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India media storm over 10-year-old pregnant rape victim – BBC News

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A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been refused an abortion is at the centre of a media storm in India. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled to the northern city of Chandigarh to piece together her story.

“We have seen lots of cases of teenage pregnancies involving 14 to 15-year-olds, but this is the first ever case that I have seen of a 10-year-old,” said Mahavir Singh, of the Chandigarh State Legal Services Authority.

Mr Singh has been involved in a case which has shocked Chandigarh and the rest of India, that of a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant after allegedly being repeatedly raped by a relative.

That relative is now in jail, pending trial.

The girl in question has been described as a happy child who smiles easily. She’s shy and not very talkative. English and mathematics are the favourite subjects of this class six student. She loves to draw and is pretty good at it. She can’t get enough of her favourite cartoon shows Chhoti Anandi (Little Anandi) and Shin Chan. She loves chicken and fish – and ice-cream.

But on 28 July, India’s Supreme Court rejected a petition – filed on her behalf – to allow her to abort, on the grounds that at 32 weeks, she is too far into her pregnancy. A doctors’ panel had advised the court that a termination at this stage would be “too risky” for the girl, and that the foetus was “doing well”.

The court order was a huge disappointment for the girl’s family.

‘She has no idea what happened’

Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother’s life is in danger.

But in recent years, the courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. In most cases, these pregnancies are discovered late because the children are not aware of their condition.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In India, a child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours

In the case of this 10-year-old too, the pregnancy was discovered only three weeks ago when she complained of pain in her lower abdomen and her mother took her to a doctor.

Someone who interacts with the girl on a regular basis says: “She’s very innocent and has no idea what’s happened to her.”

Her parents also missed the telltale signs, perhaps because she’s “a healthy, chubby child”. Besides, they couldn’t imagine even in their wildest nightmares that their daughter could be pregnant at 10.

The child has still not been told about her pregnancy and, for those dealing with her, talking to her is like treading on eggshells. She has been told that she has a big stone in her stomach and the bulge is because of that.

She’s been put on a special diet of eggs, milk, fruit, fish and chicken and she seems to be enjoying the extra attention.

But in recent days, police, social workers and counsellors have been in and out of her house, and a media circus has grown up outside her home.

“She might not understand the exact problem, the gravity of the situation, but I think she has some idea now,” a senior official told the BBC.

Her parents are struggling to deal with the situation. The family is poor and lives in a cramped one-room flat. Her father is a government employee and the mother works as a domestic helper.

Policewoman Pratibha Kumari, who has investigated the case, describes them as a “very nice family, who are so simple that they didn’t even realise what this man was doing to their daughter”.

The parents, she says, are understandably distraught. “Her mother has never talked to me without crying. The father says he feels like his daughter has been murdered.”


The scale of abuse in India

Image copyright AFP
  • A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
  • More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
  • 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
  • 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
  • 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”

Sources: Indian government, Unicef


What has made their situation worse is that, ever since the news of the rape and pregnancy hit the headlines, they have been hounded by journalists.

“When the girl’s father came to see me, he told me his biggest problem was the press. He said there were reporters outside his home all the time and his privacy was being infringed upon,” Neil Roberts, chair of the Child Welfare Committee, told the BBC.

The media attention has meant the girl is likely to get the best medical care and is entitled to claim financial compensation from the government.

But the unwanted publicity is causing the family immense grief. Many of the reporters went to their house when the father was at work and gained entry claiming to be child workers.

Since the alleged rapist was the mother’s cousin, some even questioned if she was aware of the abuse and, maybe, even approved of it. “How come she didn’t know that her daughter was pregnant for seven months?” they asked.

This has been very troubling for the family, and the girl’s father is angry and bitter.

“I want him to be severely punished. He should get the death penalty or be locked away for the rest of his life in prison. He has admitted to the crime. But he has never said sorry to us,” he tells me in a brief phone conversation.

Before hanging up on me, he asks: “Why are you advertising my daughter’s case? The press have turned this into a business enterprise.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Campaigners say 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”

His anger is justified – even though there are laws that expressly forbid journalists from revealing identities of rape survivors and child victims of crimes, many people have been able to join the dots and identify the family because the alleged rapist’s name was extensively reported in the Indian press. Now their neighbours and his work colleagues know. Possibly the child’s school friends know too.

A local journalist, who met the family in the early days, says the parents are worried sick about the girl’s future and the stigma she will face when she grows up. The father has also spoken of his worries over her health.

Medical tests so far show that her health is “good” though she suffers from “mild anaemia”.

But there are other concerns. The girl was born with a hole in her heart, which was plugged in 2013. Although doctors say it’s unlikely to interfere with her pregnancy, the fact remains that she is way too young to give birth.

Every year, 45,000 adult women die during childbirth in India. The risk of pregnant girls under the age of 15 years dying is two-and-a-half times higher than that for women above 20. Doctors say the risk is even higher for someone who is only 10.

It’s a concern the Supreme Court took on board, but the judges still ruled that the pregnancy could continue.

So what will happen next?

