Avoid sex attacks by not wearing skirts, Indian minister tells tourists
India’s tourism minister Mahesh Sharma faced an intense backlash after suggesting female visitors to the country should not wear skirts. Sharma told reporters tourists would be given a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ upon arrival, which would include advice not to wear skirts or go out alone at night. “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts,” he said. “Indian culture is different from the Western.” In the face of criticism, Sharma appeared to back-pedal, later saying: “I am the father of two daughters. I cannot put a ban on what women wear. Such a ban is unimaginable, but it is not a crime to be cautious.”
What next? Sharma already has a reputation as a politician who speaks before thinking, making him prone to gaffes. But his comments also reveal the conservative BJP’s clumsiness when it comes to violence against women – and how to address the problem without inadvertently blaming victims based on their clothing. Sharma is unlikely to be the last BJP representative to fluff his lines
New mayor says Tokyo’s storied fish market staying put, for now
The relocation of Tokyo’s world-famous Tsukiji fish market – the site of renowned tuna auctions and a beloved tourist attraction – has been postponed. The historic market seemed to be on borrowed time after the city’s government decided in 2001 it would move to the site of a former gas plant. But after a series of delays, newly-elected governor Yuriko Koike has intervened, insisting the move will not go ahead, citing concerns over soil contamination at the new site and spiralling costs. The relocation alone would cost 580 billion yen (US$5.7 billion) and construction costs have nearly tripled from the original estimate.
What next? Koike is awaiting water tests at the proposed site before making any further decisions. Should those results prompt indefinite postponement, that would also be a spanner in the works of Tokyo’s Olympics preparations, with a new road planned near the market.
Shipping giant’s collapse means turmoil for global freight industry
he collapse of South Korean shipping giant Hanjin has sent ripples though global trade, as the country’s largest port, Busan, turned away its ships and some manufacturers scrambled for freight alternatives. Hanjin, the world’s seventh biggest shipping firm, on Wednesday filed for court receivership after its banks decided to end financial support, and ports from China to Spain, the US and Canada have refused entry to Hanjin vessels in what is traditionally the industry’s busiest season.
What next? Hanjin’s difficulties have derailed the supply chains of firms that need to send goods well in advance of the year’s biggest shopping season during Thanksgiving and Christmas. “There’s going to be a short-term disruption in the supply chain,” said Rahul Kapoor, a Singapore-based director at Drewry Maritime Services. “This is going to play out for the next few weeks. Ports will not have these vessels because they are worried port and other fees won’t be paid.”
Zika in Singapore: Indonesia screens travellers, Hong Kong issues alert
Indonesia began screening travellers from neighbouring Singapore for the Zika virus as the city state reported a growing number of infections and its first case of a pregnant woman testing positive. Indonesian Health Ministry spokesman Oscar Primadi said health officials are recommending the Foreign Ministry issue an advisory against non-essential travel to Singapore, particularly for pregnant women. Hong Kong has also issued a travel alert. Singapore said it had identified 22 new Zika cases in one area of the city and its first case involving a pregnant woman. That took the total number of cases to 151, which includes 21 Chinese nationals. Zika has mild effects for most people but doctors believe infection during pregnancy can result in babies with small heads, which is known as microcephaly, and other serious developmental disorders.
What next? The extent of Singapore’s Zika outbreak is still being monitored but the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is advising travellers to Singapore to take precautions such as protecting themselves against mosquito bites, and because the virus can also be sexually transmitted, to use condoms or not have sex. Thermal imaging equipment to detect abnormal body temperatures was installed at eight Indonesian ports with routes serving Singapore.
Malaysian minister names PM as unnamed 1MDB suspect
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has been outed by one of his cabinet ministers as the anonymous ‘Malaysian Official 1’ referenced in the US Justice Department’s lawsuit over looting of state funds. The lawsuit – part of US moves to seize more than $1 billion in allegedly ill-gotten assets – repeatedly fingered the official as someone conspiring to divert vast sums from state investment fund 1MDB. Najib, who launched a crackdown only last year to contain the spiralling scandal, has so far not commented on the identity of the unnamed official.
But in an interview with the BBC that aired late on Thursday, cities minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan admitted it was Najib. “It’s obvious that the so-called ‘Malaysian Official 1’ referred to by the US Justice Department is our prime minister,” he said in a subsequent clarifying statement.
What next? Najib has in the past denied any involvement in the 1MDB scandal and Rahman Dahlan’s comments are sure to embolden the prime minister’s critics. However, it would be naïve to expect Najib to be seriously damaged, given his support within the ruling Umno party has remained solid throughout.
‘China’s Jack the Ripper’ believed to have been caught over rape-murders dating back to 1988
Police believe they have captured a serial killer dubbed China’s “Jack the Ripper” for the way he mutilated several of his 11 female victims, state-run media reported on Monday, nearly three decades after the first murder happened. Gao Chengyong, 52, was detained at the grocery store he runs with his wife in Baiyin, in the northwestern province of Gansu. He has reportedly confessed to 11 murders in Gansu and the neighbouring region of Inner Mongolia between 1988 and 2002. Gao allegedly targeted young women wearing red and followed them home to rape and kill them, often cutting their throat and mutilating their bodies, according to reports. The youngest victim was eight years old. Some victims also had their reproductive organs removed. “The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women,” police said in 2004. “He’s reclusive and unsociable, but patient.”
What next? Gao was identified after a relative was put under house arrest in Baiyin over allegations of a minor crime and had his DNA collected and tested. Police concluded the killer they had been hunting for 28 years was a relative, and Gao’s DNA matched the murderer’s. Police have not yet been able to explain why the killings stopped after 14 years.