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“I was 12 Years Old when I was Raped” : Survivors of Wartime Rape Break the Silence

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FILE - Bosnian Muslim women from Visegrad hold a peaceful protest of the U.N. war crimes tribunal's failure to include counts of rape in indictments against Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic, Sarajevo, July 18, 2008. VOA

Africa, July 3, 2017: “I was 12 years old when I was raped. I did not understand what was happening.”

Nelle is now 36 years old. But in 1993 when war broke out in Burundi, armed men came to her village near the capital, Bujumbura. They killed her mother and father and six siblings. She was raped, but she survived.

“I saw people were killing each other. They were running away and killing each other. I hid myself under dead bodies for five days,” she said.

Difficult story

Nelle’s story of survival was long and difficult to tell. After living through years of instability, she told VOA that she left for South Africa in 2004 when a new government came to power in Burundi.

“I was scared,” she said. “I was afraid war was coming and I did not want to go through the same thing as in 1993. I did not want to be raped again. So, I quit the country and became a refugee in South Africa.”

Nelle is one of 25 rape survivors from South Sudan, Mali, Colombia and 12 other conflict-affected countries around the world who attended a four-day retreat this week in Geneva.

They came to share their experiences and to devise strategies for the creation of a global movement to end rape as a weapon on war.

“These 25 women have suffered unthinkable things and developed remarkable powers,” said Esther Dingemans, director of the Mukwege Foundation.

ALSO READ: Exclusive: Why Gorkhaland for Gorkhas?

“They have experienced the cruelest violence. But the perpetrators did not succeed in breaking them,” she said.

The foundation is headed by Denis Mukwege, a renowned surgeon from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has treated thousands of survivors of sexual violence in Congo.

“We hope that this week will be the beginning of a large long-term movement that leads to a global platform of survivors,” said Dingemans, “and that their voices will finally be heard.”

Wartime atrocities

In 1992, after the atrocities committed in the Bosnian war, especially against Muslim women, rape, for the first time was recognized as a weapon of war by the United Nations Security Council.

In 2000, the Security Council adopted resolution 1325, which was the first formal and legal document that required parties to a conflict to “protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict.”

It also was the first U.N. resolution to specifically mention women.

Ulrike Lunasek, vice president of the European Parliament, who spoke at the ceremony honoring the 25 women survivors, said it is “important to break the vicious circle of shame and silence” that women usually feel when they are raped.

She said women raped in war must be supported, helped to heal and then “be encouraged to speak up, but also to tell the truth about what military conflict and war means for women.”

Women did speak up at this conference. Several survivors presented searing testimony about their ordeals.

Solange Bigiramana, who survived the horrors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, now lives as a stateless person in South Africa.

“My situation of being a survivor, that comes from a situation of war. It happened for me to face rape. I know what rape means,” she said.

“And I am here with a story of hope,” she said. “I once was under a shadow. I want every survivor to be out of the shadow and to be into the light.”

Yazidi girl

Another survivor, Farida Abbas-Khalaf, a Yazidi girl from the Iraqi village of Kocho, described the torment to which she and other members of her community were subjected by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in her book The Girl Who Beat ISIS.

She spoke movingly and in agonizing detail about being raped, beaten, insulted, and forced to pray and read the Koran.

“Young boys were brainwashed and sent to ISIS training camps to become ISIS fighters while women and young girls were taken as sex slaves and sold at slave markets,” said Abbas-Khalaf.

She said that she was able to heal because of support from her family, her community and her spiritual leader who she said made a statement “that the surviving girls are an important part of the Yazidi community and that what happened to them was against their will.”

She added, “It is time that survivors break the silence. But mostly it is time for the world to hear their voices.” (VOA)

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Planning to move Abroad for Higher Education? Here is a list of 5 Most Affordable Destinations to Study Abroad

Here is a list of some of the most affordable destinations to study abroad!

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affordable destinations to study abroad
Choosing to study abroad can be a tough call, and you must consider all factors before you make a decision. Pixabay

Planning to move abroad for higher education?

