Tag Archives: Child / Youth Problems

An Australian coronavirus outbreak raises concerns over online child sex abuse | Instant News

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Australian police on Tuesday warned of “bad” online predators targeting new child victims after a surge in corona virus infection that put the country’s second largest city under partial locking.

The Australian health authority said it would take weeks to tame the COVID-19 outbreak after hundreds of new cases were reported in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne was partially locked.

The steps encourage Australian federal police to urge parents to ensure their children are not victims of “dangerous online predators”, after cases of abuse surged during national lockdown in March.

Traffic to websites containing online child sexual abuse content skyrocketed during previous lockouts and such material posted on the dark web doubled, police said.

“We suspect that the perpetrators will use the second wave of COVID-19 as an opportunity to find more potential child victims, because young people spend more time online with limited adult supervision,” said police commander Jamie Strauss.

“Our message to online criminals has not changed – if you obtain, access and send child abuse material, you will be found, arrested and prosecuted,” he added in a statement.

From Europe to Asia, cases of child sexual abuse online have surged during coronavirus locking because children spend more time online, making them more vulnerable to abusers.

In Australia, child exploitation has increased in recent years. Nearly 22,000 cases were reported between July 2019 and June 2020, up nearly 50% from last year, official figures show.

“Sex offenders are always online, that’s their playground,” said Karen Flanagan, head of Australian child protection at the charity Save the Children.

“But COVID-19 might give them access to new groups of children who previously did not spend much time online,” he said last week, urging more parental supervision.

State authorities in Victoria reported on Tuesday 374 new COVID-19 cases, up from 275 on Monday, reducing hopes of slowing infection two weeks after nearly 5 million people were told to stay at home except for important reasons.

Australia has recorded around 12,000 cases of the corona virus and more than 125 deaths.

Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity branch, which covers the lives of people throughout the world who are struggling to live free or just. Visit http://news.trust.org


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Studies in Germany show low levels of coronavirus infections in schools | Instant News

BERLIN (Reuters) – Very few of the 2,000 school children and teachers tested in the German state of Saxony showed antibodies to COVID-19, a study found on Monday, showed that schools might not play a big role in spreading the virus as some people feared. .

Germany began reopening schools in May, although debate continued about the role children might play in spreading the virus to vulnerable adults at home as well as to teachers and older school staff.

Research by the University Hospital in Dresden analyzed blood samples from nearly 1,500 children aged between 14 and 18 and 500 teachers from 13 schools in Dresden and the Bautzen and Goerlitz districts in May and June.

The largest study conducted in Germany in school children and teachers includes testing in schools where there is a coronavirus outbreak.

Of the nearly 2,000 samples, only 12 had antibodies, said Reinhard Berner of the University Hospital in Dresden, adding that the first results did not provide evidence that school children had a role in spreading the virus very quickly.

“Children can even act as a brake on infection,” Berner said at a press conference, saying infections in schools do not cause epidemics, while the spread of the virus in the household is also less dynamic than previously thought.

Saxony’s Minister of Education Christian Piwarz said the study showed schools in the state could be reopened as usual after the summer holidays in late August with a number of conditions, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance if possible.

Berner said the study was representative for the state of Saxony, which has a relatively low infection rate compared to other parts of Germany.

For other countries with low infection rates, the study shows schools can be reopened without causing widespread virus outbreaks, he said.

A separate study on antibodies to COVID-19 among blood donors showed that antibodies were only found in 1.3 percent of 12,000 blood samples, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, said on Monday.

Reporting by Caroline Copley and Markus Wacker, edited by Ed Osmond


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Pakistan’s “honor killings” show women need digital skills, Facebook advisers say | Instant News

KARACHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The latest “honor killings” from two teenage girls in Pakistan after a video about them with a man appeared online showing that women need better control over their digital presence, said an activist appointed to the council Facebook’s new watchdog this month. .

The two sisters were shot dead last week in remote North Waziristan in Pakistan, the latest victim of a conservative honor code that has caused hundreds of deaths, including strangulation of social media star Qandeel Baloch in 2016 by his brother.

“The Waziristan murder highlights how the internet can be used against women, especially in patriarchal societies such as Pakistan,” said Nighat Dad, a Pakistani lawyer who founded the country’s first cyber harassment assistance channel.

“As more and more people get access to technology, the dark side also becomes visible, with attacks across the spectrum of abuse brought to the virtual world.”

Fathers have become globally famous for their work to protect women online in a country where their simplicity is valued and they are often not allowed to work outside the home, associate with men or choose their own husbands.

After winning recognition as one of the leaders of the next generation of Time magazine in 2015 and the Tulip Human Rights award in 2016, this month Dad joined what some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court” to decide whether certain content is permitted.

Much of the appeal for the Digital Rights Foundation advocacy group, which Dad founded in 2012 with a focus on protecting women online, is about porn revenge – blackmail against women by former colleagues or girlfriends for posting intimate images online.

