6th January, 2006

Is Bush and the Republicans going down?

by Sunny at 10:46 am    

If President Bush thought 2006 could not get any worse than a year in which his ratings dropped to a record low – he could be in for a nasty surprise.

It started with revelation of unauthorised wire-tapings, and now the shit just keeps hitting the fan. Will it drag the Republicans down? More importantly, will it help the Democracts grow hair on their chest?

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5th January, 2006

Rising violence in Iraq

by Sunny at 10:47 pm    

Today was the deadliest day of attacks by terrorists in Iraq, with about 120 people killed by two bombs – one near a Shia shrine in Karbala and the other at a police recruitment centre. Clearly, the last thing these people want is for Iraq to get back on its feet and take control of its own destiny.

Filed under: The World

Gorgeous George

by Rohin at 10:14 pm    

George Galloway is in Celebrity Big Brother, the ultimate in shit TV! So is Faria Alam, so that’s another reason I’m entirely justified in postin this here!

DISCLAIMER: I’m not watching it, I’m on the phone to my girlfriend, who is keeping me posted. Honest.

Filed under: Culture,Humour

End of Sharon’s era

by Al-Hack at 11:08 am    

Whether Ariel Sharon survives the massive stroke he had today or not, most observers reckon it is all over for him because he won’t come back fully fit.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing for Israeli-Palestine peace? I haven’t quite made my mind up about that, so maybe our readers would like to share their crazy opinions? Don’t be getting nasty now though… let’s keep this civilised folks.

Filed under: The World
4th January, 2006

Is political correctness out of control?

by Sunny at 10:59 am    

Or has the hype of there being “too much political correctness” out of control? The think-tank (I use the term loosely here) Civitas published a pamphlet today by journalist (even more loosely) Anthony Browne who claims that PC thinking is “harming society”.

Now I hate political correctness more than the next person, specially when it involves Asians, but when someone like Browne tries to display some intelligence over the issue, he fails miserably, and annoys me in the process. Let me explain why

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More raving lunacy from MPAC

by Sunny at 8:45 am    

The dimwits from MPAC scream and rant over mostly two things: (a) the global Zionist conspiracy, and (b) how Muslim leaders are sleeping and not doing anything (usually about the point a). The solution always being to support and give more money to Mpac of course.

Sometimes they combine the two subjects and take bullshit levels to new heights. Their latest diatribe:

This man and his sell out instincts know no bounds of decency and like a noxious vapour pollute all that he comes in contact with.

Who? Lib Dem candidate Ajmal Masoor. Why? Because the Liberal Democracy Ethnic Minority Forum issued a press release stating:

“The kidnap of Kate Burton and the subsequent fear that this imposes on foreign aid workers within Non-Governmental Organisations does little to help with the economic and social development of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank. Least of all, it does not provide the security and confidence for the international community to invest within such areas where there is a threat to their nationals.”

And for saying something sensible, they write call him an “opportunistic traitor” and write this piece of crap. Idiots.

Churchill: Let the fakir die

by Rohin at 2:49 am    
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Winston Churchill. The man millions of Britons voted ‘The Greatest Briton of All Time’ at the turn of the millennium, ahead of Newton, Shakespeare, Darwin and Brunel. The man who advocated gassing “recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment”.

The man who described Mahatma Gandhi as “a half-naked fakir” who “ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back” [Link]. The man who is in the news again – although there isn’t too much coverage.

Hitherto unseen government documents have been released, which detail Churchill’s stance on several issues. The notes were recorded by deputy Cabinet secretary, Sir Norman Brook, and give the first detailed glimpse into what was discussed at the War Cabinet between 1942 and 1945. They’re open to the public just down the road from me at the Public Records Office in Kew, so I took a look. The rather difficult to read shorthand revealed some fascinating facts.

