Monday, August 2, 2010

UK: More than half of schoolgirls are bullied because of their appearance

By Daily Mail Reporter

More than half of young women are bullied at school because of how they look, according to a report published today.

Some youngsters miss months of education to avoid their tormentors, according to the survey.

Researchers spoke to girls in England and Wales, between the ages of 15 and 22. They found 56 per cent were abused verbally, physically or online because of their weight, height or hair colour.

Only one in five said they were personally happy with their appearance, and 53 per cent said they had since gone on a diet, according to the research by youth charity Rathbone.

Charity spokesman Peter Gibson said: 'All bullies are cowards, but persecuting the weakest takes a special kind of nastiness.

'It was heartbreaking to learn that young women had been punched and kicked simply because they couldn't afford the best clothes, or humiliated on the internet due to their size.'

Just over half of young women who were bullied said they played truant from school, with one girl missing six months of education and her SAT exams.

The main reason for bullying was weight, followed by hair colour - almost entirely girls with red hair. Other reasons included height, clothing and racism.

About 40 per cent said they missed meals to get thinner, and 17 per cent said they had been on a diet since the age of 12 or younger.

More than 60 young women were surveyed. Of these six said they had either taken laxative pills or made themselves sick to keep their weight down.

Bullied girls refused to believe nice things said about them. Although 91 per cent said their families and friends called them beautiful, one 17-year-old girl from Greater Manchester said: 'Even if Peter Andre walked into the room and told me I was gorgeous, I still wouldn't believe it.'

Encouragingly, the Rathbone report found 60 per cent of those who were abused because of their appearance thought they could turn to a friend, relative or teacher for help.

Mr Gibson said: 'The demonisation of young people is rife and there is also far too much pressure on women in particular to look a certain way.

'It is up to all of us, from teachers to parents, and magazine editors to programme makers, to celebrate women for who they are. As our survey shows, the putting-down and name-calling is simply ruining young lives.'

Many of the young women questioned came from poor backgrounds, and either lived alone or with a single parent. The majority were on the Entry to Employment programme, which gives unemployed young people skills to gain work.

Revealed: Industrial Revolution was powered by child slaves

Huge factory expansion would not have been possible without exploitation of the young

By David Keys

Child labour was the crucial ingredient which allowed Britain's Industrial Revolution to succeed, new research by a leading economic historian has concluded.

After carrying out one of the most detailed statistical analyses of the period, Oxford's Professor Jane Humphries found that child labour was much more common and economically important than previously realised. Her estimates suggest that, by the early 19th century, England had more than a million child workers (including around 350,000 seven- to 10-year-olds) - accounting for 15 per cent of the total labour force. The work is likely to transform the academic world's understanding of that crucial period of British history which was the launch-pad of the nation's economic and imperial power.

Early factory owners - located in the countryside in order to exploit power from fast-flowing rivers - found that local labour was scarce and that those agricultural workers who were available were unsuitable for industrial production. They therefore opted instead to create a new work force composed of children, tailor-made for their factories.

"Factory owners were looking for cheap, malleable and fast-learning work forces - and found them ready-made among the children of the urban workhouses," said Professor Humphries. Her statistical research shows, for the first time, the precise extent to which the exploitation of children massively increased as newly emerging factories began their operations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Her work has revealed that during most of the 18th century only around 35 per cent of ten year old working-class boys were in the labour force while the figure for 1791-1820 (when large scale industrialisation started) was 55 per cent, rising to 60 per cent for the period of 1821-1850.
The number of eight-year-old working-class boys at work also rose substantially in that period - with around a third of them being part of the work force between 1791 and 1850 compared to less than 20 per cent before 1791.

The use of working-class children to provide much of the labour force for the Industrial Revolution was, however, merely an expansion and extension of an already long-established practice of working-class children employed by farmers or artisans.

Professor Humphries's research - just published by Cambridge University Press - reveals that the average age at which working-class children started work fell from eleven and a half (prior to 1791) to 10 for the period 1791-1850.

The new research shows the extent to which Britain's Industrial Revolution - the first in the world - was initially dependent, as far as the factories were concerned, on what were, in effect, child slaves. They weren't paid - simply fed and given dormitory accommodation. In the 1790s, there were, at any one time, tens of thousands of such unpaid child workers.

Her statistical analysis of vast quantities of data, extracted from 600 autobiographies, is also revealing how the Industrial Revolution helped change life and culture in other ways too.

