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First female judge nominated for Pakistan’s supreme court | Women’s rights and gender equality

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Pakistan’s top judicial commission has nominated a female judge to the supreme court for the first time in the country’s history.

The move to pave the way for Justice Ayesha Malik to join the court has been widely praised by lawyers and civil society activists as a defining moment in the struggle for gender equality in Pakistan.

The parliamentary secretary for law and justice, Maleeka Bokhari, called it a “shattering of the glass ceiling”.

“An important and defining moment in our country as a brilliant lawyer and decorated judge has become Pakistan’s first female SC [supreme court] judge,” Bokhari, a junior minister of the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party, wrote on Twitter.

The 55-year-old’s appointment has been supported by the chief justice of Pakistan, Gulzar Ahmed, and now goes to a parliamentary panel for confirmation.

The decision has not been without opposition, with one group of lawyers threatening to strike if Malik joined the supreme court bench. The nine-member commission turned down her appointment to the court last year, but this time the decision of the panel of judges was five votes to four in her favour.

A number of lawyers and judges said her selection violated the rules in terms of seniority, maintaining that she was not among the top three senior judges in the court from which she was nominated – the Lahore high court, where Malik has served since 2012.

Imaan Mazari-Hazir, a lawyer in Islamabad, said: “Women have, in the past, been blocked from becoming chief justices of their respective high courts and the fact that we did not have a single woman in the supreme court until now illustrates that there is indeed deep-rooted misogyny in the legal fraternity.”

Malik has given some landmark verdicts in her career, last year outlawing virginity tests for female rape survivors. “It is a humiliating practice, which is used to cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence,” she said in her verdict, which only applies in the state of Punjab.

Nighat Dad, a digital rights lawyer and human rights activist, said Malik had proved “her competence in the courtroom”.

“Justice Ayesha Malik’s appointment is a historic move for our judicial system as it is not only the first time a woman has a seat in the supreme court since Pakistan’s inception, but it opens up endless possibilities for other women in the legal field,” she said.

“In a country where crimes of gender-based violence are a constant reality, more women in the supreme court can hopefully have a domino effect on the larger justice system to be more inclusive,” said Dad, adding that the law had “immense barriers for women and marginalised communities”.



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‘Never Had Such Pathetic Experience’: Indian Actresses Harassed at Movie Promo – Video

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sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual assaults, actress, movie, movie stars, movie star, promotion

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Police have filed a case and launched an investigation to identify and trace those who sexually assaulted the movie stars.

Two Indian actresses from Malayalam-language cinema have revealed that they were sexually abused at a movie promotion event in the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

A video of the incident shared online shows the moment when an unknown man gropes one of the actresses, Saniya Iyappan, as they were trying to get through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards. The actress can be seen turning around in an attempt to slap him, but he escaped.

Following the assault, Iyappan took to social media, saying that both she and her colleague have been to several places in the country to promote the upcoming movie — but had never had “such a pathetic experience” elsewhere.

“Kozhikode is a place I loved a lot. But, tonight while returning after a programme, a person from the crowd grabbed me. It disgusts me to say where! Are people around us so frustrated?,” the actress wrote.

She also revealed that her co-actress had a similar experience, but did not have a chance to respond to the attacker.

“She reacted, but I couldn’t in that situation as I was dumbstruck for a moment,” the victim said in a post.

“Later, I also encountered a similar experience but I reacted… I wish that no one has to face this kind of unwanted trauma in their life,” the other actress confirmed.



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Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Cuba with ‘life-threatening’ storm surge | International

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Hurricane Ian made landfall in western Cuba at around 4.30am ET on Tuesday, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). The monitoring agency issued an advisory warning that the Category 3 storm was “battering western Cuba with high winds and life-threatening storm surge.”

Mexico’s Caribbean region and western Florida were also bracing for the effects of Ian, which is expected to down power lines, take down trees and cause flash flooding.

