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‘Facebook’s contractor forced me to work alongside my rapist’

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‘Facebook’s contractor forced me to work alongside my rapist’

In one instance, Mandi told openDemocracy, she was on the phone with the counsellor when, without warning, they added her alleged rapist to the call so that he could apologise – despite her having already refused to meet with him face-to-face.

Mandi also feels she was compelled to suppress her emotional distress at work and continue to sift through Facebook content “where people were being sexually violated”, while her own assailant sat a short distance away.

“He attacked and raped me, but faced no consequences despite me reporting him to Sama,” she said.

Sama’s global service delivery vice-president, Annepeace Alwala, told openDemocracy that the organisation provides for “a safe and respectful environment” for employees and treats all allegations of misconduct seriously. Alwala alleges that Mandi withdrew the sexual assault complaint that she initially provided.

“We can state that in this first instance, which took place outside of work, the only witness recanted their statement, and therefore we had no way to action any allegations of wrongdoing.”

Mandi refutes this, claiming she never withdrew her statement. “That is such a lie,” she said.

A second attack

Another former Sama employee told openDemocracy that, just over a year after Mandi’s alleged attack, she was assaulted by the same man.

Zani Mazwai also worked in Sama’s Kenya office and moved into Mandi’s apartment building in August 2022. Just after 4am on 11 September, Mazwai was awoken by a call from the man, who still lived nearby.

The man said he needed Mazwai’s help and came to her door. Although she was half asleep, she was concerned about him and let him in. She says he pounced on her and raped her, then fled.

“I was in so much shock that I couldn’t process what had just happened,” said Mazwai. “I was able to call Mandi, who immediately came over and took me to her apartment.”

Mandi took Mazwai, who was “crying and distraught”, to the hospital for a medical examination.

Mazwai says officials at Sama wanted to handle the alleged attack internally, through a disciplinary hearing for the colleague she said attacked her. She claims they told her she’d need to be in the same room as him to “give an account of what happened”.

“I felt uncomfortable about this, so I decided to file a police report instead. I also told my whole family about it,” she said. “The senior officials were not happy that I filed charges because they wanted to handle it internally.”

Mandi then revealed to Mazwai that the man had raped her too, and also recorded a formal statement with the police.

Two months later, in November, Mandi said she was falsely accused of “coming to work drunk and unable to walk or talk”. She was fired the following month and given a severance payment of 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($350) earlier this year.

“That was less than a month’s salary,” she said. “I was so angry about everything at that time so I didn’t dispute it. I didn’t want anything to do with Sama.”

When asked about this, Alwala from Sama declined to respond, citing a need to protect “employees’ privacy and confidentiality”.

Mandi believes Sama got rid of her to protect their image.

“Firing me was an attempt to cover up the fact that they had sheltered a serial rapist, who had previously assaulted me, then done the same to another moderator. This looked bad for them,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mazwai was given some time off work after her assault, but was soon asked to go back and her request to work from home declined. In March, she was among the 260 content moderators let go by Sama and is now a party to the lawsuit alleging unlawful redundancy and blacklisting.

Alwala stated that the company suspended and sacked the alleged assailant after becoming aware of Mazwai’s police report.

Getting justice

After Mazwai filed a police report, an arrest warrant was issued for the women’s alleged attacker. He fled to Uganda. But he also called Mazwai to demand she drop the charges.

“He said I was ruining his life. I felt scared because I don’t know what more he is capable of,” Mazwai said. She says the rape has made her scared of leaving home during the day.

After speaking to other former Sama colleagues, openDemocracy has established that the man is back in Nairobi – but the police claim they are unable to make an arrest unless Mazwai accompanies them.

The head of Imara Daima’s Villa Police Station, James Mose, said this is because they do not know what he looks like and she has been unable to provide a photo.

“We want the lady to identify the guy at the arrest but she has declined the request to accompany us, saying that she is scared. She can even disguise herself by wearing a mask to cover her face,” Mose told openDemocracy.

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Facebook Faces Yet Another Outage: Platform Encounters Technical Issues Again

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Facebook Problem Again

Uppdated: It seems that today’s issues with Facebook haven’t affected as many users as the last time. A smaller group of people appears to be impacted this time around, which is a relief compared to the larger incident before. Nevertheless, it’s still frustrating for those affected, and hopefully, the issues will be resolved soon by the Facebook team.

Facebook had another problem today (March 20, 2024). According to Downdetector, a website that shows when other websites are not working, many people had trouble using Facebook.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has had issues. Just a little while ago, there was another problem that stopped people from using the site. Today, when people tried to use Facebook, it didn’t work like it should. People couldn’t see their friends’ posts, and sometimes the website wouldn’t even load.

Downdetector, which watches out for problems on websites, showed that lots of people were having trouble with Facebook. People from all over the world said they couldn’t use the site, and they were not happy about it.

When websites like Facebook have problems, it affects a lot of people. It’s not just about not being able to see posts or chat with friends. It can also impact businesses that use Facebook to reach customers.

Since Facebook owns Messenger and Instagram, the problems with Facebook also meant that people had trouble using these apps. It made the situation even more frustrating for many users, who rely on these apps to stay connected with others.

During this recent problem, one thing is obvious: the internet is always changing, and even big websites like Facebook can have problems. While people wait for Facebook to fix the issue, it shows us how easily things online can go wrong. It’s a good reminder that we should have backup plans for staying connected online, just in case something like this happens again.

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves

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CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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