Industrialisation removed rigid social control over young people's lives and allowed them therefore to get married much younger (typically in their early twenties rather than their mid to late twenties). This led to much larger families which in turn led to rapid population growth - and a sharp reduction in the percentage of women in the work force. Whereas in agricultural society, women had been integrated into the work force, industrialisation and the increase in family size drove them into the home while their husbands and sons went out to work in mines, railways, docks and factories.

Together with the Industrial Revolution and the increase in family size, a range of other factors - wars, empire-building and labour mobility - strained fathers' links to their growing families, and single-parent households increased dramatically.

By the early 19th century, up to 18 per cent of families were being abandoned by fathers. Many other men died in accidents, epidemics and wars - and the new research suggests that around a third of working-class children grew up in single-parent families.

"This process further increased pressure on mothers to send their young children out to work," said Professor Humphries. "The new research is revealing for the first time the extent to which the English Industrial Revolution - and indirectly the imperial expansion it helped generate - depended on child labour. The newly collated evidence transforms our understanding of the causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution - especially the nature of the labour force and the relationship between the family and the economy," she said.

Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution by Jane Humphries, published by Cambridge University Press

Indian police fire on protest in Kashmir, two dead

At least two demonstrators died today when Indian police opened fire on thousands of pro-independence protesters in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir.

At least 25 people, mostly of them protesters throwing stones, have been killed by security forces over the past six weeks during the biggest demonstrations against Indian rule in two years.

Locals say the protests are spontaneous but India has blamed separatists and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group based in neighbouring Pakistan, for fomenting the latest violence.

Two people were killed and 25 wounded on Saturday after protesters defied curfew and torched a police camp and a railway station.

"The fresh trouble started in Pampore area. Police opened fire after heavy stone pelting by protesters," a senior police official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters. The area is on the outskirts of Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.

Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear patrolled deserted streets across Kashmir and warned residents to stay indoors, witnesses said.

Authorities have pleaded for calm.

"Chief minister Omar Abdullah appealed to all sections of the society to extend their wholehearted cooperation in restoration of peace and normalcy in the valley," a government statement said.

Peace in Kashmir is crucial for improving relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, as the two countries are trying to revive peace talks that were halted after India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, a region they claim in full but rule in part.

Dutch mission ends in Afghanistan

The Dutch troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has officially begun, making the Netherlands the first country in Nato's mission there to leave.

The four-year deployment has cost the lives of 24 Dutch soldiers and $1.8 billion but has garnered praise from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general, who said the Dutch mission was "the benchmark for others".

Dutch troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2006, and their deployment was scheduled to end formally on Sunday.

Nato had asked the Netherlands to extend the deadline, a request that led to the collapse of the Dutch government in February when Labour party members of the country's ruling coalition would not agree.

'Successful' mission

The majority of Dutch troops in Afghanistan were deployed in the country's southern Uruzgan province, where they implemented a "whole of government" strategy called the "3D" approach for its focus on development, diplomacy and defence.

The plan garnered positive media attention and a favourable view from Barack Obama, the US president, who called the Dutch mission "one of the most outstanding" in Afghanistan.

Access to education and health care improved under Dutch oversight, but a lack of dependable energy and security still hampered the province in 2009, according to one reportby the Liaison Office, a non-governmental organisation in Afghanistan.

The Dutch troops were also unable to substantially reduce the production of poppy, and doubts among the populace about the Afghan government's ability to provide services in the absence of foreign help persisted, according to the report.

Brigadier-General Van De Heuvel, the commander of Dutch forces in Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera: "I'm proud of the Netherlands being four years here in Uruzgan province but on the other hand I feel sad to leave. There is a lot to be done but I am happy to be handing over to our successors and I am very trustful they will carry on the same way we did.

"I think it was a combination of security, development and governance that defined our approach there and as far as I can see, it worked very well."

No ink spot

The Dutch were part of a Nato effort to set up secure zones in southern Afghanistan and expand them like "ink spots".

But four years on, Al Jazeera's James Bays reports, that ink spot does not extend far beyond the main Dutch base.

"People's anticipations were not met during their stay, people had hoped that security, reconstruction, and development will be established," Mohammed Hashim Watanwal, a member of parliament from Uruzgan, told Al Jazeera.

