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Phuket Media Watch: Hope for Kashmir; Girl Rescue; Virginity tests

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Phuket Media Watch: Hope for Kashmir; Girl Rescue; Virginity tests | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

India, Pakistan consider demilitarizing Kashmir border
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

The governments of Pakistan and India are considering a proposal to demilitarize the border of the disputed region of Kashmir, according to media reports yesterday.

A senior Pakistani foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune that Pakistan has proposed the redeployment of heavy weaponry along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides the Pakistani and Indian-administered regions of Kashmir.

“We (Pakistan) have proposed to redeploy artillery and mortar 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away from the LoC,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The proposal is an effort by both countries to demilitarize the disputed Himalayan region, where in the past the two sides often exchanged fire, leaving hundreds killed. The official added, however, that discussions on the proposal were in their initial stages and no major breakthrough is expected during the ongoing round of talks.

The suggestion is part of several other proposals being discussed at the two-day talks in Islamabad between senior officials from the two sides on conventional and nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs). The talks, part of the peace process, resumed earlier this year after India had halted them following the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

Although cross-border attacks in Kashmir are now a rarity because of a ceasefire the two countries agreed to in 2003, fatal firing incidents still occur.

A guerrilla war has been going on in India-administered Kashmir between militants, who have been blamed for attacks, and the Indian troops, who have been accused of rights abuses.

The Indian government says more than 45,000 people – including civilians, militants and troops – have died in the region over the past two decades.

Afghan girl rescued from toilet after months in lock-up
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

Police in northern Afghanistan have rescued a young girl who had been locked up in a toilet for at least half a year and was frequently beaten for refusing to have sex with men, local media reported yesterday.

The 15-year-old girl, who was identified as Sar Gul, married 30-year-old Mohammad Azim about nine months ago. She had since been living with her husband and parents-in-law in Baghlan province, where she was frequently beaten and denied food.

The Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) agency reported that about six months ago Gul was locked inside the toilet after she had refused to have sex with men who were brought to the home by her parents-in-law. The victim’s parents, who live in Badakhshan province, recently discovered the situation and informed police who freed her.

Following her rescue, officials took Gul to the Pul-i-Khumri Civil Hospital where she is being treated for severe mental stress. She is also being treated for various injuries, including burns across her body. All of her nails had been pulled off with pliers.

Hospital chief Dr Gul Mohammad Wardak told the news agency that the girl was in a critical condition and may be transferred to the capital of Kabul in order to receive further treatment. The report said Gul’s mother-in-law had been arrested, but her husband was able to flee.

It was not immediately clear if Gul’s husband would also face arrest.

According to Afghanistan’s civil code, girls cannot marry before they reach the age of 16. Nonetheless, child marriages remain widespread across the country with some girls being married as young as nine years. According to a 2005 report, nearly 60 percent of marriages in Afghanistan involve girls below the age of 16.

Egyptian court suspends virginity tests
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

An Egyptian court has suspended the practice of forcing female detainees arrested by the military police to undergo ‘virginity tests’, the Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported.

The verdict was returned yesterday afternoon (local Phuket time) after two women, Samira Ibrahim and Maha Mohamed, who had been detained in March, filed a lawsuit calling for the revocation of virginity tests at military facilities. The 25-year-old Ibrahim, who was among seven female protesters who were subjected to these tests, is the only one who has publicly given an account of the abuse she underwent.

The female detainees were subjected to virginity tests after military forces dispersed a sit-in at Tahrir Square on March 9, arresting several protesters. Some of the women told Amnesty International that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges.

During yesterday’s session, hundreds of political activists gathered before the building of the Administrative Court in solidarity with the abused women, holding placards that read “Egypt’s women are a red line.” After the session, Ibrahim and a host of other protesters celebrated in Tahrir Square.

The case sparked widespread condemnation from local and international human rights groups. Shortly after the incident, Amnesty International called on the Egyptian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for ordering or conducting virginity tests.

Months after the incident, a senior Egyptian general admitted during an interview that women detained on March 9 at Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been forced to undergo virginity tests. The general, speaking on condition of anonymity, justified the abuse by saying that the women “were not like your daughter or mine. These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters.”

