Deadly floods bring Jakarta to near standstill

Updated 18 January 2013
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Deadly floods bring Jakarta to near standstill

JAKARTA: Waist-deep floods brought the Indonesian capital Jakarta to a standstill yesterday, with roads impassable and thousands of homes under water.
The muddy waters paralyzed the city, which is home to 20 million people and already notorious for its chaotic traffic. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was pictured in the whitewashed grounds of the presidential palace with his trousers rolled up to his knees.
“Jakarta is flooded, hopefully there won’t be too many victims,” he told photographers, ordering military, police, and disaster officials to ensure public safety.
The monsoonal floods had driven more than 19,000 people from their homes, according to Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, and reports said two people had been killed on Wednesday, a two-year-old boy who was swept away and a 46-year-old man who was electrocuted.
Some roads to the airport were blocked and while many businesses across the city were forced to close, traders at some markets remained open, piling clothes and goods out of reach of the dirty water.
In the heart of the city, luxury hotels and the French, German and British embassies were surrounded.
Motorists trying to avoid the deluge went off-road, driving along pavements and central reservations, and heading the wrong way down one-way streets. In some areas children punted rafts along the roads, which looked more like canals.
Office workers snapped photos of the snarling traffic, while commuters lofted their bags above their heads to wade through the waters, or hitched a lift on passing carts.
“Jakarta today is a huge swimming pool. Everyone’s playing in the rain, walking in the water and laughing. The downside is, I have no idea how to get home, I might have to walk back three hours,” 32-year-old administrative officer Yohanna, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name, told AFP.
Authorities raised the flood alert to its highest level early yesterday, national disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, describing the city as “besieged.”
“The situation could get worse in the coming days as the rain shows little sign of abating,” he told AFP.
But as rescuers rushed to evacuate residents, Welfare Ministry spokesman Tito Setiawan said the situation was “under control.”
“That’s our priority. We have sent out trucks and rafts to move victims whose homes were inundated to temporary shelters. We will also provide food, water and humanitarian aid,” he said.
Indonesia is regularly afflicted by deadly floods and landslides during its wet season, which lasts around half the year. Many in the capital live beside rivers that periodically overflow.


Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

Updated 23 June 2018
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Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

  • At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists
  • More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape

NEW DELHI: Police have made a series of arrests in connection with the abduction and rape at gunpoint of five anti-trafficking campaigners in the central Indian state of Jharkhand early this week.

Khunti police station officials, where the incident happened, told Arab News that three people have been arrested, including the head of the school where the play was being performed. 

Police superintendent Ashwini Kumar Sinha said a leader of a local movement called Pathalgadi instigated the accused, saying that the play performers were against the movement and should be taught a lesson. 

Pathalgadi is a political movement whose followers recognize their village councils as the only sovereign authority and views all outsiders suspiciously.

Activists working in the area say the incident has left them shocked and worried for their safety.

Earlier this week, nine activists were abducted while performing a street play in Kochang village and driven into a forest, where they were beaten and the women raped.

The activists were from the nonprofit organization Asha Kiran, which runs a shelter in the Khunti district for young women rescued from trafficking. Activists say that while such incidents are rare, the abductions have shaken the community.

“There is definitely fear now,” said Rajan Kumar, of Sinduartola Gramodaya Vikas Vidyalaya, a nonprofit group campaigning against people trafficking in the district. 

“But people have to work. We need to do more to take members of the village council into our confidence.”

Rajiv Ranjan Sinha, of the Jharkhand Anti-Trafficking Network, a coalition of 14 organizations, said the incident has frightened everyone.

“We’ve never had to face this before,” Sinha said. “But it will definitely have an implication. New people will be scared to go into the field.”

On Saturday, several non-profit organizations called for a silent protest march at 10 a.m. in the state capital Ranchi on Sunday.

At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists and to take seriously the issue of violence against women.

“We are not only NGO workers, but we are female also,” a spokeswoman said. “There is a lot of fear among workers now.”

India has a poor record of sexual violence against women — at least 39,000 cases were reported in 2016, the latest government data available. Activists say many more incidents go unreported.

The country changed its rape laws and introduced Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences legislation after the rape and murder of a 19-year-old student in December 2012 in the Indian capital.

More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the northern state of Kashmir.

The girl was kidnapped, drugged and raped in a temple where she was held captive for several days before being beaten to death.