"Unfortunately I would like to say ... the Dutch have not given sufficient attention to this province".
Canadian troops who make up the majority of Nato forces in neighbouring Kandahar province are scheduled to begin coming home next year, and the departure of the Dutch is likely being closely watched by other European nations, Bays said.

The coming drawdown of foreign forces - the United States is also set to begin reducing troop levels next year - makes Afghans themselves wonder about the international commitment to their country, according to Bays.

"You speak to ordinary Afghans, and it adds to the perception ... they think that Nato is not here for the long term, that Nato forces will soon withdraw, even American forces will soon withdraw," he said.

Many believe that "it's possible the Taliban will be back."

Fury as Israel president claims English are 'anti-semitic'

Israel's president has accused the English of being anti-semitic and claimed that MPs pander to Muslim voters.

By David Harrison and Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem

Shimon Peres said England was "deeply pro-Arab ... and anti-Israeli", adding: "They always worked against us."

He added: "There is in England a saying that an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jews more than is necessary."

His remarks, made in an interview on a Jewish website, provoked anger from senior MPs and Jewish leaders who said the 87-year-old president had "got it wrong".

But other groups backed the former Israeli prime minister and said the number of anti-semitic incidents had risen dramatically in the UK in recent years.

The controversy follows the furore last week over David Cameron's remark that Gaza was a "prison camp", as he urged Israel to allow aid and people to move freely in and out of the Palestinian territory.

Mr Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is three years into his seven-year term as president and was awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen in 2008, said that England's attitude towards Jews was Israel's "next big problem".

"There are several million Muslim voters, and for many members of parliament, that's the difference between getting elected and not getting elected," he said.

"And in England there has always been something deeply pro-Arab, of course, not among all Englishmen, and anti-Israeli, in the establishment.

"They abstained in the [pro-Zionist] 1947 UN partition resolution ... They maintained an arms embargo against us in the 1950s ... They always worked against us. They think the Arabs are the underdogs."

By contrast, relations with Germany, France and Italy were "pretty good", he added.

He made the comments in an interview with the historian Professor Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published last week in Tablet, a Jewish news website.

The wide-ranging interview covered Mr Peres' role as one of Israel's longest-serving political leaders - an MP for 48 years, twice prime minister, and holder of other ministerial posts over the decades. He is firmly on the Israeli Left.

He was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 jointly with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his part as foreign minister in the peace talks which produced the landmark Oslo Accords.

But following his comments, James Clappison, the Conservative MP for Hertsmere and vice-chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: "Mr Peres has got this wrong.

"There are pro- and anti-Israel views in all European countries. Things are certainly no worse, as far as Israel is concerned, in this country than other European countries."

The MP added that he could "understand the frustration" that people in Israel felt with "certain elements of the British broadcast media" which present an unbalanced view of Israel.

He said: "I can understand Mr Peres' concerns, but I don't recognise what he is saying about England."

Yet in Israel, Mr Peres is far from alone in holding such views, which have gained a wider following, particularly on the Right, since the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over accusations that Mossad sent agents using British passports to assassinate a Hamas commander in Dubai.

Aryeh Eldad, a right-wing member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, accused Britain of working against Israeli interests for decades - ever since it "betrayed" its promises to build a Jewish homeland when it governed Palestine under a League of Nations mandate.

"Both governments from the right and the left prefer Arab interests over Israeli interests," said Mr Eldad, whose father Israel was a leading figure in the Stern Gang, the most radical of the Jewish terror groups that fought British mandatory rule.

"The other layer is an ongoing, subtle form of anti-semitism. It is not as overt as it was in Germany, it is a quiet, polite form."

Some leading Jewish commentators in Britain disagreed. Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, minister of Maidenhead synagogue and a writer and broadcaster, said: "I am surprised at Peres. It is a sweeping statement that is far too one-sided.

"Britain has supported both Israel and Arab causes at different periods over the last 50 years. There are elements of anti-semitism but it is not endemic to British society.

"The tolerance and pluralism here make Britain one of the best countries in the world in which to live."

Mr Peres found support, however, from other pro-Israeli groups. Jacob Vince, the director of Christian Friends of Israel, said there was anti-semitism in the UK although many people had a positive view of Israel but were unwilling to express it publicly.

Mr Vince said it was "difficult to see how many MPs would not be influenced by the number of Muslim voters in their constituencies".

The Government was not treating Arabs as the underdogs but rather was trying to appease them, he said. "The question is how well they understand those with whom they are seeking conciliation."
Mr Peres is "measured and moderate," he added.