The NHC issued a hurricane warning for three Cuban provinces – Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Artemisa – as well as Tampa Bay in on the west-central coast of Florida, and a tropical storm warning for the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas, as well as the Lower Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge westward to Key West.

The NHC also warned about the risks of a storm surge, which creates “a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.”

More pain for Cuba

A Cuban family transporting personal belongings to a safe place in the Fanguito neighborhood in Havana, on Monday.
A Cuban family transporting personal belongings to a safe place in the Fanguito neighborhood in Havana, on Monday.YAMIL LAGE (AFP)

In Cuba, which is currently experiencing one of the worst economic and social crises in its history, Ian could devastate the west of the country and cause a humanitarian catastrophe. A day before the cyclone made landfall in La Coloma, in the province of Pinar del Río, around 200 kilometers west of Havana, evacuations of people living in low-lying areas were already taking place. More than 100,000 Cubans could be affected and be forced to leave their homes in the next few hours. In Pinar del Río, authorities on Monday accelerated the evacuation of some 50,000 people, of which about 6,000 will be housed in state centers and the rest in the homes of relatives and friends.

Thousands of people were working to protect goods, crops and material resources that could be damaged by heavy rains and winds of up to 125 mph. Regular blackouts and draconian shortages have been affecting Cubans for months already, and most homes hardly have any supplies to fall back on if the worst forecasts are confirmed. Cuban civil defense agencies usually function like clockwork, providing some measure of relief ahead of the potential damage.

Mexico and Florida

Shoppers lining up outside a retail warehouse as people rushed to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian in Kissimmee, Florida, on Sunday,
Shoppers lining up outside a retail warehouse as people rushed to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian in Kissimmee, Florida, on Sunday, GREGG NEWTON (AFP)

The hurricane’s next stop after passing through Cuba will be the Mexican Caribbean. The country’s authorities announced on Monday that “meteorological phenomena are expected in the coming days that could represent a risk to the population.” The states most directly affected are Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Campeche. Damage is also expected in more inland states such as San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Puebla, or the south coast: Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

In western Florida, some counties had also issued evacuation orders ahead of Ian’s arrival. On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an update, noting that “regardless of Ian’s exact track and intensity, there is a significant risk of life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of this week.”

Ian is the fourth hurricane of the season. Another cyclone, Fiona, recently ravaged parts of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.

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‘Silence is the crime’: Patrice Evra on surviving abuse and his work with the WHO | Global development

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His autobiography had been written and was at the printers when international football star Patrice Evra decided he had something important to add about his life. But first he had to tell his mum. “That was the hardest challenge,” he says. “And I was a 40-year-old man.”

Until that point last year, the former Manchester United and French national team captain had never spoken about being sexually abused by a teacher when he was 13.

Last week the Senegal-born Evra stepped on what he called “the most famous podium in the world” – the stage of the UN general assembly in New York – to speak about the abuse and his decision to take up a new role campaigning for the protection of children, especially in Africa. That moment, he says, and the standing ovation for his impassioned call for action, meant more to him than any of the trophies he accumulated in his world-class football career.

“People were in shock when I wrote this in my book. So I wanted to share,” Evra says. This year the former player visited several African countries with the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking in schools and meeting survivors of abuse.

“I’d started to be on social media and, OK, I’m a bad singer, but every time I did a video I was singing and people were starting to say to me that this helped them. So I thought, ‘OK, I can do more than that,’ and I started working with the WHO, to go to Africa.

Patrice Evra speaks at the UN general assembly.
Patrice Evra speaks at the UN general assembly. Photograph: Loey Felipe/UN Photo

“I met a lot of survivors. I’m just in a learning process. Just because I experienced sexual violence at the age of 13 doesn’t mean I know everything. So it was pretty simple, to start to talk.

