Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Friday, January 10, 2014

#DontTouchMe: Saudi Arabia child abuse

#DontTouchMe: Saudi Arabia child abuse

Man with boy and message about child abuse in English and Arabic Educational anti-abuse images are being shared on social media in Saudi Arabia

A disturbing viral video that appears to show a child being molested in Saudi Arabia has prompted online soul-searching in the conservative kingdom.

Reporting or discussing child abuse is a sensitive subject no matter where in the world you live. But in socially conservative Saudi Arabia, the past 48 hours have seen social media users break the taboo around discussing child abuse in unprecedented numbers. The reason? A highly disturbing YouTube video.

The video, details of which cannot be verified, apparently shows surveillance footage of a man molesting a small child in a school uniform. The man approaches the child, who is standing alone in front of a lift, and touches her inappropriately. Local media reported that the incident happened in Dammam in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Colonel Ziad Alriqaiti of the Eastern Region Police told reporters that authorities are searching for the culprit.

The video has prompted an intense debate on social media. Saudi users have created a new hashtag, #GuySexuallyHarassingALittleGirl, to condemn the act and discuss the level of punishment needed. Others used the hashtag to encourage young people to speak out against abuse by sharing educational photos and videos on how to spot and report abuse when it happens.

One of the most shared videos was a cartoon showing scenarios of how parents can educate their kids and how children should deal with harassment. Within 48 hours the hashtag had been tweeted more than 100,000 times and the video had reached more than 175,000 views. It has since been removed from YouTube but there are duplications on the video sharing platform.

Over time, the conversation has evolved and new hashtags have been created. Users have shared images from an anti-abuse children's book titled Don't Touch Me, using the hashtag of the same name. The book, written by Dr Hind Khalifa is a guide for children on what to do in situations of harassment. "It's not the first time sexual harassment of children has been spoken of in Saudi Arabia but I have never seen this level of reaction to the subject online," says Nader Ibrahim of BBC Arabic's social media team. "It reflects Saudi Arabia's growing use of social media to deal with and shed light on the topic."

Aitzaz Hasan: Pakistan 'hero' recommended for award

Aitzaz Hasan: Pakistan 'hero' recommended for award

Aitzaz Hasan Aitzaz Hasan was described as a brave and good student

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recommended a bravery award for a teenager killed when tackling a suicide bomber who targeted his school.

Aitzaz Hasan, 15, is being hailed as a hero for confronting the attacker, who then detonated his vest.

The Sitara-e-Shujjat award can only be awarded once Pakistan's president has approved it.

The incident on Monday prompted an outpouring of praise and gratitude across Pakistan.

"Shaheed Aitizaz's brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students and established a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism," a statement from the prime minister's office said.

The Minister for Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province Shah Farman, said on Thursday that Aitzaz was a "real hero and true face of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa".

Local authorities have also said they will offer compensation for Aitzaz's family.

'Valiant act'
The incident took place on Monday in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated region of Hangu, in north-western Pakistan. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance at the time of the attack, and Aitzaz is being credited with saving hundreds of lives.

Despite the pleas of his fellow students, he decided to confront and capture the bomber who was approaching the school, his cousin told the BBC's Aleem Maqbool.

Pakistani security personnel examine the site of a suicide bombing in the Ibrahimzai area of Hangu district on January 6, 2014. There were said to be about 2,000 students at Aitzaz's school at the time of the attack

"He told them 'I'm going to stop him. He is going to school to kill my friends'. He wanted to capture this suicide bomber. He wanted to stop [him]. Meanwhile the suicide bomber blasted himself which resulted in the death of my cousin," Mudassar Hassan Bangish said.

His family insist that rather than focus on the sorrow brought about by his death, they want to focus on their pride in his actions.

"He is a shahid [martyr]. A shahid of his whole nation," he said.

On Twitter, users have been paying tribute to Aitzaz using the hashtags #onemillionaitzaz and #AitzazBraveheart echoing the language used online around figures such as Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the Delhi rape victim, whose death galvanised Indian public opinion and prompted changes in rape laws there.

Hangu is close to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions, which have a strong Taliban and al-Qaeda presence and the area is also known for sectarian violence against Shia Muslims.