Archive for April, 2011

The number of divorce cases filed with the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) is on the rise for disparate reasons, including infidelity, torture and disagreement, with women filing most of the cases.

The husbands seeking divorce usually cite disagreement with and infidelity and disobedience of their wives as reasons, while wives generally accuse their husbands of irresponsibility and, in some cases, torturing them.

A young girl, who lives in Rampura area of the capital city, said her husband’s extra-marital affairs had prompted her to seek divorce about two years ago. “I did not want a divorce as I was pregnant at that time but my family insisted on getting divorce, considering my future.”

According to DCC officials, the number of divorce cases has increased in recent years, with nearly 26 divorce cases being filed on an average
every day.

The number of divorce notices submitted to the DCC was 5,324 in 2007, which increased to 7,065 in 2008. The number of cases filed was nearly 6,000 in both 2009 and 2010, the officials added.

“There has been 1,493 divorce notices filed in the first three months of the current year. There are days when as many as 26 notices are received,” said Abdur Rashid, the receiving officer at the DCC dispatch department.

He said nearly 80% of the divorce notices were served by the wives.

The Muslim family laws ordinance, 1961 empowers women to exercise the right to serve divorce notice to husband.

DCC regional executive officer A K M Aminul Islam said after receiving a divorce notice, they send one notice each in the following three months to both the parties to be present at a hearing to settle their disputes without going for divorce, if possible.

“If both the parties fail to be present at the hearing on the three consecutive notice dates, the divorce automatically comes into effect,” Aminul added.

Shamim F Karim, a professor of psychology at Dhaka University, said many issues were related to the increase in the rate of divorces in Dhaka city.

She said that, in most cases, the woman’s family now even did not ask for the dowry from the husband as they only wanted to ensure that the woman would not be subjected to torture by her husband on that ground.

Besides, with rapid urbanisation in Bangladesh, the tradition of joint family is becoming weaker, leading to less interference in settling disputes between husband and wife, Shamim pointed out.

Information commissioner Sadeka Halim, also a sociology teacher at Dhaka University, said women never went for divorce willingly. “Giving importance to social values, no woman wants to send divorce notice to her husband but they now are going for it as they have, at least, a choice to live as single mothers,” Sadeka added.

She also pointed out that women from the higher and middle classes only came to the city corporation with divorce notices, while a large number of lower class women remained unaccounted for.

“Urban women from low income group, particularly garment workers and domestic helps, have more than one marriages on temporary contract basis, usually called social marriage, to have some sort of security,” she said, adding that these women never come to file divorce notices with the DCC.

(Source: Gulf Times)

BRUSSELS: Three-quarters of Europe’s children have a profile on a social networking website, while one in five under 13 manage to dodge Facebook’s age restriction, a survey showed Monday.

Some 77 percent of children 13 to 16 years old, and another 38 percent aged between nine and 12, are plugged into a wide range of social networking websites across Europe, said the survey released by the European Commission.

One quarter of them have set their accounts to “public” view, meaning that everyone can see their profiles, making them targets for child predators, the European Union’s executive arm cautioned.

Neelie Kroes, the commissioner in charge of Internet issues, called on social networking firms to make the profiles of children only accessible to their approved contacts by default and make them invisible to search engines.

“Growing numbers of children are on social networking sites but many are not taking all necessary steps to protect themselves online,” she said.

“These children are placing themselves in harm’s way, vulnerable to stalkers and groomers.”

The rate of 13 to 16 year olds with social networking profiles is high in western Europe, especially Scandinavian countries: 92 percent in Norway, 89 percent in Denmark, 88 percent in Britain and 82 percent in France.

At 70 percent, the Netherlands is the country with the most children under 13 with a social networking account, with France at the bottom of the list at 25 percent.

The survey, conducted by EUKidsOnline network, found that Facebook is by far the most popular friends-connection website in 17 out of 25 European countries, used by 57 percent of nine to 16 year olds.

Despite an age restriction, 20 percent of nine- to 12-year-olds surveyed said they have a Facebook account.

On its private policy page, Facebook says that if it learns that it collected personal information from a child under 13, it will delete it “as quickly as possible.”

(Source: AFP)

Sugarcane grown to power Brazil’s cars and trucks as an alternative to climate-warming fossil fuels has a beneficial side effect: it also cools the local air temperature, scientists reported Sunday.

Researchers warned that this does not mean replacing Amazon forest or other natural vegetation with sugarcane fields. The benefit comes when sugarcane is introduced into existing agriculture, replacing pasture land or crops like soybeans.

