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Human Rights

Bukele Allegedly Breaching Human Rights During the State of Emergency

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Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Nayib Bukele scaled

The crackdown on growing gang violence, which resulted in the arrest of 36 thousand people, has brought the central American country of El Salvador to the watchlist of many international human rights organisations. The action was taken after the killing of more than 80 people over the weekend in March 2022. The killing had brought on to the country a state of exception and emergency. 

According to the official press release by the government of El Salvador, from the total number of prisoners, 5000 are women who were found associated with gang crimes and activities. The country also claims to have a record drop in the number of homicides with May 2022 being the safest month in the country’s history. Since the country’s president Nayib Bukele took office, he has been very articulate about his policies toward the eradication of gang violence. With the initiation of a seven-phase Territorial control plan in 2020, Bukele challenged the gangs who had made the country world’s murder capital

Addressing his country, Nayib Bukele called the recent actions a step toward a peaceful country and said that “The changes are there in plain sight, nobody neither the opposition nor the international lobbyists can deny that in three years we have taken the authority from the de facto powers and given it back to the Salvadoran people just as I promised.”

Responding to the critics from the international communities, Bukele exclaimed that “El Salvador is a sovereign country and here we will make the decisions that we believe are right for us”

The Security Minister, Gustavo Villatoro, on the extension of the state of emergency in the country, commented that “We are going to continue to confront this cancer, and we have said it before and we stand by it, this war will continue until the gangs are eradicated from the territory of El Salvador.”

But, while the homicide rate drops as low as 0.5%, the arrest of nearly 2% of the country’s population has left the world concerned.  Human rights activists are concerned that these actions by the government are in direct violation as the torture has claimed the lives of around 18 people in the arrest. In a report issued by Amnesty International, Erika Guevara-Rosas declared that “the Salvadoran authorities are committing widespread and flagrant violations of human rights and criminalizing people living in poverty”. She also claimed that the arrest of kids under the ages of 15 and “The arrest and criminal prosecution without due process of more than 35,000 people in less than three months would not have been possible if the judicial authorities had fulfilled their mandate. ”Earlier a report by a human rights watch also claimed that the law enforcement agencies are abusing their power with “arbitrary arrests of innocent people, some of them subjected to short-term enforced disappearances, and worrying deaths in custody”.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Human Rights

How historical injustices tie Britain to Nigeria’s crisis’

The UK aided Nigeria in various areas, including security and development, yet its involvement in the Biafran War has been controversial and has been criticised by some for supporting a government that was responsible for human rights abuses, and famine during the conflict.

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For almost a decade, the Nigerian military has conducted a clandestine abortion programme in the country’s northeast. Since at least 2013, its iron-fist campaign has ended more than 10,000 pregnancies. Many of its victims were kidnapped, and raped by Islamist militants. The abortions were carried out without consent and around thirty-three women and girls who were pregnant were given mysterious injections and pills by uniformed soldiers.

Among the targeted have been children, killed on suspicion of being offspring or supporters of the insurgents. But when an investigation was called for by the United Nations, the US, the UK, and Germany, the military denied such human rights abuses had occurred. 

The British government officials believe there is “chronic corruption” amongst Nigeria’s security forces and that many of the human rights accusations against them are “true.” British troops have stationed themselves in the west African former colony to help battle Boko Haram.

Nigeria is a large country situated in the West African region with many human rights challenges.

The UK aided Nigeria in various areas, including security and development, yet its involvement in the Biafran War has been controversial and has been criticised by some for supporting a government that was responsible for human rights abuses, and famine during the conflict.

The Biafran War, also known as the Nigerian Civil War, was a conflict that took place in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. It was triggered after the eastern region of Nigeria declared itself the Independent Republic of Biafra, leading to a civil war between Biafran forces, and the Nigerian government.

The British government played a significant role in the Biafran War, as the UK was a major supplier of military equipment to the Nigerian government during the conflict. The UK also provided diplomatic support to the Nigerian government, and helped to broker the peace agreement, which put an end to the war.

