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Archives for : Mexico

Mexico’s Climate Laws Ignore Women

The Ajusco forest, one of Mexico City’s green lungs and water sources. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPSThe Ajusco forest, one of Mexico City’s green lungs and water sources. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

MEXICO CITY, May 8 2014 (IPS) – The rural communities of San Miguel and Santo Tomás Ajusco, to the south of Mexico City, are preserving 3,000 of their 7,619 hectares of forest in exchange for payment for environmental services. But the inequality in the communities is far from ecological.

The 484 men and 120 women who own plots of between half a hectare and eight hectares are organised in the Comisariado de Bienes Comunales (“commissioner’s office for communal goods”). To preserve the forest and care for the water, they receive trees, seeds, greenhouses and other supplies from the federal government and the authorities in the state capital.

There are numerous jobs, ranging from guarding the forest to prevent logging or fires to filling out official paperwork.

And the benefits provided are not insignificant.

Since 2012, this group of ‘comuneros’ – peasants farmers who work communal lands – has been participating in the programme for payments for environmental services financed by the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) and the private construction firm Ingenieros Civiles Asociados (ICA), who provide 123 dollars a year per hectare for keeping the forest clean, growing living barriers, and planting trees.

The work is not done on all plots at the same time, but in a rotating fashion, so the benefits circulate around a surface area of 220 hectares.

In addition, between 2012 and 2013, CONAFOR granted them around 300,000 dollars for the restoration of micro-basins.

But women only participate in reforestation and garbage collection activities.

“We’re going to reforest up to July, when the rainy season starts,” Alma Reyes, a 42-year-old mother of three who is one of the 120 female ‘comuneras’, told IPS. “The problem is that the jobs available to women are very limited.”

Reyes overcame decades of exclusion in 2010, when she successfully ran for the position of secretary of the Comisariado, one of the organisation’s three highest-level posts.

But her term ended in August 2013, and Reyes doubts that another woman will be elected to the position.

“A sexist majority prevails, and the laws are not enforced,” she said. “Women have no influence over what is done, in the distribution of benefits or in decision-making.”

In 2013, similar payments were approved for 52,000 hectares of forest land around the country. And for a period of five years, CONAFOR earmarked 77 million dollars in environmental services on 471,000 hectares.

At first glance, the projects have borne fruit: most of the children in the communities attend school, people eat three meals a day, and villagers have stopped leaving. But statistics are needed to gauge the improvement in living conditions for both men and women.

The case of the ‘comuneras’ from Ajusco illustrates how the role of women is not taken into account in Mexico’s laws on climate change.

The General Climate Change Law in effect since 2012 makes virtually no reference to participation by women.

The only mention of the subject, in article 71, says the plans drawn up by the states must “always seek to achieve gender equity and the representation of the most vulnerable populations.”

“All laws can be perfected,” legislator Lourdes López, chair of the congressional commission on the environment and natural resources, told IPS. “We are reviewing it, because when the law is applied, details are found. We want to ensure follow-up on the climate change plans and on how the executive branch implements them.”

López, who belongs to the Green Ecological Party and heads the Mexican chapter of the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International), is one of the advocates of greater reforms.

The law made the target of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 obligatory, subject to the availability of funding and technology transfer, according to the most comprehensive study on climate legislation, which analysed the laws of 66 countries and was published in February by GLOBE International, a global network of parliamentarians concerned about the environment.

 

Martha Lucía Micher, a lawmaker from the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), believes laws and decision-making must do a better job of including women.

“How can policies be developed if women are ignored?” asked Micher, chair of the gender equality commission. “How can sustainable projects be promoted if women don’t participate? We aren’t sufficiently represented in decision-making on climate change.”

The two legislative commissions presided over by López and Micher, as well as female activists and academics, set up a working group to propose changes to laws on climate change, with the aim of including a gender perspective.

This country of 118 million people is highly vulnerable to climate change and is already suffering the manifestations of global warming, such as more frequent and devastating storms, severe drought, a rising sea level, and a loss of biological diversity.

Over half – 51.3 percent – of the population lives in poverty, and many women, especially in rural areas, bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, because they are responsible for making sure their families have clean water and food, and for taking care of their families in case of disasters.

The absence of a gender focus in the country’s climate laws contrasts sharply with other areas.

The National Development Plan 2013-2018 stipulates that a gender angle must be incorporated in all government programmes, in order to achieve equality between men and women.

And the National Programme for Equal Opportunities and Non-Discrimination against Women 2013-2018 orders the incorporation “of a gender focus in the detection and mitigation of risks, emergency response and reconstruction in natural and manmade disasters,” and in “policies on the environment and sustainability.”

Leticia Gutiérrez, a policy adviser with the Alianza MéxicoREDD+ (REDD+Mexico Alliance), told IPS that “under the prevailing approach, women are still seen as a vulnerable group and the focus is on the promotion of productive projects without managing to have an impact on the structural causes of gender inequality.”

The Alianza sponsored a study that analyses Mexico’s main laws and policies, as well as public spending dedicated to equality between men and women in relation to the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism.

