Tag Archives: South Asia

Global Feature | Atheists & Secularists

The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists


Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)

With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.

Read

The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)

Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)

Connect

Secular Rescue

Atheist Asylum Program

 

India News | Dalit

Dalit community protests following violence in Indian state of Maharashtra
  • The violence arose during celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, where low-caste Dalits sided with the British colonial army to defeat the upper-caste rulers of the region.
  • The rally was allegedly attacked by a right-wing Hindu nationalists, leading to the death of a 28-year-old man and protests throughout Maharashtra calling for justice for Dalits.
  • Demonstrations in Mumbai blocked highways and train stations, leading to mass arrests and violent clashes with police.
Read

Dalit protests: How Mumbai was shut down” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)

Bhima-Koregaon violence: 3,000 Dalit youths detained, no action against right-wing leaders, alleges Ambedkar” (Hindustan Times | January 2018)

Caste violence erupts in India over 200-year-old faultline” (CNN | January 2018)

Perspectives

Indian Dalit recalls protest that paralysed Mumbai” (BBC News | January 2018)

Pakistan Feature | Trans Women

The Fitful Progress of the Movement for Pakistani Trans Lives


Source: CGTN YouTube

By way of Pakistan’s landmark 2017 census, some 10,000 transgender Pakistanis have become officially visible in the eyes of the government, though community organizers say the number is likely much larger. Illiteracy, poverty, disenfranchisement, trafficking, threats to sexual health, and the dangers of unregulated sex work plague Pakistan’s trans women (khawaja siras, a reclaimed term in the trans community), but the recent securing of legal protections have given hope to a community where precarity reigns.

While communities of trans women have provided kinship and security where mainstream society has offered a mix of scorn and fetish, hierarchical systems within the communities have layered additional vulnerabilities upon threats already faced. The women have organized and built security-focused civil groups, and the last decade has seen a number of victories including census recognition, a third-gender option on ID cards, limited economic investments, and technological and political tools for accountability in law enforcement. Some hardline conservatives have become unlikely allies as trans women are seen among some Islamic sects as holy, though they have stopped short of supporting partnership rights. Recent international media coverage has highlighted recent gains as well as ongoing insecurity for Pakistan’s increasingly visible trans community.

Read

Pakistan’s Transgender Women, Long Marginalized, Mobilize For Rights” (NPR | January 2018)

Tabooed transgender community still facing discrimination but to be protected in Pakistan” (Xinhua | January 2018)

New App TransMuhafiz Puts Pakistani Transphobic Offenders in the Spotlight” (Planet Transgender | January 2018)

Watch

Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret (Clover Filmsvia Real Stories/YouTube | December 2016)

Somebody (TriumF Mediavia YouTube | September 2017)

Connect

TransAction Pakistan

Afghanistan Feature | Women

The Invasive “Virginity Tests” of Afghanistan

Despite its condemnation by international medical experts as scientifically unsound and official promises to ban the procedure, healthcare and judicial systems in Afghanistan have continued to rely on abusive assessments of sexual activity in women accused or suspected of extramarital sex. The potential social catastrophe that could result from a positive result has led to the development of a black market of so-called hymen reconstruction, which has led to further health insecurity for women who undergo the procedure. Even the administration of the test can bring social shame to those subjected to it, leading to poor outcomes in education and employment as well as a contracting social network. Afghanistan is far from the only country in which the tests continues, and globalized efforts to end the gender-discriminatory practice have encountered mixed success in changing deeply rooted cultural norms.

Read

The shame of Afghanistan’s virginity tests” (BBC News | December 2017)

Despite Ban, Invasive Virginity Tests Remain Prevalent in Afghanistan” (The New York Times | January 2017)

Additional

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About ‘Virginity Tests’” (BuzzFeed News | November 2017)

Afghanistan News | Shiite Muslim

Suicide bombing attack on Shia cultural center in Kabul kills dozens
  • A single suicide bomber infiltrated the Tabian Social and Culture Centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, leaving more than 40 dead and at least 80 injured.
  • The attack took place as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of more than a dozen since 2016 targeting Shiites that have left more than 700 dead.
Read

Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital” (Reuters | December 2017)

ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul kills dozens” (CNN | December 2017)

Why is ‘Islamic State’ targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?” (Deutsche Welle | December 2017)

Pakistan News | Christian

Suicide bombers kill 9 in attack on church in southwestern Pakistan
  • At least 9 were killed and 56 wounded following an attack by two suicide bombers on Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.
  • Nearly 400 had been in attendance for the pre-Christmas service, and authorities say the toll could have been much higher had the attackers reached the sanctuary.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, a part of ongoing targeting of the 2 million Pakistani Christians in the country by both IS and the Pakistani Taliban.
Read

9 killed in suicide attack on Quetta’s Bethel Memorial Methodist Church” (Dawn.com | December 2017)

Nine killed in terrorist attack on church in Quetta” (Geo News | December 2017)

Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan’s Quetta before Christmas, killing nine” (Reuters | December 2017)

Myanmar & Bangladesh News | Rohingya Muslims

More than a half-million Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar
  • Since August, nearly 520,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar into Bangladesh, and dozens—many of them children—have died attempting to reach Bangladesh by boat.
  • Refugees spoke of attacks by the military and Buddhist vigilantes, including the burning of villages and physical assaults throughout the state of Rakhine.
  • The U.N. has condemned the violence as “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Burmese state, which targeted Rohingya communities following an attack by Rohingya militants on a military outpost.
Read

‘I can’t take this any more:’ Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge” (Reuters | October 2017)

Rohingya crisis: Children die as boat capsizes off Bangladesh” (BBC News | October 2017)

Bangladesh to build one of world’s largest refugee camps for 800,000 Rohingya” (The Guardian | October 2017)