Those in the know say the baby is due by the middle of September and the doctors have decided that it will be a Caesarean delivery. In case of any complications, the birth could be earlier.

Since the girl’s family have said they want nothing to do with the baby, the newborn will be looked after by the child welfare committee until it is put up for adoption.

Medical experts say the 10-year-old is bound to suffer from mental trauma and will need years of counselling from a child psychologist.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed for her,” said a child rights worker. “Can a 10-year-old deliver a child? Could it be life threatening for her? We are praying that nothing bad happens to her.”

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-40823438

WhatsApp announces free Business app, will charge big enterprises

WhatsApp is gearing up to finally monetize its messaging app by charging large enterprise businesses for tools to better communicate with customers. WhatsApp will also offer a free app to small-to-medium sized businesses, though it hasn’t outlined the specific functionality of the app. The enterprise solution will allow global companies “to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”.

“We do intend on charging businesses in the future,” WhatsApp’s Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal. “We don’t have the details of monetization figured out.”

The company did write that it wants to facilitate “someone placing an order with a local bakery or looking at new styles from a clothing store” and “shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone”, plus offer “an easier way to respond to messages.”

Perhaps WhatsApp could charge enterprises like “airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks” to have multiple representatives managing an account or sending high volumes of messages. It could also charge for artificial intelligence bot functionality or ecommerce transactions.

WhatsApp also officially announced its closed pilot program for verifying business accounts with a green checkmark to distinguish them from personal accounts and fakes.

WhatsApp began testing verified accounts for businesses a week ago. Conversations with businesses are encrypted and they can be blocked. Interestingly, if a business isn’t already in your phone number contacts, its name will appear as whatever they register themselves as instead of their number. This could allow WhatsApp to create a business search engine with optional sponsored results, or let businesses cold-message people, possibly for a fee.

Alternatively, businesses on WhatsApp may need to be contacted by a user first before they can respond with organic or sponsored messages. That’s how Facebook Messenger works, and it’s led to businesses buying “tap-to-message” ads on Facebook’s News Feed to get people to initiate conversations so the business can follow up with sponsored messages. Not allowing cold-message ads meshes with WhatsApp writing that it plans to “make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp”, emphasis mine.

[Update: WhatsApp now confirms our hunch, telling TechCrunch “Businesses will only be able to contact people who have provided their phone number and agreed to be contacted by the business over WhatsApp.”

The company also says that the enterprise solution will initially be free but it does plan to charge businesses. Some functionality that will be offered by the Business app and enterprise solution includes the ability to create a verified profile with info like address, description, and hours, plus “Features for helping manage customer chats like away messages for when businesses are not able to respond at the moment.”]

Facebook Messenger inserts display ads into the inbox

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, the companies said they wouldn’t put ads in WhatsApp because it would degrade the experience. But it also ditched its $1 annual subscription fee, leaving few monetization options beyond charging businesses for tools. The introduction of display ads and sponsored messages to Facebook Messenger may indicate a relaxation of WhatsApp’s stance against ads.

With over 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily users, WhatsApp has reached the massive scale necessary for it to earn significant revenue even from light advertising. Its Snapchat Stories clone WhatsApp Status now has 250 million daily users, and could host vertical video ads between friends’ content the way Instagram does. It could also insert display ads into the inbox like Facebook Messenger.

After being one of tech’s biggest startup acquisitions, WhatsApp has tripled in size under relatively hands-off management by Facebook. Now it’s time to earn its keep.

Note: Article updated to include a link to the Wall Street Journal story

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/05/whatsapp-business-app/

Elon Musk thinks AI will cause the third world war

Image: BEN MACMAHON/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Folks, we’re all screwed.

Ever wondered if there would ever be another world war, and what will cause it?

Worry no more, as CEO of everything Elon Musk has the answer: artificial intelligence.

More precisely, “competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3,” he tweeted Monday.

It gets darker from there. In a subsequent tweet, Musk said that the war may not be initiated by the country leaders, but one of their AIs, which he apparently thinks will at one point become important enough to be able to make such decisions and act on them.

His comments come shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country that leads in AI will be the “ruler of the world.”

As for governments being slow and incapable of creating true innovation — a point raised by one Twitter user — Musk claims it doesn’t matter, as governments can obtain advanced AI by force.

In the discussion, Musk also gave some thoughts on North Korea’s latest nuclear experiments. He claims that North Korea would never launch a nuclear missile as that would be “suicide for their leadership.” The country’s not a huge threat, he opined, as it has “no entangling alliances” that would “polarize world into war.”

Musk’s obsession with the dangers of artificial intelligence is well documented. The entrepreneur, which has a significant business interest in AI through Neuralink, OpenAI, and Tesla, called for regulation of AI on several occasions. In July, he called AI “the greatest risk we face as a civilization;” in July, he had a mini-feud with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in his opinion has a “limited understanding” of AI, and in August, he and a number of other experts in the field asked the UN to ban killer robots.

But World War 3? As one Twitter user pointed out, it’s too early in the day for this discussion.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/04/elon-musk-ai-world-war-3/

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