The Boko Haram crisis in north-eastern Nigeria has internally displaced over two million people within Nigeria. Families have been separated, have lost the freedom of movement, loss of property, food insecurity, and much more.

Fifty years to the war, declassified British files now show that under former UK prime minister, Harold Wilson’s government secretly armed and backed Nigeria’s aggression against the secessionist region. The Labour government provided large quantities of weapons to the Nigerian federal government which had destroyed an attempt by the country’s eastern region of Biafra, to gain independence.

The British supplied around 40,000 more mortar bombs, 20,000 rifles, 36 million rounds of ammunition every month, 2,000 machine guns, helicopters, amongst others. 

However, while in the present, support remains in the background to curtail those abuses that have now emerged, whether that support has any meaningful impact is suspect. 

Currently, armed, and security forces continue to commit crimes off the radar of international law and in north-eastern Nigeria.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Starvation in Somalia is no political matter

For this East African country, extreme drought and starvation are no strangers, but to surrender itself to famine is akin to branding itself a failed state. And for that, starvation and death are part of a political power grab, waging on with relentless force.

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For this East African country, extreme drought and starvation are no strangers, but to surrender itself to famine is akin to branding itself a failed state. And for that, starvation and death are part of a political power grab, waging on with relentless force. 

The threat of famine in Somalia has subsided, the United Nations humanitarian agency, OHCA announced in early December. But where aid from humanitarian agencies and efforts of the country’s local communities have helped keep it “outside the door”, these words of relief come with caution. Unless aid steps up, Somalia may still see famine between April and June 2023, it added. 

Earlier reports predicted it could have been hit by famine between September and December 2022. By the final month, 30,000 of its 16 million population were expected to be affected. A report by the World Food Programme in September had already reported that two of its districts, Baidoa and Buurhakaba, were in it.

But detrimental levels of starvation already grip this East African nation. As an insurgency by militant group Al Shabab blocks aid delivery to its controlled zones in southern Somalia, three million people are internally displaced. 700,000 Somalis are at risk of dying from starvation next year, said an alliance of UN aid agencies and groups. Yet, the threshold to declare famine has not been triggered.

“There is a very strong political question here about declaring famine, and the current government actually doesn’t have an interest in a famine declaration,” says Omar Mahmood, a senior analyst for Eastern Africa at Crisis Group. 

President Hasan Sheikh Mahamud, who assumed office in June 2022 following delayed elections, claimed the country had “enough food to feed our people”. His comments came as the UN urged the government to declare a famine. Instead, Mr Mahamud insisted that whilst Somalia was experiencing hunger, the government was doing its “best” to ensure food and medical supplies were reaching vulnerable communities.

Mr Mahmood says the state saw admitting to it as “interrupting their other priorities”.  

“Everything gets thrown only to famine relief once you hit that marker, and it’s a balance because that, of course, does draw more attention,” he says. 

The Somali government has made strides in grappling with its humanitarian crisis. Shortly after taking office, President Mahamud appointed his election opponent, Abdirahman Abdishakur as special envoy on drought response in May, tasked with engaging international partners on the matter. 

In December, the Office of the Special Envoy on the Humanitarian Crisis and Drought launched a collaborative effort with the Somali Independent Media Association, aiming to train more than 400 journalists on climate change and humanitarian reporting.

“Somali journalists have been left alone to deal with the crisis that has been unfolding for decades without any support and they have faced many challenges when performing their roles,” Mr Abdishakur said the purpose of the training scheme, which will run in every major city, was also to combat fake news around the drought. 

Famine and a Failed State?

His concerns mirror many in Somalia’s government, who claim the country is not a failed state. Instead, against a backdrop of political instability, their refrain is there is a functioning government, which has come a long way from the turmoil three decades of internal conflict have caused. But it defies calls from those outside the state who say emergency should be declared.

