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Shuttler PV Sindhu welcomes MeToo campaign

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pv Sindhu

New Delhi, Oct 10: Rio silver medallist P.V.Sindhu on Wednesday encouraged people from various walks of life to step out and speak on harassment while distancing herself from the comments of senior shuttler Jwala Gutta, who had alleged “mental harassment” by an unnamed coach.

“I appreciate that people have come forward and spoken about it. I respect it,” Sindhu said on the sidelines of a Vodafone event where the telecom giant launched a woman-specific service “Sakhi”.

On being probed if she was aware of any such incident in her sport, the Hyderabadi said: “Well I don’t know about seniors and coaches. As far as I am concerned, it’s been fine and good for me.”

Sindhu’s comments came a day after 2010 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold medallist Jwala, without taking any names, alleged mental harassment by a coach.

“Maybe I should talk about the mental harassment I had to go through. Since 2006, since this person became the chief ..threw me out of national team inspite of me being a national champion. The latest was when I returned from Rio, I am out of national team again. one of the reasons I stopped playing!!” she wrote.

“So when this person couldn’t get through to me…he threatened my partners, harassed them…made sure to isolate me in every manner…even after Rio…the one who I was gonna play mixed (doubles) with was threatened..and I was just thrown out of the team,” Jwala added.

Praising the features of the “Sakhi” service, Sindhu said: “It’s a great initiative. I appreciate it. When we talk about women, they are scared to go out at night or work late in the night, or chase their dreams, in any way, it’s a good thing that Vodafone Sakhi has come up with in any moment of emergency.”

“Now there have been a lot of changes in the country. We women should be brave enough, we can achieve our dreams and shouldn’t be scared of anything,” she added.

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May’s government braces for no-trust vote after Commons defeat

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Theresa May

London, Jan 16: UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party government braced for a vote of no confidence on Wednesday, a day after she suffered a historic defeat in Parliament where lawmakers roundly rejected her Brexit plan.

Her agreement setting out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, the result of two years of negotiations with Brussels, was rejected in the House of Commons by a majority of 230 lawmakers — the worst defeat for a sitting government in the country’s democratic era.

It was turned down by a crushing 432 votes to 202. The confidence vote was expected to be held at about 7 p.m. GMT, the BBC reported.

In response to the significant defeat, which had been widely predicted by political observers, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would table a motion of no confidence against May’s government.

“This is a catastrophic defeat. The house has delivered its verdict on her deal. Delay and denial has reached the end of the line,” Corbyn told the Commons, the lower chamber of Parliament, as he announced the motion, something which had also been expected in case of May’s defeat.

The Prime Minister told MPs she would return to the Commons with an alternative plan next week, provided she survives the confidence vote.

“The House has spoken and this government will listen,” she said on Tuesday night, offering cross-party talks to determine a way forward.

May delayed the initial parliamentary vote on her deal in December when it became clear that it would not make it through the chamber.

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the withdrawal process was “at a standstill”.

“So, in this context, it is up to the British authorities today or tomorrow to assess the outcome of this vote and up to the British government to find how we are to take things forward on March 29 towards an orderly withdrawal,” he told the European Parliament.

Some 118 members of May’s Conservative Party, including pro-European Tory MPs and hardline Brexit supporters, rebelled against the government in Tuesday’s vote. As did the 10 parliamentary members of the DUP, a right-wing unionist party from Northern Ireland and ally of the Conservative government.

The formation of right-wing Tory backbenchers, collectively known as the European Research Group, and the DUP signalled they would back May in the motion of no confidence, making it less likely for Corbyn to be able to force a general election.

If May gets ousted, then the government would have 14 days to present a new leader. However, if that candidate also fails to secure the confidence of Parliament and no viable alternatives are presented, then the UK could head towards an early election.

May survived a no-confidence motion lodged by hardline members of her own party in December. According to Conservative Party rules, such a vote cannot be tabled for another year, meaning that if she withstands Labour’s attempt to oust her, her job would be safe.