The document, drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Gender Office, concluded that although there is a legal and institutional framework that requires the inclusion of gender considerations, a gender focus is not yet sufficiently included in a cross-cutting manner in forestry, agriculture, environment and climate policies.

Mexico is ranked 21 out of 72 countries on the IUCN Environment and Gender Index (EGI). The top country on the list is Iceland, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is in last place.

The achievements and proposals “sound great,” said Alma Reyes. “I hope they are put into practice, because gender equity is demanded from all sides.”

 

Read mor ehere — http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/05/mexicos-climate-laws-ignore-women/

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Global crisis on torture exposed by new worldwide campaign

Over the last five years, Amnesty International has documented on torture and other forms of ill-treatment in at least 141 countries. Over the last five years, Amnesty International has documented on torture and other forms of ill-treatment in at least 141 countries.

 

Governments around the world are two-faced on torture – prohibiting it in law, but facilitating it in practice.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Amnesty International has accused governments around the world of betraying their commitments to stamp out torture, three decades after the ground-breaking Convention Against Torture was adopted by the UN in 1984.

“Governments around the world are two-faced on torture – prohibiting it in law, but facilitating it in practice” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, as he launched Stop Torture, Amnesty International’s latest global campaign to combat widespread torture and other ill-treatment in the modern world.

“Torture is not just alive and well – it is flourishing in many parts of the world. As more governments seek to justify torture in the name of national security, the steady progress made in this field over the last thirty years is being eroded.”

Since 1984, 155 states have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, 142 of which are researched by Amnesty International. In 2014, Amnesty International observed at least 79 of these still torturing – more than half the states party to the Convention that the organisation reports on. A further 40 UN states haven’t adopted the Convention, although the global legal ban on torture binds them too.

Over the last five years, Amnesty International has reported on torture and other forms of ill-treatment in at least 141 countries from every region of the world – virtually every country on which it works. The secretive nature of torture means the true number of countries that torture is likely to be higher still.

In some of these countries torture is routine and systematic. In others, Amnesty International has only documented isolated and exceptional cases.  The organization finds even one case of torture or other ill-treatment totally unacceptable.

The Stop Torture campaign launches with a new media briefing,Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises, which provides an overview of the use of torture in the world today.

The briefing details a variety of torture techniques – from stress positions and sleep deprivation to electrocution of the genitals – used against criminal suspects, security suspects, dissenting voices, political rivals and others.

As part of the campaign Amnesty International commissioned aGlobescan survey to gauge worldwide attitudes to torture. Alarmingly, the survey found nearly half (44%) of respondents – from 21 countries across every continent – fear they would be at risk of torture if taken into custody in their country.

The vast majority (82%) believe there should be clear laws against torture. However, more than a third (36%) still thought torture could be justified in certain circumstances.

“The results from this new global survey are startling, with nearly half of the people we surveyed feeling fearful and personally vulnerable to torture. The vast majority of people believe that there should be clear rules against torture, although more than a third still think that torture could be justified in certain circumstances. Overall, we can see broad global support amongst the public for action to prevent torture,” said Caroline Holme, Director at GlobeScan.

Measures such as the criminalisation of torture in national legislation, opening detention centres to independent monitors, and video recording interrogations have all led to a decrease in the use of torture in those countries taking their commitments under the Convention Against Torture seriously.

Amnesty International is calling on governments to implement protective mechanisms to prevent and punish torture – such as proper medical examinations, prompt access to lawyers, independent checks on places of detention, independent and effective investigations of torture allegations, the prosecution of suspects and proper redress for victims.

The organization’s global work against torture continues, but will focus in particular on five countries where torture is rife and Amnesty International believes it can achieve significant impact. Substantive reports with specific recommendations for each will form the spine of the campaign.

  • In Mexico the government argues that torture is the exception rather than the norm, but in reality abuse by police and security forces is widespread and goes unpunished. Miriam López Vargas, a 31 year-old mother of four, was abducted from her hometown of Ensenada by two soldiers in plainclothes, and taken to a military barracks. She was held there for a week, raped three times, asphyxiated and electrocuted to force her to confess that she was involved in drug-related offences. Three years have passed, but none of her torturers have been brought to justice.
  • Justice is out of reach for most torture survivors in the Philippines. A secret detention facility was recently discovered where police officers abused detainees ‘for fun’.  Police officers reportedly spun a ‘wheel of torture’ to decide how to torture prisoners.  Media coverage led to an internal investigation and some officers being dismissed, but Amnesty International is calling for a thorough and impartial investigation which will lead to the prosecution in court of the officers involved.  Most acts of police torture remain unreported and torture survivors continue to suffer in silence.
  • In Morocco and Western Sahara, authorities rarely investigate reports of torture. Spanish authorities extradited Ali Aarrass to Morocco despite fears he would be tortured. He was picked up by intelligence officers and taken to a secret detention centre, where he says they electrocuted his testicles, beat the soles of his feet and hanged him by his wrists for hours on end. He says the officers forced him to confess to assisting a terrorist group. Ali Aarass was convicted and sentenced to 12 years behind bars on the basis of that “confession”. His allegation of torture has never been investigated.
  • In Nigeria, police and military personnel use torture as a matter of routine. When Moses Akatugba was arrested by soldiers he was 16 years old. He said they beat him and shot him in the hand. According to Moses he was then transfered to the police, who hanged him by his limbs for hours at a police station. Moses says he was tortured into signing a “confession” that he was involved in a robbery. The allegation that he confessed as a result of torture was never fully investigated. In November 2013, after eight years waiting for a verdict, Moses was sentenced to death.
  • In Uzbekistan, torture is pervasive but few torturers are ever brought to justice. The country is closed to Amnesty International. Dilorom Abdukadirova spent five years in exile after security forces opened fire on a protest she was attending. On returning to Uzbekistan, she was detained, barred from seeing her family, and charged with attempting to overthrow the government.   During her trial, she looked emaciated with bruising on her face. Her family are convinced she had been tortured.

