Saturday, May 17, 2014

PFUJ condemns large-scale retrenchment of DawnNews employees

PFUJ condemns large-scale retrenchment of DawnNews employees

            ISLAMABAD, Jan 29: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed grave concern and dismay over large-scale removal of more than 45 employees from their services in the DawnNews at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and termed  it  arbitrary, mala fide and without lawful authority.

        Taking strong exception to this arbitrary action of the DawnNews channel management, the PFUJ said that "the way about 50 employees of the channel have summarily been removed from the service without any cogent reasons clearly indicates that "there is no rule of law" in media organisations, and that there is also no job security to employees.

        "It is pity that such media channels and its owners who round-the-clock give sermons of human rights, exposing those agencies in the government and private sectors who violate laws, were themselves depriving people of their basic rights and there was no job security for their own employees, and they are summarily removed from service.

        The highheadiness of media owners can be judged from the fact that a majority of the employees      removed from the services were working in various organisations for years together. But such employees were lured for better jobs and commitments were made with them that they would be given job security besides attractive packages.

        "The employees worked with zeal and enthusiasm and hard labour round-the-clock and successfully aired such channels, thereafter they were made victim of "so-called financial constrains" and subsequently, removed from services," the PFUJ added.

        "Such practice is in vague in DAWN-News and other channels and during the last 180 days over 500 employees have summarily been removed from service, indicating the cruelty and malafide intentions of media owners," the PFUJ argued.

        The PFUJ pointed out that when media owners apply for acquiring licenses for launching transmission of their channels, they make tall claims about their extra-ordinary excellent financial health. However, after making ground in the market and when they start fetching profit, such owners with the lust of wealth resort to restructuring of the organizations ultimately terminating the employees.

        The PFUJ said that it is the duty of the PEMRA to stake stock of such uncalled for and arbitrary acts of media owners and appropriate steps be taken for restraining the media owners from terminating their employees.

        Why PEMRA is keeping a mum and why it never comes to the rescue of the "removed employees." It is the duty of the PEMRA to oversee and monitor that media organizations are running their channels as per terms and conditions and as per undertakings given by them that they have ample financial resources to run the channel, but after making them on air why they resort retrenchments," the PFUJ questioned.

        The PFUJ directed all its affiliated unions of journalists and media persons to express sympathies and support with the "removed employees of the DawnNews" to condemn such acts, and stage protest rallies.

        The PFUJ also demanded of the government to take stock of the situation and ensure implementation of the labour laws in the media organisation which has become a "no-go area” for law and there prevails a law of the jungle.

        The PFUJ also urged international media, and human rights organisations to condemn the arbitrary acts of removal of media persons from the DawnNews channel.      

        It, however, recalled that earlier the Dawn News management had removed 75 employees a year ago when PFUJ was in its biennial delegates meeting in Faisalabad last year. And now once again they have chosen an occasion when all unions of journalists throughout the country are busy in their organizational matters.

They have always stabbed the employees in the back when their trade unions extraordinarily remain busy in their organizational setups. PFUJ added.

Shamsul Islam Naz
Secretary General 
12-Nazimuddin Road, F-6/1
Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone Office +92(0)51 2870220-1
Facsimile +92(0)51 2870223
Cellular +92(0)300 8665523

No protection for domestic servants:

              No protection for domestic servants:

By Shamsul Islam Naz

THE NUMBER of female domestic servants has increased manifold in Faisalabad, as elsewhere, due to a variety of reasons, including the spread of heroin culture and increasing unemployment. Taking advantage of the situation, the employers fully exploit the job-seekers, asking them to agree on nominal salary and fringe benefits.
Domestic servants have various categories. Some work on a daily-basis from eight to 10 hours, and are paid every week. Others work on a monthly basis. The third category belongs to those who are provided shelter in servant quarters in lieu of work.
Another type of servants gets paltry remuneration for discharging specific duties like sweeping, washing and ironing, cooking, baby sitting and stitching. House servants in this category normally work two to three hours for earning their livelihood. Yet another category is of those who have been working as domestic servants for decades. Generations of such servants are provided necessities of life by their employers such as shelter, food and clothing. This category is bound to remain house servants and dare not send their kids to schools or work without the permission of their masters.
It was noticed that domestic servants were neither paid salaries according to working hours nor given the required food. Majority of them look weak and pale due to poor nutrition. During the last many years, wages of female workers have not been increased despite the price escalation.
It has been revealed that maid servants are also maltreated. Although the government has taken stringent steps for the welfare of women, the labour laws do not cover the domestic sector which is not in a position to voice its grievances at any forum.
This correspondent had a talk with one, Hameeda Bibi, 45, who has been working at various places as a maid servant. Her husband died in a road accident 13 years ago. She sold the property and gold ornaments for his treatment. Presently, she is not in a position to arrange marriage of her two daughters. Her children play in streets and have become urchins because of poverty.
Kaneez Akhtar, after the death of her husband, was married to an addict who beats her and her six children to satisfy his chauvinistic instinct. She failed to get any domestic job in the city and apprehended that her addict husband might sell her children, having disposed of the household articles already.
A widow, Safia Bibi, said she was paid a meagre salary of Rs600 a month after working round-the-clock. She cannot even properly feed her five children. She said she could not even think of getting her children admitted to an educational institution. In sheer frustration, she got them employed in the houses of moneyed people by getting advances to meet her daily expenses. Whenever any family member falls sick, there is no money for medical treatment.
Rehana, 13, said her mother was divorced by her father without any reason. Her mother sent her to work from 7am to 11pm daily for only Rs700 per month which she gave to her mother. She said she had a keen desire for education but her dream could not materialize due to poverty.
Shahnaz Bibi, with tears in her eyes, said she had been working in the houses of rich people, but she did not have a place of her own to live. She said she never sent her three young daughters for work because they would be unsafe in the houses of the rich. She proposed that the government should set up industrial schools for the poor and give financial assistance to their daughters so that they could spend their lives with dignity and honour.
Naseema Sadique said she had seven children. Her husband was a cobbler and earned only a few rupees a day which were hardly enough to run the house. To supplement the income, she had been washing clothes and utensils in three houses. But she and her husband were still unable to properly feed and clothe their children. After payment of rent, they were hand to mouth and could not even provide medical treatment to the ailing family members.
An old woman, Fatima, said she migrated from Haroonabad to Faisalabad in search of a job but failed to do so. However, a God-fearing woman engaged her for two meals a day.
Another old woman, Sughran Bibi, said she had been serving in three houses and getting only Rs700 a month. Her three grown-up sons were jobless while her two daughters helped her in domestic chores. They had only one tent to live in even during the scorching heat.
However, Naseema Bibi said the rich people contributed a lot to their survival, otherwise they would die of starvation. She said her husband was a daily wage earner and used to come back home in sheer frustration, not getting any work. Her children had become psychic witnessing the hobbies of the sons and daughters of the rich. They demanded schooling and new clothing she could not afford.
She demanded that the government should set up colonies for the poor and arrange some work for their children, or else provide unemployment allowance to them.
Now some words for a woman of a rural area who though not a servant was working hard round-the-clock.
Basheeran Bibi of Chak Jhumra says her husband owns one-and-a-half acres of land. She has seven daughters and three sons. All live in a joint family system with the parents of her spouse. She says she is required to wake up at 4:30am daily. She prepares fodder for the animals, milks the buffaloes and walks three kilometres to deliver the milk at the sale-point of a multinational company.
On return, she is supposed to make butter and lassi. Afterwards she is required to prepare breakfast for 15 members of the family. Then she has to send her four daughters to school and help her husband in the field. In-between she has to rush home to cook lunch for the whole family and do other works. These are her permanent duties she cannot afford to ignore.
Complaints of sexual violence against women working in the houses are also being heard which is a matter of shame for our society. NGOs fighting for the rights of women are working for creating awareness among the womenfolk but there is hardly any worthwhile activity to protect maid servants from the ill-treatment of their employers.

DAWN - Features; September 24, 2002

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The custom of vani: Tit-for-tat, the tribal way