The UK is slated to leave the EU on March 29, exactly two years after May officially notified the EU of the UK’s intention of exiting the bloc by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Also, there had been increasing calls for a second referendum. The UK electorate decided to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016.

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Man bedridden after selling kidney for iPhone, iPad

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Wang Shangkun
Wang Shangkun, Image: AsiaWire

San Francisco, Jan 16: A Chinese man who sold his kidney as a teenager to buy the latest Apple iPad and iPhone in 2011 is now bedridden with organ failure, the media reported.

Wang Shangkun was 17 years old when he made the decision to undergo surgery and sell his right kidney in the black market to buy the Apple products.

Shortly after the illegal surgery, he began suffering from a decreased level of kidney function, news.com.au reported late on Monday.

“Shangkun had sold his kidney to black market organ harvesters in April 2011 where he received $4,500 Australian dollars. He purchased an iPhone 4 and iPad 2 with the funds,” the report added.

The man suffered renal failure in his second kidney after having one removed. It is said that it was due to the unsanitary conditions where the surgery took place.

In 2012, a total of nine individuals connected to the organ harvesting case were jailed for their involvement. Five surgeons involved with the procedure were among those convicted, according to Newsweek.

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MeToo at UN: 1 in 3 staff reports sexual harassment

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, Jan 16: The global organisation’s own #MeToo survey has found that one in three employees responding to it have said that they have suffered sexual harassment in the last two years.

Sharing the survey results in a letter to UN employees on Monday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “The results confirm that these have a debilitating effect on staff morale and on work performance and there are continued barriers to reporting, including fear of retaliation and perception that perpetrators for the most part enjoy impunity.”

Guterres, who has made empowering women and ending sexual harassment and abuse one of his priorities, commissioned the consulting firm Deloite Touche Tomhatsu to survey the employees of the UN system world wide.

Deloite said that 10,032 UN employees had reported that they had suffered harassment. They were among the 30,364 of the UN system’s total global workforce of 105,000 who responded to the survey.

The survey made the disturbing finding that 12 per cent of the harassers were senior leaders in the UN.

The most common form of sexual harassment reported — 21.7 per cent — was subjecting the employees to sexual stories or jokes that were offensive, according the survey.

The other forms of harassment reported by the respondents included offensive remarks about their appearance, body or sexual activities (14.2 per cent), unwelcome attempts to draw them into a discussion on sexual matters (13 per cent), gestures or use of body language of a sexual nature (10.9 per cent) and touching which made them feel uncomfortable (10.1 per cent).

Attempted or actual sexual assault was reported by 1.4 per cent of the respondents.

Two out of the five respondents in the age group 25-34 reported being harassed.

The harassers were overwhelmingly men — 68.4 per cent — but 15.9 per cent were women. (Under one per cent was transgender or “gender nonconforming”, while the gender of the others was not identified.)

More than half the harassers were colleagues and a little over 12 per cent were supervisors or managers, while about eight per cent were outsiders, including diplomats and donors.

“Perhaps one of the more important findings of the survey is that exclusion and incivility are highly correlated with incidents of harassment, providing a permissive atmosphere for such behaviour,” Guterres said in his letter. He appealed to the staff to conform to higher standards of behaviour.

The UN has set up a hotline for employees to report harassment.

In 2018, Guterres achieved a major goal of having full gender parity in his 44-member UN Senior Management Group, which makes up the top leadership of the global organisation.

Separately, with a zero-tolerance policy Guterres has been fighting sexual abuse and exploitation scandals in the peace-keeping operations where the victims are people, including children, in areas of UN operations, rather than employees.

In 2018, allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation — a narrower, more serious category than harassment — were made against 48 people in UN field missions.

The peacekeepers are troops and police employed by member countries and loaned to the UN for its missions.

By Arul Louis

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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