the past problems,” he said. “We understand each other and also create teams that immediately reach out to recently rescued workers. It’s important for them to talk.”

Daniel, of Aide et Action International, believes such forums are critical.

“It’s a big step in their healing process,” he said. (VOA)

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One in every two Children is Victim of Sexual Abuse: World Vision India Survey

Children are given training in different aspects, where they are taught about the good touch and the bad touch and various other relevant aspects

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Children playing in India, Pixabay

New Delhi, May 16, 2017: A survey participated in by more than 45,000 children in the 12- 18 age group, across 26 states in the country, revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse.

The survey conducted by humanitarian aid organisation World Vision India with a sample of 45,844 respondents also revealed that one in every five do not feel safe because of the fear of being sexually abused.

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It also said that one in four families do not come forward to report child abuse.

“Despite one in every two children being a victim of child sexual abuse, there continues to be a huge silence. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown,” World Vision India National Director Cherian Thomas said here while launching a campaign to end child sexual abuse and exploitation by 2021.

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The “It Takes the World to End Violence against Children” campaign targets 10 million children across 25 states and one union territory.

“The campaign works through our area programmes that deal with different issues of health care typically — malnutrition and early illness, education, child rights and protection and the improvement of resilience in communities,” Thomas told IANS.

“The area programmes are based in 186 districts that we operate in,” he added.

Thomas said that the campaign will draw people from all walks of life to ensure a safe environment for children.

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Children are given training in different aspects, where they are taught about the good touch and the bad touch and various other relevant aspects, he said.

“With 98 per cent of rapes being committed by people known to the children, I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection,” he said.

“We are going to work along with other civil society organisations, and child rights organisations. People are sensitized over the issue if economic resilience as most of these abuse cases are a result of inadequate economic resilience in communities,” he explained. (IANS)

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Emma Morano: World’s oldest woman and the last surviving person born in the 19th century dies aged 117

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Emma Morano, Source- Guinness World Records

Rome, April 16, 2017: Emma Morano, the world’s oldest woman and the last surviving person born in the 19th century, died at the age of 117 at her home in Italy’s Verbania town on Saturday.

Emma Martina Luigia Morano, who lived 117 years and 137 days, was born on November 29, 1899, in the Italian town of Civiasco into a family of people who would prove to be very long-lived, with her mother and aunt living to past 90 and her sister Angela reaching 100, EFE news reported.

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According to her grandchildren, Morano, who lived through two world wars, knew 11 popes and 12 Italian Presidents, died peacefully in her sleep.

“She had an extraordinary life. We will always remember the strength (she possessed) for moving forward, her combative attitude against adversity,” said Verbania Mayor Silvia Marchionini.

Despite such surprising longevity, her life has not been easy at all. She outlived all of her family members, namely eight brothers and sisters. She lost a boyfriend in the First World War, and then married a quite abusive man, whom she did not love, Xinhua news agency cited local media.

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Morano lost her only child, not long before leaving her brutal husband. Since then, she supported herself, lived alone, and worked in a jute factory until the age of 65.

However, the most surprising note in her life is perhaps her diet: three raw eggs a day up to some 10 years ago.

Always a biscuits-lover, she has been used to eating very little vegetables, according to her personal doctor.

In 2011, she was honoured with the Order of Merit award by the Italian state and on her latest birthday she received the congratulations of both the current head of state Sergio Mattarella and Pope Francis. (IANS)