“There are many people on the internet who find and leak records of women without their consent,” the 39-year-old man told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This online activity has very severe consequences for women … in some segments of Pakistani society, a woman’s value is measured using her ‘honor’, and when she does not respect her family, she is often forced to pay with her life. ”


The killing of the two teenage girls has sparked debate in Pakistan around women’s digital security, with women sharing news about the killings also coming under fire online.

Father said women need autonomy to control their own digital presence, rather than stopping using the internet altogether, which many men try to do after the murder of social media star Baloch in 2016.

“There is a real fear that (women) could be killed for their online activities, even for having a telephone,” Dad said, adding that emergency calls for zakat jumped by 50% after the killings.

“There needs to be work done on law and implementation, as well as building better channels of reporting content to women on social media platforms and the internet,” he said.

Father, who has green streaks in his hair because “color makes me feel alive”, understands the challenges of Pakistani women, who make up 25% of the country’s workforce, one of the lowest levels in the region, according to the World. Bank.

“Growing up in Pakistan’s ultra-conservative family turned me into a feminist,” said Father, a single mother who survived domestic harassment and workplace harassment.

“It was an ongoing struggle for me to ask my brother to study, to let me buy a computer (from my own savings), to let me pursue a career.”

While studying law, Dad found himself drawn to the new computer lab at Punjab University.

“I learned to enter the chat room and start conversations with strangers. “I feel free that I can engage in conversation without worrying about what people around me will say or even stop me,” he said.

He decided to work in technology because “I realize how male-dominated, and that if women feel safe and empowered, they need to take a leadership role in policy making and digital rights”.

It’s not only digital rights that Father recommends.

“I want young women who have aspirations and are motivated to be able to pursue their dreams,” he said.

He is at the forefront in supporting the #MeToo movement in Pakistan and representing actor-singer Meesha Shafi in her sexual harassment case against popular singer Ali Zafar.

Reporting by Zofeen T. Ebrahim, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity branch, which covers the lives of people throughout the world who struggle to live free or just. Visit http://news.trust.org


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Ugandan women fear food shortages will make coronavirus and HIV a deadly mixture | Instant News

GULU, Uganda (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Before locking up coronavirus in Uganda, Matina who was HIV positive underwent morning routine. After waking up, he drinks tea, eats something small, and takes antiretroviral medication according to doctor’s instructions.

But since restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 were introduced in March, the situation has changed. He doesn’t have anything to eat so he avoids the medicine because it makes him feel nauseous and dizzy when taken without food.

Matina, 67 – who asked for her first name for fear of stigma of having had HIV since 2014 – said her relatives could not work because of regulations that prohibit travel and services that are not important. The seven children he supports eat at most once a day.

“Corona has brought so many problems to me,” Matina told the Thomson Reuters Foundation while sitting outside her little grass-roofed house in the poor and shabby part of Gulu, northern Uganda.

“Getting food is not easy. I can’t buy beans because the price has risen and I can’t afford them. No money. Maybe a corona is better because hunger will only kill you. ”

Two months in confinement to prevent the spread of a coronavirus pandemic, many Ugandans struggle.

In Uganda, around 1.4 million people, or just over 3% of the population, live with HIV or AIDS, according to government figures, one of the highest rates in eastern Africa, with around 23,000 people dying each year and 50,000 new infections.

Women are disproportionately affected, accounting for nearly 60% of adults living with HIV. New infections among young women aged 15-24 are more than double among young men and stigma against those with HIV is rife.

Uganda, however, has made big strides to combat HIV / AIDS, reducing infection rates from 18.5 percent in 1992, according to US data, with one million people using drugs to slow the progression of HIV and delay progression to AIDS.

The national parliament in 2014 criminalized the intentional transmission of disease.


But the rapid spread of the corona virus means locking Uganda including a national travel ban imposed with an hour’s notice, leaving no opportunity to plan.

Local authorities told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they did not have time to provide the right supplies for people with chronic illness, or those who needed emergency care.

At least 11 pregnant women have died due to problems accessing maternal health services, according to the Pro-Bono Women’s Initiative based in Kampala.

“This element was not dealt with at an early stage because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Kaggwa Mugagga, HIV adviser at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Uganda.

“We have to sit down and see what impact locking will have on various programs.”

He said at first there were problems in distributing drugs but more and more volunteers were cycling and using motorbikes to give medicines to HIV patients whose compromised immune systems were feared putting them at greater risk of COVID-19.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health has also created a program to enable public health workers to collect HIV pills for patients.

But recently, Mugagga said he has heard more and more reports about food shortages because people cannot work.

The ongoing uncertainty is “psychological torture” for people with HIV, he said.

Dr Joshua Musinguzi, manager of AIDS control at the Ugandan Ministry of Health, said the government had been trying to tackle problems with food as well as supplying people with the medicines they needed.

The government also urges people not to relax efforts to fight HIV / AIDS even though all energy is targeted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has infected around 250 people in Uganda.

“We are not in normal times so maybe not everything is achieved … there may be gaps and patients can experience difficulties,” Musinguzi said.


The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), a non-governmental organization founded in 1987, is continuing testing, drug distribution, home visits for bedridden patients, and following up with people who have lost appointments.

