Parents in Arab world warned over cyberbullying threat

People use computers at an Internet cafe in China on June 20, 2007. Japan has over 38,000 unofficial middle and high school Web sites that are not overseen by the schools, and harassment, sexual content, and violent slang are prevalent among them, one survey showed. (Reuters)
Updated 15 August 2017
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Parents in Arab world warned over cyberbullying threat

LONDON: Parents across the Middle East have been told to remain vigilant after a study in the UK found that almost half of all girls in the country had been victims of cyberbullying.
The survey conducted for children’s charity Plan International UK involved 1,002 children between the ages of 11 and 18. While the results illustrated that all children can be targeted by online abuse, it highlighted the particular threat girls face.
The study found that 48 percent of girls had experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media. A total of 29 percent admitted to receiving abusive messages from someone they know in person, and 22 percent said they had received abusive comments on a status or photo they had posted.
This has led to calls for parents across the Arab world to watch out for similar hijacking of social media to target girls in the region.
Ashjan Al-Ananzeh, head of advocacy and communications at the Jordanian Commission for Women, told Arab News that social media being used as a vehicle to peddle sexist hate was a growing worry. The biggest issue right now, she said, was that the victims do not report such abuse.
“Victims tend not to talk about it, they stay silent. We are doing workshops about online abuse and what to watch out for on social media,” Al-Ananzeh said.
“We have to train girls about what to be aware of and how to deal with it. It’s difficult to say whether (the number being bullied online) is rising, there are no statistics about it and the victims don’t speak.”
Al-Ananzeh said that dealing with the problem partly revolves around the cultural differences between the West and the Middle East. For example, images that would be considered normal in Europe might be thought of as unacceptable to some in the Arab world. Girls who had been victims of cyberbullying might not just feel embarrassment and shame — they may also face being punished or ostracized by family and friends should they speak openly about it.
“We are raising awareness, trying to tell women and girls to break the silence,” Al-Ananzeh added.
“Girls have to tell people, whether it be the police, the women’s complaints office we have here, their mother or family, or someone they trust if they feel too ashamed or feel they cannot tell their family.
“We have to be more open-minded and to let people know what’s right and what’s wrong and increase awareness.
“Our mandate is to increase awareness for women’s rights.”
A Kaspersky Lab and B2B International study conducted in the UAE in 2015 found that 40 percent of parents were worried about cyberbullying, with 48 percent reported to have intervened to protect their child from online abuse.
Last year, a BBC investigation found that there was an alarmingly high number of cases of women in the Middle East being shamed or even blackmailed with private and sometimes sexually explicit images. It also revealed the difficulty in persuading victims to speak up, such is the conservative nature of the region.
Louay Zreiqat, a police officer in the West Bank, told the BBC that the Palestinian police cybercrime unit handled 502 online crimes in 2015, many of which involved private pictures of women.
“Sometimes the photos are not sexual, a photo of a girl not wearing a hijab could be scandalous. A man could use this photo to pressure the girl to send more photos,” he was reported as saying.


Conservative U.S. commentator Charles Krauthammer dies

This is the final verdict, my fight is over, wrote Krauthammer on June 8. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Conservative U.S. commentator Charles Krauthammer dies

  • Krauthammer was a fixture on the Fox News Channel as well as on editorial pages of the Washington Post and other US newspapers
  • The cause of death was cancer of the small intestine

WASHINGTON: Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Krauthammer, who gave up a psychiatric career to become one of the leading conservative political commentators in the US media, died on Thursday at the age of 68, the Washington Post and Fox News said.
Krauthammer was a fixture on the Fox News Channel as well as on editorial pages of the Washington Post and other US newspapers.
His work had been curtailed since having an abdominal tumor removed last August and in an open letter on June 8 he said doctors told him that he had only a few weeks to live due to a recurrence of the cancer. “This is the final verdict,” he wrote. “My fight is over.”
The cause of death was cancer of the small intestine, his son, Daniel Krauthammer, told the Post.
Less than a month earlier, Krauthammer had told a Fox colleague that the worst appeared to be behind him.
Krauthammer, who in 1972 was left paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming pool accident while attending Harvard Medical School, was known for a dour expression, wry humor and sharp intellect.
He was a regular on Fox’s weeknight show “Special Report,” and also wrote a column that was syndicated to hundreds of newspapers.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend ... A gifted doctor and brilliant political commentator, Charles was a guiding voice throughout his time with Fox News and we were incredibly fortunate to showcase his extraordinary talent on our programs,” Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News, said in a statement.
Krauthammer gave mixed reviews to President Donald Trump, questioning his “loud and bombastic” approach to the job and calling him a charlatan while praising actions such as withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
He had been a leading critic of President Barack Obama and what Krauthammer perceived as his “social democratic agenda,” while supporting George W. Bush’s intervention in the Middle East. He also liked President Ronald Reagan’s stand against communism and popularized the term “Reagan Doctrine” to describe it.
Krauthammer was born in New York City on March 13, 1950, and grew up there and in Montreal, Canada. During his 14-month recovery from the diving accident, Krauthammer kept up his studies from his hospital bed and graduated on schedule from medical school in 1975. He then worked as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, also studying manic depression.
In 1978, Krauthammer moved to Washington to work in psychiatric research for the administration of Jimmy Carter, who he later would call a failed president, and drifted away from psychiatry. He became a speechwriter for Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, before writing opinion pieces for The New Republic and Time magazine.
He joined the Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987. In 2006, the Financial Times named him the most influential commentator in the United States.
“I leave this life with no regrets,” Krauthammer wrote in his farewell statement. “It was a wonderful life ... I am sad to leave but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”
In a Fox News special about his life, Krauthammer said he never dwelled on the day he hit the bottom of a swimming pool with his head, severing his spinal cord.
“I made one promise to myself on day one — I was not going to allow it to alter my life,” he said. “On the big things in life, the direction of my life, what I was going to do, that wouldn’t change at all.”
Besides his son, Krauthammer is survived by his wife, Robyn, who he met while studying at Oxford before medical school.