Saturday, January 15, 2011

The parents divorced. The children ending up like criminals?

Marriages fail. It happened in days gone by and it still happens today. But now there’s a difference: in the past, people stayed together “for the sake of the children”. That is no longer the case, at least not in the Netherlands. But is this a good thing? The children of divorced parents appear to have a greater chance of ending up as criminals.

The figures

Children of separated or divorced parents are statistically three times as likely to display criminal behaviour as those whose parents stay together. Dutch sociologist Marieke van de Rakt made this discovery while carrying out academic research into the genetics of criminal behaviour.
International research had already shown a correlation between divorce and criminality in children. Dr Van de Rakt has now come up with hard figures that demonstrate that correlation.
“On an annual basis, every child statistically has a one percent chance of committing a crime. If parents divorce, that chance is three times as great – the child then has a three percent chance of committing an offence.”
A cocktail of factors contribute to this development. A divorce affects the whole family. The resulting stress can cause children to be less emotionally stable for a while. It also appears that there is often less supervision of children after a divorce. And because there is usually less money coming in, there is not as much to spend on all sorts of nice things. Children’s health and performance at school can also be adversely affected by a divorce.
Developmental psychologist Steven Pont endorses the idea that a divorce brings with it all sorts of risks. He used to work with children placed in care because of behavioural problems. Almost all of these youngsters were from families where the parents had separated.

Every evening

The divorce rate in the Netherlands continues to rise. Nowadays, an estimated one in three Dutch marriages ends in divorce. Only 50 years ago, divorce was considered scandalous. Now it’s commonplace. Mr Pont often witnesses this:  “Every evening, this evening included, 200 to 250 Dutch kids are told that their parents are going to separate. They’re told: ‘Sit down, darling. We want to tell you something…’ That’s how it will go tonight. That’s how it went last night. That’s how it’ll go again tomorrow.”

Emotional impact

But the emotional impact of a divorce is still as powerful as ever, says Mr Pont. So what should we do? Should we stay together for the sake of the children like in the past, despite all the rows and the stress?
According to Mr Pont, this is not always the right solution. If a relationship turns violent or if a partner is constantly humiliated, it is better to separate. But deep down, children always have a fundamental desire for their parents to stay together.
Steven Pont believes that parents should persevere even if the relationship doesn’t work, at least while their children are still young. His advice is not to get divorced before your youngest child is four years old.
Sociologist Van de Rakt adds that possible damage can be limited by keeping a close eye on children after a divorce and if necessary asking for help. It is of great importance that children get extra care and attention during the period that their parents would like to wallow in their own misery.

Day Opening - January 15


Friday, January 14, 2011

In Pakistan, extremisme became the norm

The voice of moderate Islam in Pakistan is only a faint sound in the distance, it seems. Governor Salman Taseer is the latest casualty among the hundreds of progressive Pakistan civilians who have been killed by extremists in recent years. Their voices were a threat to the monotonous ideology of extremists, such as Pakistan’s own monster of Frankenstein, the Taleban. Others left their homeland after death threats. If they return, they know the same fate awaits them.

In this oppresive atmosphere of fear, extremists are dominant. Tens of thousands of them - spurred on by extremist religious parties - have pledged support to the killer of Mr Taseer.
All the outspoken liberal politician had done was to show his support for an illiterate Christian woman who was sentenced to death late last year for blasphemy. The number of people who lit candles for Mr Taseer, and who rallied against his murder, was much smaller.

Next target

Sherry Reyman, an MP for the Pakistan People’s Party, the country’s largest political party, is said to be the extremists’ next target. She filed a proposal to change the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, as human rights activists say the current law is now mainly used to fight personal feuds. Insulting the prophet is punishable by death, but that penalty has never been carried out.
Ms Rehman says she’s alone in her struggle. ‘Every religious party in this country is against me and I feel completely on my own. Nobody helps me’, she told RNW in a telephone interview.


The former journalist is normally apprehensive when it comes to doing interviews. She wouldn’t answer more than just a couple of questions. She sounded tense when we spoke to her. ‘There is a massive outcry against me going on. The government is silent and they’re inciting violence. The clerics in the mosque are calling me non-Muslim and are inciting violence against me. Some civil society groups have lodged a complaint even at the police station but nothing is happening’.
The authorities just remain silent. The ‘Mullah brigades’, the religious extremists, now have a stronghold on the blasphemy law debate, columnist Babar Sattar wrote in Pakistan’s newspaper The News earlier this week: ‘The political parties like to work with the mullah as his voice and support are easy to buy in the political arena. With this bargain, we have given the corrupt, decadent, ignorant and clueless mullah complete monopoly to control the meaning and role of religion in our state and society’, Mr Sattar wrote.