Michael Ochwo, program manager for the TASO Gulu center, said while some patients said they were struggling to eat, “currently the funds do not provide food”. He said TASO spoke to the government task force to see what could be done.

In Layibi, a neighborhood in Gulu, Walter Ojara, 49, is in mourning for his sister, whom he calls friendly and popular.

Beatrice Oceer, who is HIV positive, died at the age of 33 on March 21, a few days after a public transportation ban was imposed.

Oceer is a victim of domestic violence and previously stopped taking antiretroviral drugs for several months when she ran away from her husband, Walter explained. In the months before the lockdown, he contracted tuberculosis and once again missed treatment when he had no food to carry.

When the pandemic began to spread, he stopped eating completely.

“The impact of the locking caused many problems because there was no movement, no money, nobody could support you,” Ojara told the Thomson Reuters Foundation outside the sheet-roofed house he shared with his sister, wife and children.

Oyoo Robert Ricky, a health center facilitator at the Gulu clinic where Oceer was treated, said food shortages were a problem almost everywhere.

Three of 941 HIV / AIDS patients have died since the restrictions began, he said, including a mother of two 34-year-old children.

In the immediate neighborhood, Acen, a single mother with five children, laughed sadly when asked what she ate during the confinement. He boiled the plants once a day, but that wasn’t enough, he said.

“We are hungry, children complain, there is nothing that can be done because there is nothing there, nothing available to give to them,” said Acen, 36, who has struggled with HIV for six years after contracting from an ex-husband who cheated on her .

While he continued to use his antiretroviral drugs, Acen said it caused the problem.

“It really punishes me when you take medicine on an empty stomach, it gives you a funny disease,” said Acen, who also asked that only his first name be used.

Before the pandemic he would help in people’s homes in exchange for a small payment. Now, he says he can’t buy the mask he has to wear to take the medicine.

“We prefer to buy food,” he said.

Reporting by Sally Hayden, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity branch, which covers the lives of people throughout the world who struggle to live free or just. Visit http://news.trust.org


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Australia and China spit on coronavirus investigations | Instant News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia and China trade thorns on Tuesday in increasingly fierce diplomatic fights over Australia’s support for a global investigation of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, because Australia recorded 100 COVID-19 fatalities.

FILE PHOTOS: Qantas planes seen at Kingsford Smith International Airport, after a coronavirus outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott / Photo File

Australia’s relative success in preventing the spread of the virus has been overshadowed by cracks with its largest trading partner, which is exacerbated by a resolution of the World Health Assembly (WHA) which supports the investigation.

In an unusual blunt statement the same day that China imposed a reasonable tariff on Australia’s wheat exports, the Chinese embassy in Canberra said it was “nothing but a joke” for Australia to claim that the resolution was justification for its push for global review.

“The draft COVID-19 resolution to be adopted by the World Health Assembly is completely different from Australia’s proposal for an independent international review,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said in an email statement.

Asked about the comments, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News that “Australia will not be involved in cheap politicization on issues as important as COVID-19”.

“I would think the appropriate response from the Chinese ambassador in Australia is to welcome this outcome and welcome the opportunity for all of us to work together on this important issue.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday told the assembly, the decision body of the World Health Organization, that China would support a comprehensive review after the pandemic was controlled.

Spearheading the request of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, together with the European Union, has been an antidote to a more assertive approach by Chinese embassies to criticize the handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The policy was dubbed “Wolf Soldier” diplomacy in Western and Chinese media.

The Chinese ambassador had previously warned of a consumer boycott of Australian goods, triggering Australia’s accusations of “economic coercion”. Subsequent barley tariffs and suspension of export licenses from some of Australia’s largest beef processors are seen by many as retaliation.

The dispute has the potential to undermine Australia’s shift to allow more public activity this week under the first phase of the federal government’s three-step plan to reopen business, schools, restaurants and other public lives in an effort to provide an economic boost.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) warned on Tuesday that the country was facing an “unprecedented economic contraction”, although a large fiscal and monetary policy stimulus would help cushion the blow.

Qantas Airways Ltd. said it was ready to restart 40-50% of its domestic capacity in July if countries loosened border controls, and hoped to offer low fares to stimulate travel demand.

100 OFF

While the milestone is bleak, Australia’s death rate of 100 out of 7,060 confirmed cases is still far below the deaths reported in China, North America, Europe and other parts of Asia even though Australia was previously exposed to a pandemic.

“The results in Australia are better because we are lucky because we see what is happening in China and so we can prepare and test,” Peter Collignon, an infectious disease doctor and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, told Reuters. .

PHOTO FILE: People walk along the easing restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Darling Harbor near the city center in Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

Australia’s new daily infection rate peaked on March 23 with 430 cases, according to Reuters calculations based on official data. New cases averaged around 15 days over the past week.

The 100th death is a 93-year-old woman from a nursing home outside Sydney, a facility responsible for 19 deaths. The first case reported by Australia on March 1 was a 78-year-old man who had been a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Both cases illustrate Australia’s greatest weakness in combating the disease, with the majority of deaths in the country being people aged 70 or over and many associated with yachts or nursing homes.

Reporting by Paulina Duran and Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Editing by Jane Wardell


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