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Acid-Attack Victims Demand Justice from Indian Government

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Graphic images but the world needs to know what is going on to women

Due to National and International Pressure, the Indian Government created new laws in February 2013 to combat the increasing attacks on women. In India, 90% of violent attacks are against women and the number is only increasing. After acid-attack victim Sonali Mukherjee appeared on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in 2012, acid-attack victims hoped that the country would finally care about them, but some victims are still waiting for justice.

Whenever Chanchal Paswan (18) left her house in Chithnava, India, her male neighbors would follow her to her destination, pulling on her clothes while making lewd comments toward her. When Chanchal refused to sleep with them, the men decided to punish her – after all, these monsters believed that women should ALWAYS do what men say. On October 21, 2012, the men snuck onto Chanchal’s roof where she and her sister were sleeping. The men pinned her down and poured acid all over her while the younger sister, Sonam (15), was also burned.  The parents heard their children screaming and ran up to the roof and rushed the girls to the hospital.  The attackers laughed at the family while the neighbors watched in silence. When the family got to the hospital, it refused to admit the sisters until the following morning when television cameras showed up. The four men (Anil Rai, Ghanshyam Rai, Baadal Rai, and Raj Rai) were arrested, but the sisters are still waiting for justice.

Before and After Picture of Chanchal

Even though Chanchal was an adult who worked at the time of the attack, the police report claims she was a minor at the time of the attack so she received less compensation. There were rumors that the attackers would be forced to cover the cost of the surgeries the girls have been going through, but at the moment the family has been paying for all the surgeries and medication. Chanchal was even discharged early from Patna Medical College and Hospital because her family could not afford to pay for the medication and surgeries, though the hospital claims its for infection reasons.  The main attackers, Anil Rai, claims he is a minor to escape prison time even though he is not a minor. The family hopes that by drawing attention to their problem, they will be able to receive the correct compensation from the government and see the attackers be punished.  The attackers are from a higher caste (higher social class) and they believed they would never be punished since the girls are from a lower caste system.

Acid-attacks are on the rise in the Middle East and South East Asia because women are saying “no” to men and some men still view women as sex objects. Chanchal told one of the attackers “no” to a marriage proposal and instead of moving on, he made it his mission to ruin her life. Since acid-attacks were not considered a crime until recently, no one is sure how many women are inured each year by acid attacks but activists estimate there are as many as 1,000 attacks a year. Unlike Chanchal and Sonam, who took to the media to demand justice, most acid-attackers are forced to keep quiet due to constant threats from the attackers’ families or the police refuse to help. There is currently a petition on Change.org demanding that the sisters receive justice. While the government takes its time, these two sisters refuse to wait around and are currently campaigning for acid-attack victims. Chanchal is determined to return to school and provide for her family, but in the meantime, she removes the bandages around her face and looks at the camera, “I want the world to know what happened to me.”

Update: 

On April 23, 2013, Chancha met the DM of Patna to deliver the petition that contains over 65,000 signatures.

Sources:

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Acid Attack Victim Vows to Fight

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Imagine being a 17 year-old girl, juggling time between college and work. Every night when you come home after work, the annoying male neighbors make catcalls and ask you to sleep with them – and every day you say “NO!” You tell your parents about them, but when your father goes next door to talk to their families, nothing happens. Finally, after years of  them sexually harassing you, you tell them that you are going to call the police. As you lay in bed that night, you wake up to the sensation of liquid being poured onto your face – then suddenly the pain of your face melting off jolts you awake. You used to be a beautiful girl with a promising future, but now you are blind, partially deaf, and have a face that must be covered by a scarf because of the horrific burns… you are Sonali Mukherjee.

 

Sonali Mukherjee Before the Attack

Sonali Mukherjee was a teenage college student living in Dhanbad, India when three of her male neighbors broke into her house to pour acid on her while she slept, just because she refused to sleep with them. The three men are: Tapas Mitra, Sanjay Paswan, and Brahmadev Hajra – one of them is rumored to be a married man in his 40’s.  Mitra and Paswan were supposed to spend nine years in prison, but they spent less than two years in prison after paying bail. Since Hajra was a minor at the time of the incident, he was let off the hook. While the attackers were enjoying life outside of prison, Mukherjee’s family was suffering; they were forced to move because of the constant threats from the attackers, her grandfather died from a heart attack, her mother fell into depression, and the younger sister  (who also suffered burns from the attack) was married off so she could have a life. Mukherjee had 22 surgeries performed, but the cost of the surgeries forced her family to sell land, cattle, and family jewelry.