Holy war

Not that this is a recent phenomenon. It’s been happening since the 1980s, when an enormous amount of money from the US and Saudi Arabia was flowing into Pakistan to fight the communists in neighbouring Afghanistan. The money was used to fight a so-called ‘holy war’.
Later, the mullah brigade became a military force often used by Pakistan’s security services when it was needed, it is alleged. Islam was mainly the glue used to keep different ethnic groups together.


If Pakistanis really support tolerance and freedom, they should fiercely demand those rights, Mr Sattar says. ‘Our mainstream political leaders will not lead us into such a change in society. They will only join us if it becomes popular among the people’.
Ms Rehman is an exception. ‘I will send my mother and my daughter abroad. But I’m not planning on leaving shortly’, she says. ‘I have pretty much put my life on the line. I don’t know what else I can do.’

Day Opening - January 14

Los Angelos by Sonia Romero

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Minister Faruk Çelik has a big mouth

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports that the Turkish government has fiercely criticised the new Dutch government's stricter immigration and integration policies. Labour and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik, in charge over 'Turks in foreign countries, said the new policies place immigrants in an isolated position.

The minister mentioned the high costs of obtaining a residence permit, compulsory integration courses and the fact that Turkish language classes are not part of the curriculum offered at Dutch schools. In fact he's saying: to speak good Dutch you have first to learn Turkish (in the Netherlands!!)
Mr Çelik pointed to the successful integration of Turkish immigrants in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. He said the Netherlands and other Western European countries could learn from their example. And I believe that if the Dutch implement rules like those of Australia or the USA, the Dutch will get rid of 50% of their immigrants!! Why? Because the immigration rules in those countries are ten times harder!
But the Turkish minister, who doesn't speak one word English, is quoted as saying that: "The fact that young Dutch people of Turkish descent still believe they are second-rate citizens, that they are not welcome, or that they are being discriminated against shows that the Dutch authorities need to revise their immigration policies." No, no, and no! Because only some Turks are complaining that the Dutch government must change their policies?
Or because his boss, PM Erdogan yesterday again endorsed Hamas? The Dutch must do that as well?
There is a creepy Islamisation process going on in Turkey...

Anyway, this all because a group of Dutch Turks recently wrote a letter about the increasing integration problems among young Turks in the Netherlands. The authors also called on the Turkish government to stop interfering with the religious beliefs of Dutch Turks, but Mr Çelik rejected their appeal. Of course. What a shame!

Day Opening - January 13

Fountain of Place de la Concorde, Paris, By Arnaud Frich

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day Opening - January 12

It is Wednesday and the entire world will turn yellow!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are scapegoats really necessary???

Yesterday the news of Turkish-Dutch youth feeling neglected and discriminated really struck me. My first impulse was that the Dutch press has found the Turks again to problemize and critisize.
This is just another hype, which is typical for the media. You can compare it with a conjunctural phenomenon that moves between all kinds of minorities, of which the Moroccans were the last subject, fed by mister Wilders' Freedumb Party. But hey, all Turks are Muslims, so why shouldn't we suggest that Turkish youths aren't sensitive for fundamentalism, because they're unable to find a job, so all of them find shelter in the mosque and all turn to extremists...

Well, I dare to call myself a good example of an integrated Dutch citizen, more Dutchified than some self-declared cheeseheads. The fact that I need to explain this or even defend myself is one way or the other pathetic, it illustrates that this well developed nation, which pretends to be highly civilised, has devaluated to a media controlled society, that promotes self fulfilling prophecy.

Back to the core of the case; I wonder if this action of a few so called intellectual Turkish men has been meant to draw some (negative) attention or is it just to kick the butts of a couple of boys and girls who need this message to scare them off? One way or the other, these men should've been aware of the fact that these signals in this era are always referred to Islam, although it's only a minor part of the message. Let me put it this way; if it was only referring to the fact that high educated Turkish young men and women feel that they have a disadvantage in their quest for a job, the news value would have been of a small article on page five in the newspapers. I have had the feeling that my name has been an obstacle in some of my job applications, although I unprovable of course, but I'm convinced that I have been a victim of silent discrimination. I don't mind anymore, I take a positive stand, and too bad for those that didn't select me, my current employer is happy with me!

This is also a signal to all who feel discriminated; focus on the positive effect it can have on your future, you'll make it anyway! As long as you keep your sense, and respect others, even when others try to make you believe something else... Set an example for your peers. Scapegoats of the future, be prepared.