“Thirty years ago Amnesty led the campaign for a worldwide commitment to combat torture resulting in the UN’s Convention Against Torture. Much progress has been made since, but it is disheartening that today we still need a worldwide campaign to ensure that those promises are fulfilled,” said Salil Shetty.

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Press Release – Mexico conference marks turning point towards nuclear weapon ban

 

Nayarit point of no return: 

 

Nayarit point of no return: Mexico conference marks turning point towards nuclear weapon ban

Urgent Release. For publication and circulation

Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico—The Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, concluded today with a call from the Mexican hosts for states to launch a diplomatic process to ban nuclear weapons. Over 140 governments participated from all regions of the world.

With a large group of countries calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons the meeting marked a turning point in the process to outlaw and eliminate these weapons of mass destruction. Austria announced that it would host the next meeting in Vienna later this year.

“The evidence is clear. The impact would be horrific and we could not respond. The risk of a detonation is significant. That is why we have heard growing support this week for a ban,” said Liv Tørres, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid. “We expect states to commit to negotiations at the next meeting in Vienna.”

In his closing summary, the Chair called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally binding instrument. The time has come, he noted, for a diplomatic process to reach this goal, within a specified timeframe, identifying the most appropriate forum and on the basis of a clear and substantive framework. Calling for this process to conclude by the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Chair described Nayarit as “the point of no return”.

The meeting in Nayarit saw presentations from UN agencies, renowned academics, former military officers and the UK’s Chatham House on the likely impact of a nuclear weapon detonation on the planet’s climate, agriculture, human health and social and economic infrastructure. Yet whilst other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological – have already been clearly declared illegal, the same is not true for nuclear weapons.  In response to the evidence presented on humanitarian impact, many states recognized the need to put in place a ban as the next step towards elimination.

“A ban on nuclear weapons is long overdue and the conferences in Oslo and here in Mexico have created an opportunity for us to put it in place,” said Ray Acheson of WILPF. “States must take this opportunity when they meet in Vienna. Civil society is already mobilizing to make that happen.

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace participated in the conference as a civil society parter from India. The Indian government also offically participated and delivered a statement on the second day of the conference acknowledging the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The CNDP welcomes the government’s participation and urges it to actively support the process and join the global call for a ban on nuclear weapons. The response this conference has received worldwide is a testimony to the fact that abolishing nuclear weapons remains a deeply popular aspiration and the world must progress faster towards this goal. Austria has already announced that it will host the next such conference.

The Mexico conference is the latest step in a process that has changed the way nuclear weapons are discussed at the international level. Since 2010, when states parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty recognized “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” a new narrative has emerged in which the actual effects of these weapons are the basis for renewed actions to address them. The Red Cross movement, United Nations relief agencies, civil society and the majority of the world’s nations have endorsed this humanitarian initiative. In October 125 states joined a statement by New Zealand at the United Nations noting that “the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.”

Several atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“Hibakusha”) presented their testimonies at the conference. US climate scientist Professor Alan Robock, physician Dr. Ira Helfand, and Richard Moyes of Article 36 presented recent research on the effects of nuclear detonations on the planet’s climate, agriculture, human health and social and economic infrastructure. Renowned author of “Command and Control” Eric Schlosser, former US military officer Bruce Blair, and Chatham House Research Director Dr. Patricia Lewis addressed nuclear weapons risks, miscalculations and accidents.

With best regards,

Kumar Sundaram

(Participant in the Mexico conference on behalf of the CNDP, India. Can be reached on [email protected].)

More relevant information and updates:

The website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW.org), and a site specially launched for this conferencewww.goodbyenuk.es can be accessed for more detailed information. Updates will also appear on the CNDP website.: www.cndpindia.org

Here is the official website of the Mexican government for the event: http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014

In support of the ongoing effort, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu has written an op-ed on the CNN website http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/13/opinion/nuclear-weapons-desmond-tutu/index.html

Jodi Williams, Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization created by six women Nobel peace laureates, has also written in support of the conference emphasising the global call to ban nuclear weapons: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jody-williams/taking-action-to-ban-nuclear-weapons_b_4769645.html?1392154886

 

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Press Release- Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, underway in Nayarit, Mexico

 

URGENT RELEASE: for publication and circulation.

 Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico—The Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which opens today, should be a turning point in the global effort to ban and eliminate the most destructive weapons ever created.

