Inter Press ServiceCrime & Justice – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 18 Jan 2019 20:26:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Acts of Terror Will Not Undermine Our Resolvehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/acts-terror-will-not-undermine-resolve/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=acts-terror-will-not-undermine-resolve http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/acts-terror-will-not-undermine-resolve/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2019 14:29:49 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159666 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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President Kenyatta addresses the Nation on 16 Jan 2019. “I also commend the civilians who looked after one another. For every act of evil that led to injury yesterday, there were a dozen acts of compassion, overflowing patriotism and individual courage,” Credit: KBC

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 2019 (IPS)

On 15 January 2019, terror struck Nairobi’s 14 Riverside Drive.

Kenya is in mourning following a senseless act on innocent and defenseless civilians by individuals preoccupied with contemptible and misplaced ideology; who hope to intimidate others through violent acts of terror. Like in their other past attempts, they have failed, and Kenya remains unbowed.

As President Kenyatta has noted in his address; “We will allow no one to derail or frustrate our progress….We have prevailed and shall always prevail over evil. Let us now go to work without fear and continue with our work of building our nation.”

Our thoughts are with all the affected and families who are experiencing the most inconsolable pain and trauma of this heinous act. The UN Country Team in Kenya stands in solidarity with the families who are suffering the most inconsolable pain and will live for a long time with the trauma of this terrible attack.

As the intelligence and security apparatus continue with investigations, our message to Kenyans remains that, we cannot give in to fear or the temptation to define the attack as a war between races or religions. That has always been the narrative that the perpetrators of terror would wish to spread.

Fortunately, they have always been on the losing side of history. The attack on 14 Riverside Drive should not deter Kenya’s resolve, but should further strengthen the country’s determination to overcome adversity and challenges that threaten its social fabric.

We applaud the work of Kenya’s security emergency rescue services and first responders, who mobilised in remarkable timeliness, demonstrated exceptional professionalism and heroism, thereby keeping the number of fatalities to a minimum. We also commend Kenyans for their heroic acts and solidarity for one another during this time.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his message “has strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Nairobi and extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a swift recovery. The Secretary-General expresses his solidarity with the people and Government of Kenya(GoK)”.

Terrorism remains a global threat and presents a challenging test for intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide. No country is immune. Kenya has done remarkably well in preventing numerous other attacks.

The reality is that a multitude of stresses impact vulnerable populations around the world, leaving many disproportionately susceptible to extremist ideologies — driven by factors such as surging youth unemployment — which terror groups take advantage as a considerable reservoir for recruits. There is a need for concerted efforts to weaken the terror groups’ narrative and win the battle of ideas.

The UN remains steadfast in its support to Kenya’s development agenda, including commendable initiatives by the government based on a long view of the prevention of violent extremism in line with the UN Development Assistance Framework.

Together we can pursue smart, sustainable strategies that augment security with what the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner describes as the triple nexus, “Achieving the 2030 Agenda and ensuring no one is left behind requires a pro-active, evidence-based and holistic approach to risk, resilience and prevention across humanitarian, development and peace effort.” This approach will be a long-term antidote to terrorism and the key to preventing violent extremism.

Already our partnership is underway with several local initiatives that are bearing fruit. Previously characterized by belligerence based on competition for resources, the border regions of Eastern Africa are slowly changing the narrative, replacing aggression with dialogue and socio-economic transformation.

A stand-out initiative is the Kenya-Ethiopia Cross Border Programme, launched in December 2015 by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia. This initiative is supported by IGAD, the European Union and Japan and implemented by the United Nations family in Kenya and Ethiopia together with local authorities on both sides.

Such initiatives represent determination and hope. They are a declaration that the soul of those on the right side of humanity can never be destroyed or prevented from living freely by terrorists.

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Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Is Love an Embarrassment?http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/is-love-an-embarrassment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-love-an-embarrassment http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/is-love-an-embarrassment/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 15:34:00 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159616
I am no more. Once I was.
Away on yearning flames, I flew.
The delicate ash spun through the air
and sank – bright and slow
to your feet.
Do not tread too hard ‒ my heart is still alive.

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I am no more. Once I was.
Away on yearning flames, I flew.
The delicate ash spun through the air
and sank – bright and slow
to your feet.
Do not tread too hard ‒ my heart is still alive.

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, Jan 14 2019 (IPS)

I do not understand a word of Persian and cannot determine whether these lines, taken from a German translation, are a correct interpretation of Muhammad Hāfez-e-Shīrāzī´s original poem. Nevertheless, Hāfez, who lived 1315-1390 CE, was apparently one of those great writers able to provide bemused couples with points of reference after being struck by the tumultuous sensation of passionate love.

All over the world we find a wealth of poems that with tenderness and empathy express love and compassion. Several of them have been written by men to women, by women to women, and men to men. Such tenderness is easily forgotten when we are confronted with men’s cruelty towards women; their power abuse, contempt for “the weaker sex”, drunkenness and sadism, as well as men’s obsession with brutal sex and machismo and repeated claims about male reluctance to demonstrate affection. We are becoming used to consider men as warriors, playboys, or power-drunk world leaders, while offensive role models and ideologies by various media outlets are presented as guiding principles for male behaviour.

In spite of advocacy and involvement of many activist organizations, violence against women remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations worldwide. It ensues in both public and private spheres and may occur at any time in a woman´s life span. Violence against women might limit their contributions to social, economic, and political development, as well as it impedes them from exercising their human rights. Gender-based violence prevails regardless of age, class, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and specific geographical areas.

Since the issue of gender equality is present in both public and private spheres, affecting us all by influencing even our most intimate relationships, it is very difficult to address it in a balanced, objective and multi-faceted manner. We tend to limit problems related to gender equality to “neutral” spheres, like economic and social justice combined with a struggle to tear down barriers to equal participation, rights and possibilities for men and women. The thorny issue of human emotions is generally ignored, while men and women are bunched together as one-dimensional stereotypes.

While working with gender equality issues within development cooperation organizations, I actually never heard anyone talking seriously about love between men and women. Words like love, or compassion, were not mentioned during any of the countless meetings and gatherings I attended. If I mentioned such words in speech or writing, they were criticized, censored and obliterated. A word like compassion was for some reason considered to be “embarrassing”, “falsely emotional”, “disparaging”, or “overly sentimental”. On the contrary, words like fighting spirit and competition were welcomed. Do we not like love? Does the gender equality struggle have no need for positive role models, except for empowered, energized women, and tolerant, supportive men? Why is it often easier to recommend fighting and violent action, instead of negotiations and compromises? Patience and understanding, combined with an unselfish and benevolent concern for the good of others, i.e. love, may be considered as a prerequisite for peaceful cooperation and positive outcomes, like in the Beatles song:

Love, love, love.
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love.
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

To me it appears as if any official discourse about harmonious, respectful love between human beings tends to be considered as somewhat embarrassing. Is it not politically correct to talk about that kind of love? In the current debate about gender equality we seldom hear the word love (not in the sense of sexual satisfaction, but as a general, overarching concept), nor words like tenderness or compassion.

Maybe it would not be harmful to point out that there are indeed good men around, not only chauvinists and abusers. Positive male role models do exist. Everywhere we find men who are supportive of, respectful and affectionate to women. I assume we have to search for expressions of that kind of love and as poets and songwriters often do – praise it.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

The post Is Love an Embarrassment? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

I am no more. Once I was.
Away on yearning flames, I flew.
The delicate ash spun through the air
and sank – bright and slow
to your feet.
Do not tread too hard ‒ my heart is still alive.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude: Memories and Genocidehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/one-hundred-years-solitude-memories-genocide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=one-hundred-years-solitude-memories-genocide http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/one-hundred-years-solitude-memories-genocide/#respond Wed, 09 Jan 2019 07:48:51 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159553 Denis Villeneuve´s film Blade Runner 2049 depicts a future where “bioengineered replicants” are used as slaves and killed if they misbehave. Replicants are manufactured and individualized as if they were real humans. They are even implanted with artificial memories, a measure intended to make them more “mental stable”, able to cope with their wretch existence […]

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By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM/ROME, Jan 9 2019 (IPS)

Denis Villeneuve´s film Blade Runner 2049 depicts a future where “bioengineered replicants” are used as slaves and killed if they misbehave. Replicants are manufactured and individualized as if they were real humans. They are even implanted with artificial memories, a measure intended to make them more “mental stable”, able to cope with their wretch existence as slave labourers. Dr. Ana Stelline, a character in the movie, explains how she manufactures memories:

– They all think it’s about more detail. But that’s not how memory works. We recall with our feelings. Anything real should be a mess.

