Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Tuesday, 7 June 2016
The life prison sentence imposed on British child rapist Richard Huckle was criticised on Tuesday as too light in Malaysia, where he sexually abused scores of children and even babies.
Huckle, 30, was sentenced in a London court on Monday to 22 life prison terms to be served concurrently, meaning he faces more than 23 years behind bars before a parole board can consider his release.
But concerns were expressed in Malaysia that Huckle could one day be freed and pose a threat to more children, as some called angrily on social media for him to be caned, castrated or executed. Britain has no death penalty.
"191 child victims, 22 Malaysians, 20,000 indecent images, 22 life sentences but... this monster could be out in 24 years," read a lengthy headline in leading daily The Star.
The New Straits Times said "A thousand years is not enough", echoing the cry from a woman in the public gallery as Huckle was led out of court.
Huckle had admitted a total of 71 offences against impoverished children in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur while posing variously as a Christian volunteer, a student and a photographer.
When he was arrested at London's Gatwick Airport upon returning for a Christmas holiday visit in 2014, police found that his laptop and camera contained more than 20,000 images of child sex abuse including rape.
The laptop contained a ledger in which he detailed the abuse of 191 victims, and he also wrote a manual called "Paedophiles And Poverty: Child Lover Guide".
"The sentencing should be stronger. He is young and what happens if he gets out when he is around 50? Can a paedophile change?" asked Sharmila Sekaran, chairman of Malaysia's Voice of the Children.
"Is this justice? No. As far as I know he hasn't made any apologies to the victims."
Sharmila added that if Huckle were freed in his 50s many of his victims would be adults and "a lot of old wounds could come out".
The case has also stirred criticism of the lack of strong Malaysian child-protection laws.
"If Huckle was in a Malaysian court, it would have been tougher to prosecute him. It was a good thing that he was charged in the UK," said James Nayagam, chairman of Suriana Welfare Society, a child-focused NGO.
"Huckle was just one. How many more are there out there?"
Prime Minister Najib Razak's younger brother, Nazir Razak, a powerful banker, posted a photo of Huckle on his Instagram account Tuesday.
“Is this enough punishment...I urge his inmates to mete out more than just retribution," he wrote.
Thursday, 2 June 2016
A young Pakistani woman died Wednesday after she was tortured and set alight in the country's conservative northeast for refusing a marriage proposal from the son of a former colleague, relatives and police said.
Maria Sadaqat, 19, was attacked by a group of people on Monday in the village of Upper Dewal close to the summer hill resort of Murree, outside the capital Islamabad.
"She was badly tortured and then burned alive. We brought her to hospital in Islamabad but she succumbed to her wounds today," Abdul Basit, Sadaqat's uncle, told AFP outside a burns centre at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital.
Grieving relatives outside the centre wept and protested at the teenager's death as police moved her body to another hospital for a post-mortem.
Basit said his niece had been attacked by the principal of the private school where she had formerly worked as a teacher, and by his accomplices after she refused a marriage proposal from his son.
"He was divorced and twice her age, so she refused the proposal and left her job when they pursued her time and again... eventually they attacked her," Basit said.
Police said Sadaqat gave a statement before her death naming the principal and four others as her attackers.
"We have arrested at least one of the accused and a hunt is on for the rest," Mazhar Iqbal, the officer directing the murder investigation, told AFP.
A doctor at the hospital said Sadaqat had succumbed to serious burns.
"The poor woman was becoming better but then could not survive because most parts of her body had serious burn injuries," said Ayesha Ihsani.
It was the second time in just over a month that a Pakistani woman had been murdered over a marriage issue.
A woman believed to be aged between 16-18 was drugged, strangled and her body burnt on the orders of a village jirga (council) in northwest Pakistan on April 29, allegedly for helping a friend to elope with her lover.
Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the pretext of defending what is seen as family honour.
Friday, 27 May 2016
Kids who’re overly attached to their phones, possibly crossing the line into addiction, can be a problem for many families.
Jason Clark, 15, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is no different. He loves his smartphone, but he’s so attached to it that his family worries he might one day need therapy to get his habit under control.
“Good Morning America” asked Jason to put an app on his phone to track his phone use.
For two days in a row, he clocked in at six hours of screen time.