Day Opening - January 11

Catch me if you can

Monday, January 10, 2011

Turks-Dutch youth position in the Netherlands worriesome

The position of Turkish-Dutch youth in Holland is “extremely worrying”, according to a letter written by ten Turkish professionals to the left-of-centre Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.
The bleak social climate and a lack of leadership in the community is said to be causing the young people to become apathetic and increasingly alienated from Dutch society. This in turn leads to their being drawn more easily into crime and Islamic radicalism.
In their letter, the professionals called on the government, the business world, the educational establishment and Turkish-Dutch organisations to pay more attention to the problem of the community’s young people. “They have to be made to feel that their future belongs in the Netherlands,” they argue.
The Turkish-Dutch community is the country’s largest ethnic minority.
Osman, any comments?

Day Opening - January 10

The farmers wife by Ylasta Kovacek

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pakistan: how deep a nation can sink

More than 20,000 people rallied in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Sunday, police said, against proposed amendment to blasphemy laws that were recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death.

The protest follows Tuesday's assassination of the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, by one of his bodyguards, after the politician sought to reform the law that gives the death penalty for 'defamation' of the 'prophet' Mohammad.
Pakistan's most high-profile political killing in three years has bitterly divided the country, horrifying moderates but winning praise from religious scholars and lawyers who festooned the presumed killer in garlands.

Two senior police officers in Karachi said more than 20,000 protesters had joined the rally and more were arriving, while senior police official Irshad Sehar told AFP that more than 30,000 people were taking part.
Banners at the event included some supporting Taseer's presumed killer, police commando Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who has been praised by religious conservatives for shooting his boss outside an Islamabad coffee shop.
"Mumtaz Qadri is not a murderer, he is a hero," said one banner in the national Urdu language.
"We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the dignity of the Prophet Mohammad," read another.

Activists at the rally, which has been organised by conservative religious groups, called for "Jihad" or holy war.
The protest forced the closure of the city's main road and all markets in the teeming southern metropolis.
Controversy over the law flared when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a private member's bill in November, calling to end the death penalty for blasphemy, after a Christian mother-of-five was sentenced to hang.
Rights activists also say the law encourages Islamist extremism in a nation already beseiged by Taliban attacks.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi's case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country
Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields.
Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the 'prophet' Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.
Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts. But ALL 32 people were were convicted are killed by mobs...

Rights activists and pressure groups say it is the first time that a woman had been sentenced to hang in Pakistan for blasphemy.
Only around three percent of Pakistan's population of 167 million are estimated to be non-Muslim.
But when the mobs rules a country, civilization ends...

Day Opening - January 9

puppy love

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Light theraphy might help

Did Santa bring you a bad case of the midwinter blues? In that case, light therapy may just be what the doctor ordered against what is officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, Dutch researchers have now proved that light therapy may also benefit patients of over 60 suffering from a serious ‘normal’ depression. This particular demographic gets outside less often and also cannot see as much light as those with younger eyes.


Earlier this week, the results of more than five years’ worth of research into the effect of light therapy on depression were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The research team, led by Ritsaert Lieverse, treated 89 patients over 60 who were suffering from a serious depression. Each morning for a period of three weeks, about half of them were exposed to one hour of ‘early morning bright blue’ light using a commercially available special lamp covered with a bright blue-permitting filter. The other half of the group, which served as a control group, was also given an hour of additional light using the same lamp covered in a dim red-permitting filter. Neither the patients nor the staff handing out the lamps were aware of the purpose of the lamps.

Placebo effect

The treatment resulted in a reduction of depressive symptoms in 43 percent of the patients involved. Surprisingly, the researchers also found a reduction of depressive symptoms in 36 percent of the patients in the control group, which they said could be explained by the placebo effect. So in other words a seven-percent net profit, which many people would not consider a remarkable result, but research leader Lieverse said was still ’significant’.
The research team says it is impossible to determine exactly why an extra dose of daylight should lead to a reduction of depressive symptoms. According to Dr Lieverse “It could have something to do with the stress hormone – light therapy helps bring the disrupted stress hormone system back to normal. There was also a clear improvement in the patients’ biorhythm.

It will be quite some time before light therapy finds its way into the regular treatment circuit for elderly depressive patients - or gets covered by health insurance companies. Dr Lieverse warns seriously depressed elderly people against experimenting with light therapy at home. “There is a number of counter-indications, both physical and psychiatric. Light therapy should take place under the guidance of a psychiatrist”. As examples of possible side-effects, the doctor cited eye damage and an increase in suicidal thoughts.

Day Opening - January 7

Salvador de Bahai, Brazil

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some photos of Ahmedabad

It has been a long time since I updated this space. I welcomed 2011 on a hopeful note and was busy the days preceding the new year and days succeeding it.

A cousin came visiting and we had a fabulous time shopping in the walled area of Ahmedabad. Sharing some photos.

The fabric Ahmedabad is so famous for...

Oxodized jewellery. This is a rage during Navratri, our nine-day-long dance festival.

Day Opening - January 6

eclipse this week and view on international space station