“Building on the facts laid out in Oslo last year, this meeting will demonstrate indisputably that any use of nuclear weapons would overwhelm our capacity to respond and recover. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the possibility of intentional or accidental detonations poses real and unacceptable risks to humanity.” said Dr. Tilman Ruff, Co-chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a network of 359 NGOs from 92 countries. The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace is participating in the conference as a civil society parter from India.

The Indian government is offically participating in the conference. The CNDP has urged it to actively support the process and join the global call for a ban on nuclear weapons. The response this conference has received worldwide is a testimony to the fact that abolishing nuclear weapons remains a deeply popular aspiration and the world must progress faster towards this goal. Austria has already announced that it will host the next such conference.

The Mexico conference is the latest step in a process that has changed the way nuclear weapons are discussed at the international level. Since 2010, when states parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty recognized “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” a new narrative has emerged in which the actual effects of these weapons are the basis for renewed actions to address them. The Red Cross movement, United Nations relief agencies, civil society and the majority of the world’s nations have endorsed this humanitarian initiative. In October 125 states joined a statement by New Zealand at the United Nations noting that “the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.”

ICAN representative Beatrice Fihn said: “The evidence to be discussed here clearly shows that nuclear weapons threaten the security and survival of everyone. This meeting should be the point of no return. Governments must now take the next step and decide what to do to address these consequences. They cannot listen to the evidence and not act. The next step should be negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, even if the nuclear-armed states don’t want it. These are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet banned and the question is: should they be legal or illegal?” Ms. Fihn edited a report on nuclear weapons impacts titled “Unspeakable Suffering”, published by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and ICAN.

Among civil society representatives addressing the Conference in Mexico are several atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“Hibakusha”). US climate scientist Professor Alan Robock, physician Dr. Ira Helfand, and Richard Moyes of Article 36 present recent research on the effects of nuclear detonations on the planet’s climate, agriculture, human health and social and economic infrastructure. Renowned author of “Command and Control” Eric Schlosser, former US military officer Bruce Blair, and Chatham House Research Director Dr. Patricia Lewis will address nuclear weapons risks, miscalculations and accidents.

The Indian government has beenasking for a global and comprehensive elimination of nuclear weapons, going beyond the NPT. The current initiative seeks to do precisely that and hence we urge the government and the people of India to extend its support to the initiative for banning nuclear weapons.

With best regards,

Kumar Sundaram

(Participating in the Mexico conference on behalf of the CNDP, India. Can be reached on [email protected].)

More relevant information and updates:

The website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW.org), and a site specially launched for this conferencewww.goodbyenuk.es can be accessed for more detailed information. Updates will also appear on the CNDP website.: www.cndpindia.org

Here is the official website of the Mexican government for the event: http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014

The conference is being livestreamed at http://masenvivo.net/sre/local/sre.html

In support of the ongoing effort, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu has written an op-ed on the CNN website http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/13/opinion/nuclear-weapons-desmond-tutu/index.html

Jodi Williams, Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization created by six women Nobel peace laureates, has also written in support of the conference emphasising the global call to ban nuclear weapons: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jody-williams/taking-action-to-ban-nuclear-weapons_b_4769645.html?1392154886

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I was raped at 55, this is how I responded #Vaw #Womenrights

By Beverly Donofrio Monday, July 29, 2013,

 

Angie Epifano ,the woman who was raped last fall at an Amherst fraternity party, reported that she could hear her friends having fun in the next room as she endured the ordeal. I mentioned this to a friend of mine recently, and she wondered why Angie hadn’t banged on the wall or yelled for help. On the surface, my friend’s question may seem legitimate, until you consider that it is less often asked about women who have been beaten or kidnapped, and almost never about women who have been robbed or mugged. Most consider it a sign of coolheaded intelligence for the victim of a mugging, for example, to peaceably hand over whatever the thief asks for, while keeping one’s eyes averted like we’re told to do when confronted by an aggressive dog.

Practically the first thing you’re taught in a course on how to respond to a rapist is that you should not fight or make a scene because you could end up dead. I didn’t scream or fight, either, when I was raped in my own bed at the age of 55. The reasons were logical and illogical, historic, complex, and also smart. He held a knife, and I assumed he was the serial rapist who had been breaking into women’s houses in my Mexican town for eight months. I’d heard accounts of the four women he’d raped before me.

The first two had fought and been beaten; the second two, having heard about the first two, didn’t fight and so were not left with black eyes and bruised ribs. Even if the man who raped me had not held a knife and I’d heard nothing of his other attacks, I’m 99.9 percent sure I wouldn’t have fought. I have never been in a physical fight in my life, have no training in martial arts, and do not consider myself strong enough to ward off any man. Also there was an awful inevitableness about it all, of a worse fear come true, an acceptance: Now, I will be raped. Still, I did try to talk him out of it. “This is sick,” I said, repeating back words he’d used himself with his other victims in a perverse version of post-rape intimacy during which he tried to illicit sympathy by talking about how sick he was.

“You talk too much,” he barked at me, then imitated a whining baby, “Na, na, na, na.” This taunting did not make me angry. I was not angry—or perhaps I was not in touch with my anger.

