Australia college probed for ‘banning girls from running’

Updated 23 April 2015

Australia college probed for ‘banning girls from running’

MELBOURNE: A college in Australia is under investigation after claims that its principal has banned girls from taking part in running competitions because they might “lose their virginity.”
Victoria state Education Minister James Merlino said Thursday that if true, the claims made by a former teacher at Melbourne’s Al-Taqwa College “would be very concerning.”
“I have asked the schools regulator, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, to investigate,” he said in a statement.
The former teacher wrote to government ministers this week alleging “the principal (Omar Hallak) holds beliefs that if females run excessively, they may ‘lose their virginity’,” The Age newspaper said.
“The principal believes that there is scientific evidence to indicate that if girls injure themselves, such as break their leg while playing soccer, it could render them infertile.”
Hallak denied the allegations late Thursday in a statement and said girls were “encouraged to participate in all activities,” subject to parental consent.
“We do not believe that running excessively may cause female students to lose their virginity or that sporting injuries could render them infertile,” the statement added, according to the newspaper.
The statement did not directly address claims that girls from the college’s primary school had been blocked from taking part in some district events.
The Age published a letter that appeared to be written by the college’s cross-country team to Hallak challenging his decision to reportedly stop the primary school’s team from competing in events in 2013 and 2014.
“Just because we are girls doesn’t mean we can’t participate in running events,” the letter said, adding that the decision was “really offensive to all the girls that were going to participate.”
“It also doesn’t say that girls can’t run in the hadith. As long as us girls are wearing appropriate clothes we can run.”
Al-Taqwa College is believed to be Victoria state’s largest Islamic school and had 1,701 students enrolled last year, according to government data.
It is not the first time Hallak has made headlines.
The principal told The Age last month that he had instructed students not to join Islamic State as the group was a plot by Israel and the United States to gain control of Middle Eastern oil.
He added that killing innocent people was not “the Islamic way.”
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne reportedly wrote to the school seeking an explanation for Hallak’s IS comments.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 03 August 2020

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.