The movie implies that memories often are fictional, created by ourselves, based on our immediate environment and thus influenced by views and manipulations of others. The author Gabriel García Márquez, was like the movie´s Dr. Stelline, a creator of dreams and memories. In all his writing remembering and forgetting are prevalent themes. His most famous novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, portrays a fictitious village called Macondo. In reality a description of García Márquez’s memories of his childhood village it becomes an archetype of all Latin American villages. He retells dreams and stories stored in the minds of Macondo´s inhabitants. García Márquez declared:

– Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers in order to recount it.

One Hundred Years of Solitude shows that memories are not only individual, they are collective as well, shared with an entire community. In 1983, the historian Eric Hobsbawm edited a book called The Invention of Traditions, which described how concepts of ethnicity and nationality create shared identities by endorsing, and even inventing, cultural traits that underscore the uniqueness of certain groups of people. Invented traditions and memories tend to minimize communal crimes committed by flag-waving bigots. They may even serve as a motive for genocide, i.e. “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”1

Genocides are generally blamed on fanatic individuals, thus covering up the fact that horrendous crimes of such magnitude cannot be committed without logistic support and massive propaganda from powerful organisations, mostly national governments, which foster xenophobia to strengthen their own power. Such is the case of each and every one of the genocides committed during the past century. Atrocities like German mass killings of Herero and Namaqua in Namibia, 1904-1908 (between 34,000 to 110,000 civilians were slaughtered),2 mass killings of Armenians in Turkey, 1914-1922 (700,000 to 1,800,000 dead, at the same time an estimated 500,000 to 900,000 Greeks and 200,000 to 750,000 Assyrians were killed), Italian mass killings in Libya, 1923-1932 (leaving 80,000 to 125,000 dead), mass killings committed by Croatian Ustaše, 1941-1945 (350,000 to 600,000 dead, while Serbian Chetniks killed 47,000 to 65,000 Croats and Bosnians), Indonesian mass killings, 1965–66 (500,000 to one million dead), Bangladesh mass killings, 1971 (300,000 to 3 million dead), Burundian mass killings, 1972-1983 (80,000 to 210,000 dead), mass killings in East Timor, 1975-1999 (85,000 to 196,000 dead), mass killings in Cambodia, 1975-1979 (14,000 to 3 million dead), mass killings of Somalian Isaaqs, 1988-1991 (50,000 to 200,000 dead), mass killings of Bosnians, 1992-1995 (8,000 to 39,000 dead), Rwandan mass killings, 1994 (500,000 to one million dead), mass killings of Iraqi Kurds, 1986-1989 (50,000 to 200,000 dead), mass killings of Congolese Bambutis, 2002-2003 (60,000 to 70,000 dead).

State sponsored killings were extreme when it comes to crimes committed in the name of National Socialism and Bolshevism (particularily in its Stalinist shape), two political systems based on control and exclusion not only of human beings, but of history and memories as well. Nazi Germany caused the death of 5 to 6 million Jews, 3 million USSR prisoners of war, more than 12 million civilians in occupied territories, and between 130,000 and 500,000 Romani people. Leaders of Stalinist Soviet Union were guilty of the Holdomor, a man-made famine killing between 2 and 7 million Ukrainians and 1,5 million dead in Kazakhstan under similar circumstances, 200,000 deaths during forced migration of Chechens, 110,000 deaths during NKVD operations in Poland and between 100,000 and 300,000 Poles killed in Volhynia and Galicia.

Few Governments like to be reminded of such atrocities. Some are even forgotten by the general public, or furiously denied by populist nationalists. For them massacred people are as worth- and featureless as out-of-order replicants were to their owners in Blade Runner 2049.

The climax of García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is based on a true event not far from the author´s birthplace. In 1928, Colombian military opened fire on striking plantation workers, killing an unknown number. In the novel, the company’s director summons up a whirlwind washing away not only Macondo, but any recollection of the massacre. In the novel´s final scene we learn that it is a tale based on a manuscript that a mysterious visitor had left with an ancestor of one of the main characters: “Melquíades had not put events in the order of man´s conventional time, but had concentrated a century of daily episodes in such a way they coexisted in one instant.”

A beautiful picture of how our memories work. They erase some episodes, while amplifying others. The novel finishes on a tragic note. The manuscript declares that what is lost, is lost forever. The past century has left us with the weight of millions of dead. They did not learn from history. “Races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.” We will probably experience the same fate. We erect monuments over wars and heroes, but prefer to forget, or minimize, horrendous crimes committed in the name of distorted memories, a falsified history glorifying a past that never existed.

1The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html
2These and other figures are based on the lowest and highest estimates found in relevant literature.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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40 Years Since the Khmer Rouge Regime Came to an End in Cambodiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/40-years-since-khmer-rouge-regime-came-end-cambodia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=40-years-since-khmer-rouge-regime-came-end-cambodia http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/40-years-since-khmer-rouge-regime-came-end-cambodia/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 14:16:53 +0000 Kris Janssens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159541 Forty years ago, on the 7th of January 1979, the Vietnamese army overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime.
Between April 1975 and January 1979 about 1,5 to 2 million Cambodians died, a quarter of the population. 

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The post 40 Years Since the Khmer Rouge Regime Came to an End in Cambodia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Forty years ago, on the 7th of January 1979, the Vietnamese army overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime.
Between April 1975 and January 1979 about 1,5 to 2 million Cambodians died, a quarter of the population. 

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Time for a new Paradigmhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/time-new-paradigm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-new-paradigm http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/time-new-paradigm/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 10:42:40 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159534 Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

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Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jan 8 2019 (IPS)

The person most qualified to write the foreword for the latest work by Riccardo Petrella, In the Name of Humanity, would actually be Pope Francis, who, using other words but speaking of values and making denouncements, has often argued what the reader will find in its pages.

I quote him, because words like “solidarity”, “equality”, “social justice” or “participation” – now used only by Pope Francis I – have now disappeared from today’s political vocabulary. I was called to this task because I have spent my life in favour of information that would give citizens the tools to be conscious actors. But the reason why from a “professional” I have become an “activist” in the campaign for world governance is precisely because I see information as directly responsible for the drift in which we find ourselves.

Roberto Savio

Riccardo Petrella is a central point of reference for those who have not yet given up on seeing the governance of globalisation in terms of values and ideals. Riccardo has behind him a long series of struggles for a different economy and has denounced the dangers of neoliberal globalisation from the outset.

We owe it to him if the theme of “commons” began to be debated, in particular that of water as a public good, at a time when the Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi was pushing for its privatisation.

He did so in an era – the period immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall – which today seems distant but which was of exceptional intellectual and political violence. Anyone who did not blindly adhere to the “single thought” introduced by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury (the so-called Washington Consensus) was seen as either a nostalgist of the Soviet era or a dangerous subversive.

Petrella, with few other economists, had the strength to oppose the Washington Consensus, deriding the general inebriation which reached levels that today seem impossible. I still remember a conference held by IPALMO in May 1991 in Milan, where the then director general of the World Trade Organization, Renato Ruggiero, described the world as still blocked by the concept of nation or regional agreements (such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement) now overtaken by the course of history.

Globalisation was to have eliminated all frontiers, we were to have had a single currency, there were to be no more wars and the benefits of globalisation were to have rained down on all the citizens of the world, something that the theory of development and redistribution had failed to do. It took a generation of disappointed and marginalised people for the truth to become evident.

This book is the result of forty years of study, research, and social and academic engagement by Riccardo, gathered here in an organic way. It is a holistic engagement, with a humanist vision of the economy, of society and of the consequences of the crisis that dominates us.

Reading it, faced with the wealth of data and reflections it offers, the African proverb comes to mind: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”. But beyond the contents, what makes the book stimulating is that it communicates a moral engagement and a human empathy rare in this era of transition from a world that is unsustainable to one that is inevitable, but which we cannot yet see well. In his Letters from Prison, Antonio Gramsci wrote that “in the interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.

Petrella analyses these symptoms in a meticulous but clear way, and they are symptoms for which today’s politics and finance certainly have no answer. The book is an organic work, analysing each symptom on the basis of data and proposals, helping us to walk in the shadow evoked by Gramsci.