Even when victims are able to register a case, this seldom leads to justice.
Faisalabad:  What started as an elopement has devolved into a criminal case involving forced marriage, gang-rape and torture. 22-year-old Saleem*, of Chiniot’s Mawar Bhattian locality, eloped with 19-year-old Baano* on 27th February this year, after the girl’s parents did not consent to the marriage. Baano’s father, Mukhtar*, then called for a punchayat [a form of jirga held in tribal regions of Punjab] and demanded his daughter’s return.
The punchayatees [elders at a Punchayat] came to an agreement that Saleem had disgraced Mukhtar’s family and so, Saleem’s 20-year-old sister, SB*, should be handed over to Baano’s 24-year-old brother, Zulfiqar*. When SB refused to comply, she was kidnapped and her thumb impressions forcibly made on her nikkahnama to Zulfiqar on 1st March.
Two weeks later, Zulfiqar reported that his new wife was ‘out of his control’; she was subsequently divorced and remarried to Zulfiqar’s 50-year-old uncle, Noman*. At his haveli, SB was reportedly gang-raped by her new husband and three other men. She was stripped and tied to a tree inside the haveli. Noman then sent a message to SB’s family, saying, “Hand over Baano to us and take SB from here.”
The practice of vani
In tribal areas, girls pay the price for crimes committed by men of their family. A man commits a crime and in return, a girl from his family, aged between 4 to 14 years, is ‘forcibly’ married to a man from the aggrieved party’s family. This is the tribal tradition of vani. A 400-year-old tradition, this practice was initially used to settle feuds between tribes. Later, tribal elders called for jirgas in which girls were declared vani. Although banned and declared illegal by the government in 2011, the custom still exists and has spilled over into other provinces in the country.
SB’s family informed the police of the treatment meted out to her, and she was rescued by elders from the haveli and returned to her home. When the media took notice of the case on March 19th, an FIR was registered – five days after the incident took place – at the Muhammad Wala police station in Chiniot.
“We did not register an FIR earlier because SB had not approached us immediately after the incident,” said an official at the police station. On the other hand, SB says she went to the police station but was told to go to another station. “I was running from one police station to another,” SB told The Express Tribune. SB’s father is said to be under pressure from the accused party to withdraw the case. Additionally, locals have refused to give testimony in the case, fearing retaliation.
Making a case
According to Advocate Chaudhary Umar Daraz Aasi, SB’s lawyer, the police did not handle the case correctly. “If a female is married twice without completion of Iddat, it is considered manhoos (ominous). The punchayat deliberately did this to disgrace SB,” he said.
Aasi said the accused rapists are in police custody and are being treated well as they are ‘influential people’ in the area. While speaking to The Express Tribune, Aasi shared that the police is pressuring SB to retract her statements. “She is being threatened. The police have told her that they will implicate her in fabricated cases if she does not take her case back.”
SB’s advocate also revealed that sections 310-A and 354-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) were not added to the FIR. According to section 310-A, “Whoever gives a female in marriage or otherwise in badal-i-sulh shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than three years.” On the other hand, section 354-A says, “Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman and strips her of her clothes and in that condition, exposes her to the public view, shall be punished with death or with imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
District Prosecution Officer Imtiaz Ahmad said the FIR includes only section 376 (2). It says: “When rape is committed by two or more persons in furtherance of common intention of all, each of such persons shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”
Investigation Officer Ahmad Khan Sapra, a sub-inspector at Muhammad Wala police station, said that 10 out of the 12 accused have been arrested while two were given bail. He said that evidence and statements collected in defence of the accused have questioned SB’s account. “They have created doubts as to whether the gang rape and torture ever took place,” he said. Sapra further revealed that an initial medical report, conducted by a female medical officer of District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Chiniot, revealed that injuries on SB’s body were 10 to 12 days old.
“The statements recorded in favor of the accused by notables of the area pointed out that the accused has been implicated in the case for taking revenge at the instigation of their opponents,” Sapra claimed.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2014.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seminar on Media Ethics

