RSS
Image

James Mollison: Where Children Sleep | Photography

James Mollison: Where Children Sleep | Photography

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where Children Sleep – stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. When Fabrica asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. This is a selection from the 56 diptychs in the book. -James Mollison

Where Children Sleep  | James Mollison 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Human Rights

 

Tags: , , , ,

THE LOTUS EFFECT

LotusEffectWhile the world has made encouraging strides in the fight against global poverty, there is a hidden crisis silently undermining our best efforts to help the poor.

It is a plague of everyday violence.

Beneath the surface of the world’s poorest communities, common violence — like rape, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, police abuse and other brutality — has become routine and relentless. And like a horde of locusts devouring everything in their path, the unchecked plague of violence ruins lives, blocks the road out of poverty, and undercuts development.

How has this plague of violence grown so ferocious? The answer is terrifying, and startlingly simple: There’s nothing shielding the poor from violent people. In one of the most remarkable — and unremarked upon — social disasters of the last half century, basic public justice systems in the developing world have descended into a state of utter collapse.

Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros offer a searing account of how we got here — and what it will take to end the plague. Filled with vivid real-life stories and startling new data, The Locust Effect is a gripping journey into the streets and slums where fear is a daily reality for billions of the world’s poorest ,where safety is secured only for those with money, and where much of our well-intended aid is lost in the daily chaos of violence.

While their call to action is urgent, Haugen and Boutros provide hope, a real solution and an ambitious way forward. The Locust Effect is a wake-up call: Its massive implications will forever change the way we understand global poverty – and will help secure a safe path to prosperity for the global poor in the 21st century.

The Lotus Effect

#LOTUSEFFECT

 

Tags: , , ,

HRW: Iraq Moves to Legalize Child Marriage and Marital Rape

Photo © Stephanie Sinclair

Iraq’s Council of Ministers should withdraw a new draft Personal Status Law and ensure that Iraq’s legal framework protects women and girls in line with its international obligations. The pending legislation would restrict women’s rights in matters of inheritance and parental and other rights after divorce, make it easier for men to take multiple wives, and allow girls to be married from age nine.

The draft law, called the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of the Jaafari school of Shia religious jurisprudence, founded by Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shia imam. Approved by the Council of Ministers on February 25, 2014, it must now be approved by the parliament to become law.

“Passage of the Jaafari law would be a disastrous and discriminatory step backward for Iraq’s women and girls,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “This personal status law would only entrench Iraq’s divisions while the government claims to support equal rights for all.”

The draft law would cover Iraq’s Shia citizens and residents, a majority of the population of 36 million. It includes provisions that prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, legalizes marital rape by stating that a husband is entitled to have sex with his wife regardless of her consent, and prevents women from leaving the house without permission from their husbands. The law would automatically grant custody over any child age two or older to the father in divorce cases, lower the marriage age to nine for girls and fifteen for boys, and even allow girls younger than nine to be married with a parent’s approval.

Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari introduced the draft law to the Council of Ministers on October 27, 2013. In December, the council said it would postpone considering the draft until after legislative elections scheduled for April 30, 2014, and after the supreme Shia religious authority (marji’iya) approved the draft, which it has not yet done. But the council went ahead and approved it on February 25 despite strong opposition from rights advocates and some religious leaders.

Iraq’s current Personal Status Law (Law 188 of 1959), which applies to all Iraqis regardless of sect, sets the legal age for marriage at 18, but allows for a judge to permit girls as young as 15 to be married in “urgent” cases. In December 2012, the Lebanese news outlet Al-Safir reported that rates of early marriage of girls had risen drastically in Iraq in the previous decade. In 2013, the Population Reference Bureau, an international organization, reported that “the decline in early marriage has stopped in … Iraq,” citing its own statistics that 25 percent of girls marry before age 18 and 6 percent before age 15. The draft law’s provisions would legalize, rather than try to reverse, Iraq’s growing child marriage problem, Human Rights Watch said.