Finally we see that there are alternatives to the drift of a world of finance which – in the search for profit – comes into collision with the very productive economy of which it was only to have been a lubricant. And in turn politics, like the productive economy, is subject to the world of finance. Today, the production of goods and services, that is, the sphere in which men and women play a role, accounts for one-fortieth of financial transactions. Greed has led banks to engage in more and more criminal actions: since the Great Crisis of 2008, major banks have paid a total of 220 billion dollars in fines …

According to numerous historians, the course of history has been changed above all by two factors: Greed and Fear. After the fall of the Berlin Wall it even came to be said that history had ended, as Francis Fukuyama wrote, and that we were entering a post-ideological world.

The unification of the world into a single winning ideology, capitalism, was to have led to the end of clashes, in a united international reality dedicated to economic growth. What Fukuyama did not see is that capitalism without controls was to take the world back in time.

On this Petrella offers incontrovertible data and echoes Oxfam when it says that in 2020 social inequalities in Britain will be equal to those of the era of Queen Victoria, when an unknown German philosopher was writing some chapters of Das Kapital in the Reading Room of the British Museum … The statistics on inequality are known to all: in the last two decades, capital has become increasingly concentrated in a few hands and a large part of humanity sees its level of life, health and education decrease, to the point that the International Monetary Fund is even beginning to whisper that inequality is a brake on growth.

As for Fear, it took the Brexit to start seeing the rapidly growing nationalist, xenophobic and populist drift in European countries (and also in the United States with Donald Trump). Fear has transformed countries that once were a symbol of civic-mindedness and tolerance – like the Netherlands and the Nordic countries – into racist countries that even confiscate the few personal jewels of refugees (Denmark).

In just two years, the advance of the extreme right in Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – until now considered a series of local coincidences – is finally creating a debate in traditional parties that have no concrete response to the causes of Fear.

Also because, as Petrella says, we are faced with a system that is a factory of poverty, which is not a natural phenomenon but a creation of the system itself. The challenges to be solved all derive from wrong answers.

Peace is being tackled with an increase in military engagement, the environment with ecological devastation, democracy with the privatisation of political power. Justice is witnessing an increase in injustice, the economy is in a financial and speculative drift, and the sense of life of citizens – who have lost the value of solidarity and accept the commodification of all that surrounds them – is crumbling. No concern is voiced that more is being spent per person on marketing in the world than on education …

The drift in which we find ourselves is affecting democracy, which has become a formal process, devoid of the conscious and active participation of citizens. In the Name of Humanity observes what should now be clear to all and is certainly not to the system in power: we are at a global impasse that no one, with the paradigms in place, is able to solve.

In an analytical but communicative way, this is the starting point for the list of Gramsci’s shadows: the lack of representation of humanity, the use of God, Nation and Money to transform into destroyers those who are still convinced of being constructors; and the data of the global impasse. Herein lies the importance of the book.

The analysis of the transitional era in which we find ourselves is roughly divided into two schools of thought. The first is that of those who believe that the current system is perhaps in crisis but that the answer may come from politicians – perhaps new ones – who, in every country, are able to give concrete and efficient answers with bold reforms. The second, and growing, school of thought argues that the current system is the cause of the problems to be solved and that without deep changes in vision and strategies the drift will continue.

This latter school of thought – which, moreover, is followed only by a small number of victims, many of whom are on the margins of society or are so frustrated as to take refuge in individual pessimism without hope – is a school strong in analysis and denunciation but poor in proposals.

And it is here that the book offers its own positive originality: an organic and holistic plan of proposals which invoke a pact for Humanity as the basis for the re-foundation of society. A re-foundation that declares poverty illegal, that leads to disarmament and the end of speculative finance … However, in order to achieve this re-foundation, it is necessary to return to talking about values and finding a consensus and world participation around them, because without common values it is not possible to build together and without a global response national or local actions serve little. This book, as well as being an analysis, is also a manual for action.

In this sense it is important that In the Name of Humanity sees the light in a moment of generational sacrifice. My generation, overwhelmed by Greed and Fear, by selfishness and the decline of politics, lives parameters of retirement and security that young people can only dream of.

The British referendum clearly demonstrated how the older generations are above all self-referential and feel no inter-generational responsibility. The elderly voted 65% for Brexit, deciding the future of young people, who were 75% in favour of Remain. This is the result of the absence of common values and the dramatic lack of policies for engaging young people, while those of fiscal rigour and priorities for the survival of the financial system abound – the most emblematic demonstration of current priorities.

To save banks from the 2008 crisis, it is estimated that so far the contribution to finance has amounted to eight trillion dollars. Youth policies do not exceed 500 million dollars.

It is no wonder that young people take refuge in a pessimistic individualism, creating their own communities only virtually on the Internet; that they lack representation and participation and, above all, for the first time in modern history, idols and points of reference.

Petrella’s book is an important instrument for young people because it transmits a message of hope that does not exist today. It is not inevitable that the world will continue like this. We have the instruments to change it. But to do that we have to go back to talking about values and going back to speaking with and understanding each other. In the Name of Humanity should be distributed free in schools …

Fifteen years have passed since the first meeting of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, where we – protagonists of different stories – gathered to denounce the unsustainability of neoliberal globalisation.

The scepticism and rejection that accompanied the WSF process have not prevented the Washington Consensus from today being just a discredited instrument of the past and the proponents of globalisation from admitting that the denunciations of the WSF had a real basis. As Petrella says, we can only emerge from the crisis with bold measures.

This book will be received as a utopia, or rather a chimera, by the beneficiaries of the current system. In 15 years time, it will be interesting to see how many will have been forced to admit that the analyses and the actions that Petrella proposes were not so far from the course of history.

Those who shoot at the stars can take heart from a Sri Lankan legend … there was a young boy who shot an arrow at the stars every night and was laughed at until one day the king organised an archery contest and that boy won because he was the one who shot furthest!

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Excerpt:

Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

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From Mali: A Lesson in Tolerancehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/mali-lesson-tolerance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mali-lesson-tolerance http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/mali-lesson-tolerance/#respond Wed, 02 Jan 2019 07:34:34 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159451 We all adhere to generalizations. For example, while reading and speaking about Muslims and Christians, sweeping opinions might easily become prejudices, particularily if we do not know any individual behind the labels. When I some years ago was working for a Malian NGO, I met a marabout and a Christian who proved that devotees to […]

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Interviewing a marabout in a village north of Markala, Mali. Credit: Mamadou Demblele

By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Jan 2 2019 (IPS)

We all adhere to generalizations. For example, while reading and speaking about Muslims and Christians, sweeping opinions might easily become prejudices, particularily if we do not know any individual behind the labels. When I some years ago was working for a Malian NGO, I met a marabout and a Christian who proved that devotees to different religions might find mutual support in their individual beliefs.

Marabouts serve as imams, preaching in and taking care of mosques, they are generally teachers as well. Assisted by my friend Seydou, who translated his Mandé into English, I spoke with a respected marabout. After a while I found that Seydou only provided brief summaries of what the old man said. I asked him if he really translated everything. Seydou confessed that he found that the marabout “talked a lot of nonsense”. When asked what he found specifically disconcerting Seydou answered that the marabout had stated that people were living on the moon. Since I had asked him about his opinion about fundamentalists’ views of the Qur’an I wanted Seydou to repeat my question to the marabout, while trying to translate what he said, word by word. The marabout apparently answered:

– These young hotheads interpret the Holy Qur´an as if they are living on the dark side of the moon. Residing in the moon’s cold shadow they cannot conceive the sun’s light, nor feel it´s warmth. It´s not enough to read God´s words. In my life God is my sun and joy. Words are not enough for understanding the world. Time is a strict master. It taught me to discern what is right or wrong. The Holy Qur’an is truly the word of God, through it His Messenger, may peace be upon him, transmits God´s word to all people, in all places, all the time. By providing us with the words of God the Messenger, may peace be upon him, wanted us to change for the better, not for the worse. God gave humans free will and wants us to choose what is right. God is righteous. He does not want us to choose what hurt others. Fundamentalists do not believe in any free will. They do not know what love is. They do not want people to think. They want to stop us from making free choices. Accordingly, they place themselves above God. Only God is all-knowing and all-powerful. I believe God speaks to all people through The Holy Qur´an, but through my experiences and in my dreams He talks to me.