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3rd January, 2006

On dealing with homosexuality

by Sunny at 10:42 am    

I was in West Hollywood recently with my cousins trying to find a bar before we went into a club, and it dawned upon us that all of the bars on that strip were gay bars. I shrugged and was about to go in before being vetoed by my brother-in-law and his mate. I eventually persuaded them into entering a posher (but still gay) bar though the resistance was still there.

Co-incidentally the same issues have surfaced last week in America over a new film and in the UK over comments made in a Gay and Lesbian magazine.

Given that principles of tolerance should be wholeheartedly embraced by British Asians, why then are they so homophobic (specially Muslims). And is it right then for gays and lesbians to be angry at us?

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2nd January, 2006

The Return of Anti-Semitism

by Rohin at 1:01 am    

Rabbi Sir Jonathan SacksI say return, but had it ever left? Asians blogs or similar discussion fora often debate the undeniable rise in Islamophobia which has occurred over recent years. But, due to the obvious fact that there are less Jewish Asians, the issue of anti-semitism is not frequently addressed. Pickled Politics has objected to overt anti-semitism from the Iranian president and also criticised bodies like the MCB, who manage to overlook Ahmadinejad’s idiocy. We’ve come to expect anti-Jewish rhetoric from similarly-minded leaders, but is Europe following suit?

Today the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, told the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme that he thinks anti-semitism is washing over the world like a tsunami [Listen here]. He considered the media, the Internet and best-selling books as vehicles which have created an image around the world that Israel is the root cause of all problems. As a result of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, violent campaigns waged by Islamic militants have won support. He feels that Jews outside Israel are being targetted as a result of events in the Middle East. He conceded that achieving peace in the Holy Land would make it harder for anti-semitism to flourish.

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1st January, 2006

Shubho Nobo Borsho

by Rohin at 5:12 pm    

Happy New Year from Pickled Politics

A vid I took last night. It’s 1½ minutes long, but make sure you watch the last 30 seconds or so – the fireworks go completely nuts!

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Filed under: Uncategorized
30th December, 2005

Why Bangalore?

by Rohin at 3:48 am    

Pickled Politics was one of the first blogs to react to the Delhi blasts, but I thought I’d wait a little before talking about the Bangalore shooting, which took place on Wednesday, so that I might be able to collect some more information.

A college professor was killed by a gunman (gunmen?) who has escaped capture; four were injured. Bangalore has not been targetted in this manner before and the Indian Institute of Science, the location of the shooting, and the city have been taken by surprise. But warning signs were there.

Initial thoughts to explain the target of Bangalore centred around Lashkar-e-Toiba group, responsible for numerous previous attacks or less well known Bangladesh-based terror groups. Some thought the fact that notorious gangster Abu Salem’s arrival in BLR to face polygraph tests and questioning about his involvement in the 1993 Bombay blasts may be related, but authorities soon denied this.

Yesterday Karnataka’s chief minister, N. Dharam Singh, confirmed that the attacks were the work of terrorists, chiefly due to the discovery of sophisticated munitions found; an AK-57, AK-47 casings, an empty automatic magazine and four unexploded grenades were recovered from the scene.

It was subsequently revealed that the government of Karnataka received a warning of a terrorist attack, from the Intelligence Bureau, which had been monitoring LeT operatives in New Delhi. They also considered Jamat-e-Mujaheeddin a threat. However, no information obtained would have been useful in preventing the attack.

But why Bangalore and why the IISc?

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26th December, 2005

The Politics of the Wave

by Rohin at 7:17 pm    

TWELVE months have passed since the sea claimed 250,000 lives in south Asia and east Africa. Services have been held across the world, including many returning to the coastline where their loved ones were lost. As they look out at the peaceful Indian Ocean (left), it is hard to believe a year has already passed.

DesiPundit points visitors to the The World Wide Help Blog which is observing Disaster Remembrance Week to mark a year when nature’s fury wrought havoc around the world. Famine across Africa, Katrina, the Kashmir Quake and the aftermath of the tsunami led to what became known as ‘donor fatigue’. It is also worth bearing in mind today marks the second anniversary of the Bam quake in Iran, which claimed 30,000 and soon slipped from the world’s news.