The draft law violates the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Iraq ratified in 1986, by giving fewer rights to women and girls on the basis of their gender. It also violates the Convention on Rights of the Child, which Iraq ratified in 1994, by legalizing child marriage, putting girls at risk of forced and early marriage and susceptible to sexual abuse, and not requiring decisions about children in divorce cases to be made in the best interests of the child.

The draft law ignores article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women by legalizing marital rape, Human Rights Watch said. The CEDAW committee, the body of international experts who review state compliance with the convention, in its February 28, 2014 review of Iraq’s reports, urged the government to “immediately withdraw the draft Jaafari personal status law.” The law also appears to violate the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by granting fewer rights to certain individuals on the basis of their religion.

The draft law also starkly contrasts with article 14 of Iraq’s Constitution, which prohibits “discrimination and distinction between Iraqis” and guarantees the equality of all Iraqis “without distinction to religion, faith, nationality, sex, opinion, economic or social status.” Article 13 of Iraq’s constitution stipulates that it is the “supreme law” in Iraq and that “no law that contradicts this Constitution shall be enacted.”

In addition to its concern over the draft’s specific discriminatory provisions, the CEDAW committee concluded that, more generally, “identity-based personal status laws and customs perpetuate discrimination against women and that the preservation of multiple legal systems is in itself discriminatory against women.” The committee has previously said that the lack of individual choice relating to the application or observance of particular laws and customs exacerbates this discrimination.

A broad spectrum of Iraqi rights activists, Sunni and Shia religious leaders, and judges have criticized the draft law as discriminatory, violating religious texts, and, because the law would single out one sect, entrenching sectarian divisions in law. The Iraqi Women’s Network, an association of women’s rights groups, held protests on March 8, International Women’s Day, calling it a day of mourning in Iraq.

“Iraq is in conflict and undergoing a breakdown of the rule of law,” Basma al-Khateeb, a women’s rights activist, told Human Rights Watch. “The passage of the Jaafari law sets the ground for legalized inequality.”

In its review, the CEDAW committee had also recommended that Iraq repeal discriminatory legal exceptions to the minimum age of marriage for girls in the existing Personal Status Law. It said that legal exceptions to the minimum age of marriage should be granted only in exceptional cases and authorized by a competent court for both girls and boys, and only in cases in which they are at least 16 years old and give their express consent. It recommended that Iraq take the necessary legislative measures to prohibit polygamy, which is permitted in the current law under certain circumstances.

More generally, the committee expressed concern over the generally poor status of women’s rights in the country, which it attributed in part to the government’s “strengthening the role of the security sector” at the expense of the enforcement of the rule of law, since its initiatives “have not given due consideration to the establishment of accountability mechanisms and … have resulted in rampant childnotbrideimpunity.” The committee said it “is particularly concerned that this situation, along with pervasive corruption, has contributed to an increase of violence against women by State and non-State actors, as well as to the reinforcement of traditional and patriarchal attitudes which limit women’s and girls’ enjoyment of their rights.”

“This draft personal status law flies in the faces of the Iraqi government’s legal commitments to protect women’s and girls’ rights,” Stork said. “Passage of this law by parliament may lead to further discriminatory laws. It is all well and good to have a good constitution on paper, but lawmakers need to respect its principles.”

Reprint: Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds | HRW

Related: Too Young To Wed

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pregnant Woman Burnt Alive by In-Laws For Unpaid Dowry| IBT

Dowry deaths (henna)

Photo: ALAMAY

In another suspected dowry-related death, a woman, eight months pregnant, was burnt alive in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to local news channels. The woman had married two years ago and her in-laws had made repeated demands for dowry since then.

The parents of the woman lodged a complaint with the police and suspect that her husband and in-laws were behind the brutal murder since the dowry demands were said to have been particularly forceful during the last few months.

According to reports, she was set on fire at her house in Kakinada, a small town in Andhra. The husband and his parents are on the run.

Dowry-related deaths are rampant in India and their causes go deep into the social system, sociologists say. Over 8,200 dowry deaths were reported in the country in 2012, which works out to about one dowry death every hour, according to the National Crime Records Bureau statistics. However, the conviction rate was abysmally low at just 32% for the same year, lower than 35.8% in 2011.