A famine is usually declared when at least 20% of a population suffers from extreme food shortage, at least 30% of children experience malnutrition and at least two people out of 10,000 die daily from starvation. By this threshold, some regions such as Bay, in southern Somalia, are already experiencing it, since nearly 50% of its residents are living with food insecurity

Why isn’t the Somali government declaring famine? 

Since famines are political, the UN cannot declare it in Somalia without an agreement from its government.

Mr Mahamud agreed that even though the risk of calling the situation in Somalia a famine is very high, such a declaration would not just affect victims but also halt the country’s development, as international aid risked being diverted from long-term developmental projects. But another reason for their reluctance is the possibility that giving into these calls could result in mass migration from its rural areas and into bigger cities. This would, they fear, trigger a shortage of resources in these cities, surging its crime rates. 

But Mr Mahmood thinks the government “have to revisit this question”: “The reality is what’s happening on the ground, if that’s a famine, it must be declared as such. That will help mobilise resources as well,” he says. 

Humanitarian partners have requested $1.46 billion. However, until now they only have 43% of the funds they need. The United States have donated $707 million. But funds from elsewhere are lacking. The UK has only donated $2.3 million this year.  

When famine arrived in 2011, it killed more than  250,000 people. No early warnings, and inaction meant half of those who lost their lives, died before a famine was officially declared. But six years later, a different story emerged. International donations and governmental preparedness helped curb it in 2017.

While he reinforces the need for a stronger response, Mr Mahmood says the present government’s strategy is better than previous ones.

“The last administration wasn’t focused on the fight against Al Shabab. They were focused on domestic political opponents. The struggle against Al Shabab fell by the wayside,” he says. 

Engagement with the militant group, he cautions, is a “very risky strategy” and would have long-term consequences, but dialogue may placate tensions. 

Involvement by international actors has attracted controversy, with airstrikes in the US considered to be an unlikely tool to end violence. Under former US president Donald Trump’s administration, the USA’s counterterrorism war escalated; in his first year in office alone, President Trump conducted more airstrikes than the preceding administration had. By the end of his tenure, the number of airstrikes totaled 202, and records indicate the number of civilian fatalities ranged from six to 30, although the true figure is likely to be higher. 

As both sides vie for control, for those looking in, Somalia is no less than a hotbed of extremism. An attack in early January saw the killing of 20 people in a village in the Middle Shabelle region. In response to these attacks, its federal government, calls for more airstrikes to be carried out by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), a combatant group of the US Defence Department to finish off Al Shabab. 

Creating a theatre for a power struggle, many others may see constant airstrikes and the consequent killings of civilians not a strategy to assuage the raging flames of violence. 

But Mr Mahmood insists the airstrikes do help “keep the pressure on the organisation”. Where previous attempts to “push” the militant group “closer to defeat” under President Trump’s administration, failed, “the same level of ground effort” to bolster its response was “femoral”, he suggests. But now, in the midst of aggression, he sees a glimmer of hope under the current Somali federal government, who he believes is “making that little bit of progress”. 

‘Putting the ball in their court’

Starvation, and politics have long been intertwined in this East African country. But this, he says, is a “crossing-cutting issue”, not a “political issue”. He goes on: “This is about how we provide for the Somali population which both they, and the government claim to serve and claim to be the legitimate actor governing them.”

He adds: I think it’s about putting the ball in their court and therefore, the response, either way, will basically be on them.”

Learning from the past, and taking steps to engage with adversaries may be in the country’s interests, he says. 

“What happened in 2011 was they did have a bit of a disastrous response and it cost them popular support as well. So, it’s important to them if they want to make the same strategic mistake or if they are an actor that actually does care about the wider population and can put aside some ideological or political issues in order to ensure Somalis get the aid they need,” says Mr Mahmood. 

Somalia’s famine in 2011 indicated that appropriate communication and negotiation with terror groups are important. During the famine, Al-Shabaab demanded monitoring access to the organisation programmes or ‘helping fees’ from them, which could be as high as $10,000, to curb the death toll. 