The general also said that the reason for the ‘tests’ was because “[w]e didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Politics

Thailand to sit on UN committee from 2020

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Thailand to sit on UN committee from 2020 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Don Paramudwinai

Thailand has been selected as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council from 2020 to 2022 on behalf of Asia and the Pacific region, alongside China, South Korea and Bangladesh.

Thailand won 186 votes in the selection process. Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Don Paramudwinai also participated in the session. Last time Thailand was an ECOSOC member was from 2005 to 2007.

ECOSOC is one of six major UN organisations which is in charge of proposing and reviewing international policy toward economic, social and environmental development. ECOSOC has supported the world’s goal of achieving sustainable development by 2030.

From among a total of 54 ECOSOC member countries worldwide, Thailand will have the opportunity to take part in proposing international policy toward partnerships for sustainable development cooperation.

Besides, Thailand can share their own experiences in sustainable development under the guidance of the ‘Sufficiency Economy’, championed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej during his time as Thailand’s King.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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Bangkok

Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs

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Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs | The Thaiger

Bangkok is now the 63rd most expensive location in a new cost of living survey for expats. Singapore has experienced a big rise in the rankings, becoming the 12th most expensive location in the world for expatriates.

Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International says that Bangkok has risen 100 places in just the last five years.

“We have seen the cost of living in Thailand increase over several years now. It’s now the 63rd most expensive location in our list.”

“The city is now significantly more expensive than regional capitals including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. Meanwhile, Singapore’s rise in our rankings is largely due to another strong year for the Singapore dollar.”

Singapore has overtaken Beijing (China), Busan (South Korea) and Yokohama (Japan) compared to a year ago.

The ECA’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in 482 locations worldwide.

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years. Hong Kong is now the fourth-most expensive location in the world for expatriates, up from 11th last year, and the second most expensive location in Asia. After being ranked in 28th place just five years ago, Hong Kong now sits only behind Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva.

Prices in Hong Kong rose at a faster rate in the past 12 months compared to Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul. Shanghai was the only mainland Chinese city to feature in the global top 10, staying in 10th place.

“The Chinese yuan has been very stable compared to other currencies during the survey period.”

The location with the highest cost of living in the world was Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, which rose 110 places from last year. Quane said that although the rise of Ashgabat in the rankings may be a surprise to some, those familiar with the economic and currency issues experienced by Turkmenistan over the past few years may have seen this coming.

“Ever-escalating levels of inflation, coupled with a prominent illegal black market for foreign currencies have pushed up the cost of imports. This implies that the costs for visitors in Ashgabat, at the official exchange rate, have increased enormously – putting it firmly at the top of the rankings.”

Bangkok and Singapore jump in rankings for world living costs | News by The Thaiger

Singapore, now the 12th most expensive place in the world

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Technology

Melbourne named as first non-US city to be an Uber flying-taxi testbed

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Melbourne named as first non-US city to be an Uber flying-taxi testbed | The Thaiger

Flying cars. Long awaited, a thing of 1950s editions of Popular Mechanics and sci-fi, now a small step closer to reality.

Uber, the worldwide ride-sharing App, say it is going to use Melbourne, Australia as the first non-US city for its new aerial transportation service. They’ve even claimed 2023 as their launch date for the initiative. Melbourne joins Dallas and LA as test locations for the world’s first working fleet of flying ‘taxis’.

But there are plenty of skeptics despite the large investment and working models currently being kicked around. There have been many drawings and plans, and a lot of talk, but few working, flying cars have made it to the skies for serious testing at this stage.

Uber has announced its southern hemisphere test bed location at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington as it unveiled its vision for flying taxis as a way to ease traffic congestion in the world’s largest cities.

Melbourne named as first non-US city to be an Uber flying-taxi testbed | News by The Thaiger

This week, Uber also announced new aircraft partners to the program – one of them Pennsylvania-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which will produce a rotor and fixed-wing version of new Uber flying taxis. Uber have also displayed the Bell Nexus flying quadcopter – basically a mega ‘drone’ with engines and a cabin large enough to carry passengers.

Uber says the ‘aerial option’ will be included on their smartphone app that will include ground and air transportation and pool passenger into one aircraft.

In the past week Uber launched their first aerial service with helicopters taking passengers from downtown Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport as a fill in before the first generation of purpose-built Uber flying car/drones take to the skies. Be prepared to fork out $220 for the eight minute helicopter trip between lower Manhattan and JFK International with the Bell Helicopter service starting next month.

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