Seminar on Media Ethics
Speakers at a seminar on Tuesday urged media to make ensure implementation of the media ethics, end to sensationalism in news, and give solution to the social issues of common man, instead of focusing on crime and politics in large. They were addressing a seminar on Media Ethics arranged by Public Relations and Publications Department, University of Agriculture Faisalabad and Higher Education Commission in collaboration with the Press Council of Pakistan. The Council Chairman, Justice (r) Shafqat Abbasi, chaired the seminar while Director Publication, HEC, Ayesha Ikram, UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, former Dean, Punjab University, Prof Dr Mughees ud Din Shiekh, Dr A.R Khalid and journalist Shamus Islam  Naz were guests of hounour on the occasion.      
Justice (r) Shafqat Abbasi said that the self-regulation within the media organizations must be developed to keep a check on the media ethics and make it ensure to convey real issues of the public by ending sensationalism. He said press councils were functioning in the 90 countries across the globe. By involving the journalists, civil society, members of parliament and others, we are determined to make Press Council of Pakistan more effective in order to implement the media ethics and framing a course of action in this regard. He said that the council also worked to address the issues of the common man and the media persons.  Lauding the efforts made on the part of the media persons, the credit goes to the journalists who are doing their best to give information to the people even in the time of war. 
He said that the press council was constituted in India in 1965, Bangladesh 1975 and in Pakistan, it started functioning a couple of years ago. But the Indian media was not enjoying freedom of Press as Pakistani journalists  were enjoying under the constitution.
UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan stressed the need to avoid the sensationalism. Uses and gratification process should have the truth, accuracy and reality in news, information and cultural goods. He lauded the efforts of the journalists to highlight the issue of the county and aware he people about the various issues of national interests. He said that the University is launching a FM radio to guide the farming community about the latest agricultural practices of the country. He said that under the outreach programs and Agri Extension, the university was putting its best to translate the knowledge into good and services by using the mass communication.  
Ayesha Ikram said that no one can deny the importance of the media as it is the power to change the minds and the presenting the real picture and truth was prerequisite to make development. He said that in this regard, the media was doing tremendous job to give voice to the issues of the common man. She said media had the power to change the public opinion and this power must be used for social changes, social mobilization, awareness and give a roadmap to the progress of the nation.    
Prof Dr Mughees Ud Din Sheikh said that it was must to follow the objectivity but absolute objectivity was a mere a dream as the frame of minds affect the selection and news treatment.  He said it is very vital to prioritize the socio political health of the public through credible and news worthy information and positive entertainment.
Dr A.R Khalid said that it is vital to ensure the national security at every stage in the production process of news and cultural goods.  He said that the constitution of the Pakistan in article 19 A gives the freedom of the press that must be used keeping in view the presenting the real issues instead of sensationalism. He stressed the need to spread the truth in the society. He also said to shun the blame game. Ha lauded the efforts of media for the progress of the country.
Shamsul Islam Naz said according to a survey, the majority of people from Pakistan believed that the media failing to present the real picture and truth. He said media ethics kept the journalism and cultural industries with the responsibility to perform for the betterment of society, but in the race to be first in delivering the news and information to the audience and for the sake of being popular among the viewers, readers and listeners, they compromised the media ethical values. PRP Principal Officer said Prof Dr Jalal Arif said that that it is still a debatable issue that to what extent media has liberty to act upon the code of ethics and to what limits they intentionally do not follow the rules to gain advantage of the corporate world.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Journalist killed by sniper fire in eastern Syria

Journalist killed by sniper fire in eastern Syria
A journalist falls to the ground amid sniper fire in the ancient Christian Syrian town of Maalula. (file photo)
A journalist falls to the ground amid sniper fire in the ancient Christian Syrian town of Maalula. (file photo)

A cameraman working with a Beirut-based television channel has been killed in eastern Syria, becoming the latest journalist to lose his life in the war-torn country.
Omar Abdel Qader, who worked for al-Mayadeen station, was killed on Saturday in Deir Ezzor, the largest city in eastern Syria.
The privately-owned channel said Abdel Qader was killed on his 27th birthday while covering clashes between Syrian troops and foreign-backed militants in Deir Ezzor.
In a telephone interview, a Syrian army officer told the broadcaster that the cameraman died in hospital after he was "shot in the neck by a sniper from a distance."
Dozens of journalists, including a Press TV correspondent, have been killed in Syria since the deadly conflict began more than three years ago.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has described Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, blaming al-Qaeda-linked militants for kidnappings and murders of journalists, even in neighboring Iraq.
According Reporters Without Borders (RSF), over 130 news providers were killed in Syria between March 2011 to December 2013.
More than 130,000 people are said to have been killed and millions displaced in Syria since the country plunged into rampant violence in March 2011.
The Western powers and their regional allies -- namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have reportedly been supporting the militants operating inside Syria

Syrian journalist killed covering fighting - Al Mayadeen TV

Syrian journalist killed covering fighting - Al Mayadeen TV

(Reuters) / 9 March 2014

Beirut-based Al Mayadeen said on its website that its cameraman Omar Abdelqader was shot in the neck on Saturday and was pronounced dead in hospital shortly afterwards. 

A Syrian journalist has been killed covering clashes between government forces and opposition fighters in the eastern city of Deir al Zor, a regional broadcaster said.
Beirut-based Al Mayadeen said on its website that its cameraman Omar Abdelqader was shot in the neck on Saturday and was pronounced dead in hospital shortly afterwards.
Syria was the deadliest place for journalists in 2013 for the second year, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a media rights group based in New York, said in December.
At least 29 journalists were killed last year in a three-year-old conflict that turned into civil war after a crackdown on peaceful protests, and has claimed more that 140,000 lives.
Al Mayadeen quoted a local Syrian military commander as saying Abdelqader was shot by a sniper while he was filming government forces advancing on an area in the rebel-held city.

His sister was quoted as saying the family was preparing to celebrate his 27th birthday when news of his death arrived.