Many have suggested that we can show our thanks for being safe in our homes by ending this traumatic year with a donation. I shan’t advise you what to do with your money as there are many good causes out there in need of support. However, a brief mention for Tim Worstall, who is running a smart campaign at his blog. Check it out – NO money is needed, just clicks. Google does the rest.

Over the course of this week, I shall be running a series of tsunami-related articles on my personal blog, most of which fall outside PP’s remit. However I thought I’d start by discussing the role of politics since the great wave.

When I worked in tsunami-hit areas around Sri Lanka’s coastline earlier this year, I quickly learnt the politics of the tsunami. Sri Lanka and Banda Aceh in Indonesia represent the two worst-affected regions of Asia and both have been marred by civil conflict for many years. In the past, lax government efforts in the face of natural disaster have precipitated major turning points in the histories of several countries. For example, when East Pakistan was ravaged by a cyclone in 1970, the appalling response of the Pakistani government contributed significantly to the death of 300,000. Some estimates put it as high as 500,000. Either way, the chapter galvanised East Pakistani politics and brought Independence for Bangladesh soon after.

Inside, I take a closer look at how the political climates of Indonesia and Sri Lanka have affected rebuilding lives.

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24th December, 2005

Merry Christmas all!

by Sunny at 10:45 pm    

Merry Christmas and happy new years everyone! Tis the season to party and shop till you drop. Over and out.

Filed under: Uncategorized

“So how do you feel as a British Muslim”

by Ahmad at 10:39 pm    

With the glare firmly on Muslims, media organisations constantly ask the above question. I’m tempted to say – “I feel with my hands thanks!”. What next? “How do you Muslims eat, drink and breathe?”

And the classic line: “Are you British first or Muslim?”

Not only are the questions leading and have a slant, they are as pathetic as asking a 5 year old if they love Daddy or Chips!

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22nd December, 2005

Being a romeo is risky business in India

by Sunny at 11:06 am    

I have a short and slightly embarassing incident to relate. About ten years ago I was on holiday in India, enthusiastically exchanging saliva with my then girlfriend at a secluded area of a park. The ideal place of choice for a new generation.

A bloody policeman spotted us and decided that arresting us was the best course of action under the pretence of ‘soliciting sex’. Wtf! I was persuaded by my gf that paying him off was a more sensible path of action than trying to use his stick to beat him. Anyway, we both escaped unscathed, though I was a bit poorer.

So why I am I relating this silly story? Well it happens all over India, but now the young populace has decided to protest courtesy of a TV sting that caught some unsavoury action in practice…

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21st December, 2005

Iran wins Arab Elections. “Mission Accomplished!”

by Rohin at 3:28 pm    

It wasn’t that long ago that PP was discussing Iran. As many have been predicting since The War on Terrorâ„¢ started to go astray, Iran is now frequently uttered in the same breath as Iraq.

The Iraqi election results should be available at the start of January, but already early returns (which represent 95% of the ballots cast) demonstrate what many had hoped against; the big winners are the Shia and Sunni religious parties, including good ol’ Muqtada al-Sadr, who aren’t all that interested in ‘bringing democracy to the Middle East’. At least not the democracy America has promised Iraq and the world.

The Asia Times Online says:

“the Shi’ite religious coalition [and] the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years.

More importantly, the “secular” candidates who were believed to enjoy links with the US security agencies would seem to have been routed. Former premier Iyad Allawi’s prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.” [Link]

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Tiger Taliban

by Rohin at 3:25 pm    

I’ve linked the Asia Times in my next post. When I was perusing the site, their top story caught my attention. As of now, I can’t find a great deal more to substantiate these claims.

Apparently the Taliban-led anti-US resistance, who now reside between Pakistan and Afghanistan, have grown close to the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. The article claims that al-Qaeda (wait a second, I thought we were talking about the Taliban?) deemed the US Cole attack a failure and as a direct result, sent a team to enjoy the Jaffna gin and Colombo casinos and pick up maritime expertise from those salty sea dogs, the LTTE. More inside.

