5-24-12 Links Roundup

Survivors of acid attacks whose plight became the focus of an Oscar-winning documentary now fear ostracism and reprisals if the film is broadcast in Pakistan.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history earlier this year when she won Pakistan’s first Oscar, feted across the country for exposing the horrors endured by women whose faces are obliterated in devastating acid attacks.

Her 40-minute film focuses on Zakia and Rukhsana as they fight to rebuild their lives after being attacked by their husbands, and British Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad who tries to help repair their shattered looks.

When Saving Face scooped a coveted gold statuette in the documentary category in Hollywood in February, campaigners were initially jubilant.

The Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF) had cooperated on the film but some survivors now fear a backlash in a deeply conservative society – and are taking legal action against the producers.

Policymakers see a range of reasons for the harassment, including language barriers faced by some Asian American students and a spike in racial abuse following the September 11, 2001 attacks against children perceived as Muslim.

“This data is absolutely unacceptable and it must change. Our children have to be able to go to school free of fear,” US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday during a forum at the Center for American Progress think-tank.

The research, to be released on Saturday, found that 54 percent of Asian American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, sharply above the 31.3 percent of whites who reported being picked on.

The figure was 38.4 percent for African Americans and 34.3 percent for Hispanics, a government researcher involved in the data analysis told AFP. He requested anonymity because the data has not been made public.

The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.

Some 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites. The researcher said more study was needed on why the problem is so severe among Asian Americans.

The survey by the international rights group mirrors two previous reports on the risks facing women and girls that had focused on California, where most of the nation’s farmworkers reside.

“Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: Sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworker women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work,” said the report.

An estimated 630,000 of the 3 million people who perform migrant and seasonal farm work are women. The federal government estimates that 60 percent of them are illegal immigrants.

“It’s easiest for abusers to get away with sexual harassment where there’s an imbalance of power, and the imbalance of power is particularly stark on farms,” the report’s author, Grace Meng, told The Associated Press.

It happened on one of those freakishly warm evenings in March that drove Chicagoans in droves to the lakefront and city parks.

Boyd and her friends were hanging out at Douglas Park near 15th and Albany when off-duty Police Officer Dante Servin, who lives in the area, allegedly drove up in a BMW and told the group to “shut up all that m—–f—— noise,” Sutton said witnesses told him.

Antonio Cross yelled back “f— you,” at which point Servin allegedly stuck a gun out of the window and opened fire, wounding Cross in the hand and shooting Boyd in the head.

Police officials initially claimed Cross had a gun, but no gun was found, and Cross has been charged with aggravated assault, a misdemeanor.

Forty days later, Sutton still does not know whether Servin will be charged with anything for shooting his sister in the head.

“Right now we are just waiting for an answer,” Sutton told me. “Everybody has told me that it’s under investigation. We are just playing a waiting game.”

The family has filed a civil suit against Servin and the city.

I’m all for political and social satire, but in a world where Arabs and Muslims are consistently relegated to the role of cab driver, convenience-store owner, terrorist or tyrant, the yawn factor has well and truly set in. Where there is humour, it seems primarily to be at our expense.
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I nearly fell off my chair when, a few years ago, Adam Sandler attempted to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with toilet humour in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. I approached with caution but because I loved Billy Madison I was willing to reserve judgment. Rob Schneider as a member of Hezbollah could have been funny. Unfortunately it was not. Arabs were, once again, the underdogs – primarily a subject of disdain or pity in all of Sandler’s cartoonish buffoonery, and terrorists, too.

Conversely, I nearly burst with excitement when I came across an independent film called Amreeka a couple of years ago. Written and directed by Palestinian-American Cherien Dabis, it told the tale of a Palestinian Christian woman moving to the US from the West Bank. It didn’t spew political drama or point fingers; it told humorously a sweet and empathetic story about facing life’s challenges with courage and heart.

I sat in a near empty cinema in tears, amazed that I was finally seeing something of my own life on screen.

Yet the typical one-dimensional approach to the stereotypical Arab is not confined to cinema.

On Tuesday at their upfronts presentation, Univision executives bragged about the network beating NBC during primetime on 195 nights last year.

“It’s all about content,” said Alberto Mier y Terán, senior VP and general manager for the Univision flagship stations in Los Angeles. “It’s producing relevant content to a population or to a viewer base that is growing faster than any other in this country.”

Though it’s the most viewed Spanish-language network in the U.S., Univision is not immune to the rapid changes in the age of new media.

Mier y Terán said innovation and collaboration are two key factors that the network keeps in mind when adapting to these changes and keeping strong audience numbers.

“You cannot ignore social media and you cannot ignore distributors on the Internet,” said Mier y Terán. “We are in talks with many of them to pursue content and distribution deals.”

After a 38-year battle, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has given Cape York traditional owners the land one of his predecessors would not let them buy.

In 1974, John Koowarta tried to buy the Archer River cattle station for the benefit of the Wik peoples, but was thwarted by then-premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who declared the area a national park.

Mr Koowarta was vindicated by the High Court in 1982, but it was not enough to overturn the original decision, and he died in 1991 without seeing the fruits of his labours.

Mr Newman travelled to Coen on Tuesday to hand over the 75,000-hectare parcel of land, fulfilling Anna Bligh’s 2010 promise to do so.

Mr Newman said traditional owners had been wronged.

“Thirty-five years ago a great injustice was done,” he said.

“Today we put that right. So again, my apologies to those who have suffered.”

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