Laxity in investigations at initial levels, apart from a slow judiciary, is blamed for the culprits going scot-free in a majority of the cases.

 India: Pregnant Woman Burnt Alive for Dowry by In-Laws -By Divya Avasthy | IBT

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

My Mom Sold My Virginity -Abigail Haworth| Marie Claire

© Will Baxter

Photo: © Will Baxter

Dara Keo and her mother, Rotana, were both in tears when it was time for her to leave. A motorized rickshaw had arrived to transport 12-year-old Keo from her one-room shack in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to an unknown location. Keo was crying because she was terrified. Rotana was crying because she knew she had done something unspeakable: She had sold her daughter’s virginity to a rich, powerful man. The rickshaw driver took Keo to an underground medical clinic. A corrupt doctor on the payroll of brokers who arrange the sale of virgins examined her to check that her hymen was intact and gave her a blood test for HIV infection. “He confirmed I was a virgin and disease-free,” says Keo, now 17. “Then I was taken to the man who bought me. I had to stay with him for one week while he raped me many times without a condom.”

Cambodia’s highly secretive upmarket virgin trade is a world apart from the capital’s rowdy, neon-lit bars and karaoke clubs where foreign tourists and locals can buy sex for $10 or $20. Its clients are high-ranking officials from the Cambodian government, military, and police force, as well as other members of Asia’s wealthy elite, who pay between $500 and $5,000 to sleep with a virgin.

Worldwide an estimated 4.5 million people are trafficked for sex or forced into prostitution, and 98 percent of the victims are women and girls, according to the International Labour Organization. In the United States, around 300,000 children are reported to be at risk of sexual exploitation. In Cambodia, an impoverished nation of only 15 million people, “many thousands” of Cambodian girls and women are sold for their virginity every year, says Dr. Chhiv Kek Pung, the president of ‘s leading human rights organization, Licadho. (There are no hard figures due to the trade’s secrecy.)

The virgin trade thrives partly due to a cultural myth. “Many older Asian men believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and prevent illness,” she explains. “There is an endless number of destitute families for the trade to prey on, and the rule of law is very weak.” Human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and the buying and selling of sex are illegal in Cambodia. However, because of official corruption and substandard police resources, no one has ever been convicted of purchasing virgins in Cambodia’s courts.

The belief that sex with virgins can prolong lifespan, originally from Taoist thought, has long been popular with Asian leaders. People’s Republic of China founder Chairman Mao had a well-documented love of virgins. The North Korean regime allegedly keeps elite troops of virgins ages 14 to 20 known as “satisfaction teams,” who are forced to provide sex to senior party officials.

In addition to rich locals, men from neighboring countries such as China, Singapore, and Vietnam are regular customers in Cambodia. “They travel here on business and have everything prearranged by brokers: a five-star hotel, a few rounds of golf, and a night or two with a virgin,” says Eric Meldrum, a former police detective from the United Kingdom who now works as an anti-exploitation consultant in Phnom Penh. “The men know they can get away with it.”

Home to more than 1,000 people, the Phnom Penh riverside slum where I meet Keo and her mother is a splintering jumble of wooden shacks alongside rancid water. Keo says that here, almost every teenage girl is sold for her virginity at some point. “Everyone knows, but nobody talks about it.”

Female chastity in Cambodia is enshrined in a code of obedience known as Chbab Srey (“Women’s Law”), and the girls suffer unjust shame. “There’s a national saying that men are like gold and women are like cloth,” says Tong Soprach, who does independent research on Cambodia’s youth for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and government bodies. “If you drop gold in the dirt, it washes clean and still shines. If you drop cloth, the stain never comes out.” As a result, it is often hard for girls to marry or get regular jobs if they admit what happened to them.

Keo and Rotana tell their story inside the tiny room on stilts they rent for $10 a month. Outside, babies wail and hammers bang, and the walls shake as people traverse the slum’s rickety pathways. Quiet-spoken Rotana, 62, says the decision to sell her daughter’s virginity was a “last resort.”