In other news, the latest issue of Britain’s leading Asian fashion magazine, Asiana, has just come out. Now just take a look at what sits atop their hot-or-not column. That’s right baby, Pickled Politics is HOT. The issue promises its readers the 50 hottest eligible brown bachelors in the UK, but has committed a grave judgement error in the selection of one particularly geeky, malnourished PP staff writer ;)

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20th December, 2005

Bangladesh celebrates independence

by Al-Hack at 12:08 am    

A bit belatedly we cast an eye towards Bangladesh which celebrated its 34th year of liberation this week.

On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered to the joint command of Indian Army and Bangladeshi freedom fighters in Dhaka after a nine-month bloody war for independence of the country. Bangladesh boldly said no to Pakistan, which was formed on the basis of religion and still married to it. Bangladeshis gave their blood to the cause of democracy and secularism, to be free from oppression and to have a separate identity for the Bengali culture that is thousands of years old.

But the victory against the Pakistanis did come with a price. The Bangladeshis will not forget that between March 25 and December 16, 1971 estimated 3 million Bengalees were killed by Pakistani Army and their collaborators, 200,000 women raped and 10 million were displaced. This was the worst genocide after the second world war.

A short history lesson there by Rezwan, rounding up what Bangladeshi bloggers are saying about it now. Read it dammit.

Filed under: South Asia
19th December, 2005

Like a bowlful of jelly!

by Rohin at 2:46 pm    

“Of course Santa Claus is Indian. Think about it yaar, big beard, fat belly, bad suit – INDIAN!”

Click for the larger version

Come Christmas Day, I would far rather be nursing an eggnog-induced heart attack than blogging. Hence I thought I’d get festive little early and give you some background on everyone’s favourite alcoholic mince pie thief. You see, he’s from Asia! Well…Asia Minor.

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Filed under: Culture,Religion

Why Bolivia has suddenly become important

by Sunny at 9:42 am    

The US government and media have been anxiously watching the Bolivian elections for some obvious reasons. Unfortunately for them, Evo Morales, a former coca farmer and the country’s first indigenous Indian President, won the election yesterday.

The news is ‘unfortunate’ for the US administration because Morales has promised to be a “nightmare” for them. Heh, another one to add to the list. I believe this piece of news is important for a few reasons.

Evo Morales has become great friends with Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Fidel Castro (Cuba) – both hated by the U.S. government – and wants more control over the country’s massive natural gas reserves.

More significantly, Latin America has moved sharply to the left of politics in its recent elections, to the dismay of America, in rebellion against the failed economic polices pushed on to them in the 90s by the World Bank and the IMF with the USA’s blessings.

Privatisation of state companies at cheap prices, laying of thousands of workers in the name of efficiency, letting multinationals exploit national resources, currency and capital flows instability, and being crippled by high debt payments (back to the IMF/World Bank) brought Argentina to its knees a few years ago and threatens many others. The Latin Americans now want greater control and stability over their own economies.

On a broader level it is the slow death of American neo-classical economic theory pushed by Reagan and Thatcher, that by privatisation and letting free-markets reign supreme, wealth would “trickle-down” to the poor. All Latin America got (and Africa is waking up to) was instability and more poverty.

It also reflect a big blind-spot many western economists have: failing to understand that economic policies that may work in one country may fail miserably in another depending on circumstances.

Hugo Chavez (and soon Evo Morales) is hated by the right and some on the left, but he has the popular support of his people. With America’s unfortunate indifference to the impact of the economic policies they prescribe to others, they are losing neighbours and friends fast.

18th December, 2005

Are the Conservatives finally developing sense?

by Sunny at 6:31 am    

I’m not spending half my time on holiday reading British newspapers honest, (though they’re better than even the LA Times), but I couldn’t help this one.

Will David Cameron’s succession to the Tory party mean they will become more friendly towards ethnic minorities, I asked earlier this month, saying he showed plenty of promise going by what he said prior to the election. I may now be proved right.