Sugarcane manages this win-win feat by its ability to reflect sunlight and to “sweat” out cooling moisture into the air, said lead researcher Scott Loarie of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Plants draw moisture from the soil and emit it into the air in the process of photosynthesis, Loarie said by telephone, and sugarcane is particularly efficient at making this transfer of cooling moisture.

“We showed that with sugarcane, it was these evaporative cooling effects that were much more significant than the albedo (reflectivity),” he said, speaking of research published online in Nature Climate Change.

Sugarcane is used in biofuel that powers about a quarter of the motor vehicles in Brazil, and in that way, it helps to keep some of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which affects global climate.

However, because of its efficiency at emitting cool moisture, it also can push down local temperatures by 1.67 degrees F (0.93 degrees C) compared to other crops or pasture.

Planting sugarcane still does not cool down the air as much as other crops and pasture warm it when they replace natural vegetation. The researchers found this local warming effect was 2.79 degrees F (1.55 degrees C).

One advantage of sugarcane planting for biofuels in Brazil is that it shortens what is known as the carbon payback time.

This is a way of calculating how long it will take to get excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere after it is emitted, Loarie said.

“If we cut down a hectare of Amazon forest, how much carbon are we releasing into the atmosphere and how much time is it going to take before we take that carbon out of the atmosphere?” he said. “How long will it take us to make that back, to substitute fossil fuels with the renewable fuels we’re going to grow?”

In places like the Amazon, he said, the carbon payback times can stretch to 60 years. But in much of Brazil, because sugarcane is such a productive form of energy, the carbon payback times are “only a couple of years,” he said.

There are caveats to using sugarcane as fuel, even in Brazil. Growing sugarcane does not address questions of waning biodiversity or possible water scarcity, and would not necessarily be able to stretch across the country’s central cerrado, or savanna, without irrigation.

The researchers stressed that sugarcane’s benefits are contingent on planting it on land that is already being used for farming, not in places converted from natural vegetation.

(Source: Reuters)

More than half of respondents to a recent poll suggested that it is currently a “good time to be in the Middle East” with 65.1% of those surveyed expressing their positive sentiments about job and economic prospects in the region at the moment.

The poll series, ‘Change and Challenge in the Middle East Job Market: How is it Viewed?’ was conducted online between March and April by job site, Bayt.com, using a sample of 9,708 respondents from across the Middle East, explained a spokesperson.
While 42.2% of respondents said that they believe now is a better time than ever before, 22.9% said it was as good as any other, as opposed the 24.9% who suggested it was not a good time.

Following recent events in the region, 56% of people in post-revolution Egypt said they expect improvements, while across the Middle East, 50% said they anticipate positive developments after the uprisings.

Asked where blame for unemployment lies, 47.1% blamed their governments, 7.3% the private sector, 5.2% the education sector, 6.3% blamed individuals themselves whilst a third suggested that all applied.

Bayt.com sales vice president Amer Zureikat said: “The results of our most recent poll showed that despite recent changes occurring in different parts of the region, the Middle East is still considered to be a great place to live and work.”

“The report also indicated several changes that governments should be considering in order to improve their country’s employment – in light of the recent turmoil, I believe we will be seeing a lot more of these come to light,” he added.

Respondents also suggested that governments could improve employment by creating public sector jobs, fostering a better business atmosphere, creating jobs in the education sector, improving labour laws, preventing corruption and improving transparency, with almost half suggesting that all of the above could be carried out to improve employment opportunities in their country.

“Very interestingly, the vast majority of the region’s respondents (59.3%) also felt that there were many highly qualified professionals and few good jobs which could indicate that the region does in fact need to create more employment through more transparent means,” added Zureikat.

However, the overall message of the poll was positive, as 65.1% of respondents said they are hopeful about career prospects, and 64.7% expressed optimism about their countries’ economies.

Respondents also expressed their belief that the internet is helping employment, with 32.5% saying it helps to a huge extent, 22.7% saying it moderately helps and 44.8% stating it slightly helps.