I was too terrified, my heart buzzing like a field of bees, adrenaline charging through every organ, my skin vibrating. Perhaps women who do respond physically to danger possess a fighter’s instinct, physical prowess, or they’ve been taught to stick up for themselves. A friend of mine was once out sailing alone with a man who tried to rape her when they were far from shore. She kicked him then jumped overboard and swam more than a mile to safety.

Recently, while the same friend and I crossed a Brooklyn street and a car at a light jumped forward, she pounded the fender with her fist, shouting, “Asshole!” A reaction I admired. Mine had been to believe I must have been crossing out of turn. We are all different; still, every woman I know, from the moment she’s learned such a thing can happen, dreads being raped. Most of us walk through a dark house, building, parking lot, or down a deserted street, afraid of the shadows, of the strange sadistic man, lurking, stalking, plotting to pleasure himself by the rush of power he will get from our humiliation and the subjugation of our will to his.

And then when it does happen—whether it’s a stranger or, even more likely, a person you know—which it will to an estimated one-quarter of the women in the world; when you are physically appropriated for someone else’s pleasure; when you smell him; when his hands and fists and weapons touch your body; when this man, whose intention is to take whatever he wants from you no matter how you feel about it, mimics postures and actions that have been shared before only in intimate consensual moments, a response to this sick perversion of intimacy does happen, even if it’s nonphysical and nonverbal: It’s a plea in your heart, *Don’t hurt me*; a begging, *Please go away.* Rape victims do not exactly remain silent during the rape.

They’re screaming inaudibly through the whole thing. Some women  may become silent for other reasons: fear that we won’t be believed, shame of being seen as at best unlucky and at worst damaged, dread of the stigma that will attach itself, and knowledge of the human tendency to blame the victim to avoid empathizing with her, which would require imagining another’s horror and humiliation as our own. But there’s another reason some women stay silent: Women have internalized the message that if it happened to them they must have at some deep, subconscious level caused, invited, even wanted it to happen.

In countries that are still squeamish about sex—I count both the U.S. and Mexico among them—women will never feel comfortable admitting to sexual crimes done to them. I was at an advantage. At 55, I’d been a feminist my entire adult life; I refused to feel guilty and knew better than to indulge my feelings of shame. Yet I still dreaded being known for the rest of my life as a woman who’d been raped, a victim. Gratefully, my indignation soon overrode this: I hadn’t done anything to be ashamed of, dammit, the rapist had. I reported the attack, and wrote the details of it in the town newspaper.

Five days after the article appeared, the rapist was caught, and then he was convicted. Before the trial, the judge mandated that I talk to a court-appointed psychologist to assess whether I’d been damaged by the attack. The psychologist was embarrassed by his task and apologized for his “backward country.” He told me that if the rapist were found guilty, the severity of his sentence would be determined by how much damage he’d caused. I told him I no longer wanted to sleep in, or even live in the house I’d built and loved; I told him I couldn’t sleep through the night and often awoke screaming, convinced there was an evil presence in my room.

Later, at the trial, the judge asked me why I didn’t fight. I told her about my foreknowledge of what had happened to the other victims. I did not even think to say with high indignation, “He had a *knife,* [you moron].” As a society, we subliminally hold ancient prejudices. The woman must be at least complicit in any rape and even the instigator, by dressing or acting provocatively, by not being sufficiently wary, by incautiously walking down a deserted street in the night or the day, by getting drunk, by leaving a party with a guy, by accepting an invitation, being too naïve, trusting, sexy. Merely by being women, we’re alluring, and worse: we’re temptresses. With this course of reasoning, the burka seems a reasonable solution.

In societies like ours that accept rape myths—acquaintance rape happens because of “mixed signals,” rapists can’t control sexual urges, women lie about being raped, women invite rape by their actions or their dress—men are more likely to commit rape because these beliefs make it seem almost acceptable. At my trial, the serial rapist’s attorney read his deposition. In it he said he’d have a few beers then break into women’s houses and “cause a little mischief.” I’ve no doubt that is exactly how he thought of his crime.

I’ve no doubt many rapists think the same of their crimes: “Na, na, na, na, na.” Stop whining; what’s the big deal? The rapist was asked if he had anything he wanted to add to his deposition, and he ran on for an hour. Among other woe-is-me statements, this is the most memorable: “These women are ruining the good name of my family.”

How dare we cause all this trouble?

How dare we not?

Source- http://www.slate.com/authors.beverly_donofrio.html

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Mexican Indigenous Moms Pushed, Pulled by Fertility #Vaw #Womenrights

By Vania Smith-Oka

WeNews guest author

Mexican Indigenous women

 

Credit: Shawna Nelles on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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(WOMENSENEWS)–Most women in Amatlan consider themselves, their neighbors and their friends to be good mothers.

Almost all the women in the community labor in the domestic sphere–they cook the food, wash the clothes and generally look after the house and children. Making lonches — lunches for the men in the fields and for the school-age children — is an integral part of their mothering. A good mother frets about what she is feeding her children. Though the terms the women use to talk about each other’s mothering are similar to the good-bad dichotomy used by the main­stream, their interpretations and the reasons behind their interpretations are more nuanced.