CameronIn his first interview published in the Observer today, Cameron says he wants to “change the face of the party, with more women and more representatives from black and ethnic minority communities”. On immigration he says:

The principles that the Conservative Party should apply are very clear: we think immigration is very good for Britain; we think that there are clear benefits in a modern economy from having both emigration and immigration, but that net immigration has to have a very careful regard to good community relations and the fair provision of public services.

DC has done three things here: avoided the rubbish and inflammatory rhetoric of his predecessors, laid out the truth on immigration (that it’s a net benefit to the economy), and makes the one distinction most “commentators” fail to do – between immigration and asylum seekers.

I’m passionately committed to giving people who are being tortured and persecuted asylum, and that means not just letting them in, but taking them to our hearts, and feeding and clothing and schooling them.

Bravo! Even the bloody Labour party refused to be so bold during the election last year.

How all this translates into action will have to be seen. His cabinet is unfortunately full of has-beens (IDS, Hague) who had no clue about what to do with immigration/asylum and just peddled the standard rhetoric.

You may ask, why the big interest? Let me explain. Firstly I believe this country has a moral responsibility like any other to try and provide for those avoiding persecution. Specially from the countries we invade. Note that other European countries and the developed world take far more asylum seekers than the UK. India and Pakistan particularly.

Secondly, paranoid attacks (based on speculation not facts) on immigrants/asylum seekers leads to more xenophobia and general ill-will towards all non-whites. If a person thinks their country is being overrun by immigrants (most think 25% of the UK is non-white when it’s only 7.9%), they probably won’t make the distinction between an immigrant or a British-born Asian/African. There are many studies to show the media bias and attacks on immigrants has lead to more racism but I can’t find them now.

Lastly, the Conservative Party is finally moving towards its natural position on this issue: pro-immigration / pro-market. It’s always struck me as amusing that when the economic benefits of controlled immigration are clear, the right-wing political party has traditionally opposed it. It shows their guts rule over their brains, but maybe the Conservatives are finally developing sense.

Though, it would be wise to read Neil Harding’s comment on this made previously.

17th December, 2005

Leaving the comfort zone

by Sunny at 10:18 am    

The world can be a bizarre place sometimes, not always turning out the way you want it to. At such times I’ve always felt better in re-thinking my thoughts and stances than stubbornly hang on to it or pretend it never happened. Others may not always follow this strategy.

Iraqis protested against Al-Jazeera on Thursday for broadcasting a talk-show clip implying the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani should stay out of politics. Al-Jaz has always been seen as being biased towards Hussain and the insurgents. Most Arabs may of course prefer to ignore that, as they would the fact that their Iraqi bretheren seemed to have embraced democracy with gusto that no one expected.

Those of us against the war have a duty to support Iraqi democracy because it now rests on their will, whatever the original intentions of the idiotic monkey popularly known as George Bush. Providing he doesn’t fuck things up further with more bad intelligence. Those who believed him the first time only have themselves to blame, and those who now slavishly lap up his rubbish may make it again. Many hurdles are still left.

Meanwhile everyone prefers to ignore the bigger problems of environmental degradation and unequal world trade because thinking change there means giving up comforts we are used to. Better to bury our head in the sand and let our politicians host more useless conferences that achieve nothing (while the USA keeps throwing tantrums).

This practise is quite familiar to the Muslim Council of Britain, which apparently stands against oppression worldwide but says very little about the Iranian President’s recent anti-semitism. Too close for comfort maybe. Of course it would help if the Israel administration wasn’t so two-faced about the Palestinians it “accidentally” kills and flouting UN directives, but then trying to get both sides to see sense is a thankless task.

The writers at Harry’s Place faced a similar dilemma yesterday when they admirably interpreted the Australian race riots through a straightforward set of principles, but found not everyone saw it that way. That victim mentality rears its ugly head again.