After our meeting with the marabout, Seydou made contact with a Christian man. We met him in the village school where he was president of the school association. I had been told that he was the only Malian Christian in the district and asked why he, in a country where almost everyone was a Muslim, had become a Christian. He explained that his father had been a Muslim, but also member of a Chiwara society, a traditional initiation organisation that through traditional teachings and rituals taught Bamana youngsters social values. While studying in Markala he had out of curiosity been reading the Bible. Feeling lonely and bewildered he eventually distanced himself from the way of life in his agrarian village. Soon he identified himself with Jesus, assuming that God´s son had told people that a person must be a conscious disciple, able to choose what to believe in and not blindly follow what others tell you to think and do.

He converted to Christianity, returned to his village and began working as a teacher. However, the villagers despised him and tried to dismiss him from teaching. For a man who was not white, rich, powerful and disrespectful, it would have been impossible to leave the faith of his ancestors. The teacher must be an idiot and on top of that outright dangerous.

When I asked him for how long he had endured being the only Christian in the village, the teacher answered that he had “followed Christ” for twenty years, considering it to be his duty to transmit his faith to others, even if villagers spat behind his back. It was the marabout I had been talking to earlier who changed the Christian´s life. One evening the marabout met with him, confessing:

– I realize you are a holy man. Someone as lonely and strong as you must have a robust faith. You have struggled for your beliefs, while I was born into my position. If you would
doubt God, you don´t have to worry about losing people’s respect, they don´t revere you anyway. In contrast, if I would expose doubts and weaknesses I may lose everything I have. People don´t believe in you, but they believe in me. When I suffer hard times, I have no one to turn to. However, I trust you. You know God, just as I assume I know God. I do not know if you need me, but I need you. I know that if I brought my doubts and worries to you, you would understand me. Likewise, when you are in trouble, you may come to me.

The two men became friends. During the Friday prayers, following their fateful meeting, the marabout sent for the Christian. In front of his congregation he declared: “This is my friend. He´s a holy man. If you respect me, you respect him”. Since that time the Christian had become an integrated part of his society. I asked him:

– Are you now respected by everyone?

He smiled:

– Perhaps respected, but not entirely accepted.

Mali is a country with a vibrant, varied and ancient culture, though its fragile democracy has been threatened by coups and jihadist insurgencies. In 2013, upon the Government´s request, France intervened militarily, reconquering Islamist strongholds and in 2015 a United Nations´ monitored ceasefire was established between the Government and Tuareg separatists, though parts of the country remain tense while al-Qaeda-linked militants sporadically carry out attacks.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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The Adolescent Girl Holds the Key to Kenya’s Economic Transformation and Prosperityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/adolescent-girl-holds-key-kenyas-economic-transformation-prosperity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adolescent-girl-holds-key-kenyas-economic-transformation-prosperity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/adolescent-girl-holds-key-kenyas-economic-transformation-prosperity/#respond Mon, 31 Dec 2018 12:58:09 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159448
Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Dr Natalia Kanem, Chief of UNFPA, “We are steadfastly committed to our three goals: Zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and the elimination of harmful practices including violence that affect women and girls”. Credit: UNFPA Tanzania

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 2018 (IPS)

Teenage pregnancy in Kenya is a crisis of hope, education and opportunity.

The countdown to a New Year has begun. Can 2019 be a year of affirmative action to ensure hope and opportunity for Kenya’s adolescent girl?

Consider this. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that when a young adolescent girl is not married during her childhood, is not forced to leave school nor exposed to pregnancies, when she is not high risk of illness and death nor suffering maternal morbidities, when she is not exposed to informal work, insecurity and displacement; and is not drawn into an insecure old age-she becomes an asset for a country’s potential to seize the demographic dividend.

So what is the demographic dividend?

It means when a household has fewer children that they need to take care of, and a larger number of people have decent jobs, the household can save and invest more money. Better nutrition, education and opportunities and more disposable income at the household level. When this happens on a large scale, economies can benefit from a boost of economic growth.

One of the goals of development policies is to create an environment for rapid economic growth. The economic successes of the “Asian Tigers” during the 1960s and 1970s have led to a comprehensive way of thinking about how different sectors can work together to make this growth a reality. This helps explain the experience of some countries in Asia, and later successes in Latin America, and optimism for improving the economic well-being of countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Republic of Korea is the classic example of how its gross domestic product (GDP) grew over 2,000 percent by investing in voluntary family planning coupled with educating the population and preparing them for the types of jobs that were going to be available.

With over 70% of Kenya’s population less than 30 years of age, the country’s favorable demographic ratios could unlock a potential source of demand and growth, Kenya is currently in a “sweet spot”. Fertility levels are declining gradually and Kenyans are living longer. There is reason for optimism that Kenya can benefit from a demographic dividend within 15 to 20 years. It is estimated that its working age population will grow to 73 per cent by 2050, bolstering the country’s GDP per capita 12 times higher than the present, with nearly 90 percent of the working age in employment.

The key to harnessing the demographic dividend is enabling young people and adolescent girls in particular, to enjoy their human rights and achieve their full human potential. Every girl must be empowered, educated and given opportunities for employment, and above all is able to plan her future family, this is the very essence of reaping a demographic dividend.

Each extra year a girl stays in high school, for example, delivers an 11.6 per cent increase in her average annual wage for the rest of her life.

The UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem has said: “We are steadfastly committed to our three goals: Zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and the elimination of harmful practices including violence that affect women and girls”.

So what can be done?

First, end all practices that harm girls. This means, for example, enforcing laws that end female genital mutilations and child marriage.

Second, enable girls to stay in school, at least through high school. Studies have shown the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to become pregnant as an adolescent and the more likely to grow up healthy and join the paid labour force.

Third, reach the marginalized and impoverished girls who have traditionally been left behind.

Forth, make sure girls, before they reach puberty, have access to information about their bodies. Later in adolescence, they need information and services to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Finally, take steps to protect girls’ – and everyone’s – rights.

As we countdown to 2019, let us prioritize the development of every girl’s full human potential. Our collective future depends on it. We must do everything in our power to ignite that potential-for her sake and for the sake of human development and humanity.

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Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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The Dark Shadows of Christmashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/dark-shadows-christmas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dark-shadows-christmas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/dark-shadows-christmas/#respond Mon, 24 Dec 2018 08:59:26 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159434 Christmas is expected to be a peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. A time to express love and care for one another. Jesus preached love and compassion, but also told us to be suspicious of imposters: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. Wolves […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 24 2018 (IPS)

Christmas is expected to be a peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. A time to express love and care for one another. Jesus preached love and compassion, but also told us to be suspicious of imposters: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. Wolves are predators who disregard the suffering of their victims. A human wolf is an egomaniac ready to maim and murder, either to please himself or his master, often deluding himself by imagining he serves a higher purpose.

On the 11th of December, armed with a revolver and a knife, a man attacked visitors to Strasbourg´s Christmas Market, killing five and wounding eleven. Likewise was on the 19th of December 2016 a truck deliberately driven into a traditional Christmas market in the very centre of Berlin, killing twelve and injuring fifty-six. After he had forced him to do the killing, the perpetrator shot the truck-driver. Maybe these killers were just lone wolves, but their acts proved that even during Christmas one has to be aware of false prophets preaching hate and violence.

The Bible proclaimed that Jesus Christ would bring peace and justice to the World and so did the Holy Qu´ran, for example in its third Surah:

    Remember when the angels said: ´O Mary, God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name is Christ Jesus son of Mary, greatly honoured in this world and the next, and among those drawn nearest to God. He shall speak to mankind from the cradle, and in maturity, and shall be among the righteous.1

The Kings James Version of the Bible translates the god tidings of Jesus´s birth as: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The villains in Strasbourg and Berlin were far from abiding to that message. As a matter of fact, even the story of Jesus´s birth constitutes a familiar tale of ruthless power abuse, persecution of the innocent and defenceless, as well as it tells us how migration becomes a last resort to avoid suffering and death.

Herod the Great (73 – 4 BCE2) was an energetic monarch, a shrewd manipulator investing in the winner of every Roman power struggle. He created a powerful secret police, torturing and killing countless opponents, among them forty-six members of the Sanhedrin, the highest political and religious body of the Jewish people. Lust for power, women and glory turned Herod into blood-thirsty despot. Fearing competition by his wife, he killed both her and their two sons, making the Roman Emperor Augustus joke that he would rather be Herod´s pig than his son (since Herod´s faith forbade him to eat pork). Judea was since 47 BCE a part of the Roman province of Syria. Herod was a Roman minion, with free reigns as long as he paid his levies.