(Source: Gulf Times)

Divorces cases among Qataris have risen during the past few years, according to a study.
The study was carried out by Qatari researcher Dr. Kaltham al-Ghanim of Qatar University. She told a seminar that  divorce cases among Qataris  rose from 36%  in 2007 to 41% in 2009.
The researcher found that the average age of first marriage  among Qatari females ranged between 20 and 24 while it ranged between 25 and 29 for males. The age of the first marriage was much less than in the neighbouring countries, she said.
The choice of the other half has to do with family, economic considerations while the individual’s choice came last.
She said divorce usually took place after encouragement from the parents.
According to official figures, in 2007 there were 355 girls aged from 15 to 19 and 926 aged from 20 to 24 got married .
The average age difference between the Qatari husband and wife was three years, against five years in the neighbouring countries.
The marriages among relatives were 48% of the cases and half of these cases were first-degree and that can cause diseases for the children born to them.
The divorce figures in the Qatari countryside were less than in the urban centres. That has to do with the independence tendencies of women in those areas.
The divorce among the ages 20 to 24 constituted 53% of the entire cases and in the ages between 25 and 29, the percentage was 36%.
Some 41% of the Qatari women divorced in 2009 were holders of high school degree against 21% for those who have university certificates.
The divorce generally among Qataris took place in the early stages of the marriage, the researcher said.

(Source: Gulf Times)

Aroma therapy is the use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well being. Although the term aroma therapy was not used until the 20th century, the foundations of aroma therapy dates back thousands of years. The use of essential oils in particular date back nearly one thousand years. Aroma therapy can be the holistic approach for day-today problems.

The Chinese were one of the first cultures to use aromatic plants for well-being. Their practices involved burning incense to help create harmony and balance. Later, the Egyptians invented a rudimentary distillation machine that allowed for the crude extraction of cedar wood oil. It is also thought by some that Persia and India may have also invented crude distillation machines, but very little is known.

The trend today is going back to nature. People prefer to use natural, safe and effective products for holistic health. The pure essences of aromatic plants have been valued for thousands of years for their health giving properties. Essential oils are one of the great untapped resources of the world. By taking essential oils into our lives we find a way to provide our family and home with the protection and pleasure they need without polluting ourselves or our environment with chemicals.

Oils of cedar wood, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and myrrh were used by the Egyptians to embalm the dead. When a tomb was opened in the early 20th century, traces of the herbs were discovered with intact portions of the body. The scent, although faint, was still apparent. Although the cedar wood that the Egyptians used was distilled by a crude distillation process, the other oils they used were most likely infused oils.

The Egyptians also used infused oils and herbal preparations for spiritual, medicinal, fragrant and cosmetic use. It is thought that the Egyptians coined the term perfume, from the Latin word per fumum, which translates as “through the smoke”.

Egyptian men of the time used fragrance as readily as the women. An interesting method that the men used to fragrance themselves was to place a solid cone of perfume on their heads. It would gradually melt and would cover them in fragrance.

The Greeks learned a great deal from the Egyptians, but Greek mythology apparently credits the gift and knowledge of perfumes to the gods. The Greeks also recognised the medicinal and aromatic benefits of plants. Hippocrates, commonly called the “father of medicine” practiced fumigations for both aromatic and medicinal benefit. A Greek perfumer by the name of Megallus created a perfume called megaleion. Megaleion included myrrh in a fatty-oil base and served several purposes: for its aroma, for its anti-inflammatory properties towards the skin and to heal wounds.

The Roman Empire built upon the knowledge of the Egyptians and Greeks. Discorides wrote a book called De Materia Medica that described the properties of approximately 500 plants. It is also reported that Discorides studied distillation. Distillation during this period, however, focused on extracting aromatic floral waters and not essential oils.

A major event for the distillation of essential oils came with the invention of a coiled cooling pipe in the 11th century. Persian by birth, Avicenna invented a coiled pipe which allowed the plant vapour and steam to cool down more effectively than previous distillers that used a straight cooling pipe. Avicenna’s contribution led to more focus on essential oils and their benefits. Essential oils in aroma therapy are composed of tiny molecules, which are mixed with a base oil/gel/lotion to trap its effectiveness. When the oil/gel/lotion is applied to the skin its molecules penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream. As these highly volatile aromatic essences evaporate they are also inhaled.

The aroma then enters the body via millions of cells that line the nasal passages transmitting messages straight to the brain and working on the limbic system, which controls the major functions of the body. Essential oils enhance both your physical and psychological well-being. These oils are potentially powerful enough to activate the body’s own innate self-healing ability.

From the late 20th century and on into the 21st century, there is a growing resurgence to utilise more natural products including essential oils for therapeutic, cosmetic and aromatic benefit. The use of essential oils never ceased, but the scientific revolution minimised the popularity and use of essential oils in one’s everyday life. Today’s heightened awareness regarding the use of synthetics coupled with the increased availability of aroma therapy information within books and the Internet has refuelled the use of essential oils for therapeutic, cosmetic, fragrant and spiritual use.

