Friday, December 09, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
“He had seen my lesbian friends coming home and he talked about how we all dress like men,” 22-year-old Dumisani (pseudonym) told Human Rights Watch. “He dragged me to the bushes. There was no one around. He told me to take off my pants. I was refusing but he was beating me. He raped me until it was late at night. … I saw the guy after that, too. A week later I heard he had raped another girl. He was arrested but he came out three days later and beat her up so badly, she was in hospital for three weeks. I was so scared.”
Yes these women chose to dress like men but how does a man raping them help their character. I have so many mixed feelings about the underlying issues of LGBT however I do not feel as though they should be discriminated against especially not by government officials. The government should be protecting them. I hope you guys read the article and share your thoughts.
In South Africa, lesbians are being abused. Lesbians and transgender are living in constant fear of harassment as well as physical and sexual violence. The Human Rights Watch reported that this is a contrast to the South African constitution. Same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa and the country has among the most liberal laws on sexual orientation on the continent. But cultural attitudes don't always match the constitution approved in 1996 by lawmakers determined to show they were more progressive then their apartheid predecessors.
One woman told Human Rights Watch of a series of rapes by her cousin, her coach and her pastor. Another said a female cousin spiked her drink so that the cousin's boyfriend could rape her. A third said that after a rape. "I really hated myself."
Raping a lesbian, HRW researchers found, can make a man a township hero. Attackers boast publicly of their crimes and declare to their victims, "We'll show you you're a woman," the report said. Such attacks are known as "corrective rapes" in South Africa.
The Human Rights Watch is calling on the South African government to reach out and implement a system to free lesbians and transgender from living in fear. However, I don’t think it only depends on the government to make these changes. The citizens of South Africa need to realize that their society needs a change to protect the rights of all human beings. Educating the public is a step to bring change to South Africa to build the society that the country is trying to achieve.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
In reading about blood diamonds in the NY Times, I couldn't help but think about the impact that media could play on spreading knowledge and awareness of the issues that exist. I knew nothing about the existence of blood diamonds (must be the sheltered life i live) prior to the thriller film debut. The movie (trailer here) included Leanoardo DiCaprio in his quest and role in the blood diamonds web. The blood diamonds refer to the diamonds mined during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 2002 and sold to finance conflicts by providing warlords and international diamond companies. The Sierra Leone Civil War actually led to the creation of the above discussed Kimberley Process coalition.
It amazes me the impact that media can have on an individuals knowledge and awareness. We blog on this site - but mainly people interested in human rights come to this blog. With movies we have the ability to reach so many individuals who don't even know that they have an interested in human rights advocacy.
What's the answer? Obviously-- we have to be aware of potential security threats to those whose identity remains unverified, but is this the best that we've got?
Mali is Africa’s third largest gold producer. Artisanal mines rely on heavy human labor and little mechanization. People throughout West Africa are flocking to work in the primitive pits. Approximately 100,000 to 200,000 people in Mali are working in artisanal mines, according to the Human Rights Watch report which will be released Tuesday. Twenty to thirty percent of the workforce in African artisanal mines is child labor. The children working in the mines, some as young as six years old, help dig shafts with pickaxes, lift and carry heavy bags of ore and pan the gold with an amalgamation process involving mercury. These children experience harsh working conditions on a daily basis where they have terrible headaches, back pain, joint aches that can potentially lead to long-tern spinal injury for some of these children who are carrying very heavy loads.
A 15 year old named Samba Dairra, journeyed 200 miles to live in a plastic hut alone and work in an artisanal gold mine in Mali. The teen came to the mine to help support his five younger brothers and sisters. The main reason he left his home is to help his parents by sending them money. Diarra’s parents can’t afford to send him to school because he has to support his younger siblings. Diarra spent his first day pulling up gold ore that was mined by men working deep underground. At the end of his first day, he was paid with a bag of dirt while gold is currently trading at around $1747 an ounce. Some children working in the mines never get paid. Those who do, get just a few dollars a week.
It is extremely heartbreaking that these young children like Diarra are working for little or nothing so that they can contribute to their households. They are shouldering responsibility at an early age, which is taking away from their childhood because many of these children will continue to work in these mines for most of their lives because they have no other forms of work or means to get educated. I hope these children can receive justice and one way we can help is to stop purchasing diamonds to prevent the diamond industry from growing.
While there is a happy ending, the rest of the film is filled with heartbreaking moments. I started watching as a young, former child soldier of the LRA (no more than 12) traveled to a military camp, photo of his brother in hand. He came to see the lieutenant, and asked if he could talk to the rebel they had caught just a few days prior. The lieutenant obliged and the boy sat down with this rebel and asked if he had seen the boy’s brother. The rebel explained that the brother was likely dead. “I will tell my mother so we can go on with our lives,” the boy said bravely. I felt my heart sink as the boy looked at the rebel in the eye and said, “Why did you capture me, and capture children like me?” The rebel looked uneasy and lowered his eyes; finally, he said, “if you want a strong family, you must have a lot of children.”