Excerpt, read My Mom Sold My Virginity -Abigail Haworth| Marie Claire

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

529 Egyptians Sentenced to Death in Killing One Police Officer -David D. Kirkpatrick | NYT

529-Mursi

A relative of a supporter of Egyptian ousted Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, cries outside the courthouse on March 24, 2014 in the central Egyptian city of Minya, after the court ordered the execution of 529 Morsi supporters after only two hearings. Photo: AFP Photo/STR

MINYA, Egypt — A crowd gathered outside a courthouse in the town of Matay erupted in wailing and rage last Monday when a judge sentenced 529 defendants to death in just the second session of their trial, convicting them of murdering a police officer in anger at the ouster of the Islamist president. Here in the provincial capital just a few miles away, schools shut down early, and many stayed indoors fearing a riot, residents said.

But the crowds went home, and soon the streets were quiet.

After nine months of escalating repression that culminated in the extraordinary verdict, the military-led government that removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood appears to have finally cowed his supporters into near-silence here in Minya, perhaps their greatest stronghold. The city was the heart of a fierce Islamist insurgency just two decades ago, and threatened to rise up again, against the new government.

“They want to scare us so we don’t go out into the streets against them, to show us that could be the justification for another death sentence,” said Mohamed Hafez, whose brother was among those sentenced to death. So rather than give them the pretext, he said, the families consoled themselves that mass sentence was in some ways “a good thing,” because it showed that the trial itself was “a farce” and “illegitimate.”

Excerpt, read Hundreds of Egyptians Sentenced to Death in Killing of a Police Officer -David D. Kirkpatrick | NYT

Related: In Egypt, One Step Up and 529 Steps Back -By Robert Mackey | NYT

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

HRW: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt

Torture & Trafficking

© Tom Dale/Human Rights Watch

Traffickers have kidnapped, tortured, and killed refugees, most from Eritrea, in eastern Sudan and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to dozens of interviewees said Human Rights Watch. Egypt and Sudan have failed to adequately identify and prosecute the traffickers and any security officials who may have colluded with them, breaching both countries’ obligation to prevent torture.

The 79-page report, “‘I Wanted to Lie Down and Die:’ Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt,” documents how, since 2010, Egyptian traffickers have tortured Eritreans for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula, including through rape, burning, and mutilation. It also documents torture by traffickers in eastern Sudan and 29 incidents in which victims told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese and Egyptian security officers facilitated trafficker abuses rather than arresting them and rescuing their victims. Egyptian officials deny there are trafficker abuses in Sinai, allowing it to become a safe haven for traffickers.

“Egyptian officials have for years denied the horrific abuse of refugees going on under their noses in Sinai,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Both Egypt and Sudan need to put an end to torture and extortion of Eritreans on their territory, and to prosecute traffickers and any security officials colluding with them.”

Since June 2013, the Egyptian authorities have intensified security operations in Sinai in response to almost weekly assassinations and attacks on police and military officers by Sinai-based groups. Security officials should ensure that their law enforcement operations include identifying and prosecuting traffickers, Human Rights Watch said.

The report draws on 37 interviews with Eritreans by Human Rights Watch and 22 by a nongovernmental organization in Egypt. The people interviewed said they had been abused for weeks or even months, either near the town of Kassala in eastern Sudan or near the town of Arish in northeastern Sinai, near Egypt’s border with Israel. Human Rights Watch also interviewed two traffickers, one of whom acknowledged that he tortured dozens of people. The report also draws on interviews conducted by other nongovernmental organizations outside Egypt who have interviewed hundreds of torture victims, and on statements by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) relating to its interviews of hundreds of such victims.

The victims said the Egyptian traffickers had tortured them to extort up to US$40,000 from their relatives. All of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they saw or experienced abuse by the traffickers, including rapes of both women and men; electric shocks; burning victims’ genitalia and other body parts with hot irons, boiling water, molten plastic, rubber, and cigarettes; beating them with metal rods or sticks; hanging victims from ceilings; threatening them with death; and depriving them of sleep for long periods. Seventeen of the victims said they saw others die of the torture.

Relatives who heard the victims scream through their mobile phones said they collected and wired the vast sums of money the traffickers demanded.