Some organisations gave in and paid those fees, but some did not. The result was attacks, and bans of organisations from Al-Shabaab territory. Even organisations such as UNICEF or the World Food Programme (WFP) were expelled from Al-Shabaab territory for not fulfilling the requirements. 

 More needs to be done

Approximately 7 million people are suffering in Somalia due to starvation.  

He ends on a warning that relying merely on the “immediate response” alone is not enough. Instead adaptation is a necessary precursor to beckoning in change for the good. Otherwise, he envisages a bleak picture: “The reality is these droughts will continue to happen, and the frequency between them will continue to decrease.” 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Opinion: Enforcement is no answer to Iran’s anti-hijab protests

As the memory of Mahsa Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.

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The United Nations launched a fact-finding investigation into human rights abuses committed in Iran. It closes a gap where previously no international courts nor national jurisdictions addressed these crimes. But fears abound that Iran may not cooperate with this historic precedent.

When outrage sparked at the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who was arrested by the so-called morality police for violating the country’s strict hijab laws in September. Amidst the protests that were sparked, one more cry was also notable: How can we take the West’s condemnation seriously, when it is also guilty of human rights abuses?

As the Iranian government sought to crackdown on protests that erupted in response to the young woman’s death, directing legal action on those voices of dissent, the West was not slow to speak out against Iran’s rampant authoritarianism. The UK issued sanctions on Iran’s morality police to send out a message: “We will hold you to account for your repression of women and girls,” said then Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly. His statement echoed those of many others; that no one should dictate how Iranian women and girls should dress.

But some Muslims were left wondering where these voices were when Switzerland implemented its burqa bans. Or when France gripped ever tighter on its repression of Muslim women’s hijabs. Or even when Hindutva extremists burned mosques in India.

But as the memory of Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.

France was the first country to impose hijab bans in 2011 and the act, “Law of 2010-1192: Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space” was introduced to prevent women from mainly wearing the niqab (a covering for the entire body and face except for the eyes). Following France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, China, and Bulgaria also introduced such laws.

There are many reasons that so many European and other countries claim to have banned hijabs or niqabs. The most well-known one is for security reasons considering a veil will prevent police from identifying the person, arguing that such people can commit crimes without being identified.

But that is not the only reasoning behind the laws, as when France was banning niqabs the government campaign used the term “the Republic is lived with an uncovered face.”  Similarly, the right-wing Switzerland party that proposed the hijab ban organizes “resistance against the claims to power of political Islam in Switzerland.”

So where does this Islamophobia come from? Why is the forced hijab seen as worse than hijab bans? Well, the responsibility for this, along with Islamophobia lies on so-called Islamic countries as well.

Along with Iran, Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban imposes strict dress code laws on women and men. Women are forced to cover their faces and every part of their bodies. Women cannot travel without a male companion. The country is also accused of gender-based discrimination and partaking in child-marriage, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation of women. 

All these laws are implemented under the name of Islam.

Saudi Arabia is another such Islamic country that usurped women’s rights after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Finally in 2015, it granted women the right to vote and run as candidate in election, in 2018 women were finally allowed to drive, and in 2019 the male guardianship laws were eased. However, even after these basic rights were slowly granted to women, the problems have not been eradicated as women are forced to wear full clothing as well as face veils even now.

There are many other Islamic countries that impose such harsh laws and force the hijab or niqab, so in the West’s eyes this garment has become a sign of discrimination. Wanting to be saviours of women’s rights, they ban the hijab altogether, not knowing, or ignoring the fact, that it can be worn willingly as well.

But is this the battle that the majority of Muslims should be fighting in the first place? When so much power is given to the West that their opinion becomes a reason for debate, the people are distracted from the real issues.

Another problem is the belief that the West is omnipotent, it can solve all problems, even if it does not have that power anymore. A Prospect article that was written back in 2010 explained how the reason that the West was considered to be powerful was not that “its people are biologically superior, its culture better, or its leaders wiser, but simply because of geography.”