This was the reason to why an aged carpenter named Joseph and his young wife, Maria, went from their hometown to Joseph´s place of birth, Bethlehem. For tax reasons, he had to register himself and his family there. After travelling for two days they reached their destination, but found that Bethlehem was filled with visitors and it was impossible to find lodging. To make matters worse, Maria went into labour and had to give birth to her son in a cave. Joseph had recently married Maria and by accepting her awaited child as his own he had saved her from shame and even lynching, this since the father of her child was unknown. Shortly after the delivery, the poor couple found shelter in a stable, where Mary placed her new-born son among the straw of a crib. Shepherds came to pay homage to the baby, assuming he was the Messiah, the future king so hotly longed for by many Jews. A presumption that seemed to be confirmed when a group of wealthy foreigners appeared, carrying gifts for the infant.

However, Joseph was through a dream told he had to flee the country. Herod had been reached by a rumour that a new-born child would become king and overthrow him. The power intoxicated despot ordered that all boys up to two years of age had to be slaughtered. As people often did in the past, Joseph took his dreams seriously. He convinced Mary that they had to seek protection and asylum in Egypt. It was the small, fugitive Syrian family´s luck that no Egyptian guards serving a chauvinist regime were blocking the border for refugees. If that had been the case, Jesus would have been killed and we would not have a Christianity, which some European nationalist rulers currently use as a reason to deny asylum for Syrian refugees.

When Herod ordered the murder of innocents in an effort to secure his power, or when two loners spread death and horror in Christmas markets, they did so in disregard of feelings of others, denying one of the essentials of human existence – communication, which comes from the Latin “to share”. They proved to be egomaniacs unable to appreciate the joy of sharing happiness with others, the message at the very heart of Christmas celebrations.

Since 2011, more than 5.6 million have fled Syria. 6.6 millions more are displaced inside the country, while 2.98 million are isolated in hard-to-reach areas. The war continues and hope is fading fast.3 In these days, while many of us are enjoying ourselves in the company of friends and family, sharing food and gifts, we might give some thoughts to those who like the infant Jesus and his parents are suffering poverty, persecution and fear of death.

1 The Qur´an. A new translation by Tarif Khaladi (2009) London: Penguin Classics.
2 Before Common Era. A dating system taking as departure the birth of Jesus was devised in 525 ABE. However, it was not consistent with probable dates for the birth of Jesus and not widely used until after 800 ABE.
3 https://www.unhcr.org/syria-emergency.html

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Women in Argentina Are Empowered as They Speak Out Against Gender Violencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/women-argentina-empowered-speak-gender-violence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-argentina-empowered-speak-gender-violence http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/women-argentina-empowered-speak-gender-violence/#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2018 03:38:04 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159423 “In 2001 I was raped. I was 31 years old, had two university degrees and was still doing postgraduate studies, I had family, friends, a job. Many more resources than most rape victims have. Even so, it was the start of an ordeal whose scars I still feel today.” Stories like this one, published on […]

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"Without equality there is no justice" reads a mural with an image of that justice, demanding greater protection for women's rights, painted in the Caballito neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The women's movement gained great visibility this year in Argentina, with campaigns, for example, for the decriminalisation of abortion, although it was defeated in parliament. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

"Without equality there is no justice" reads a mural with an image of that justice, demanding greater protection for women's rights, painted in the Caballito neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The women's movement gained great visibility this year in Argentina, with campaigns, for example, for the decriminalisation of abortion, although it was defeated in parliament. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 22 2018 (IPS)

“In 2001 I was raped. I was 31 years old, had two university degrees and was still doing postgraduate studies, I had family, friends, a job. Many more resources than most rape victims have. Even so, it was the start of an ordeal whose scars I still feel today.”

Stories like this one, published on Twitter on Dec. 13 by Ana Castellani, a sociologist and professor at the University of Buenos Aires, are popping up all over Argentina’s social networks these days.

At the same time, public and private institutions dedicated to the defence of women’s rights are overwhelmed by an unusually heavy stream of demands."Her public statement broke down the common idea that these issues should not be talked about in public…In the case of sexual assaults on women in Argentina, the shame was not on the side of the aggressor but on the side of the victim, because it was thought that she had surely done something to turn him on." -- Eleonor Faur

This South American country is experiencing an explosion of reports of sexual violence against women and children, following a shocking public event that occurred on Dec. 11.

That day, at a Buenos Aires theater, more than 200 actresses surrounded a young colleague, Thelma Fardín, who reported that in 2009, when she was 16, she was raped by a well-known soap opera star, Juan Darthés, almost 30 years older, during a tour of Nicaragua with a children’s television programme.

“Thanks to the fact that someone broke the silence, I can now talk about what happened,” said Fardín in tears, referring to two other actresses who had reported weeks earlier that they were the victims of sexual harassment by Darthés. In the days prior to this public revelation, Fardín had traveled to the Central American country to file a criminal complaint against the actor.

“The public repercussion was much greater than we expected. What Thelma said encouraged thousands of women to who were silent to speak out,” Mirta Busnelli, a renowned actress with more than 40 years of experience in film, theatre and TV, told IPS. She is part of the group that backed the complaint with her presence.

“When you talk to women, inside and outside the arts scene, almost all of them have suffered a situation of sexual harassment or abuse, which they silenced even in their own conscience,” said Busnelli.

She added: “This doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because the person who dares speak out is usually revictimised. The veracity of her story is questioned or people wonder whether the woman herself has not provoked the problem because of how she was dressed or because of her attitude. We trust that things will begin to change.”

The magnitude of the wave of reports of sexual violence was such that political leaders felt compelled to take an active stance.

Just a few hours after Fardín spoke out publicly, President Mauricio Macri announced the inclusion, during an extraordinary session of Congress, which usually holds a recess in December, of a bill that establishes mandatory training on the gender perspective for public officials of all branches of power.

The bill was presented by an opposition congresswoman in 2017 after the rape and murder in the eastern province of Entre Ríos of 17-year-old Micaela García by a man who had already served time for rape and was on parole.

A picture from the end of the year party of the Argentine Actresses collective, which came out in full support of the public revelation by a colleague who said she was raped at the age of 16, in 2009, by a famous soap opera star almost 30 years older than her. Credit: Facebook-Actrices Argentinas

A picture from the end of the year party of the Argentine Actresses collective, which came out in full support of the public revelation by a colleague who said she was raped at the age of 16, in 2009, by a famous soap opera star almost 30 years older than her. Credit: Facebook-Actrices Argentinas

Like Macri, the deputies and senators acted quickly, because in their first extraordinary session, on Wednesday Dec. 19, they passed the law with only one vote against, from Deputy Alfredo Olmedo, who a few hours earlier had traveled to Brazil, where he was photographed with far-right president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.

“I was the only deputy who voted against gender ideology. I will continue to maintain that God created man and woman,” Olmedo boasted on the social networks.

As a sign of the current climate, the Dec. 19 session in the Senate began with the half-hearted defence of a senator of the governing alliance Cambiemos, Juan Carlos Marino, who after Thelma Fardín’s revelation was denounced by a congressional employee, who said he molested her in an office of Congress and harassed her with Whatsapp messages.

The cases that touched on politics and entertainment were many, in reality, but none was as shocking as that of Luis María Rodríguez, sports director of the city of San Pedro, 170 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires.

Rodriguez was denounced on Dec. 16 by a young woman who uploaded a video to Youtube in which she said that he had raped her when she was 13 years old and he was her dance teacher. Hours later Rodriguez was found hanged in his home.

The 2015 murder of a teenage girl by her boyfriend was the spark that gave birth to the movement #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman Less), which has obtained several victories and raised public awareness about femicides – gender-based murders.

“In the last few days, our phones have blown up,” said María Soledad Dawson, one of the coordinators of the Ministry of Justice’s Victims Against Violence Programme, which receives reports of abuse and ill-treatment.

“After the Thelma Fardín case, a lot of people started calling who had never before dared, or who thought that, after several years, they couldn’t report a case,” she told IPS.

“We usually received the bulk of the calls between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.. Now we continue to answer the phone into the wee hours of the morning,” she added.

The National Child Sexual Abuse Hotline reported that the day after the actress’s complaint, 214 calls were received, compared to 16 the day before.

For its part, the government’s National Women’s Institute revealed that the hotline for women in situations of violence received 6008 calls in the four days prior to the Fardín case and 12,855 in the four subsequent days.