Adoption is not like selling property. It is about safeguarding the future of a human being who, because of his young age, cannot express any opinion. We can see its roots in the Biblical era. Aristotle, the great philosopher; and Moses, the Biblican leader, were adopted. Leo Tolstoy, writer; Edgar Allan Poe, poet; Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher; and many others were adopted.

Even though adoptive parents are many, now the trend is adoption by many personalities and celebrities from the field of film — Angelina Jolie, Brooke Adams, Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Tom Cruise, Stephen Speilberg, President Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney to name a few adopters. The trend to adopt children is on the rise. Pop diva Madonna adopted a 13-month-old boy, from Malawi. But rather than praise, the entire episode fetched her criticism. Already a mother of two children, with daughter Lourdes and son Rocco, she adopted David Banda, from an orphanage in Malawi. She along with her husband, film maker Guy Ritchie, successfully got an interim adoption order from the Malawi High Court. The world described her action as the “worst kept secret” and termed it as not only “deplorable” but also as “deceitful.” Her action has set off a media storm worldwide.

Though Malawian Law prohibits adoption by non-residents, it does not completely restrict it. It has set guidelines for inter-country adoptions by which people wishing to adopt children are required to spend 18-months being evaluated by Malawian Child Welfare Workers. They will interview the prospective adopters about their relationship, living conditions and past relationships. Despite the set rules, Madonna was able to adopt a child in just two weeks and prove right what George Orwell has said: “All (animals) are equal, but some (animals) are more equal than others”! Everyone can easily know that she doesn’t fulfill the set guidelines. Madonna’s life of erotic and pornographic dancing is an open secret and no one can ever forget her numerous dates.

When Madonna went to Africa, she vehemently denied that she wanted to adopt a child from there. She said that her visit was at the request of “Eye of the Child”, a child rights group in Malawi, which wanted her to fund existing programmes in the country to help vulnerable children. But
contrary to this, she came out of the country with a cute black child. Madonna pledged $3 million to a Malawi charity, which aims to provide care and support for the country’s one million (out of a total population of 12 million) orphans. The generosity of the “Material Girl” is not that big a deal, for her fortune is estimated to be $460 million. Even though she says she will give it a better life, in reality she’s not doing a favour to the child. The child needs a family not a saviour in the form of a celebrity. The money spent on the adoption and the child himself could have been spent to help many other children in Malawi.

But the action of celebrities is just an example of the power of their rampant ego. Actress Mia Farrow has adopted 10 children from developing countries since 1970s. Then Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were also planning to adopt a child, and this time an Indian baby. The couple who are in India for filming Jolie’s latest movie, A Mighty Heart based on Daniel Pearl, journalist of Wall Street Journal, hoped to be able to return home with an adopted Indian child by Christmas. “Whichever they end up with, boy or girl, they’d like to name the child “India” to honour its homeland, reported US magazine Globe.

Jolie and Pitt had three children already — Maddox, adopted from a Cambodian orphanage in 2002, Zahara Marley Jolie, Ethiopian baby girl, adopted in 2005, and their biological daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, who was born in May, 2006. Jolie had quoted in the past, “I want to create a rainbow family, that’s children of different religions and cultures from different countries.”

Only Madonna could answer questions like why she did not adopt a child who was an orphan and why she didn’t pledge to personally support David’s father and other remaining family members to get David out of an orphanage so that he remained in Malawi. Madonna could spend a part of her fortune on poor and developing countries if she really wanted to help them. There is no second opinion that she could not do it. While everyone is concerned about adoption, has anyone thought about the emotional problems which it faces as it starts growing up? Jolie referred to the “Rainbow Family” of different cultures and colours. But at the end, they will be left with only with original complexion and not their original culture. All the adopted children will be brought up in a Western milieu and there will be no space for ethnicity or roots. They will become alien to both the countries and cultures. Jolie wants to have a family with different cultures but in reality, will it be possible to retain the original culture? If so, the children may fight over their complexion — dark versus light.

Family bonding is also different from that enjoyed in the developing and poor countries. The warmth and so-called affection found in a close knit family may become a hindrance in their growth and emotional set-up. A mother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart, but when asked in the television interview if Madonna would retire to focus on her children full time, she replied, “No. I love my job.”

