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Iqbal Ebrahim

Some years ago this column had touched on this topic when it expressed concern at the alarming rate and almost spiralling out of control violence perpetrated against women.

Since then things have not changed in fact they have gotten worse. A recent report to the National Assembly by the Hon. Minister Shaw Kgathi contained the shocking report that between 2012 and 2014, there were 6167 reported rape cases against women and children – that translates to 2000 per annum – almost 5 people per day!

With these horrendous statistics each and every one of us regardless of our religious, cultural, political and ethnic background should be expressing serious concern. This concerns our women, be it our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and other members of the female gender – but lately even innocent children have been targeted and are no longer safe from it.

This violence against women and children seems to have spiralled out of control and has reached alarming and unacceptable proportions so much so that it has become a serious social problem. There are various types of violence; mental, emotional, psychological, verbal, physical, and increasingly that of rape.

Women are special to each and every one of us, because without a mother we would not have been on this earth or in existence. We all owe our existence to the Lord, but after all through His Mercy we were brought into being into this world through the intervention and process of birth by a woman, so how can we denigrate her in this manner?

They deserve our respect, love and attention. A Quranic verse captures it well: ‘Among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts (Quran 30: 21) ‘The Believers, men and women are protectors, one of the other; they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil’ (Quran 9: 71). And: ‘…. (O Believers!) Live with them (i.e., the wives) on a footing of kindness and equity’ (Quran 4: 19).

The Bible says, "God created man in his own image … male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27).

Not a day goes by without us reading how the rights of women are being violated when they are beaten up, raped or even killed up by their spouses, live-in partners, boyfriends and some deviant elements of society. Of late more frighteningly is that more and more do we hear that children as young as four years and even grandmothers in their 70’s are being abused and even suffer rape.

In some societies the violent abuse of one partner by the other is for some reason pushed to side lines because of so-called cultural, traditional and societal barriers hence we relegate it to a domestic issue a label it a ‘private affair’, so, not for discussion. The simple fact is that many women suffer from serious domestic violence and are silently crying out for help.

Readers may wonder why this subject is being tackled, but the unaffected person will never understand or know the gravity and depth of the physical, emotional, mental and psychological scars that will haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These scars are not only limited to the victims but can stretch across their family, friends and acquaintances.

Many a victim will be so emotionally devastated that they may even consider suicide. Rape is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed against a woman, it is soul destroying, it carries with it deep emotional and psychological scars that will never heal.

Islam accords the woman honour and dignity, and requires that she be treated with respect; as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "the Believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behaviour, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives."

There are some countries that practice Shariah Law which prescribes capital punishment for a convicted rapist. Some non-Muslims may be horrified at such a stringent punishment in this day and age, they would say it is ruthless and barbaric.

Here I run the risk of some who will not hesitate to jump onto the band wagon and accuse me of being a ‘religious fundamentalist‘; To those I say an emphatic NO, I am not suggesting ‘Shariah’ law, what I am saying is that we need stringent laws that preserve and protect the dignity, sanctity and honour of women, first and foremost.   .  

The Bible also says in Deuteronomy 22: 25 -27 "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is betrothed, and the man forces her and lay with her, then the man who lay with her shall be put to death.”  

To those who may think this action is barbaric, suppose God-forbid; someone rapes your wife, your mother, your sister, your daughter or grandmother. Even worse what if the rapist is HIV positive and infects the woman?  If you were to be the judge and the rapist is brought before of you, what punishment would you give him? I am sure most people would say, ‘put him to death’, and without doubt some victims and their families would say, ‘give him to us, we would want to beat him up first and then put him to death’.

Therefore as society we should agitate and push for very heavy penalties for the rapists. What we need to do is to ensure that the punishment for this crime must be so strict that the perpetrators of these crimes will not only think twice but must also face and suffer the consequences of their dastardly deeds. Some countries offenders can undergo a process of ‘chemical castration’, in other words the offender is rendered harmless through the use of chemicals injected into him – simply put even Viagra would not help.

We cannot allow women and children to be abused in this manner – There must be an urgent meeting called to discuss this very pressing issue of the abuse of women in all its forms. This must be led by our political and traditional leaders calling together the religious organisations and the women’s and other concerned organisations.

Men should also stand up and be counted and show their support to the womenfolk – after all the vast majority of the violence and rapes are perpetrated by men, therefore we should not only be standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with women but should be leading the fight against these evil practices.  We need to get out the message that society will never allow women to be treated in this vile manner by agitating for sterner measures against these perpetrators to be put into place.

We cannot dodge this critical issue that keeps reminding us of the horrors that our women folk face on a daily basis. We have to make it known that we are willing to defend the dignity of our women and children.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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