Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sexual abuse of female journalists continues in Egypt

In February it was CBS reporter Lara Logan. Yesterday it was U.S. based Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy.

Both have now become symbols of a long-lasting, much larger problem with women's rights in the Muslim Middle East: the fact that the gender is viewed as inferior and treated as such.

Ongoing reports of brutality against women and girls – a well-known example being a case of the Taliban throwing acid into girls faces as they "dared" go to school for an education – the despicable practice of honour killings, and a general attitude of disdain for female rights are sadly all too prevalent across the region, with the notable exception being Israel.

Lara Logan
As you might recall, last February, while covering the uprising by Egyptians against their now-ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, Logan and her crew were assaulted and eventually separated from one another by a mob in Tahrir Square. And as Logan herself later revealed, during that time, she was sexually molested and violated by hundreds of men for nearly 25 minutes who shouted at her all the while, and incited each other by calling her a Jew and an Israeli spy while "raping me with their hands," she said in a CBS interview months later.

Meanwhile, yesterday Eltahawy – who writes for both The Toronto Star and The Jerusalem Post – was arrested by Egyptian security forces while covering more unrest at the square. During her detention she also claims to have been sexually assaulted by her captors.

Mona Eltahawy

In tweets she sent after her release – she spent 12 hours under the authority of Egypt's Interior Ministry – she wrote that she was sexually and physically assaulted by a half dozen men on the security force. Eltahawy also noted that her arms were now in casts and her hand severely injured. Here are some of her tweets from the last 24 hours:
"5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers."
 "The past 12 hrs were painful and surreal but I know I got off much much easier than so many other Egyptians."
So what did Eltahawy, Logan and so many other women in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East do? Simple, they were born girls.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Business is like a marriage

Dear Ella,
Why are some people so full of themselves? It makes it very hard to like them, let alone be friends.
I have worked with Tamara for almost 10 years. We’re real estate partners. Clients seem to like us, and on a professional level, we fit well together. However, on a personal level, it’s an entirely different story.
Tamara was raised by her mother after her father left. She lived in a six-plex apartment for most of her life. Her mother struggled to make ends meet. Tamara wore second-hand clothes and never had anything that wasn’t a necessity. As an adult, she has overcome those difficult days, but her feelings of inadequacy have led her to overcompensate by leading a lavish lifestyle and thumbing her nose at people who have less than she does.
Tamara is good at her job, but she constantly points out material items that she feels makes her better than her clients, her peers and me. I find it harder and harder to be around her, but would hate to break up our successful business partnership.
Deep down, Tamara is a sweet girl and she has many traits that I like, but somehow her need to appear richer than everyone overpowers any of her goodness.
Should I cut my losses and get out of this relationship, even if it means a setback in my career?
Partnership Problems

Dear Partnership Problems,
A good fit in a business partner is like a rare jewel. It’s very hard to find someone who is perfect. A business partnership is like a professional marriage. As a matter of fact, you might spend more time with your business partner than your spouse. Like any marriage worth fighting for, it needs constant work – lots of compromise, communication, trust and equality.
The first thing you need to do is define your relationship. It sounds like you would like Tamara to be more than just your partner. A successful partnership has to have more assets than liabilities. That applies on an emotional level as well as a financial one. If the emotional part carries too many liabilities, the financial end will suffer.
A good business partnership doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be good friends. It means you have to get along and work well together with the goal of making your business succeed, and it sounds like you’ve done that well.
What you haven’t done is define in your own mind where the relationship’s boundaries are. If you’re searching for a partner who can also be your friend, perhaps Tamara is not that person. She has insecurities that run deep, and it doesn’t sound like you have the desire to address them.
If you decide to continue with your real estate partnership, you need to communicate and set ground rules. If not, cut your losses by getting out now. The sooner you dissolve your business association with Tamara, the sooner you can find a partner that you are more comfortable with, in all aspects of your relationship.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Canada has Israel's back (again) at the UN

Canada has stood up once again for Israel on the world stage.

A series of resolutions brought forth at the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee – which deals with a variety of subjects, including Palestinian refugee issue, human rights, peacekeeping and mine action – were voted on by member states on Nov. 10.

Canada voted “no” or abstained on all of them.

Read the full story in The CJN online and in print next week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Texting replaces talking

Dear Ella,

Either I’m nuts, or everyone else is. OK,so I may be a little older, and maybe I’m not so “with it,” but I can’t understand how people communicate today.

I had the pleasure of spending the holidays with my daughter’s family. I have two bright, wonderful grandsons, 12 and 15. Except for their cellphones, the family functions quite normally, but what I witnessed was very disturbing.

Josh, the 15-year-old was sitting on the couch with his head buried in his iPhone. I thought he was playing a game. Within minutes, his angry brother appeared in the room with an iPad and grudgingly threw it at Josh. “What was that all about?” I asked.

“I texted him that his time was up and it was my turn,” Josh replied. My jaw dropped. He texted his brother, who was in the next room? Why couldn’t he get up and get the iPad? The next few days continued in the same manner. Very little talking, but lots of texting.

I see this in the streets too – people walking, standing, driving with their heads down and their thumbs moving on their devices. What happened to communication,to talking face to face and seeing expressions? Has LOL taken over the sound and sight of a real laugh? Is it me, or has the world gone mad?

Talk To Me

Dear Talk To Me,

There’s no question that texting has grown steadily in the last few years, and with the addition of full keyboards to most phones, technology has made it very convenient for people to use this as a new primary form of communication. What texting has essentially accomplished is the elimination of small talk.

No need for pleasantries – after all, it’s a text message. It’s meant to be succinct and quick. You want someone to know you are happy or sad, just add one of those emoticons.No more “How are you?” “What have you been up to?” “Did you hear about the latest?” Who needs to be burdened with unnecessary communication?

Parents are to blame as much as technology. They, too, set this kind of example, and most don’t impose boundaries. For example, not using cellphones in the house is a simple rule that would force family members to speak to each other. How about old-fashioned family nights where people actually talk and practice verbal banter? Our fast-paced society doesn’t allow time for everyone to be in the same place at the same time.

These kinds of family gatherings have gone the way of the dinosaur and have been replaced by mobile apps, video games and Facebook friends. What you need to do is force your grandchildren to talk to you. Engage them in conversation. Don’t just ask a question like “How’s school?” or you will get a one word answer: “Fine.” “What did you do today?” will get you, “Stuff.” Bring up an interesting subject, maybe sports. Your wanting to talk face to face makes you a minority. You’ll need to be creative if you want to break through and get the kids to look up.