For the state, good mothers follow the rules, have few children and invest in them emotionally; they are also expected to live in a nuclear family. For the women I met, good motherhood entailed a significant amount of investment, but also drawing from one’s extended-kin network to achieve a child’s success; abuelas and ahuis (grandmothers and aunts) were frequently key to the socialization process of any child . . .

Not Suffering in Silence

In Amatlan, many mothers suffer alongside, or because of, their children. While marianismo – -the all-suffering, passive motherhood epitomized in the Virgin Mary — is very present in many corners of Latin America, it is not much in evidence in this region. The mothers who do struggle with their children neither view themselves as martyrs nor do they suffer in silence.

Esperanza often despaired at the laziness of her son Adrian, one day exclaiming, “He is no use to me here. He should go away to work but he doesn’t want to. I don’t know what to do with him.” I suggested, “You should stop feeding him.” She replied, laughing, “That’s true, then he’ll go away. . . . [If he is here] I worry when he doesn’t get back [or] whether he has been beaten or something. But when he is far away I don’t worry. My head can rest.”

All the mothers I spoke with worried about their children’s future. Emma said, regarding one of her sons who was attending university in the city of Morelia, “A student is a lot of money. My son always asks me for money, 70 pesos, or 50, and it is a lot of money. As he doesn’t work. . . . And when there is money we can [help] but often there is none. I tell [my husband] to go to Mexico and to work in a house, or as a bricklayer, to make some money.” She added with a smile, “But he says he is too old.”

Women in Amatlan were the primary caregivers to children, whether their own or their extended kin; their main duties were domestic. Emma’s eldest daughter, Cristina, irritably pointed out that mothers, and women, had to do everything with never any rest.

Exhausting Anxieties

She constantly worried about her children and hoped that they would be able to make something of their lives. But her anxiety was exhausting, as she said, extending her emotion to all aspects of motherhood:

“It’s just that as women we have to do everything, get pregnant and be nauseated for the first few months and when everything makes you feel sick. And [cleaning] the pigsty made me feel so sick. And then in the last [months] it is difficult to stand up and do everything. It is so much trouble. And then the pain of the birth, and to breastfeed, and to get up to change the baby in the middle of the night. Your husband is happily asleep but not you. And then to have to control yourself so you don’t get pregnant. We [women] have to do everything. There is only the condom and the vasectomy for men, but they don’t want them. We have to do it if we don’t want to get pregnant. And well, one has to satisfy the husband and also not have so many children.”

This centrality of women as caregivers and men as providers is echoed in the structure of Oportunidades, a federal social assistance program in Mexico. When some of the men of the village on occasion asked to receive the money alongside the women, they were scolded by the authorities and told that it was only for the women. They were told that they should work, not be lazy and support their families. This response somehow implied that women’s natural job at the home could be rewarded and encouraged with money, but men needed to be out in the public sphere without complaint.

Excerpted from the new book, “Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico,” by Vania Smith-Oka, published by Vanderbilt University Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission. For more information:www.VanderbiltUniversityPress.com.

 

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Your Laughter by Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda

laughter

Poster by  Kamayani Bali Mahabal

 

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
… do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda

 

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#VAW -Raped by stepfather at 13, Forced to illegal abortion #Mexico

We must never forget!

RH Reality Check / By Dawn Hill

I Was Raped By My Stepfather at 13 and Forced to Get an Illegal Abortion in Mexico

I became pregnant, contrary to the “scientific theories” of many modern Republicans. Not only was the experience loathsome and painful, it was also impossible for me to deal with or talk about because abortion was illegal in the 1950s.

This is one of a series of powerful stories from survivors of rape, you will find them all here .

Last week, Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock argued in a debate that women who have been raped should not have access to abortion services because their pregnancies are a “gift from god.” As a survivor of childhood sexual violence, I disagree with him completely.

My name is Dawn Hill. Though I am old now, there was a time when I was young and carefree as you perhaps are now or can remember being in your childhood. Childhood should be a happy and carefree time for all our children, but my mother found her new husband, my stepfather, much more important. He forever took the joy away from my life when I was just 11 years old: He began molesting me and continued until he began raping me when I was 13.

Mr. Mourdock last night said: “I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

I became pregnant, contrary to the “scientific theories” of many modern Republicans. Not only was the experience loathsome and painful, it was also impossible for me to deal with or talk about because of the times: in the fifties, abortion was illegal. Illegal in the same way the Republican Party platform states it wants to make abortion now by constitutional amendment and just as Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has suggested casually he would “be delighted” to return to.

Please, take a moment to travel back to the fifties with me.

My mother took me to Mexico, where anyone could get an abortion for a price. I have blocked out many memories associated with this entire experience, but I remember the pain. Illegal abortions are not the simple safe vacuum procedure used today by legal abortion providers. Oh, no: They were a “dilatation and curettage.”

This means that my cervix was mechanically opened by insertion of larger and larger metal “dilators” until it was opened enough to get a sort of sharpened spoon inside my 13-year-old uterus, while strangers looked at my exposed parts that were theretofore called “private.”

