Indian Uber Rape Victim Sues in US Court; Bomb Kills 35 at Pakistani Shi’a Mosque; Afghan Insider Attack Kills 3 US Contractors
India Uber rape victim sues in U.S. court An Indian woman who was allegedly raped in New Delhi by a driver for Uber, the U.S.-based online taxi service, has filed a lawsuit against the company in a U.S. court, according to news reports on Thursday (BBC, CNN, Indian Express). Filed in a Californian court, the ...
Uber rape victim sues in U.S. court
An Indian woman who was allegedly raped in New Delhi by a driver for Uber, the U.S.-based online taxi service, has filed a lawsuit against the company in a U.S. court, according to news reports on Thursday (BBC, CNN, Indian Express). Filed in a Californian court, the lawsuit describes Uber’s service as a “modern-day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking,” and claims that the company did not screen its drivers adequately or implement basic safety measures. Uber, said in a statement on Friday, that the company’s “deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime,” and they “are cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice” (WSJ). While New Delhi had banned Uber after the alleged assault last year, the company restarted its service in the capital city last week.
Human skeletons found in police building
Numerous skeletons and decayed body parts were discovered in a locked room in an Indian police building in Unnao, located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, according to news reports on Thursday (BBC, NDTV, Indian Express). According to the police, the body parts were used for crime investigations and were preserved in the room that was a part of a mortuary until 2008. A police official from Unnao, Mahendra Pal Singh, said: “We are looking into the recovery of skeletons and viscera. The skeletons are very old. As per 2008 and 2012 records, nearly 400 viscera and 1,000 body parts, including skulls, limbs and pelvic bones of nearly 100 unidentified bodies were kept at the police hospital room for investigation. However, proper probe and DNA testing would be done to corroborate the facts. We will also look into the case thoroughly to ascertain as to why the human remains were not disposed of” (Times of India). Recently, over 100 decaying bodies had surfaced in the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. State officials claimed that bodies immersed in the river as part of last rites had surfaced because of receding waters.
Indians outsource the ‘birds and the bees’ talk
Many Indians prefer to send their children to private sex education programs rather than discuss the topic at home (WSJ, Times of India). Sex education is not included in the curriculum in many schools in India. Last year, Harsh Vardhan, the then-health minister, was criticized because his website said that “so-called ‘sex education’” should be banned in schools. According to Ketaki Chowkhani, a doctorate student in women’s studies about sex education in urban India at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, as the Indian government is “abdicating its responsibility,” sex education is outsourced to private or non-profit organizations. Private sex education workshops use animated films, interactive sessions, slide shows, and games to discuss the topic.
Anju Kishinchandani, a sex educator in the western city of Mumbai, runs `Out of the Box’ weekend workshops to get children and their parents to talk about the taboo topic. According to Kishinchandani: “In India we don’t hesitate to have sex, but when we have to talk about it, it’s against our culture.” Manisha Choudhury, who conducts workshops in the Enfold Proactive Health Trust, located in southern city of Bengaluru, says: “Parents will teach children table manners or how to cross the road, etc but they feel so awkward talking about sex with their kids.”
— Neeli Shah
Bonus Read: “ Pakistan, a Charity Project Points to Official Tolerance of Militants,” Saba Imtiaz and Declan Walsh (NYT)
Bomb kills 35 at Shia mosque
A bomb blast killed at least 20 people gathered for Friday morning prayers at a Shi’a mosque in the Shikarpur district of Sindh province (AP, BBC, AJE, ET, Dawn). The death toll is expected to rise and Sain Rakhio Mirani, the deputy inspector general for Shikarpur district, said it had already risen to 35 deaths. Dr. Shaukat Ali Memon, who heads the hospital in Shikarpur, said that 50 people had been brought to the local hospital. The Pakistani Sunni extremist group Jundullah claimed the attack and its spokesman Fahad Marwat stated: “Our target was the Shia community (mosque)… They are our enemies.” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan released a statement reading: “Such attacks cannot lessen the spirit of the nation.” The bombing follows a previous bombing of a Shi’a mosque in Rawalpindi that killed seven people on Jan. 10.
KP refers 423 cases to military courts
On Friday Khyber Pakhtunkhwa officials referred 423 cases of terror suspects to the federal government’s new military courts (Dawn). The 45 page report included the name of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah. The highest number of cases came from the Peshawar area with other cases distributed throughout other parts of the province.
Top officials suspended over blackout
On Friday, the Pakistani government suspended the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC)’s Managing Director Tahir Mahmood and General Manager of National Power Control Centre (NPCC) Mohammad Saleem as a result of the nationwide blackout earlier this week (Dawn). A preliminary report to the Ministry of Water and Power by the Managing Director of National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) Amjad A. Khan cited the two officials as responsible for the blackout.
Bonus Read: “Militants Driven From Pakistan Flock to Afghan Towns,” Margherita Stancati and Habib Khan Totakhil (WSJ)
Insider attack kills 3 U.S. Contractors
On Thursday a man in an Afghan security forces uniform killed three U.S. contractors and wounded another in an insider attack at Kabul’s military airport (Reuters, Post, Pajhwok, TOLO News). The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack saying that it had sent the soldier in as an infiltrator. Last August an insider attack killed Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the highest ranking U.S. official to be killed during the war in Afghanistan.
Military classifies key data in Special Inspector General’s report
For the first time, information included in the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s quarterly report, which was released Thursday, was classified at the request of the military (ABC, CNN, NYT, Post, Pajhwok). John Sopko, the Inspector General blasted the decision stating: “Its inexplicable classification now and its disappearance from public view does a disservice to the interest of informed national discussion.” Military officials have defended the decision. Gen. John Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, stated: “With lives literally on the line, I am sure that you can join me in recognizing that we must be careful to avoid providing sensitive information to those that threaten our forces and Afghan forces, particularly information that can be used by such opposing forces to sharpen their attacks.” The decision to classify the information has also angered some lawmakers. Speaking with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Senator Claire McCaskill said she would raise the issue and ask defense secretary nominee Ash Carter about it at his nomination hearing (MSNBC).
White House refuses to call Taliban a terrorist organization
On Thursday White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the White House’s decision to not classify the Afghan Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization (ABC, Fox, Pajhwok). While noting that the Taliban have used terror tactics, Earnest argued: “Now, what’s also true, is that it’s important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Taliban has resorted to terror tactics, but those terror tactics have principally been focused on Afghanistan” continuing to say that the Taliban are “different than an organization like al Qaeda that has a much broader global aspiration to carry out acts of violence and acts of terror against Americans and American interests all around the globe.” Although the State Department does not list the Afghan Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization it is listed by the Treasury Department in its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists allowing for the use of sanctions.
— David Sterman
— Edited by Peter Bergen
TENGKU BAHAR/AFP/Getty Images
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