The 2020 Munich Security Conference discussed the power that the West once held and if it still holds it. Most people attending the conference agreed that the West was not all-powerful anymore. Michael Barnett, a professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University said; “The West’s influence was partially dependent on its material wealth and its moral purpose, both of which are in decline, and so the West has ceased to be the soft power that it once was.”

Instead of fighting a battle about opinions, the world should focus on helping the victims. Whenever women’s bodies are controlled, there is an outrage for a while and then all is forgotten. Despite the online outrage as well as the thousands pouring out into the streets of Iran, very little comes to change as authorities are quick to silence and punish dissent

One example is Iran’s protest in 2018 against the morality police. Despite a report being released that showed that 49% of the population was against forced hijab, the bans were never removed. As a result, Mahsa Amini had to die at the hands of the so-called morality police in 2022.

These protests have been repeated many times, the first one being in 1979 when the hijab imposition was first passed by religious fundamentalists. Again, we saw protests in 2014, when there were a series of acid attacks against women who were deemed to be wearing inappropriate clothes. Each time, the attention that these protests garnered was used as a political tool and nothing was done for the women in Iran.

Dilshad Ali, Content Editor at Haute Hijab explained this point by stating; “If there are ever any political tensions or issues afoot in any country that hones in on Muslims, targeting the hijab is low-hanging fruit because it’s such a visible way to know one is Muslim. “

Adding, “People take the hijab and use it to misrepresent a thousand different political things, when really, at its heart, it’s not anything scary or oppressive, but rather something private between a woman and Allah and her visible declaration that “I am Muslim.”

The hijab is something that a Muslim woman should wear to feel safe, and respected, and as a sign of being Muslim. But, when the same garment is forcefully used and acts as a way to control women, it becomes something to detest. According to Iranian poet and journalist Asieh Amini due to forced veils, the hijab became a symbol of oppression, as women “can’t stand this domination and want their rights.”

The forced hijab in Iran is non-discriminatory when it comes to the religion of the women being forced to veil themselves. Regardless of religion or cultural differences, every woman is the victim of the morality police. These laws trace back to when the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini said women should observe Islamic dress codes in 1979 after the Islamic revolution but due to protests, he backtracked only for the hijab becoming part of the law in 1983. In fact, before the revolution, Muslim women used to wear hijab as their own choice.

By merely pointing the finger at the West, once again the outrage will end without any real changes taking place in countries that are to blame, and the women that are killed in India, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and all other countries will remain without justice. All because the world is busy playing the blame game and forgetting why these protests started in the first place.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Can the UK be trusted to support women’s rights in Saudi Arabia?

The UK has been found to be providing aid with ambiguous motives. The term “women’s rights” was cast aside when describing the purpose of the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF), suggesting that the UK has either opted for silence on the matter or is supporting the discrimination of women.

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The UK is a nation that traditionally champions women’s rights, but sometimes money and politics seem to get in the way. This time, the UK has been found to be providing aid with ambiguous motives. The term “women’s rights” was cast aside when describing the purpose of the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF), suggesting that the UK has either opted for silence on the matter or is supporting the discrimination of women.

The GSF addresses various concerns in the gulf region including security, cyber, innovation and leadership and seeks to alleviate problems in the area by encouraging developments in tech and education. The role of women in these endeavours has been obscured, except for events on a small scale like the International Women’s Day Celebrations, Leadership Expos and Exhibitions for artists. The GSF has refused to be transparent regarding organisations to which funding is directly provided and the outcomes achieved through it. It is highly likely that the funding has been allocated to government organisations which are responsible for human rights abuses and oppression in their strict measures against dissent in Saudi Arabia.