Since 2004, over 200,000 Eritreans have fled repression and destitution at home to remote border camps in eastern Sudan and Ethiopia, dodging Eritrean border guards with shoot to kill orders against people leaving without permission. They have no work prospects in or near the camps and until 2010, tens of thousands paid smugglers who took them through Sinai to Israel.

By 2011, Israel had completed large sections of a 240-kilometer fence along its border with Sinai to keep them out. Since then, traffickers have continued to kidnap Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sell them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai. Every Eritrean Human Rights Watch interviewed who had arrived in Sinai in 2012 said that traffickers had taken them from Sudan to Egypt against their will.

Human Rights Watch received new reports of trafficking from eastern Sudan to Sinai as recently as November 2013 and January 2014.

Eritreans told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese police in the remote eastern town of Kassala, close to Africa’s oldest refugee camps, intercepted them near the border, arbitrarily detained them, and handed them over to traffickers, including at police stations.

Some of the victims also said that they had seen how Egyptian security officers had colluded with traffickers at checkpoints between the Sudanese border and Egypt’s Suez Canal, at the heavily policed canal or at checkpoints on the only vehicle bridge crossing the canal, in traffickers’ houses, at checkpoints in Sinai’s towns, and close to the Israeli border.

Map

Despite the widespread knowledge of the trafficking in Sinai and the severity of the abuses, senior Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied that the trafficking is taking place. The few who acknowledge possible abuses say there is not enough evidence to investigate.

As of December 2013, Egypt’s public prosecutor had prosecuted one Sinai trafficker’s accomplice living in Cairo, according to a lawyer representing trafficking victims. According to international groups following trafficking cases in Sudan, the Sudanese authorities had prosecuted 14 cases involving traffickers of Eritreans in eastern Sudan. By the end of 2013, Sudan had prosecuted four police officials, but Egypt hadn’t prosecuted anyone for trafficking and torture.

Both countries’ failure to adequately investigate and prosecute traffickers who severely abuse their victims and the alleged collusion by security officials breaches their obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, international human rights law, and, in Egypt’s case, national and international anti-trafficking laws, Human Rights Watch said.

Egypt should use its increased security presence in Sinai to apprehend traffickers, in particular near the town of Arish, and investigate security officials colluding with them at the Suez Canal and in Sinai. Sudan should investigate collusion with traffickers by senior police officials in and around Kassala, including in police stations.

“Egypt and Sudan are giving allegedly corrupt security officials a free pass to work with traffickers,” Simpson said. “The time has long passed for Egypt and Sudan to stop burying their heads in the sand and take meaningful action to end these appalling abuses.”

When traffickers free Eritreans whose families have paid their ransom, Egyptian border police often intercept the Eritreans and transfer them to military prosecutors and then detain them for months in inhuman and degrading conditions in Sinai’s police stations, victims said. The Egyptian authorities deny trafficking victims their rights under Egypt’s 2010 Law on Combating Human Trafficking, which says they should receive assistance, protection, and immunity from prosecution.

Instead, the authorities charge them with immigration offenses, and deny them access to urgently needed medical care as well as to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which considers refugee claims in Egypt. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly claimed that all Eritreans intercepted in Sinai are illegal migrants, not refugees, ignoring the fact that since mid-2011 most Sinai trafficking victims [were taken] from Sudan to Egypt against their will.

Egyptian authorities only release detained Eritreans when they have raised enough money to buy an air ticket to Ethiopia. There, many come full circle, living once again in the refugee camps near Eritrea where they originally registered as refugees.

International donors to Egypt, including the United States and the European Union and its member states, should press Egyptian and Sudanese authorities to investigate and prosecute traffickers and to investigate any collusion by security officials with traffickers.

“It is too late for the tortured trafficking victims who have gone through hell in Sinai,” Simpson said. “But the international community can try to prevent hundreds more Eritreans from falling into the hands of abusive traffickers, while insisting that past crimes should not go unpunished.”

Reprint: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt | HRW

Related: ‘I Wanted to Lie Down and Die:’ Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt | HRW (Report)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 642 other followers