Access to education is one of the most basic rights of people across the world. However, when it comes to pursuing higher education from international universities, it seems like there are only a few who can afford to study at a destination of your choice.

While the thought of moving abroad and living in a new place with people from different faiths and nationalities can be extremely exciting, there are a few things you must responsibly think about before you take a final decision. The cost of tuition fees, food bills, rent are some of the important aspects to think about and plan before making a call.

Still, living abroad doesn’t come cheap. Wondering about affordable destinations to study abroad? We have got you covered!

 1. GERMANY

With more than 350 universities and institutions offering over 800 courses to make a choice from, Germany makes one of the better and affordable destinations to study abroad. As an emerging education destination, Germany has witnessed an increasing trend of international students with as much as a 14 per cent increase between 2013 and 2015.

Germany is believed to have some of the best academic infrastructures in the world that focus not only on education, but holistic development of the student. The country is also considered to be the one of the top countries to attain specialization in disciplines relating to engineering and technology.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Germany. Pixabay

While knowing a new language is always a benefit, students need not know German for courses opted in English.

Despite being a nation in central-Europe, the cost of living in Germany is surprisingly low when compared to other European countries. According to data available on the internet, Germany has a lower cost of living than Denmark, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

As per information by the German Academic Exchange Service, international students are believed to spend about 725 Euros as part of their daily expenses while local students spend about 864 for their expenses.

Apart from low sustenance costs, German universities have little to no tuition fees which make them an attractive choice as one of the affordable destinations to study abroad.

 2. FINLAND

The Finnish education system has been ranked as one of the best in the world. The country offers a wide variety of courses to choose from and a student can go to Finland as a student for a complete academic degree, an exchange student or as a trainee.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Finland. Pixabay

Regardless of your nationality, students are exempted from paying tuition fees at Finnish Universities which makes the country a good choice for one of the most affordable destinations to study abroad. However, there are some exceptions in case of a few master’s degrees and programmes.

Since all education costs are born by the Finnish government, students going to the country for Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees do not have any scholarship. However, students joining Finnish universities for doctoral studies and research can avail certain scholarships.

The country has a reputation for a high cost of living in comparison to other countries but Helsinki is suggested as the most affordable city in the region.

 3. NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand has a lot to offer to international students. With cheaper cost of living than nearby places like Australia and reasonable tuition fees, New Zealand has emerged as one of the most affordable destinations to study abroad.

There are 8 universities in New Zealand that comprise a safe and welcoming community and offer high quality of education.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of New Zealand. Pixabay

The country has an extremely flexible education system that can comfortably match the budget of students and offers great value for money. International students can further avail several scholarships that are provided by the New Zealand government, foreign governments, educational institutions, and private sources.

There is no stipulated figure for the annual living expenses incurred by international students as that can vary depending upon the university chosen by every individual student. However, the New Zealand government suggests having up to 15,000 dollars to comfortably cover expenses during the first year of study.

 4. SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is next on our list of most affordable destinations to study abroad.

Tuition fees in South Africa depend upon your choice of university and the education programme.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of South Africa. Pixabay

Nearly all higher education institutes in South Africa comprise of student support offices that help student find and settle into their chosen programmes and accommodations which are available both, on campus and within close proximity to the university campus.

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively low. As per data on the internet, students can estimate an expense of about 980 USD per month, which will include student’s accommodation, food expenses, bills and travel.

These lower costs mean students need not spend exorbitant prices during their student years, in comparison to expenses in other developed countries.

 5. CANADA

Canada has long been one of the preferred countries by people from all parts of the world, courtesy its warm and welcoming society. The country has fast emerged as a preferred location for international students too.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Canada. Pixabay

Apart from being extremely peaceful, safe and welcoming, Canada is known worldwide for its high standard of living and low cost of living for students.