Sonali Mukherjee

For the past nine years, Mukherjee has met several Indian government officials, but never received any aid. After her family ran out of money, Mukherjee wrote to the government, asking for permission to kill herself. Her letter was released to the media where it was seen by the producers of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” The producers asked her to be on the show for the Doosra Mauka (Second Chance) episode that features contestants who showed courage in the face of adversity. Mukherjee answered 10 questions correctly, winning 2.5 million rupees (or $45,000) in November, 2012.

Appearing on Kaun Banega Crorepati

Mukherjee’s journey is still not over since she still has nine operations to go through. When she is done recovering from her surgeries, she plans to continue speaking out against violence against women. Already she has helped make a difference in India; after her letter to the government was released since summer, India erupted into anger at how a woman was forced to suffer while her attackers barely spent time in jail. Mukherjee realized appearing on television is what made the difference, telling Agence France Presse “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face. If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too.” India ranks #4 as the worst country for women; 90% of violent crimes are against women and that number continues to increase. After receiving negative national attention about  Mukherjee, and a gang rape on a city bus that resulted in a young woman dying, the Indian government started to create laws to stop the violence.  In February 2013, the Indian government approved a law that would imprison acid attackers for 10 years to life and the Supreme Court directed officials to discuss regulating the sales of acid and to set up a fund for victims. It is up to victims, like Mukherjee, and society to continue to battle the monsters that believe women are sex toys for men. If we let the government sweep these crimes under the rug, then women will never be equal to men and will continue to be abused, raped, and murdered. Mukherjee states, “I don’t want what was done to me done to any other girls” and she vows to continue the fight…will you?

She has gone through 22 surgeries and will go through 9 more

 

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I’m just Tired of Violence

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I had just witnessed the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays and decided to cool off by taking a shower. When I finished my shower, my phone was ringing; my dad asked “What’s going on in Boston? I heard there were explosions at the Boston Marathon?” As someone trying to get in shape, I was furious that some idiots attempted to hurt runners who had just ran 26 miles. As someone who loves history, I was upset that some idiots tried to ruin a celebration of Massachusetts’ involvement in the Revolutionary War. As a human, I am sad that someone decided to injure and kill innocent people.

I don’t know what’s going on, no one does. There were two explosions around 3 P.M. at the Boston Marathon finish line. Some thought it was a possible chemical leak, but now reports are saying that police have uncovered several other bombs. The police found one bomb under bleachers and purposely set it off when no one was around. John F. Kennedy Library might have a bomb. Three people are reported dead, dozens more injured. At 4:08: the official report is 2 dead, 22 injured in blasts. No terrorist group has come forward yet, so it might just be some loner who did this. Someone who is upset at the world. Someone who hates America. Someone who hates everything…

I’m tired of seeing terrorist attacks. When I was in 7th grade, I saw people fall to their deaths from the World Trade Center. I remember the planes flying into the towers, the Pentagon, and into the field – but seeing a bodies falling to their deaths is an image I’ll never get out of my head. Then the reports of attacks overseas involving America’s allies in Europe made me thankful for the Atlanta Ocean separating America from the Middle East and Africa – terrorists would have to board a plane to get here and security at the airport is very, very strict. But Boston shows that sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent attacks – there is always going to be an upset person trying to bring everyone down to his level.

America has been gun-crazy since the Sandy Hook elementary shooting – one side gather their guns while the other side tries to take the guns. And you know what? Both sides are WRONG. I said months ago that guns aren’t the problem nor are the bombs, it’s the people. The politicians have been spending all their time dealing with guns that they forgot about People – People Kill People. It’s the People who are uneducated that are more likely to be violent, yet the education budgets are always being cut. It’s the People who suffer from mental illness that are more likely to be involved in a mass attack, yet health care doesn’t cover the costs of all the help they need. It’s the People upset that America is involved in international conflicts, yet war continues to wage on (and for what?). Instead of wasting time fighting over guns, abortion, and other controversial laws that don’t do much good for society, how about America comes together to make sure that something like this won’t happen again, to make sure more children don’t grow up to be disgruntled adults pissed at society.

 

Stop Punishing the Kids for their Parents’ Choices

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"Every child Needs a Good School Lunch&qu...