He said: "His comments have serious connotations and I am sure would not be said lightly."
One Israeli politician expressed disbelief that the doveish Mr Peres had launched such a broadside against the British.

Benny Begin, a cabinet minister whose father Menachem was prime minister and before that leader of Irgun, the group that killed 91 people in an attack on Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946, said: "Peres? I simply can't believe he said that."

The latest figures show that the number of anti-semitic incidents in Britain is rising, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity set up in 1984 to monitor such incidents.

The situation in Britain had worsened "significantly" in the past decade, a spokesman said.

In 2009 there were 924 anti-semitic incidents, the highest figure since CST began keeping records in 1984, and 55 per cent higher than the previous record in 2006.

The figures include reports, accepted only when backed by evidence, of physical assaults, verbal abuse and racist graffiti.

The monthly figure has soared from 10-20 incidents in the 1990s to 40-50 now.

Last year nearly half of the 924 anti-semitic race attacks recorded by the CST showed a political motivation, with 66 per cent of those including some reference to Israel and the Middle East.

A 2009 report by the US-based Anti-Defamation League found one in five Britons admitted Israel influences their opinion of British Jews, and the majority of those said that they felt "worse" about Jews than they used to. It found, however, that Britain was less anti-semitic than other European countries.

Islamists to boycott Jordan election

AMMAN - The powerful Islamist opposition has decided to boycott Jordan's November 9 general election, citing lack of government guarantees to ensure a fair poll, its leaders said on Friday.

"The shura (advisory) council recommended on Thursday that the Islamic Action Front (IAF) boycott the election because the government has failed to provide sufficient guarantees to make sure the polls will be fair and transparent," IAF official Hammam Said told AFP.

"There will be no independent body to monitor the election and we are not optimistic that the government will carry out some reforms and manage the process properly."

The IAF said the council's decision was "binding."

"The party is likely to approve the decision on Saturday. It's binding anyway because 90 percent of the party's members are members of the shura," former IAF secretary general Zaki Bani Rsheid told AFP.

"After fraud and vote buying in municipal and parliamentary elections in 2007, boycotting this year's poll is the right thing to do," said Bani Rsheid, a senior member of the IAF's executive committee.
The Islamists have complained that a new electoral law which Jordan endorsed in May was "targeting" them, after maintaining a controversial 1998 one-person-one-vote system, which critics say empowers pro-government hopefuls.

Critics say the new law reduces seats in urban areas, which are considered Islamist strongholds, and increases representation in rural areas seen as dominated by pro-government loyals.

Only six of the 22 candidates fielded by the IAF were victorious in Jordan's last general election in November 2007, and the party complained at the time of widespread vote-buying and fraud in some constituencies.

King Abdullah II dissolved parliament in November 2009 and called an election two years early, after several months of press criticism of the ineffectiveness and, in some cases, alleged corruption of MPs.

It was the second time the king has dissolved parliament early since he rose to the throne in 1999.

Islamist protesters in Pakistan burn effigy of David Cameron as diplomatic row grows

An effigy of David Cameron was burned by Islamist protesters in Karachi amid a diplomatic row between Downing Street and Pakistan.

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

Relations between Britain and Pakistan have been strained since Mr Cameron bluntly suggested during a visit to India that its Islamic neighbour was responsible for exporting terrorism.

About a dozen protesters from the Islamist group Shababe Milli yesterday burned an effigy of the Prime Minister outside the Karachi Press Club, chanting "Down with Cameron." One placard read: "Cameron - the loose mouth."

Pakistan PM hits back at Cameron's terror claim In London, Qaman Zaman Kaira, the Pakistan information minister, said that President Asif Ali Zardari will raise the issue during his official visit to Britain this week.

The developments came after it emerged that Lieutenant General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, head of Pakistan security agency Inter-Services Intelligence, called off a trip to London planned for next week when he had been due to discuss security co-operation with British intelligence.

Mr Cameron said during his India trip that Pakistan must not be allowed to "promote the export of terror whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world."

The Prime Minister later conceded Pakistan had made moves against terror organisations, but said "it still needs to take further steps".

Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's ambassador to Britain, called the comments "an immature reaction from an immature politician."

The Foreign Office declined to comment on Lt Gen Pasha's cancelled trip, saying it did not discuss intelligence matters.