The sociologist Eleonor Faur, who specialises in gender issues, said the impact is due to the fact that “the presentation by the Argentine Actresses collective was very solid. It was very well-organised, with advice from lawyers and feminist journalists.”

“Above and beyond the specific case, they showed that sexual violence is a completely accepted modus operandi in show business,” she told IPS.

Figures from organisations that address male violence indicate that in this country of 44 million people, some 300 women are murdered each year because they are women. In 2017 there were 295 femicides, indicating that the #NiUnaMenos movement did not manage to reduce these crimes.

The Argentine Actresses, a group made up of more than 300 artists, was formed in April, when the country mobilised for the legislative debate on the decriminalisation of abortion, which in August was narrowly defeated by the Senate (by 38 votes to 31), after it was approved in the Chamber of Deputies.

In fact, when Thelma Fardín made her public statement, the actresses surrounding her wore green scarves on their wrists or necks – the local symbol of the struggle for the legalisation of abortion.

“Her public statement broke down the common idea that these issues should not be talked about in public,” Faur added.

The sociologist explained that “in the case of sexual assaults on women in Argentina, the shame was not on the side of the aggressor but on the side of the victim, because it was thought that she had surely done something to turn him on.”

“Now the most interesting thing will be to see how the public institutions and the different social organisations react, which after this cultural change are going to have to do a lot of back-pedalling,” she said.

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Human Trafficking – Hidden in Plain Sighthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight/#respond Fri, 21 Dec 2018 13:50:54 +0000 Romy Hawatt http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159417 The media globally tends to have a bias to negative, sensational and headline grabbing stories and events and this certainly applies to reporting related to human trafficking in the third world. With the abundance of stories around sweat shops, massage parlours and organ trafficking networks happening ‘somewhere else’, the West is generally desensitised, lacks empathy […]

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By Romy Hawatt
DUBAI, Dec 21 2018 (IPS)

The media globally tends to have a bias to negative, sensational and headline grabbing stories and events and this certainly applies to reporting related to human trafficking in the third world. With the abundance of stories around sweat shops, massage parlours and organ trafficking networks happening ‘somewhere else’, the West is generally desensitised, lacks empathy and fails to fully appreciate the scale of the problem which sits right under their noses and in plain sight.

Romy Hawatt

It is a fact that for a variety of reasons, this insidious trade tends to be more hidden away in the West whilst it is generally conducted more openly in developing countries.

“Human trafficking is a global problem, but it’s a local one too,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in 2018 when the U.S. State Department released its 2018 Trafficking in Persons report, which assesses countries around the world based on how their governments work to prevent and respond to trafficking. “Human trafficking can be found in a favourite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbour’s home.”

Estimates vary depending on the agency reporting and also depends on specific categorisations. The International Labour Organization for example, estimates 21 million people are affected by forced labour whereas other reputable agencies estimate up to 48 million men, women and children are enslaved and trafficked around the world today.

According to the International Labour Organization, 68 percent are exploited in industry sectors like agriculture, mining, construction and domestic work creating profits of $150 billion annually.

There is therefore a gigantic financial motive for the maintaining and the growing of this illicit trade which sadly ‘has always been the way of the world’. The ideal of unalienable rights and universal liberty is actually still a relatively new concept in the history of time.

The proposition is diabolically simple in that some human beings will take advantage of and exploit other vulnerable categories of human beings unless there is a strong disincentive and a massive change in the contributing circumstances.

Whatever the cause and whatever the thinking, modern day slavery and human and human organ trafficking is now far more prevalent in the developed world than either the public knows about or was previously thought. Sadder is the fact that even with the best intent matched with state of the art resources, even the best law enforcement agencies do not appear to be able to keep up with the growing size and scale of the problem.

Even in the U.K., which after all gave the world the Magna Carta in the 13th century, a turning point in establishing human rights and arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English-speaking world, the numbers of people trafficked is estimated to number in the tens of thousands of victims, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

These victims in the UK are predominantly from places like Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, with a roughly equal balance between men and women in other than the sex industry in which women and girls make up the vast majority of those exploited.

There are also trafficked people of all genders working in more prosaic roles like car washes, construction, agriculture and food processing. They receive very little pay and are forced to put up with poor living conditions.

As a result, the NCA says, it is increasingly likely that someone going about their normal daily life in the U.K., engaging in the legitimate economy and accessing goods and services, will come across a victim who has been exploited in one of those sectors but may never recognise them unless they are educated to the signs.

General indicators of human trafficking or modern slavery tend to be harder to spot in the developed world but can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, no ID documents, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay.

A 2018 report by the Global Slavery Index estimated that some 403,000 people are trapped in modern slavery in the U.S. – seven times higher than previous figures. In the UK, that figure is estimated at 136,000, nearly 12 times higher than earlier estimates. Andrew Forrest, founder of the Global Slavery Index, called the report “a huge wakeup call.” The report includes forced marriages, noting that women and girls make up 71 percent of people trapped in modern-day slavery today.

The pernicious persistence of modern day slavery is one of the reasons it is addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and these build off of many of the accomplishments achieved with the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but which did not address human rights, slavery or human trafficking and were often criticized for being too narrow.

In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 8 of the 17 SDGs is the goal to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, whilst Goal 8.7 specifically addresses modern day slavery and human trafficking. It is worth noting that SDG 8.7 is also supported by two other SDG goals. SDG 5 for example aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, while SDG 16 seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action,” said President Barack Obama, who in 2011 issued a Presidential Proclamation designating each January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. “As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs [and] build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited.”

While progress has been made in addressing broader employment issues in some developed nations, such improvements remain overshadowed by the continuing scourge of human slaves being used in the supply chain at both a local and international level.

Whatever the future holds, what is constant is that human trafficking destroys lives, robs people of their dignity and basic human rights as it causes unfathomable misery to the immediate victims, their families and their communities.

Under the circumstances, there must be a seismic shift in awareness and a willingness to act no matter who you are or what community you live in. It is incumbent upon all of us to exercise a higher level diligence and situational awareness aimed at winning the freedom of anyone that is exploited and abused.

With individuals, educators, charity institutions, business and Government each taking incremental steps we can win.

Remember, to save one life is a step towards saving the whole of humanity.

The author, Romy Hawatt is a Founding Member of the Global Sustainability Network ( GSN ) pursuing the United Nations Sustainability Goal number 8 with a special emphasis on Goal 8.7 which ‘takes immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.

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Stemming Waste of Human Talenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/stemming-waste-human-talent/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stemming-waste-human-talent http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/stemming-waste-human-talent/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 19:26:27 +0000 Farhana Haque Rahman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159393 IPS Director General's Year end message

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IPS Director General's Year end message

By Farhana Haque Rahman
ROME, Dec 20 2018 (IPS)

The year now closing, 2018, culminates an extraordinary period in the quest for a world where sexual harassment and assault are, as the words indicate they should be, rare and punished.

Farhana Haque Rahman

The star of this phase was no doubt the #MeToo hashtag popularized by Alyssa Milano, an American actor, on Twitter in late 2017. Given the hundreds of high-profile cases – and a number of resignations – exposed since then, it’s worth remembering that Milano’s target area expressly included Ethiopia, and that her intention was to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.

Equally worthy of recollection is that the MeToo phrase began in 2006 – when Myspace was more important than Facebook – by Tarana Burke, a social activist who understood how widespread sexual harassment is beyond the world of celebrities.

We must not forget just how vast “the problem” is.

I’d like to iterate strong support for all women everywhere who push back against what sometimes is described as some ancient cultural prerogative, like it or not. And especially for people in the world where IPS Inter Press Service works, that of journalism. A recent survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of female journalists have been harassed – physically, in person and often in frightening digital modes – and half of these pondered changing their career path as a result.

Everyone can only find that both appalling and a waste of human talent. Me too.

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2018/10/announcer-iwd-2019-theme

https://wd2019.org/global-development-trends/

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019, which will take place on 8 March, is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. The theme will focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

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Excerpt:

IPS Director General's Year end message

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Excerpt:

Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Digital Crusaders: Technology Offers Weapons for the Battle Against Corruptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 09:34:32 +0000 Chris Wellisz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159307 Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

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Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

By Chris Wellisz
WASHINGTON DC, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Oleksii Sobolev was a fund manager by day and a pro-democracy protester by night. After work, he would leave his office at Dragon Asset Management in Kiev to join the crowds camped out in Independence Square demanding the resignation of a president they viewed as corrupt.

