Trump says arming teachers in schools ‘Up to States’

US President Donald Trump takes part in a “listening session” on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Trump says arming teachers in schools ‘Up to States’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is “Up to States.”
Trump heavily promoted the idea of putting “gun-adept” teachers and staff carrying concealed firearms in classrooms and schools to protect students following this month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them students.
He called for bonuses for educators who volunteer to carry a firearm, and said he also wanted action to strengthen background checks and boost the minimum age for the purchase of assault-style weapons.
Expectations were raised that Trump would propose federal legislation on arming teachers, but that no longer appeared to be the case.
“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again — a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States,” Trump tweeted.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the president’s tweet.
The White House has yet to release a complete plan to address school violence, including who would bear the financial cost, though Trump said during a telephone interview late Saturday with Fox News Channel that a proposal would be put forward “very soon.”
Trump said on Twitter that arming educators and paying their bonuses would be “very inexpensive.”
Asked on Thursday whether the federal government or state and local municipalities would pay the millions of dollars it would cost to train and arm teachers, White House spokesman Raj Shah said “the policy hasn’t been fleshed out,” adding “Do we really think that that’s too much to pay for school safety?“
Teachers and law enforcement organizations oppose the idea, while several states are considering arming teachers.
Trump spent several days this week hearing emotional pleas from parents and students, including some who survived the Parkland shooting, and others who had lost children in school shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. He also solicited input from state and local officials.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have said school safety will be a top agenda item when they meet with the nation’s governors next week.


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.