His mom, Tomika Clark, said there are days her son will spend eight or even 12 hours on the phone morning, noon and night, at home, at school, and even at the library.
Between social media, music, texting and gaming, the hours add up.
Clark said she thinks his phone use has crossed a line.
“When you’re talking about addiction, you’re talking about, ‘I can’t live without it,’” she explained, adding that she “knows he is” dependent on his phone.
Cellphone addiction isn’t officially designated as a clinical disorder like drug or alcohol addiction, but licensed Maryland psychologist Ed Spector, an expert on the healthy use of technology, thinks it should be.
He treats people who have what he calls “compulsive use of technology.”
“Their brains change in similar ways to real chemical-addicts,” Spector told ABC News. “If you talk to the parents of my clients, they come in and they say, ‘My kid’s like a junkie.’ They feel like it’s an addiction.”
But when does it go from being normal, acceptable teenage behavior to a problem that needs to be addressed?
Spector said not to just focus on the hours.
“When we talk about compulsion, it’s not the behavior, it’s whether you have control over it,” he said.
Clark says she worries Jason fits the definition and his compulsion is taking away from other parts of his life. She said as his smartphone use has gone up, his grades have gone down and she has noticed changes in his behavior.
“When somebody freaks out because you’re taking something they have an emotional attachment to, it is an addition,” she said.
Jason said he sees nothing wrong or abnormal about his phone use and doesn’t believe it has a major effect on other parts of his life, though he admits he could probably stand to cut back.
Caroline Knorr, parenting editor for Common Sense Media, outlined several phone-obsession warning signs: Depression, slipping grades, hostility, highly sensitive, strong preoccupation with phone and not being interested in activities they used to love.
Knorr also provided tips for parents to limit their kids’ phone use: Set up screen-free times and zones, limit multitasking, prohibit phones in the bedroom at night and be a good digital role model.
One mom’s blog post is drawing tons of Internet buzz after she thanked a stranger for disciplining her son at the playground.
“My guess is when that mom told my son to knock it off, that might not have been an easy decision to make,” Karen Alpert of Chicago told ABC News. “Most moms are biting their tongue before they tell another kid to stop it.”
She added: “I would like other parents to have that courage and I feel like if another parent does that for me, then, ‘Thank you’ – you deserve the applause for having that courage.”
Alpert, who’s mom to Zoey, 7, and Holden, 4, said it was earlier this week when she brought Holden and his buddy to play on the playground.
While Holden was swinging on the monkey bars with another child, Albert noticed he hadn’t waited his turn. A nearby mom asked him to stop, Alpert said.
“He’s a nice, sweet kid, but he really wasn’t stopping to think about this other child,” she said. “I kind of saw it going on in the corner of my eye. You walk over, and you’re so angry at them for doing that instead of thanking the other parents for helping.”
So Tuesday, Alpert took to her blog babysideburns.com, to show her gratitude for the mom who helped out that day.
The post read, in part:
“Now before I continue, I just want to say that yes, I know I should have been there when this all went down, but unfortunately I was on the other side of the playground with my son’s friend who was crying. So no, I wasn’t there, but does that give you a right to discipline my kiddo? Does that give you the right to talk to him sternly and tell him to knock it off? Does that give you the right to act like you are the person in charge when he is actually MY child?"
"Ummmm, yes. YES IT DOES.”
She added: “I didn’t get the chance to say this today, but THANK YOU.”
The letter received 317,000 Facebook “likes” and a slew of comments in three days.
"Omg! I was almost scared for the same type of blog," one person commented. "I totally agree with this! The beginning sounded like it was gonna go the complete opposite way! LOVE THIS. It takes a village to raise a child."
Another argued: "If there is something my child is doing, by all means politely come up to me and inform me. Disciplining a child without first acknowledging the issue with the parent is largely overstepping the boundary."
Alpert said she was surprised of her post’s going viral.
“I guess it’s a hot-button issue," she said. "It seems to me that most parents agree with this and they realize how difficult parenting alone is and we need to rely on each other.
“[I’ve heard] friends complaining – that not everyone feels this way,” Alpert added. “ … But if your kid is doing something to bother my kid and there’s no parent around, I’m going to say something. Maybe one less child will get hurt physically or emotionally when another parent speaks up.”
Alpert hopes her blog encourages parents to support one another.