Recently, two female Saudi activists were sentenced to prison over their undaunted tweets and social media presence. Broadly perceived as a tool inciting rebellion in Saudi society, Twitter users have often been subjected to severe consequences as a stern warning to the population. Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani was sentenced to 45 years in prison for tweeting in favour of women’s rights, a risky attempt to break through the social structure of the country. And Salma al-Shehab, another activist was given a 34-year sentence for her bold statements, including a demand to release other journalists and activists. The nature of trials for these activists, which normally take place away from the limelight, remains a concern for many human rights institutions Over the years however, the Saudi Kingdom has revised its constitution and allowed women to adopt greater roles in society. This includes the ability to drive, relaxed dress code and more roles in the workforce. Whether or not these changes have made a significant difference to the lives of women in Saudi is debatable.

But Britain’s participation in the GSF is problematic precisely because of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s suspicious lack of transparency around why women’s rights is no longer a featured purpose of the fund. In its endeavour to what appears to be not wanting to rock the boat with Saudi Arabia, is the UK compromising and selling out its own long-held principles? How can the UK be expected to be taken seriously when it calls out other regimes on their human rights abuses?  It seems that maybe Britain can look the other way when the price is right.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

“Log kya kahenge?”: Is colonialism to blame for the rise in honour killings and honour culture in the South Asian community?

Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.

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Honor Killing

“Log kya kahenge?” or “What will people say?” in Urdu and Hindi is a common enough phrase heard by many South Asians.  No doubt Sania Khan, a Pakistani American may also have had to hear this too many times before she was murdered by her ex-husband whilst going through a divorce. Khan, 29 left her bad marriage as she felt unsafe with her husband due to his long-standing mental health issues. She shared her experience on TikTok recalling how “going through a divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes”. However, on 18th July 2022 her ex-husband shot her in the head then shot himself.  Sadly, Sania Khan was pronounced dead at the scene.

But why has there been a rise in honour killings in the South Asian community and why is this toxic honour “culture” so important?  Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.  Analyst News spoke to psychoanalyst Shukriya Mahat about how honour is all about abiding by family rules. “Honour is the highest level of integrity you have.  When you are born into a family you have to abide by a certain set of rules and principles that come with that family, so you end up carrying a name of a family, you are not yourself.” That is exactly how the families of honour victims Sania Khan, Qandeel Baloch and Shafilea Ahmed viewed their daughters. For some South Asian families they are more than willing to kill one of their own when they do not abide by these “rules” to preserve their family’s honour.

“For women in the South Asian community, they gain respectability if they get married as their name becomes attached to a male,” says Neha Gill, executive director of Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based human rights organisation working to end gender-based violence. It offers services to predominantly South Asian women facing intimate partner abuse. Gill told Analyst News that divorced women still carry the stigma of unrespectability within the community – they begin to symbolise sexual impurity, leading to their shaming and shunning.  The definition of what a “respectable woman” is, continues to be used today, because the community is obsessed with creating a woman who is the “marriageable type”.

Gill goes on to say, “Women like Sania Khan are not trusted to make their own decision of leaving a marriage or not” because, she believes, they are not trusted to uphold their family’s honour. “Many women are expected to ‘compromise’ in their marriage, and this can mean many women are expected to tolerate abusive behaviours solely to preserve honour.  That is why we find when abuse victims leave their marriage, that is when the most homicides occur as the abuser loses power and control over their honour,” she explains.

According to the Sri Lankan author and activist Kumari Jayawaradena, the idea of “respectability” is a throwback to colonial times when missionaries who settled in India and Sri Lanka claimed they were bringing “salvation and the light of true faith”.  By trying to convert the native populations, the Christians created female missionaries in schools with the aim of providing  “good Christian wives and mothers” for male converts to uphold the principles set out in the Bible. A family’s honour was tied to whether their daughter was ‘sexually pure’. Thus rules for what a ‘respectable’ woman was, were rooted in fundamentalist Biblical ideas of abstinence before marriage and sexual purity.  But Gill opines that colonialism probably made an already deeply patriarchal society even worse and compounded women’s low status.  Indeed when missionaries were first placed in schools in India and Sri Lanka during British rule it was difficult to persuade parents to send their daughters to school as ‘reading and writing were not considered to be traits of a female’.