Sobolev handed out food and helped clean up the square. When police started firing at the so-called Maidan protesters, he brought tires that were burned to create a protective curtain of smoke.

“The saying was, ‘Fires save lives,’” Sobolev recalls.

Ukraine’s president ended up in exile, and Sobolev gave up managing money to take an unpaid advisory post helping to restructure state-owned enterprises. Four years later, he has put his business skills to work fighting corruption, a problem that continues to bedevil the eastern European country of 44 million people.

Ukraine ranked 131st among 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016.

Sobolev’s team of activists created an electronic auction system that brought transparency to notoriously murky sales of public assets ranging from bank loans to scrap metal.

In its first 13 months, the system, ProZorro.Sale, handled $210 million, almost as much as the money raised from conventional privatization sales in the past five years, says Max Nefyodov, Ukraine’s first deputy economy minister. That’s a significant boost for the cash-strapped Ukrainian government.

Sobolev belongs to a new breed of idealistic young people who are using digital technologies to promote transparency and integrity. Just as smartphones and social media helped empower popular uprisings from Ukraine to Tunisia, 21st century technologies such as blockchain and big data offer powerful new weapons against corruption, a phenomenon that dates back at least as far as the first century BC, when Julius Caesar secured the office of Pontifex Maximus by greasing voters’ palms.

Corruption’s toll
Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to cost as much as $2 trillion a year, about equal to the GDP of Italy and many times the $142 billion in global development aid. But corruption takes a much bigger toll, according to a 2016 IMF study “Corruption: Costs and Mitigating Strategies.” It discourages private investment, curbing economic growth.

Corrupt officials channel public funds to wasteful projects that generate bribes, depleting funds that could be spent on health, education, and other services that benefit the poor. And young people have little incentive to acquire new skills in societies where who they know is more important than what they know.

“Countries that are less corrupt have higher growth rates, have higher levels of GDP, and have higher levels on the Human Development Index of the United Nations,” which measures things like life expectancy and years of schooling, says Susan Rose-Ackerman, a Yale University law professor who studies the political economy of corruption.

That explains why international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, are helping governments fight corruption through improved transparency, accountability, and institution building.

The anti-corruption drive is providing opportunities for private technology companies like the Bitfury Group, which signed a contract with the Republic of Georgia to register land titles using blockchain technology. Blockchain serves simultaneously as a means of exchange—of money or information—and a database that automatically registers transactions.

Records are encrypted and stored across a network of computers, rather than in a central location, so they cannot be altered or stolen.

Some start-ups are offering their services to charitable organizations as well as governments. Among them is Dublin-based AID:Tech, which created a platform that ensures the integrity of charitable contributions and social welfare payments.

“I know a lot of people who would love to give money but don’t because they don’t know where it goes,” says AID:Tech’s CEO and cofounder, Joseph Thompson.

AID:Tech was inspired by a charity event in 2009. Thompson ran 152 miles across the Sahara Desert to raise money for children who needed reconstructive surgery. When he asked for evidence that the aid had been delivered to the intended recipients, the charity couldn’t provide it.

Thompson, who has master’s degrees in business, digital currencies, and computer science, set out to find a way to make sure that charitable donations don’t go astray. He found it in blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology.

Originally developed to store and exchange Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, it has since been adapted for a variety of uses.

“If you can get an end-beneficiary on the blockchain, that’s their bank account,” Thompson says. Donations go straight to the beneficiary, without intermediaries; the company provides the technology but doesn’t handle any money.

“There’s no more fraud, no more people claiming benefits for dead parents or brothers and sisters who have emigrated.”

The Irish Red Cross agreed to test Thompson’s solution with a program to distribute aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Each recipient was given a small plastic card stamped with a QR code—a type of machine-readable optical label.

Money was deducted when the cards were scanned at supermarket checkout counters. Five hundred electronic vouchers worth $20 apiece were redeemed in Lebanon, and not a penny went astray.

“The results were fantastic,’’ says Daniel Curran, head of fundraising for the Irish Red Cross. Using a dashboard Thompson set up, he tracked spending by recipients in real time, gleaning valuable insights into their needs. (He was surprised to learn that refugees bound for resettlement in Ireland bought dental products rather than winter clothes.)

The technology also allows charities to appeal to a younger class of smartphone-wielding donors, and it reduces their reliance on expensive direct-marketing campaigns. That means more money will flow to the people who need it.

“This is a cheaper, more transparent, faster, and efficient way of not just obtaining the donation, but actually getting the donation to the beneficiary in the end,” Curran says.

Doing well by doing good
AID:Tech is expanding rapidly, with contracts to provide software for the delivery of remittances to Serbia, social welfare payments in Jordan, and aid to homeless women in Ireland. It is raising between $3 million and $5 million from investors and plans to open offices in Singapore and Dubai. The goal is to have at least 100,000 people on the platform by June.

Thompson doesn’t hesitate to say he aims to do well by doing good. “We are a for-profit, but we’re using technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems,’’ he says. The platform, he says, can be used by governments and social welfare agencies around the globe, with a potential customer base in the billions.

Another promising use for blockchain: secure digital storage of documents.

“Blockchain is so powerful because it gives us something we didn’t have in the digital world,” says Gonzalo Blousson, cofounder and CEO of Signatura, a platform that can be used to sign and notarize documents among multiple people. “Digital information is easy to modify. Blockchain gives us immutability.”

Blousson is working with Argentina’s second-largest city, Córdoba, which recently passed a law requiring public officials to file financial disclosure forms. Blockchain ensures that the forms are both visible to the public and cannot be altered.

Blousson and his team also used the technology to build a procurement platform, called Teneris, which companies and governments can use to solicit bids from suppliers of goods and services, a process that is often rife with opportunities for bribery and bid rigging.

Still, blockchain has its limitations, says Beth Noveck, a New York University (NYU) professor who specializes in the use of technology to bring transparency to government. Corruption also occurs after bids are awarded—when a building contractor uses shoddy materials to cut corners, for example.

That’s where big data offers a promising investigatory tool, Noveck says. The technology makes it possible to aggregate data on government spending and contracting and to analyze it for signs of waste, fraud, and corruption. As Noveck puts it, “You can spot the patterns of whose brother-in-law got too many contracts.”

Mobilizing citizen involvement also makes a difference, says Noveck, a lawyer by training who heads NYU’s Governance Lab. People like Diego Mendiburu are doing just that. A former journalist and technology buff, he put together a team of programmers to develop a mobile app that allows Mexicans to report substandard public services.

Users with smartphones can capture and share short videos of potholes that go unfilled or trees that are cut down illegally as a way of shaming public officials and pressuring them to act.

The app, Supercivicos, uses GPS technology to pinpoint the date and location of the videos, then builds a database of reports that can be used by civic groups and government agencies to identify problem services and find solutions.

Mendiburu wants users to become engaged citizen-journalists. “It’s not only about pointing out what’s wrong, it’s about telling stories,” he says. “We believe that this project can be exported to other countries in Latin America.”

In Ukraine, there are similar ambitions for ProZorro.Sale (the name combines the Ukrainian word for transparency with Zorro, the fictional Mexican who defended the poor against corrupt officials). As of December, Transparency International Ukraine was in talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to adapt the system for use elsewhere in Europe.

Of course, digital technology, while effective, can be stymied by governments, whose support is needed in the fight against official corruption. Late last year, the IMF and World Bank criticized Ukraine for undermining its recently established National Anti-Corruption Bureau and for failing to make good on promises to create an independent anti-corruption court.

“E-tools are important, but institutions are far more important,” says Viktor Nestulia, director of the Innovation Projects Program at Transparency International Ukraine.

*https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/03/pdf/wellisz.pdf

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Excerpt:

Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

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“No One Listened to Us!” The Ixiles of Guatemalahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 13:32:06 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159268 According to the Mexican Interior Ministry more than 7,000 Central American migrants have during the last month arrived at the US-Mexico border. Despite warnings by officials that they will face arrests, prosecution and deportation if they enter US territory, migrants state they intend to do so anyway, since they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence. […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

According to the Mexican Interior Ministry more than 7,000 Central American migrants have during the last month arrived at the US-Mexico border. Despite warnings by officials that they will face arrests, prosecution and deportation if they enter US territory, migrants state they intend to do so anyway, since they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence. This is not new, in 1995 I visited Ixil and Ixcan, two Guatemalan areas mainly inhabited by Ixiles. My task was to analyse the impact of a regional development programme aimed at supporting post-conflict indigenous communities. United Nations has estimated that between 1960 and 1996 more than 245,000 people (mostly civilians) had been killed, or “disappeared” during Guatemalan internal conflicts, the vast majority of the killings were attributed to the army, or paramilitary groups.