“Every child Needs a Good School Lunch”  (Wikipedia)

When I went to school and forgot to bring my money for lunch, I would receive a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich at lunch. But in April 2013, 25 students in a Massachusetts middle school were denied lunch because they could not pay for their lunch. The school was supposed to give the children cheese sandwiches and milk if they forgot their money and not let them go hungry; instead, the students were forced to throw out their food in front of their peers, causing some of them to erupt into tears. As a result, the school fired four employees and will allow all children to eat for free for three days next week. After reading this story, I read some of the readers’ comments how the children should not be given food or reduced-price food if their parents couldn’t afford to pay for lunch – the children should just starve. What happened to caring about the future generation?

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in American schools; it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to 31 million children each school day. When my parents were between jobs, I was one of those children until my parents both found jobs. If a school participates in the program, it receives cash subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since the program began in 1946, more than 224 billion lunches have been served. In 2011, it cost $11.1 billion for the United States to support this program – an amount that means starving children can eat. When I wake up each morning, I knew I had food in the fridge, but 16.7 million children (22% of American children) don’t know if they get to eat each day.This program guarantees that the child gets at least one nutritious meal  a day – that the child will drink milk and not soda, eat fruit instead of candy – a meal not off the dollar menu. And why should the children suffer for their parents’ mistakes? Why should they go hungry because their mother is working two jobs and there is no father around? Why should they go hungry because both their parents decided to have fifteen children even though they live in a two-bedroom apartment? Why should they go hungry because their parents care more about getting high than staying clean to get a job? If these children aren’t taken care of, then they will never have a future and break out of the cycle.

At the end of January 2013, republican senator Stacy Campfield introduced legislation that would slash welfare benefits for parents whose children get bad grades. They claim it will inspire parents to do a better job parenting, while critics say it will hurt the children. Based on my experience, this will only punish the kid. I grew up with parents that were always there for me; they helped me with my math homework, went over my spelling words, and paid for a tutor to help me with reading. Because of my parents’ help early on, I went on to take honors and advanced placement classes in order to increase my chance of getting a scholarship to a good college – which I did. I was lucky. At my high school, there were several students who could not speak proper English – it was so bad, the teacher could not understand them when they asked questions – and no, they weren’t Hispanic immigrants, they were born and raised in the same town as I was, their parents just never bothered to teach them how to speech English so they had to learn from rap music. You know what I’m talking about, the poor kids with bad parents that have no future and are bound to continue the cycle of being a failure, like their parents.They were the kids who had to ride the school bus while everyone else drove cars to school. They were the kids who ate breakfast at the school cafeteria because there was nothing at home for them to eat. They were the kids who wore clothes from the thrift shop and Goodwill.  They were the kids who dropped out of high school because no one was there to push them to graduate and to tell them that they could become someone. So, cutting welfare will suddenly wake up a parent after 16-years of ignoring their child? Will the absent father suddenly appear knowing that his baby’s mama will be losing welfare that she uses to pay rent? Will the homeless parents suddenly be able to buy a computer for the child to finish his homework? The amount of welfare a recipient receives isn’t that much to begin with – this law was proposed in Tennessee where a single mom with two kids receives $185 a month – as any person knows, that is about three tanks of gas.

Then there are the children who have good parents, but because of an unforeseen circumstance, their parents don’t have the money to provide for them. The parents may be immigrants from a foreign country, hoping the move to the United States will be a better environment to raise their children. The parents may be tomato pickers working for dirt money, but they want their children to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers. And there are the children living on the streets with their parents because both parents lost their jobs because of the bad economy. The parents don’t want their children spending the nights in shelter and worrying about food, they want the children to graduate school and get a stable job. A mother leaving her abusive husband and taking her children to a women’s shelter won’t have the money to spend on her children if the father spent their joint-banking account on beer. She just wants her children to eat low-cost meals at school while she saves money for a new house. These parents are doing their best to provide for their children, but need some help so that their children will live up to their potential. How can Americans turn their backs on these families?

Instead of trying to take away food and welfare from a child because of bad parents or bad life events, the government should be trying to make sure the child doesn’t end up like his parent – that he graduates from high school, goes to college, finds a job, and raises a happy family instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, and crime. Countless studies have shown that children with a low-education or drop out of school are more likely to become teenage parents, commit a crime and go to jail, turn to drugs and alcohol, and end up on welfare – each year the federal government spends $38 billion on teenage pregnancy, $74 billion on jails, $15 billion on the war of drugs, and $193 billion on welfare for a total of $320 billion – numbers that will only increase if children continue to be punished for their parents’ choices. Instead of being furious that government spends $11.1 a year to ensure that 31 million children eat one decent meal a day, they should be furious that they and their government continues to fail millions of children each year. These children, no matter if they have bad, average, or great parents, deserve a chance to receive lunch at school every day. Whenever a budget needs to be cut, the budget that effects the future generation is always the first one to go. That needs to change.