Gill explains how the culture is steeped in patriarchy. From the beginning of someone’s life “we praise a woman if she gives birth to a boy but then wishes them to receive a boy ‘next time’ if they give birth to a baby girl.”  Unfortunately this attitude still exists today.   A recent study found that there would be 6.8 million fewer female births recorded across India by 2030 because of sex selective abortions, where a baby is more likely to be aborted if it’s female. This cultural preference exists and is perpetuated through the generations, as a boy means he’s more likely to earn and become a breadwinner and girls are just seen as a “burden from day one” because someone needs to provide for them.  And if you’re unlucky enough to have a girl, then the onus is to ensure she’s of a “marriageable type” so she can be married off as soon as she’s of age.

But why are these blatant discriminatory practices perpetuated today?  Psychoanalyst Mahat believes that the patriarchal system continues to be upheld by the older generation which “instils these rules because for many of their generation, honour is much more important than life.” The problem then becomes that the community is stuck in a constant cycle of successive generations being taught that these backward-looking, paternalistic standards are the cultural norm.

Is there any way to stop this vicious cycle, change attitudes and restore women’s status? Shukriya Mahat feels one way to cut through is education.  She suggests that by simply teaching younger generations that there is no shame in getting a divorce if marriage does not work out and setting better examples for them to follow would be a huge breakthrough. “However, re-educating South Asian adults can be the hardest challenge when they have been taught all their life to abide by these rules,” she says. But it will be women who have suffered at the hands of their partners, who will likely have the courage and agency needed to change the cultural mindset into one which truly values the fairer sex.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

‘Stateless and homeless’ – 5 years of Rohingya mass exodus

Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.

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Five years have passed since Myanmar’s military operation against Rohingya Muslims, driving 740,000 refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.

August of this year marked the fifth year of the ferocious military operation carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority in  2017. The state-backed ethnic cleansing in Rakhine saw thousands raped, burnt and killed.

The 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are further subjected to systemic oppression and abuse. 130,000 of them are living in internal displacement camps, where they are confined, denied freedom of movement, access to good healthcare and education. Following the military-seized control in the February 2021 coup, conditions of Rohingya in detained camps have become extremely vulnerable. As per reports, 28,000 Rohingyans were left in unfit camps posing ‘life threatening risks’.

According to a United Nations report, the military operations in 2017 were carried out with ‘genocidal intent’. The Myanmar military’s attacks, which lasted weeks, executed targeted killing, sexual violence and the burning of Rohingya houses. Later, in March 2022, the U.S. State Department formally declared the situation as genocide.

Over the years, Myanmar government has strategically stripped  the Rohingyan Muslim minority of their citizenship status. Though challenged by historians, Myanmar’s leadership generally maintains the Rohingya community to be descendants from India and Bangladesh. Under the 1982 Citizenship law, Rohingya were denied citizenship, making them one of the world’s largest stateless population. The ethnic-based Citizenship law leaves Rohingya with no legal protection or fundamental rights.

Muhammad Hussein, a 65 year old who fled Myanmar during the attacks says, “My heart longs for our repatriation to Myanmar. Today, we have no country of our own despite being human. We are requesting the world to help us live as humans. My wish is to have rights, and peace.”

As five years pass by, the Rohingya remain in a stateless purgatory awaiting justice and their rights. The international community needs to make a concerted effort to charge the grave crimes committed by the military against the minority. The Human Rights Watch recommends that “the UN Security Council should end its inaction borne of anticipated vetoes by China and Russia and urgently pass a resolution that institutes a global arms embargo on Myanmar, refers the military’s grave crimes to the International Criminal Court, and imposes targeted sanctions on the junta and military-owned conglomerates.”

Furthermore, governments need to impose restrictions on the funding of Myanmar’s military, primarily the gas revenues totalling around US$1 billion in annual profits. Global communities need to support the case filed by Gambia against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice in 2019 to hold the military accountable for its crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocidal acts.

Described as “the most persecuted minority in the world” by United Nations; Rohingyas live

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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