Everytime there is a problem, people retreat to what they feel safe with. We ignore the Lebanese gangs striving for local turf; Palestinians who want a simple life; women in Australia and Iraq who have become spoils of war between macho men with beer bottles and bombs; police that wants greater power over our lives; and lastly, as my rich uncle in L.A. says, “people who are being dumbed down by the elite through this media”.

I learnt today: if you want enlightenment, first you have to travel. And finally, my apologies for not staying away for too long.

Filed under: The World
16th December, 2005

Iranian President in need of slap

by Al-Hack at 8:41 am    

Siddartha at Golmal Press puts it like this:

When MPACuk makes horrendous racist and anti-Semitic statements in the UK, Muslim Brits should know that at some point they stop speaking on behalf of Muslims and, instead, on behalf of and paying lip service to European ultra-right wing movements. So when Ahmadinejad spouts anti-Semitic garbage, Muslims especially should know that it, and the subsequent political fallout is part of some fucked up political dance of his own making.

Ain’t that putting it nicely? I say the brotha needs a slap. Or get laid. But I prefer the first option. Oh, and well said.

Filed under: Religion,The World

Playing the victim card in Aussieland

by Al-Hack at 8:17 am    

In the comments section of my previous post on the Australian race riots, Kate points to two articles;
1) The Age profiles Alan Jones, Sydney’s highest-rating breakfast radio host, who claims to have “lead the charge” using his show. On air he read out the infamous text message: “Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day …” There is much more – read the article.

Kate adds: “….the media in Australia for the most part is weak, reprehensible, and sometimes even inflammatory and racist.”

2) She also points to a Mediawatch expose just a few months ago, catching Channel 7 blatantly twisting the words of young Lebanese Muslims to give the impression “they don’t want to integrate”.

On that subject, to hear Melanie “mad dog” Phillips raving about Muslims attacking “indigenous Aussies” was hilarious. I didn’t know the Aboriginies were involved love? Have the sanity pills run out? In fact, has anyone asked the Aboriginies if the white Australians have “integrated” sufficiently into their society.

Remember, this is about poor, blameless, lovely white women being attacked by horrible Muslims and a culture of political-correctness stopping these people from being dealt with. You gotta feel sorry for the poor, opressed (white) Australians ( /French/whoever). ‘Dark days’(tm), she will tell you. It was only a few decades ago that people were complaining about Jews not integrating and being a problem… oh never mind, I doubt Phillips will get the irony.

For a quick laugh, you can read this thread on Harry’s Place where a bunch of racism apologists whine and bleat about being victims, and how this wasn’t neo-nazi activity but a legitimate reaction against Muslims (so it couldn’t be racist, see). Let’s ignore that most “Lebs” in Aussieland are Christian, and they are, at most, .9% of the population. It’s an invasion dammit, and by not spending all their time drinking beer, they’re out to destroy Aussie life.

15th December, 2005

When family become the enemy

by Al-Hack at 7:21 am    

It isn’t well known enough that most rape and sexual abuse of women happens by people they know, usually family members. What we do know is that most South Asian families would rather sweep it under the carpet than confront rape.

It is worse if the parents are not around to protect their children, as it increasingly looks to be the case in Sri Lanka, where about 600,000 women work abroad as maids.

That is a phenomenal number and the money they send home is worth a lot to the Sri Lankan govt. Sunny posted an article on ‘sending money home‘ before. But it sometimes has disastrous consequences for their children, the BBC’s Dumeetha Luthra reports.

Children left at home can be vulnerable to child abuse, incest and other exploitation.

“The mother leaves the children, sometimes with the father. Sometimes, when the father feels lonely, he will try and make use of the children to satisfy his needs,” warns Neeta Ariayaratna.

She works for a local NGO Sarvodya, which runs a home for young unmarried mothers.

The Sri Lankan government should be doing more to recognise the problem and put provisions in place, but this may be one of those cases where mothers would still rather trust families than a govt run home to take care of their children. Some efforts would not go amiss though, right?

Filed under: Culture,South Asia
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