Author Archives: hatty823

NZ destination for sex slaves, US report reveals

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 6:41a.m

The United States has released its yearly global report on human trafficking what it calls modern slavery.

It contains some strong words on New Zealand’s legalised prostitution system. 


But what is more alarming is that we have become a ‘destination country’ for the trafficking of women for sex from Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.

Someone who knows this only too well is Lyn Mayson from ECPAT, a group which tries to eliminate child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.


click NZ destination for sex slaves, US report reveals for link to video clip


Emergency dash may help drive change

by Donna Abu-Nasr

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

When Ruwaida al-Habis’ father and two brothers were badly burned in a fire, she had no choice but to break Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers to get them to a clinic.

Using the driving skills her father taught her on the familyfarm, al-Habis managed to reach the clinc’s emergency entrace without a hitch.

“When I pulled up, a crowd of people surrounded the car and stared as if they were seeing extraterrestrial beings,” the 20-year-old university student said. “Instead of focusing on the burn victims, the nurses kept repeating, ‘You drove them here?’.”

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans all women – Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and women who cannot afford the US$300-US$400 ($410-$550) a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

But there are signs support for the ban is eroding.

Al-Habis’ story was first published in one of the biggest Saudi newspapers, Al Riyadh which even called her “brave”. Her father, Hamad al-Habis, praised his dauther’s action.

“Why should it even be an issue?” said Hamad al-Habis in his hospital bed. “My daugher took the right decision at the right time.”

Al-Habis is one of several women whose driving has made headlines. It is not clear whether the reports are a sign that more women are driving or that newspapers are just more willing to report about them. But in either case, it suggests the long-unquestioned nature of the ban is crumbling.

That may in aprt be because ofthe signals from the top: King Abdullah, considered a reformist, has said the issue is a social one, not religious, opening the door for society to spur change.

Previously, women who spoke out against the ban paid heavily. In November 1990, when United States troops were in Saudi Arabia following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, some 50 wmen drove family cars in an anti-ban protest. They were jailed for a day, their passports were confiscated and they lost their jobs. The reaction was so harsh that lifting the ban was barely broached again until recently.

Recent media reports have high lighted women driving not as organised protests, but out of necessity or just a desire to be behid the wheel. Five women were breifly detained in separate incidents across the kingdom.

One was a 47-year-old woman detained by the religious police after they received calls from Saudis who had seen her drive repeatedly in the eastern city of Qatif, sasid Muhammad al-Marshoud, a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, speaking to Al-Watan newspaper.

Last month, two women died while driving. One, in her 20s, was speeding in a famly car when she hit a power pole in Riyadh. The second, in her 70s, died in a collision with another car in the northern region of the Hail.

Supporters of ending the ban on female drivers point out that the prohibition exists neither in law nor in Islam.

There is no written Saudi law banning women from driving, only fatwas, or edicts by senior clerics that are enforced by police.

No major Islamic clerics outside the country call such a ban.


NZ Herald, 23 August 2008

Women's role in terrorism alarms EU

EUROPE: Females involved in everything from suicide bombings to logistics


By Jason Burke

Monday, August 4, 2008, NZ Herald


European intelligence chiefs have launched a major investigation into the threat posed by female Islamic militants within the EU, whose involvement they say runs from logistics or propaganda to suicide bombing.


“This phenomenon has not been really taken into account yet and we need to explore and understand it,” said one diplomat connected with the probe. “It is a new strategy by al Qaeda.”


 The moves follow a spate of attacks in the Middle East by women bombers and concerns among European security services about increased radicalization of female militants. The officials specifically cite Britain and North Africa as problem areas.


Women’s involvement in recruiting volunteers is a key concern


Though the only known European female suicide bomber was Muriel Degauque, a 38-year-old convert from Belgium who killed herself in Iraq in 2005, European security officials said services were monitoring dozens of women involved in logistics or propaganda. There are also fears of women bombers being sent from overseas, particularly North Africa.


“The problem is knowing who is just fundraising or running websites, who is recruiting and who is a potential bomber,” said on French intelligence specialist. “Then how do you pick up someone coming in from outside the EU? That’s hard to do.”


Gilles de Kerchove, European counterterrorism co-ordinator, has asked British, French, Spanish, German and other security services to pool their intelligence through Brussels’ strategic analyst unit, the Joint Situation Centre, to produce a report by the northern autumn.


“The issue is a very high priority,” one EU official said.


In Britain, the involvement of women in militant activities has been limited. Yet security services fear that this may not last.


“Time and again we have seen al Qaeda trying tactics in one place and, if they work, trying them again elsewhere,” said the French specialist.


Women bombers have become relatively common in Iraq because they can more easily penetrate much-tightened security. They elicit less suspicion, can hide explosives under their clothes, and male soldiers are unwilling to search them.


In Algeria, according to security sources, the “al Qaeda in the Maghreb group” now use women in bombing campaigns.


“Women are largely responsible for support material: medicine, food, clothes,” said one. “But some have more major roles. Last year we dismantled a logistical network run by a woman.”


The source said militants “seek to recruit women with a brother, father or son already with the extremist groups”.


Expert say this may be because, in traditional Islamic societies, women without close male relatives are exposed to economic and social problems that make them more vulnerable to recruitment.


In Iraq, US intelligence officers say militants are marrying women then allowing them to be raped knowing that the subsequent dishonor will make them easier to groom as bombers. The officers have also noted women who have had relatives killed in the fighting turning to violence.


The issue is not without controversy in militant circles. Recent statements by al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri that women should restrict themselves to caring for the homes and children of male fighters provoked an outcry on extremist websites.


A Taleban spokesman has denied an American news report that Zawahiri might have been killed or wounded in a missile strike in Pakistan’s border region last week.


“Zawahiri has been killed by them several times, but once again this is baseless,” Maulvi Omar told Reuters from an undisclosed location.


US broadcaster CBS said it had obtained an intercepted letter from Pakistani Taleban commander Baitullah Mehsud requesting urgent medical help for Zawahiri, who was in “severe pain” with infected wounds.


-Observer, additional reporting Telegraph Group Limited