It was cold and dirty in the room, and then the true torture started. They shoved this curette into me and scraped away the entire lining of my uterus with the sharp side. I screamed the entire time even though no one had seen so much as a tear out of me before this moment because I had developed a stony stoicism to protect my mind from the molestation.

This pain was, however, like nothing I’ve ever felt before or since. Can you imagine what happened to those women and girls who couldn’t even get this barbaric abortion? They stuck wire hangers into themselves and bled to death or suffered other horrible complications. Then, too, I also got a terrible infection from the filthy conditions.

I can tell you, though, that I would have gotten a hundred illegal abortions before carrying that monster’s offspring and going through labor, even to give the child away. That would have been the unkindest cut of all.

For women and girls, safe legal abortions are essential. While many will choose a different path than I with their pregnancies, having that choice is essential. Any encroachment on that right is an encroachment on the life, liberty, and safety of the women and girls of America.

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Toward Universal Health Coverage

By DAVID DE FERRANTI and JULIO FRENK
Published: April 5, 2012

Two recent events underscore the disparity between the United States and the rest of the world on health coverage. Last week, American reactions to the Supreme Court hearings showed how deeply divided the nation is on the subject. This week, at an international forum in Mexico City, country delegates from around the globe made clear that they are not only aiming for universal coverage but also rapidly getting there.

Except for the United States, the 25 wealthiest nations now have some form of it. Others are not far behind, including Brazil and Thailand. Even nations at lower income levels, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Rwanda and Ghana are working toward it. India, South Africa, China and Colombia are on the move, too.

Mexico has just crossed the goal line. Its reformers would be the first to say that many more improvements are needed, but their accomplishment is nonetheless noteworthy because they faced challenges no less daunting than the United States does today — and had fewer resources to draw on (Mexico’s economy is one tenth the size of the United States’). Special interests resisted change, dysfunctional fragmentation impeded progress, and poor, highly needy groups dispersed in remote locations had to be reached.

One of the hardest challenges was that many Mexicans — from top leaders to ordinary citizens — were skeptical that any solution would help. So the reformers had to find powerful evidence, which included pilot-testing of their proposals. Also key was a strategy that combined expansion of coverage with two other initiatives. A new means of paying doctors and hospitals ended incentives to provide as many services as possible. An emphasis on prevention helped avert illness and its high costs. All three were essential: If the latter two elements had been absent, expansion of coverage would have been too expensive.

The United States now faces this same problem. If the Supreme Court strikes down the Obama law, there could still be a hefty expansion in coverage because much of that expansion has already happened, and voters would resist having it taken away. But the cost-containment components in the law would be killed, so costs overall could shoot up — the exact opposite of what many opponents of the bill want.

What other lessons are there from Mexico’s and other countries’ efforts?

For starters, the ABCDE of successful reform is crucial.

A — agenda — means that a compelling case has to be made, linking health improvement to other societal concerns, such as economic growth, job creation and political stability.

B — budget — is about securing adequate resources, though the United States, which spends far more on health already than others do per person, needs to focus on spending more efficiently.

C — capacity — is about ensuring that the right infrastructure is in place to meet the expanded demand.

D — deliverables — means that the reforms have to deliver on their promises if support for them is to be sustained.

E — evidence and evaluation — stresses the importance of continuously probing for ways to improve.

Another lesson is that universal coverage cannot be achieved through employer plans alone, since they don’t reach the large numbers of self-employed, unemployed, retired people and those who work in small businesses.

Still another lesson is that one size definitely does not fit all. A country’s culture and politics matters. Take, for instance, the roles of government and the private sector. The fears some Americans have about big government are not borne out by results in other countries, where the private sector continues to have a vibrant roles, especially in the provision of services, while the government concentrates more on financing, stewardship of the whole system and ensuring a level playing field.

The U.S. health care system already has much more of a public-private mix than is commonly realized — in some ways far more that in less developed countries. Also, success doesn’t come overnight: An eight-year transition period was needed in Mexico, and some countries have taken longer.

Historically, many things that today people everywhere agree should be collective responsibilities were once purely private matters. The United States, for example, led the way in making education universal long before most other countries did.

Experiences from elsewhere — including lessons about what not to do — can help the United States to better craft whatever is best for its own unique needs and preferences. They can also suggest ways to use American ingenuity to get beyond rancor and ideology and get down to the nuts and bolts.

The trend elsewhere toward universal coverage and Mexico’s achievement this week stand as reminders of how much the United States can attain if it finds its way again to the problem-solving leadership role

David de Ferranti, a former vice president of the World Bank, is president of the Results for Development Institute in Washington. Julio Frenk, a former minister of health in Mexico, is dean of the Harvard School of Public Health

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What Twitter’s New Censorship Policy Means for Human Rights

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Twitter dropped quite the shocker last week when it declared its new policy to remove tweets in certain countries to abide by specific national laws. While a tweet will remain visible to the rest of the world, specific messages will disappear in the target country (e.g., following requests by governments).

The ensuing backlash saw a lot of people screaming “censorship” (ironically, on Twitter). While the first wave of criticism has quickly calmed down, for a human rights watchdog, the announcement is quite alarming:

As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression… Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.