I recall reading in Lukwago’s narrative of how he was forced to kill his friend, but when this Ugandan child looked into the camera and explained how he was forced by the rebels to take hoes to the back of facedown farmers, I got a bit teary-eyed. These were not just words on a page, this was a face, a life with a story. “I have never even told my mother that I have killed; you are the first to know,” he confessed after explaining the graphic details. Those who cried would be killed; those who refused to kill would be killed themselves. This film is definitely worth a watch; It really is moving. I can try to get it on NetFlix if anyone is interested in a break over reading days!
Monday, December 05, 2011
Five years after Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on the country's violent drug traffickers, his government is fighting accusations by human-rights activists that it allowed the killing, torture and kidnapping of civilians in its drug war. While the government denies systematic abuses, mounting reports of such cases could erode popular support for the offensive by Mr. Calderón. And with Mr. Calderón's legacy largely built on his fight against organized crime, the reports could also hurt his party's bid to hold on to the presidency in elections next year.
Netzai Sandoval, a Mexican human-rights lawyer, asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Nov. 25 to investigate Mr. Calderón and top security officials—along with leading drug lords—for alleged war crimes. The request came with a petition signed by more than 23,000 people, led by a group of mostly leftist academics, jurists and journalists. The petition says the abuse by the Mexican state is systematic. The petition names Mr. Calderón and his top security officials for at least 470 specific cases of human-rights abuses. A recent Human Rights Watch report said it found strong evidence of participation of security forces in 170 cases of torture, 39 disappearances, and 24 incidents of extrajudicial killings. Since Mr. Calderón took office five years ago, 46,000 people have died in drug-related violence, most of it, according to the government, between rival cartels fighting for turf. The president has sent 45,000 troops to try to quell the violence and reclaim territory from drug lords. He has also tried to improve the local and federal police forces.
This is neglect and abuse by the government. All of this evidence clearly demonstrates that the government has been encouraging acts that deprive Mexican citizens of human rights. The government should be held accountable for this disturbing amount of torture that it encouraged to inflict onto others. There is a tremendous amount of corruption that is taking over the government and there is a similar trend in many other countries that are known as third world. This is a step to hold the government accountable to improve human rights in Mexico and in other parts of the world.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Former President George W. Bush is headed to Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia from Thursday through Monday to spread awareness about AIDS, cervical and breast cancer. On World Aids Day of Thursday, he met in Tanzania with former President Clinton and President Obama, who has commended Bush's continued efforts, lauding the program that "has saved hundreds of thousands and thousands and thousands of lives, spurred international action, and laid the foundation for a comprehensive global plan that will impact the lives of millions." Despite the noble cause of his trip, Amnesty International has called upon the three nations to arrest Bush as he travels between the countries, stating that there is evidence of his "alleged involvement in and responsibility for torture," referring to the Bush administration's use of waterboarding on three Al-Qaeda leaders.
Is Amnesty International acting out of genuine concern for human rights abuses, or are they following an ulterior political agenda? The organization has received a huge amount of funding from organizations with anti-Bush leaders, such as George Soro's Open Society Institute, and has oft been accused of infusing its campaigns with far-left politics, exploiting its tax exempt status. The request could be viewed as an attempt to embarrass the former President, and could even incite violence against him as travels. Critics of AI go on to note that the waterboarding was used against terrorists with the intention of saving the lives and protecting the human rights of millions of others; intelligence has suggested that this interrogation technique likely produced the information that led to locating Osama bin Laden. These were people who had devised atrocities against humanity- and yet AI is infuriated by the treatment of three terrorists. I think the critics make a valid and interesting point- but I'm left to wonder if that sort of claim is a slippery slope. If human rights exist in virtue of our being human, should we be able to sacrifice another group's rights for ours just because they are terrorists?
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned a rape victim who was jailed for adultery, after she apparently agreed to marry her attacker.
An Afghan woman named Gulnaz was raped and sentenced to prison for adultery for 12 years. Her attacker is the man that she is suppose to marry. Gulnaz's lawyer told the BBC she hoped the government would allow Gulnaz the freedom to choose whom to marry.
Gulnaz is serving time in prison for being a victim of rape. She also gave birth to her daughter while she was in prison. There is no justice and freedom for many Afghan women. Gulnaz’s story is an example of one of the many Afghan women who suffers and is still getting denied basic human rights in the country. In the United States, we typically overlook the freedom we have. We have the right to advocate and stand up for those basic human rights. Also, we have the choice to make decisions without interference of the government, and are able to hold the government accountable for depriving human rights.
Human rights groups say hundreds of women in Afghan jails are victims of rape or domestic violence. Half of Afghanistan's women prisoners are inmates for "zina" or moral crimes. The BBC's Bilal Sarwary, in Kabul, says recent cases of violence against women are embarrassing for the Afghan government. Many Afghan women rights activists say there must be an end to the culture of impunity and police must punish all those behind violence against women, he adds.