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Shillong celebrates Valentines Day by discussing about Equality and Respect

The campaign was aimed at creating awareness on consent at a time when sexual assault of various forms, ranging from sexual harassment at the work-place, rapes, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, are on the rise in this matrilineal state of Meghalaya

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Valentines Day, image credits- Pixabay

Shillong, February 14, 2017: It was a Valentine’s Day with a difference in Meghalaya, thanks to Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) group for launching a relatable social media and sticker campaign to open up discussion on notions of consent, safety, pleasure, equality, and respect.

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The campaign was aimed at creating awareness on consent at a time when sexual assault of various forms, ranging from sexual harassment at the work-place, rapes, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, are on the rise in this matrilineal state of Meghalaya.

“Sexual assault and rape happen not just among strangers. Date rapes are common and we need to acknowledge that rapes do take place even within a marriage,” TUR member Badapbor Mawlieh told IANS.

“It is imperative, therefore, that a conversation on what constitutes consent and the importance of practicing consent towards fostering healthy relationships based on equality and respect needs to begin, and what better day than Valentine’s Day — a day that is dedicated to celebrating love and relationships,” he said.

“Sexual consent is a topic that should be talked about whenever there is a possibility of a sexual encounter. When two individuals have sex, they need to be certain that one partner is just as willing to have sex as the other, hence there needs to be full consent,” Mawlieh said.

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The activist said that consent from a partner to engage in a sexual act is one of the most imperative parts of having a mutually satisfying and ethical sexual experience.

“The Indian Penal Code under Section 375 has put forth the meaning of consent as an unequivocal voluntary agreement whereby the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates a willingness to participate in the specific sexual act,” Mawlieh explained.

TUR activists distributed stickers with messages like “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get my consent. If it is not yes, it is rape” to young boys and girls in public places, cafes, colleges, and parks, including Ward’s Lake here in the city.

“It is important that society acknowledges sex and sexuality and the need to have honest conversations with boys and girls, men and women on issues such as consent, negotiation, pleasure, bodily autonomy, boundaries, respect and gender equality,” activist Rangad said.

She also said the response also has to be secular and acknowledging realities of sexual lives of the society.

“Mere moral posturing will worsen the situation, forcing the actual issues to be driven underground. Similarly, just a legalistic approach to crimes against women, children and sexual minorities will not have a preventive impact,” she said.

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Rangad said the campaign will expand to talk about such issues at school, colleges and community level.

TUR is a radical democratic group of Meghalaya, campaigning and organizing for a progressive, egalitarian transformation of Meghalaya while acknowledging its history of tribal autonomy. (IANS)

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Iran’s Zarif Tells Trump to ‘Try Respect’ Instead of Threats

The U.S. also suspects Iran was behind the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates

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Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
The increased tensions with Iran began brewing a year ago when Trump pulled the United States out of the six-nation nuclear deal with Iran. VOA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump “try respect” instead of issuing threats.

He was responding to a Twitter post Sunday in which Trump said: “If Iran wants to fight, that will the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Zarif said Trump, under pressure from a group that includes his National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is hoping to achieve what “other aggressors failed to do.'”

“Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone,” Zarif wrote. “Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.'”

Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump “try respect”. Flickr

Last week, Trump appeared to be backing away from his apparently hawkish stance against Iran, saying he would be open to talks.

When asked by a reporter at the White House on Thursday if the United States was going to war with Iran, Trump replied, “I hope not.”

But there has been no apparent let up in the tensions between the United States, its regional allies and Iran.

The State Department says a “low-grade rocket” fell inside the green zone in Baghdad, less than a kilometer from the U.S. embassy Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported.

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U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said the Pentagon was aware of an explosion outside the embassy, adding, “There were no U.S. or coalition casualties, and Iraqi Security Forces are investigating the incident.”

A State Department spokesman says the U.S. will not tolerate such attacks and that it will hold Iran responsible “if any such attacks are conducted by its proxy militia forces.”

Saudi Arabia is blaming Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for a drone attack on two Saudi oil-pumping stations last week.

The U.S. also suspects Iran was behind the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week. Two of the damaged tankers were Saudi.

Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
Trump said: “If Iran wants to fight, that will the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Pixabay

The Saudis also say they will not tolerate Iranian aggression.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that,” foreign affairs minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday. “But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this will all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests.”

Saudi King Salman has called for emergency summits with Gulf and Arab leaders on May 30 to discuss what the kingdom’s official news agency describes as “aggressions and their consequences.”

An Iranian news agency quotes Iran’s Revolutionary Guard head Hossein Salami as saying the country does not want war, but is “not afraid” of it.

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A statement from the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet Sunday spoke of increased maritime patrols and exercises in the Arabian Sea that highlight the “lethality and agility to respond to threat”

The Pentagon has already sent bombers to the region.

The increased tensions with Iran began brewing a year ago when Trump pulled the United States out of the six-nation nuclear deal with Iran.

Under the agreement, Iran limited its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the end of sanctions and economic relief.

The limitations were meant to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, something Iran denied it had been doing.

Trump, in an interview with Fox News recorded last week and broadcast Sunday, said he does not “want to fight” but that when it comes to Iran, “you can’t let them have nuclear weapons.”

The reimposed U.S. sanctions have left the Iranian economy in tatters and Iran complains it has yet to see the promised economic benefit from the countries that are still part of the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced two weeks ago he was pulling out of part of the nuclear deal and would restart some uranium enrichment if there were no economic benefits by early July. (VOA)