When the celebrities are thronging the under developed countries to adopt children, Harvey Gallagher of the “British Association for Adopting and Fostering” said in an interview to CNN, “There are many children who have benefited from inter-country adoption, but we would like to remind people that there are also as many as 4,000 children across the UK right now who are waiting for permanent and loving homes.”

Let celebrities adopt and give a new life to children, but let them adopt from their own countries. If they really mean to help the poor orphans in the under-developed countries, let them part with a small portion of their fortune and help children to retain their roots in their own mother land.

Parched throats and dust smeared bodies seeking food, exhausted and with ceaseless moans “these have become a part and parcel of survival”. The number of casualties is increasing due to privation and starvation. They not only lack basic amenities like food, clothing and shelter but also compassion. The countless have-nots comprising starving, shrivelled skeletal beings are a substantial number in African and under developed countries. There are many poor hands worldwide which forage in garbage to fill empty stomachs.

The lifestyle of the international glitterati in contrast is the other face of the same coin. The number is increasing geometrically as the disparity between those who have and those who don’t widens. While the poor and destitute with their tummies touching their backbones worry about getting food and struggle to cover their naked bodies, the celebs spend lavishly to get themselves skinny, always worrying about reducing their tummies, and enthusiastically busy filling their wardrobes with skimpy attire.

Everybody including the paparazzi is concerned about what the celebrities do, eat and wear. Their sympathies always stay with the posh and the grand and not with the destitutes. The world worried about Victoria Beckham’s weight after she gave birth to her first son, Brooklyn. Her weight has always sparked concern, even now womenfolk take her as a role model to decrease weight. Ladies want their waistline to be like that of Posh Spice (23 inches), the same as same as her seven year old son’s. The fair sex reportedly blew 4,395 Euros in 10 minutes on shoes and Tshirts, recently in Baden-Baden, where the England team was based in Germany for the World Cup football tournament.

When the men were playing football, the WAGS (wives and girl-friends) kept themselves busy. When the English side lost the match to Portugal and it returned empty-handed from the tournament, the WAGS did not. They emptied the designer boutiques of the genteel town. Creations by Dolace and Gabbana, Prada and Versace made their way to their overflowing wardrobes. They stayed at the Brenner’s Park Hotel paying £1,000 per day. The spa town reportedly had never seen anything like it, for the women rang up a bill of thousands of pounds in late-night bars after downing bottles of Moet champagne followed by glasses of vodka and Red Bull.

Baden-Baden was swamped by the arrival of these women with their designer handbags, dresses, shoes etc. It seemed as if they were competing in the fashion stakes while observing who could drink and spend the most. Six of the WAGS, including Posh Spice, and coach Sven Goran Eriksson’s flamboyant girl friend Nancy Dell.Orio, spent 80,000 Euros in one hour in the town’s luxury boutiques. Posh, wife of Beckham (Victoria) seemed content to just “Spend It Like Beckham”.

Like the WAGS, there are many celebrities who spend lavishly. They have a penchant for splurging and get a real adrenalin high from paying for expensive things. Posh Victoria and Paris Hilton reportedly pay upto 1,000 Euros for their hair extensions, and Jennifer Lopez often pays around £ 3000 to get her hair done.

While the jet set was lavishly spending, at the same time the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had announced a need of nearly $43 million to respond to the needs of women and children in the drought-hit Africa where some 200,000 of about one million children suffer from acute malnutrition. Further, in the torrential rains which caused flash floods in several pastoral areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Erithrea and Dijibouti, people lost their homes and livelihoods taking the malnutrition levels far beyond the thresholds of emergency. Even if celebrities decide to donate one day’s worth of their lavish spending on organisations struggling to succour women and children, they can definitely bring new hope to the needy. The amount spent on a single designer dress or a handbag can really mean a lot to the destitute in need of food and shelter. Even if celebrities don’t guzzle for a single day and donate the same amount to a cause, many starvation deaths can be prevented.

India is facing the problem of a wide gap between the haves and have nots. While people who lavishly spend at one end form the minority, the poor and middle class families constitute the major chunk of the population. Many people complete their life cycle by a mere dream of having basic amenities. There are many middle-class families who eagerly wait for the salary and save like ants to fulfil their long cherished wish and are yet unable to realise it. Countries like India would have been in a better position had they received a helping hand from such celebrities.

Though the wide gap between the “haves and have-nots” cannot be narrowed, an attempt should be made to give the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing to the deprived by those who can afford to do so.