A new policy for old-school repression

Twitter claims that this isn’t a dramatic shift in policy, but rather clarification of existing policy, with a “fix.” Previous removals of content were global, for example, when they removed a tweet, no one could see it anywhere. Now, country-by-country, Twitter can block content specially tailored to that country. In a bizarre logic, the increase in control of information in response to government demands means, according to Twitter — less ‘censorship.’

One may incredulously respond that country-specific removal would further disadvantage people who saw Twitter as a means of circumventing illegal restrictions on their speech and expression. Further disadvantaging people who’ve turned to the service as a means of empowering themselves through voice, assembly, and access to information.

Though there has been an outpouring of anger in response, some are quite pleased. Today, Thailand became the first government to publicly endorse Twitter’s decision. China and Iran haven’t made any statements (China’s state-run newspaper did praise the move), but I suspect they’re pleased, as are several other governments that have sought to shut down Twitter at the first sign of dissent.

As an aside I should note that — as with any attempt to control information (see my post on SOPA/PIPA — there are already easy ways — five at last count — to bypass Twitter’s blocks.

Outrage and tough choices

I’ve appreciated the outrage, given the importance (not to be confused with value) of Twitter. I have no doubt that information posted on Twitter — and any other large public networking platform — has resulted in all manner of things, from the terrible, to the great.

We know that information spread via Twitter has saved countless lives, from natural disasters such as in Japan or in humanitarian crises, such as in Cote d’Ivoire. Twitter has contributed to regime change in repressive places. It has even helped free a prisoner in Kashmir and has become a valuable network for citizen journalists and concerned citizens, such as in Mexico. It is a medium by which human rights advocates carry forward their work, such as our Eyes on Syria project (look for #EyesonSyria — but maybe not if you are in Syria), or Amnesty’s own Twitter account.

But for all of these goods, information on Twitter has surely created harm. In crisis, it can become a dangerous medium for rumors or misinformation (or “terrorism” charges). Al-Shabab‘s recent banning of the International Red Cross (a violation of international law of the highest order) was communicated via Twitter. Indeed, Kenya‘s military has been fighting Al-Shabab on the ground, as well as in the twitterverse.

Importantly, information has no inherent value… it is the effect of the content that lends moral weight.

Twitter has never had to make difficult decisions about that content, however. Twitter has never had to be responsible for controlling content in the manner its new policy will require of it. And Twitter will be called on by governments around the world to censor. The cat is out of the bag, and the decisions that will need to be made by Twitter lawyers and staff should give them sleepless nights. At some point — somewhere — harm will be done by those choices. Voices will be silenced. Lives will be lost. Twitter will inevitably make mistakes, and the world will be different as a result. It is a power it would have been wise to deny having.

The stark fact is that — like traditional media, housing, agriculture, or any of the other sectors upon which humanity’s ability to fully enjoy their human rights is dependent — profit motivates great innovations in the digital world. Profit also motivates consolidation and control.

The source of the immense outrage over the policy says more about our collective confusion over digital networking tools than Twitter’s policy. Twitter is seen as a public good. But it is not. Twitter is a (private) company, one that probably made over $100m in profit in 2011 — though its profit potential may be an order of magnitude higher. It is a company like any other, with motives. As with other companies, we — as consumers — have leverage.

But far from suggesting a boycott, let’s start with the basics.

#International Law

I appreciate Twitter’s appeal to the rule of law. Let me make my own.

We have an international body of law that protects the rights of people, and sets forth the obligations of governments, businesses, and the everyday person. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations spend an exceptional proportion of their resources monitoring compliance with the law, and calling out those who violate human rights law. Not just governments, but businesses as well, from Shell and Dow Chemical, to cell phone manufacturers, mortgage banks, and private security firms.

Allow me to offer a word of advice to Twitter: Laws often clash. In the U.S., there were laws on the books in the southern states that were ruled unconstitutional long before they were finally scrapped. And there are surely domestic laws in countries that will be cited by governments or security elements as a basis for denying speech via Twitter that will clash with international human rights law. They will be illegal domestic ‘laws’ in contravention of established international human rights laws. They will be unjust laws.

What will Twitter do?

At some point, Twitter will be pressured by governments to change its terms of service so the work around for access to blocked tweets becomes a use violation…Twitter does in fact know where you are tweeting from, and can deny your ability to change your location to circumvent information blackouts.

At some point, user information and location will be demanded by a repressive regime with a cheap, and by international standards, meaningless veneer of a court order. They will demand it, and will appeal to domestic ‘law’.

What is abundantly clear is that human rights monitors and advocates — for the immense power Twitter and other digital networking tools have given them — have an entirely new domain to monitor. As with other sectors, business decisions in the digital world have human rights implications. For the immense value of Twitter, the policy announcement only brings into focus what we’ve known for some time — human rights monitors and advocates have a lot more work to do since the digital revolution. Our collective vigilance is needed more than ever, however we chose to communicate.

We will be watching you, Twitter. Take it as a measure of your importance.

Scott Edwards is Director of International Advocacy for Africa and Director of the Science for Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA.

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