Canada is known to have some of the cheapest tuition fees for international students when compared to other English-speaking universities. As per data available on the internet, international students bear an annual expense within the bracket of 20,000 to 30,000 Canadian dollars, which includes their tuition and living expenses.

Students enrolled in any Canadian university and aged between 18 and 25 can avail discounts when purchasing their monthly transport pass. Students need not spend much on food bills, either.

All these factors when combined together make Canada one of the most sought after and affordable destinations to study abroad.

Choosing to study abroad can be a tough call, and you must consider all factors before you make a decision. We wish you all the best!

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Pakistani Forces Advance Military Attacks in Dera Bugti (Balochistan), Kidnaps and Murder 2 in Chathar

Many huts of innocent Baloch nomads have been set on fire by Pakistani forces

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Freedom from Pakistan, balochistan the largest province of Pakistan
Freedom struggle of Balochistan. Wikimedia

Quetta, Pakistan, August 29, 2017: Pakistani forces are on a continual strike, from past few weeks they have intensified attacks and their offensives towards innocent people of Baloch in Sui Dera Bugti and many other districts of Balochistan.

According to Balochwarna report, “the Pakistan forces have conducted fresh military aggressions in Sui, a sub-district of Dera Bugti and surrounding areas including Laghari Wadh, Mazar Deen Otagh, Hapt wali and other regions.”

Many huts of innocent Baloch nomads have been set on fire by Pakistani forces and they have shamelessly looted hundreds of livestock owned by them. Pakistani forces had the backing of gunship helicopters, they bombarded the area with gunship helicopter for the whole day.

However, 2 dead bodies of victims have been found, these 2 victims were kidnapped and (later murdered) during the ‘Chathar military operation’.

The military had abducted many Baloch men,  Baloch women, and children 2 days ago but later the dead bodies of  Brohi Bugti and his nephew Thapa Bugti. were thrown away by Pakistani forces. There are some other abducted Baloch people who are still in the custody of Pakistani forces, no one except them knows where are they and if they are dead or alive.

Separately, the forces are still continuing their attacks targeting the innocent Baloch civilians in several districts of Balochistan such as Khuzdar, Kech, Kohlu, and Awaran.


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From Moeen Ali to Ranji: Hindu-Muslim in Cricketing Diaspora

West Indian cricket, uninhibited by the class stratifications of South Africa, gave full vent to a mixture of slavery and indenture to produce the world's most scintillating cricketers

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Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali during a match against Sri Lanka at the R.Premadasa. Wikimedia
  • An overwhelming majority of Indians in South Africa are children of indentured laborers
  • Brahmins never accepted indenture
  • Ranji, the very “English” cricketer, had a very Indian sister he was fond of

Aug 06, 2017: When he completed his hat-trick by trapping South Africa’s Morne Morkel leg before wicket in the third Test match at the Oval with his orthodox off-spin, Moeen Ali entered the record books on three counts.

This was the first hat-trick in history at Surrey’s famous cricket ground. The hat-trick also gave England victory, a record-breaking coincidence. Also, Moeen is the first cricketer of South Asia origin to have posted such a record — at least since the princely order faded out. Not since Ranji, Duleep Singh ji and the Nawab of Pataudi has a subcontinental cricketer inserted himself in British history books.

Asked if he would ever play cricket in India, Ranji is reported to have grandly asserted: “Duleep and I are English cricketers.” For that classy disdain, Ranji Trophy cricket was instituted in India in 1934. The year Ranji died, 1933, was, by a coincidence, historic for Indian cricket in another way: The first Test match was played at the Bombay Gymkhana. C.K. Nayudu captained India. The English captain happened to be D.R. Jardine, notorious for his bodyline series against Bradman’s Australia.

I find it difficult to resist a non-cricketing story about Ranji which I picked up during my travels across Ireland. After his cricketing days, Ranji took to hunting as a sport. A grouse shooting accident injured him in one eye.

Scouts scoured the British Isles for the finest spot for angling, which was to be Ranji’s next hobby. He was informed that there was no better spot for river salmon than the bend in the river facing Ballynahinch Castle on Ireland’s Connemara coast.

