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Pak PM under fire for ‘Women wearing few clothes’ remark

(Asian News Hub) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing protests and calls for a public apology after suggesting that there would be fewer sexual assaults if women dressed more modestly, Washington Post reported.

In an interview with Axios earlier this week, Imran Khan was asked about whether there was a “rape epidemic” in Pakistan, where advocates believe that a large number of assaults go unreported.

“If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. I mean, it’s a common sense,” he said.

Women in Pakistan responded by sharing photographs of the “modest” clothing that they were wearing when they were sexually harassed, as well as anecdotes about inappropriate behaviour they have encountered – such as unwanted touching – even when conservatively dressed in traditional headscarves and shalwar kameez, the report said.

At a protest on Saturday in Karachi, women were encouraged to bring a piece of clothing that they or an acquaintance had been wearing when they were subjected to sexual violence.

“This is dangerously simplistic and only reinforces the common public perception that women are ‘knowing’ victims and men ‘helpless’ aggressors,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and more than a dozen other civil society groups said.

“For the the head of government – a government that claims to defend the rights of women and vulnerable groups – to insist on this view is simply inexcusable.”

The report said it’s the second time in recent months that Khan – who was one of Pakistan’s top cricket players and a national celebrity before he entered politics – has come under fire for his comments about rape.

During a live television broadcast in April, he replied to a question about a perceived rise in sexual assaults by saying that the traditional custom of “purdah,” or modesty, was intended to “stop temptation.”

“Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences,” Khan said.

Khan’s latest remarks have led some men in Pakistan to proudly declare themselves to be robots, a joking reference to the Prime Minister’s claim that seeing a woman who is not modestly dressed “will have an impact on the man unless they are robots.”

The report said Sherry Rehman, a senator from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, questioned whether Khan meant to apply the term to “all the men who are civilized in their behavior and interactions with women.”

She added sarcastically that she didn’t realize Pakistan “had such a large AI population.”
News Pakistan reported that a large number of women rights and civil society activists took part in a protest in Karachi on Saturday to criticise Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks about the way women dress up and its impact on men, and urged him to offer a public apology for his remarks.

The HRCP and other civil society bodies and feminist collectives organised the protest outside the Karachi Press Club.

The participating organisations included the Joint Action Committee, Women’s Action Forum, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, Tehrik-e-Niswan, Aurat March, Aurat Foundation, and Women Democratic Front.

As per the report, calling the premier’s comments “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”, speakers at the protest said that it only reinforced the common public perception that women were “knowing” victims and men “helpless’ aggressors”.

“Imran Khan has disgraced not only the millions of women but also the high human ideals and values, which are even upheld by the international charter of human rights,” said a speaker.

Participants also showed their anger at several women members of the ruling party who had jumped to the Prime Minister’s defence and justified his comments in “vague and illogical terms”.

They appealed to the women legislators in the Senate and the national and provincial assemblies to pass a resolution against the Prime Minister, irrespective of their political affiliations, the report said.

They demanded an immediate public apology from the prime minister and assurances that “his highly flawed perception of how and why rape occurs does not inform the government’s attempts to tackle what is a serious and prevalent crime in Pakistan”.



Over two million people died of drowning in last decade: WHO

(Asian News Hub) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that more than 2 million died due to drowning in the last decade, a number which exceeded fatalities caused by maternal conditions or protein-energy malnutrition.

Ahead of the first World Drowning Prevention Day to be marked on July 25, the WHO, in a statement released on Friday, said at least 236,000 people drown every year, and drowning is among the 10 leading causes of death for children and youth aged one to 24 years.

More than 90 per cent of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells and domestic water storage vessels in low- and middle-income countries.

Half of all drowning deaths are in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions, according to the WHO.

Rates of drowning deaths per 100 000 population are highest, however, in the Western Pacific region followed by the African region.

“Anyone can drown, no one should,” noted Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization (WHO).

“I welcome the opportunity of this first World Drowning Prevention Day to increase attention and hasten action by governments and their partners to avert the pain and suffering caused by drowning, a largely preventable killer.”

World Drowning Prevention Day was called for by member states through adoption in April 2021 of UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/273, which also invited the WHO to coordinate drowning prevention actions.

To mark World Drowning Prevention Day, WHO and partners will host a virtual event on July 28, entitled “Global, national and local reflections on World Drowning Prevention Day 2021”.


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Pakistan deploys Army at Afghan border amid deteriorating situation in Afghanistan

(Asian News Hub) – Amid the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan due to US drawdown, Pakistan’s regular army has been deployed at the border areas with the neighbouring country as a security measure.

“Now regular army troops are manning the border after replacing the paramilitary forces,” the Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was quoted by the Dawn.

There are two key border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan; at Chaman in Balochistan and Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In recent weeks, large-scale violence has been on the rise as the Taliban stepped up its offensive since the start of US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban and preventing the Afghan forces from carrying out military operations against them.

The decision to deploy the army was made amid the uncertain situation in the war-torn country.

“Paramilitary troops including the Frontier Constabulary, Levies, Rangers are deployed at the borders to deal with regular issues including illegal border crossing, smuggling etc,” the Interior Minister said. “However, the current volatile situation (in Afghanistan) demands that regular military troops be deployed along the border.”

Afghanistan is witnessing clashes between the government and the Taliban who have seized significant territories throughout the country and launched an offensive against big cities.

The growing Taliban offensive has created a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan which is leading to a refugee problem. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government announced that it will no longer welcome Afghan refugees.

The ties between the two sides have further deteriorated since the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan was briefly kidnapped on her way home in Islamabad on July 16. Thereafter, Kabul recalled its ambassador from Islamabad, demanding punishment for those responsible.


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1.5 million children worldwide lost parents, guardians due to COVID-19: Lancet

(Asian News Hub) – More than 1.5 million children around the world, including 1,19,000 from India, have lost at least one parent, custodial grandparent, or grandparent, as a result of COVID-19, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

Of those, more than 1 million children experienced the death of one or both parents during the first 14 months of the pandemic, and another half a million experienced the death of a grandparent caregiver living in their own home, the study estimates.

In India, the researchers estimate an 8.5-fold increase in the numbers of children newly orphaned (43,139) in April 2021 compared to March 2021 (5,091).

Children who have lost a parent or caregiver are at risk of profound short- and long-term adverse effects on their health, safety, and wellbeing, such as increasing the risk of disease, physical abuse, sexual violence, and adolescent pregnancy.

“For every two COVID-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver. By April 30, 2021, these 1.5 million children had become the tragic overlooked consequence of the 3 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide, and this number will only increase as the pandemic progresses,” said lead author Dr Susan Hillis, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Response Team.

“Our findings highlight the urgent need to prioritise these children and invest in evidence-based programmes and services to protect and support them right now and to continue to support them for many years into the future – because orphanhood does not go away,” he added.

The researchers estimated figures based on COVID-19 mortality data from March 2020 through April 2021, and national fertility statistics for 21 countries.

The countries with the highest numbers of children who lost primary caregivers (parents or custodial grandparents) included South Africa, Peru, United States, India, Brazil, and Mexico.

The countries with rates of COVID-19-associated deaths among primary caregivers (>1/1000 children) included Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, United States, Argentina, and Russia.
For almost every country, deaths were greater in men than women, particularly in middle and older ages. Overall, up to five times more children lost their fathers than lost their mothers.

The researchers call for urgent action to address the impact of caregiver deaths on children into COVID-19 response plans.

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