North Carolina wants a State Religion

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Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789

Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

In the late 1800’s, some Christian groups proposed that the United States create a new state that was only for Christians. This worried feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton who knew traditional Christian values viewed women as second-class citizens – women couldn’t vote, own property, leave unhappy marriages, or do anything without their husband’s permission. Luckily, the Christian State was never created and decades later, women were able to gain equality rights since the United States was created with the idea of separating the church from the government.

On April 1, 2012, North Carolina proposed a bill that would allow an official state religion that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings. The bill was filed on April Fool’s Day, though North Carolina is very serious about this pill. It is back by eleven Republicans and was filed after a lawsuit was filed to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer. The bill’s main sponsors are Carl Ford and Harry Warren and the co-sponsors are Edgar Starnes and Larry Pittman.

The bill reads:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

Past American leaders knew religion should not control the United States. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers made sure government was split from religion because they knew a country ruled by religion doesn’t allow democracy. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.”  And she is right, look at the Middle East where all the countries are controlled by religion – the poor are uneducated, the leaders use the Quran to kill Christians and Jews, and women are forced to cover their faces and serve their husbands. Now, you may think “that wouldn’t happen here in a majority Christian country” but some strict Christians still believe men are better than women, that other religions should not be practiced, the homosexuals should be punished, and birth control should disappear – even though Jesus preached “love thy neighbor.”

The United States is supposed to be the country in the world that allows all religions, as long as the religions are not violent and the followers still follow the country’s laws. North Carolina choosing religion over government is a danger for all people. Though the bill will not pass since it 100% goes against the U.S. Constitution, the men behind this bill should not be in office if they care more about THEIR religion than about the people that were voted to represent. Instead of wasting time seeking revenge over the fact that they cannot pray at government meetings, they should be creating laws to help the poor and the weak; after all, that’s what Jesus said to do.

 

Common Sense: One Method of Gun Control

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On December 16, 2012, President Barrack Obama announced to the American public his four suggestions to Congress on how to decrease gun violence in the United States. Though banning military guns, cracking down on illegal gun trafficking, assigning police officers to public schools, and doing research on mental illness will all play an important role in decreasing gun violence, there is one inexpensive object that is free to all that can decrease gun violence: Common Sense. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary common sense is a “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” Everyone has common sense, yet people in general do not always use it as much as they should. In a country where gun violence is resulting in hundreds of deaths each year, it is up to gun owners to use common sense to prevent innocent people from dying.

 

English: Clockwise start at the top left: Gloc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nancy Lanza, the mother of Adam Lanza, knew something was wrong with her son, something more than just autism. Though he was awkward and lacked social skills, he was known to go into outburst in high school that required the school to contact his mother since she was the only one who could calm him down. Adam avoided social interaction, had zero friends, and was teased; he was the type of person who could become the next Columbine Shooter. My generation went to high school after the Columbine School Shooting, knowing that the loners being picked on could resort to murder in order to take revenge on the school bullies. He was an unemployed 20-years-old, living with his mother after dropping out of Western Connecticut State University. After his parents divorced in 2010, he cut off all contact with his father and older brother, an example on how he was angry about his parents divorce. Adam was also seeing a psychiatrist. Something was wrong with Adam, yet his mother kept several types of guns in the house, including the Glock 10-mm handgun, Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun, and Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle used in the Sandy Brook Elementary School Shooting. When Adam went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase a rifle, he chanted his mind after he was told that there was a waiting period. He knew at home he had the Bushmaster AR-15, the assault-type weapon similar to the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military, capable of firing 45 rounds per minute. Adam also knew how to use the guns since his mother had taken him to the gun range several times over the years… Even though Nancy knew there was something wrong with her son, she kept several guns in the house and taught Adam how to shoot. No parent with a child suffering from a mental illness should own guns in her house, much less teach the child how to use it.