“Abuse is taboo, but I love everything taboo, bring it on. In African culture, for a black person it can be even difficult to talk about love. I never saw my mum kissing my dad. I never saw that. So for an African person to have succeeded in his life and then talk about things like this, they were in shock.

“I went to a school, the teacher asked the kids, ‘Do you think it’s possible for a black person to be abused?’ They all said no. Then I shared my story. They couldn’t believe it. For them it was impossible for a man.”

Evra says his retirement from professional football in July 2019 was a catalyst. For starters he learned to cry.

“I grew up thinking that crying was a weakness but actually now I understand that you actually should cry. You should share your emotion. Women are 10 years in advance, maybe more … but men should cry.

“It would have been too difficult to show emotion when I was still playing. I remember once with a team, we were on a plane and there was a player and he was watching a movie and he was crying and I was like, ‘Why are you crying?’ He said, ‘This movie, I’ve watched it five times and it always makes me cry.’

“My first reaction was to turn to my teammates and say, ‘This guy cannot play a game of football. This is weak.’ But now I am a different man, I would watch this movie with him and I would cry with him. But back then, for me it was impossible.”

Evra playing for Manchester United against Arsenal in the English Premier League, 2011.
Evra playing for Manchester United against Arsenal in the English Premier League, 2011. Photograph: Eddie Keogh / Reuters/REUTERS

Evra did not speak out even when the police officers investigating his abuser contacted him. “I remember at 24 I was playing for Monaco and the police called me and said, ‘We have had some complaints about this man, do you know anything?’, and I said no. So I lied. You don’t want to deal with it.”

It was when he was watching a documentary on paedophilia with his partner, the Danish model Margaux Alexandra, that the realisation came. “She saw my face and I just let my emotions out and I said, ‘You know what, I think I have to put it in the book.’

“For my mum, she was devastated. To that 13-year-old kid, now a grown man and facing her, she kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, but I said, ‘No mum, I’m OK, I’m fine.’ And that is why I don’t call myself a victim, I’m a survivor.

“You feel shame, you feel guilty. I just blocked it. I said: ‘Mum, I don’t even remember his face … I don’t want any pity for myself.’

“When I was captain of Manchester United or the French national team, people always saw me as someone who never showed their emotion and [they] say that’s because I am from the street and tough, but actually it’s because of this trauma that I was this way.”

Evra’s father was a diplomat and moved the family from Senegal to Brussels when Evra was one, before settling in the Paris suburb of Les Ulis two years later.

“School is normally a place where I should have been safe. I should have had someone protect me … I didn’t have it. It was instead a place that took all my emotion away. It was difficult for me to trust people after that,” he says.

On top of growing up in a difficult neighbourhood – with 23 siblings and half-siblings – Evra also had the deep-seated racism prevalent in Europe’s football clubs to contend with.

Racism was really tough,” he says. “I played in Italy when I was 17 and I was the only black player in the league. I had the whole thing of monkey noises and people throwing bananas. For me, it made me think, ‘I’m going to hurt you in a different way, on the pitch.’ The racism was not bad at Manchester United but of course it is there. Even when England had the three black players who missed the penalties, on social media it was just crazy. It’s not only England [but] in France too: when you play well you are a French player, when you play badly you are a Senegalese player.

Evra answers questions at a UN side event about child protection.
Evra answers questions at a UN side event about child protection. Photograph: Joe Short

“Silence is the crime. For racism, for abuse. When they tried to do the Super League, I see everyone talking about this with such energy and I’m thinking, ‘Why don’t we have this energy to tackle racism?’”

Globally, WHO estimates that up to 1 billion children aged two to 17 will have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year.

Evra, a father himself, says something must be done. “We have to end the violence. We are talking about many things but I don’t hear about ending the violence against children. Why is it so taboo?

“The support is important to end the violence, everyone experiences violence in their childhood. We need to support the family. We need to hear the stories of survivors. This is the start.”

In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support for rape and sexual abuse on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, or 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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