Other than being a magnificent castle facing a hillock on one side and a river on the other, Ballynahinch suited Ranji for another little-known reason.

Ranji, the very “English” cricketer, had a very Indian sister he was fond of. In the male dominated feudal world, she had to be accommodated within hailing distance. Negotiations were started with a convent in the vicinity. The convent would receive endowments. Ranji’s sister would live with the nuns with two non-negotiable conditions: She would not be converted and she would wear a sari, not a habit. To this day Ballynahinch has a photograph of Ranji’s sister in the convent, wearing a white sari, rather like Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity.

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Cricket- A Fair Game or Farce!

Had I not strayed into the Ranji saga, the narrative after the Moeen Ali performance would have been the obvious one: A few months ago there were as many as four Muslims in the English cricket team — Moeen, Adil Rashid, Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari. Why is there no Hindu in the list? Lest I be misunderstood, my curiosity is mostly sociological. My guess is that Hindus overseas involve themselves in matters more serious than cricket.

The phenomenon continues in other cricket playing countries — Usman Khawaja in Australia; Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir in South Africa; Sikandar Raza who helped Zimbabwe beat Sri Lanka.

Most of these players do not lend themselves to significant sociological analysis. They are immigrants from Pakistan. Hashim Amla is the only one who reflects South Africa’s social hierarchies going back to Mahatma Gandhi’s 21 years in that country.

An overwhelming majority of Indians in South Africa, mostly around Durban, are children of indentured labourers, a device colonialism invented to circumvent the abolition of slavery. This class, along with the blacks, was too depressed to be playing a “gentleman’s” game. But a wave of Muslim Gujarati Merchants, who turned up to cater to the British and Indian clients, were financially sound. One of them was Baba Abdullah, who invited Gandhi to be his barrister.

Since apartheid South Africa barred non-white students from the better schools, this elite group helped set up English-style public schools in neighbouring countries like Malawi under the supervision of such arch British toadies as President Hastings Banda.

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It is the progeny of these Muslim merchants from Gujarat who developed a taste for Marxism, as well as cricket, later in British universities. Yusuf Dadoo, Ahmed Kathrada, Essop Pahad, Kamal Asmal, Dullah Omar, Ahmed and Yusuf Cachalia, Fatima Meer — they formed the backbone of the ANC resistance against apartheid.

Once apartheid was lifted, their children joined the all-white Rand club in Johannesburg and sundry cricket clubs. That is the kind of background Hashim Amla would come from.

How does one explain the fine off-spinner, Keshav Maharaj, to my knowledge the first Hindu in the South African team currently touring England? Maharaj is actually a contrived title among Indians with a background in indenture.

Brahmins never accepted indenture. For them, to cross the black waters (Kala pani) was a sin because useless action was a sin. But the Brahmin was sorely missed for religious rituals during birth, death, marriage. To make up for this shortfall, the community conferred the title of “Maharaj” on the most educated and one of “Light skin”. The most famous of this genre was one of Nelson Mandela’s closest friends, Mac Maharaj. It was he who smuggled out the manuscript of the Long March to Freedom from the Robben Island across a stretch of the ocean from Cape Town. Keshav Maharaj is presumably from this stock.

West Indian cricket, uninhibited by the class stratifications of South Africa, gave full vent to a mixture of slavery and indenture to produce the world’s most scintillating cricketers.

Of Indian origin were brilliant batsmen like Rohan Kanhai, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan — all from Guyana.

It has remained something of a puzzle why Fiji, most loyal to be British crown, never took to cricket in a big way. An average native Fijian is taller than a professional basketball player in America. He is also stronger of built. This oversized human machine hurtling the ball from palm tree height would have led to bloodshed in days when helmets were not known. Is this why the Anglo Saxon never encouraged cricket in Fiji?

(Saeed Naqvi is a commentator on political and diplomatic affairs. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on saeednaqvi@hotmail.com)

–IANS