On Christmas Eve 2012, William Spengler, 62, murdered his sister and then set fire to his house in hopes of burning down his neighborhood and killing everyone. When firefighters arrived at the scene, he used a semiautomatic rifle to kill two firefighters. After exchanging gun fire with an off-duty cop, Spengler used a handgun to fatally shoot himself. Spengler was not new to murder, after all, he used a hammer to kill his grandmother years ago when she refused to give him money for drugs.This also meant that Spengler was a convicted felon and not able to buy guns, yet he was able to obtain the two guns used in the attack. Did he purchase the guns from a guy selling guns from the trunk of his car? Did he purchase the guns from a gang member in the shady part of town? Did he steal the guns from a woman who lives alone? No, he asked his 20-year-old neighbor to assist him to a gun shop where he picked out the guns while she made the purchase, a “straw purchase.” Did Dawn Nguyen know Spengler was a former convict? There is a possibility because other neighbors have told police that they knew he killed his grandmother and served time in jail, making it possible that Nguyen knew she was committing a crime by purchasing a gun for a convicted felon. But even if she did not know, why did she not question why a man in his sixties was not able to purchase the guns himself? It is common knowledge that only convicted felons and locked-up mental illness patients cannot purchase guns. No one should purchase guns for someone she barely knows.

On September 12, 2012, a two-year-old boy accidentally shot himself with a handgun and died. He was at home with his parents, one of which is a cop, when he picked up the loaded gun from the table and shot himself. Sadly, this type of gun accident is why 120 people between the ages 1-19 died in 2010, according to Centers for Disease Control. Every year hundreds of children die from guns because their parents did not keep guns away from them. Even a police officer, who knows how to use a gun and how dangerous a gun is, kept a loaded gun on a table in the same house as his toddler lived. Why would parents keep a loaded gun on a table? Did they think their “terrible two” son would not find the gun? As every parent knows, toddlers are magnetically drawn to dangerous objects; but yet some parents still do not keep their guns locked up on a high shelf. If one must own a gun in the same house as where children live, then they need to keep the gun unloaded, the bullets in a separate location, the safety on, and the gun locked up on a high shelf. Too many innocent children die each year because their own parents lack the common sense to keep a loaded gun away from a child.

The United States government can pass all the gun laws it desires but the laws will not work if people lack the common sense to follow the laws. Gun owners should not keep guns in the same house where someone with a mental disability lives or teach a person with a mental illness on how to use a gun. A citizen should not purchase a gun for a stranger/neighbor/friend in any circumstance since there could be a reason why he himself could not purchase the gun; plus, the gun buyer could also face 10 years in prison for purchasing a gun for a convicted felon. Parents should not keep a loaded gun in a spot where children can access the gun. If everyone just had common sense when it came to guns, then there would be less gun violence in the country.

 

Oklahoma Fails to Separate Church from State

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Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol (Photo credit: StevenM_61)

On November 16th, a 2,000 pound block describing the Ten Commandments was installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Representative Mike Ritze (R) sponsored the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act” which states that the Ten Commandments found in the Bible are “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma.” Is he trying to suggest that Oklahoma is controlled by the bible? Because if he is, he did not take high school government since the First Amendment (a law that Oklahoma should actually be following) states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The law clearly states that the government cannot make a law establishing a religion, yet Oklahoma created a religious monument and placed in on government grounds. Also, in the Treaty of Tripoli, sent to the Senate by President John Adams, is written that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Once again, a founding father points out how the United States is not founded on the Christian religion.

Though the Ten Commandments do have some good laws, like how one should not murder someone else, it also forbids people from believing in other gods. Seeing how this statement is sitting a few feet from the Capitol, it can make other religions feel uneasy, as though Oklahoma may possibly create laws from the Christian religion. As Ryan Kiesel, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, claims that when “legislatures set up a monument that seems to put one faith above others, it creates an environment where some visitors will feel like second-class citizens.” Another problem is what will happen when other religious start creating laws that support their religious laws to be shown at the Capitol grounds also? If the laws pass, a nice Scientology monument may be the next monument to share space on the Capitol grounds.

At the moment, ACLU has not begun to sue Oklahoma for violating the separation of state and government but the Liberty Legal Foundation promises to represent Oklahoma at no cost. The Liberty Legal Foundation also led legal challenges to President Barack Obama’s place of birth – in other words, Oklahoma will be represented by a bunch of crazies. This is just more proof that Oklahoma is wrong to place religious text on government property.

The fact that there was an actual law about this monument also shows how politicians are wasting their time. Instead of actually trying to help the people, they are wasting time and money creating religious monuments. The tax payers did not pay for the monument since it was raised through private donations and the Ritze family; the fact that people were willing to spend $10,000 to put a bunch of ancient laws near the capitol is insulting to Christians. In the bible, it is mentioned how important donating to the less fortunate are, but people actually thought a historical symbol depicting ancient laws from another country were important. That money could have gone to supporting education, helping the homeless, saving the rain forest; but instead, it went to a monument that contains scripture found in every hotel room in the United States.

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments

Treaty of Tripoli

First Amendment

First Amendment Oklahoma