A rainy day I visited a camp for returnees. After living in Mexico, Ixiles were awaiting land distribution. Behind wire and monitored by soldiers, they huddled among their meagre belongings, sheltered by plastic sheets stretched across wooden poles. They expressed their hopes for the future. They wanted to be listened to, allowed to build up their villages, gain respect and become accepted as coequal citizens in their own country. While asked what they wanted most of all, several returnees answered: “We need a priest and a church.” I wondered if they were so religious. “No, no,” they answered. “We need to rebuild our lives, finding our place in the world, be with our ancestors. The priest will make us believe in ourselves and trust in God. That will give us strength. We need a church so we can build our village around it. We all need a centre and every village needs one as well.”

Ixil tradition emphasizes the importance of land and ancestry. A few days before my visit to the camp I had interviewed an aj’kin, a Maya priest. Aj means “master of” and kin “day”. Aj´kines perform rituals and keep track of the time – the past, the present and the future. Like many old Ixiles the aj´kin did not speak any Spanish and the Ixil engineer who accompanied me translated his words. The engineer suggested that I would ask the aj´kin to “sing his family”. The old man then delivered a long, monotonous chant, listing his ancestors all the way back to pre-colonial days. When I asked him what the singing was about the aj´kin explained: “The world belongs to those who were here before us. We only take care of it, until we become one of them. All the ancestors want from us is that we don´t abandon them, making them know that we remember them. Memory and speech is the thread that keeps the Universe together.”

In the camp, Ixiles told me they had been ignored for hundreds of years and that this was the main reason for the violent conflict. Uniformed men had arrived in their villages and first, people had assumed they were government soldiers, becoming enthused when the strangers declared that it was time for Ixiles to have their voices heard, their wishes fulfilled. However, the “liberators” could not keep their promises. They did not represent the Government, they were guerilleros, proclaiming they had “freed” the peasants, when all they had done was to “speak a lot” and create “revolutionary committees”, only to retreat as soon as the Government troops arrived. These were much stronger and more ruthless than the guerilleros and stated that Ixiles had become “communists”. They murdered and tortured them, burned their fields. What could they do? They asked their Catholic priests for help, but the Government accused the Church of manipulating them through its ”liberation theology”; by preaching that Jesus had been on the side of the poor. The soldiers even killed priests. One woman told me that she and her neighbours one morning had found the parish priest’s severed head laying on the church steps. Some peasants joined the guerrilla, others organized militias to keep it at a safe distance:

    “Some of the guerilleros were our own sons and daughters, but what could we do? As soon as guerrilleros appeared and preached their socialism, the army arrived, killing us. The guerrilleros were not strong enough to fight the soldiers. We were left to be slaughtered. The only solution we could find was to arm ourselves and with weapons in hand ask the guerrilleros to stay away from our villages. However, all over the world they declared that we were supporting a corrupt and oppressive regime. We found ourselves between two fires, solutions were almost non-existent. No one listened to us”

A Catholic priest living in the camp explained: “They tend to be very religious, but their faith is mostly about human dignity. Ixiles want to be masters of their lives. They need to be listened to. Every day I sit for hours listening to confessions. They talk and talk. It makes them content when someone is listening to them. This is one of the problems we Catholics face. Ixiles are abandoning our faith for the one of the evangelicals.”

For centuries the Church had told Ixiles what to do, but finally both Catholics and peasants had been persecuted. In 1982, under the presidency of Ríos Montt, violence reached its peak. A scorch earth campaign lasting for five months resulted in the deaths of approximately 10,000 indigenous Guatemalans, while 100,000 rural villagers were forced to flee their homes, most of them over the border, into Mexico. Ríos Montt was a “born-again Christian” and in the aftermath of the violence evangelical sectarians appeared in the Ixil areas. Many of the remaining Ixiles became evangelicals, stating this was their only way to avoid persecution and come in contact with the “High Command” of the unconstrained army forces.

The loudspeakers of evangelical churches amplified their voices, allowing Ixiles to confess their sins and praise the Lord. However, were their voices finally heard? Their well-being improved? Do they have a say in the governing of their country? Many Ixiles are once again leaving their homes, hoping to reach the US. Research indicates a difference between migration patterns of El Salvador and Honduras and Guatemala. In the former two countries migration decision is more often the result of immediate threats to safety, while in Guatemala it stems from chronic stressors; a mix of general violence, poverty, and rights violations, especially among indigenous people.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Tradehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:16:35 +0000 Jessica Neuwirth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159163 Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

By Jessica Neuwirth
NEW YORK, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Following two devastating world wars the United Nations General Assembly set out a brand new vision of human rights that the world could agree on going forward. It is still the benchmark by which most modern-day human rights organisations live.

Mickey Meji, South African sex trade survivor. Credit: wowwoman.com

The first line of the Declaration states in a clear and compelling way that all human beings are born free and equal. In practice, freedom and equality are the foundation from which every other fundamental human right is derived.

The Universal Declaration also recognizes that nobody should be held in slavery or servitude. This includes the many million women and girls who are caught in the devastating sex trade.

Despite the clarity of this issue in the minds of women’s rights advocates and survivors of prostitution some United Nations agencies – including UNAIDS and UNDP, as well as some high profile human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – have ignored this basic tenet and have instead called for the decriminalization of pimping, brothel-owning and patronizing prostitution.

Over the last twenty years the evidence against decriminalizing all aspects of the sex trade has become much clearer. The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand removed sanctions on the purchase of sex and either decriminalized or legalized pimping and brothel-keeping.

As a result, Germany has been compared to a “giant teutonic brothel” by The Economist while Amsterdam has been backtracking from its failed experiment to protect prostituted persons.

Meanwhile, the growing evidence on what does work points to the Nordic or Equality model, pioneered by Sweden in 1999 and followed by Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Israel and others are also looking at this policy approach. It is no coincidence that many of these countries rank highest in terms of gender equality.

While the groups listed above support the right of men to buy sex, they have inexplicably ignored evidence of the Equality model’s success.

We all support the decriminalization of prostituted persons, but it is hard to justify the decriminalization of those who willfully and systematically exploit them.

The fact that gender and other structural inequalities are at the root of prostitution appears to have also been conveniently ignored. When such respected groups officially condone the purchase of sex and the horrifying human rights violations experienced by women trapped in prostitution they create an inexcusable veil of legitimacy, behind which those forced into the sex trade by poverty become collateral damage for maintaining the “rights” of men to buy sex.

Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, both male-led organizations, have in effect disowned the UDHR as it relates to the modern day subjugation of women.

As the South African sex trade survivor Mickey has said, prostitution is not only the embodiment of sexism and violence against women and girls, it is also a deep reflection of racism, poverty and other inequalities: “it is no coincidence that the majority of individuals in prostitution in South Africa are poor black women.”

Let’s be very clear about it: prostitution preys on the vulnerable – mostly women – and continues to exist because men who freely choose to buy sex want to enact their privilege in a dominant and abusive way. I have not heard any counter-argument from Amnesty or Human Rights Watch that negates this basic concept.

We can never achieve any form of equality in society as long as this extreme abuse of power by one human being over another is legitimized as a “commercial transaction”. These organizations should re-read Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

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Excerpt:

Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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70 Years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – Hope Against Hopehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 09:41:01 +0000 Prince Al Hassan bin Talal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159109 “Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children under five have died in Yemen from untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018.” “The grim analysis of United Nations data comes as intense fighting has again erupted in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah.” Meanwhile, the UN considers Yemen the world’s biggest […]

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By HRH Prince Al Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
GENEVA, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

“Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children under five have died in Yemen from untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018.”

“The grim analysis of United Nations data comes as intense fighting has again erupted in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah.”

Meanwhile, the UN considers Yemen the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis and warns that without an end to the fighting, the country, in which more than half the population is already at risk of famine, faces the worst famine in decades.

Such have been the headlines day after day since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015. The tragedy is that statistics, coupled with the sensationalism of news, swiftly lose their impact. We become inured to the human catastrophe unfolding before our eyes as we turn the pages of our newspapers or flick channels on our television sets in search of something less distressing (OR less demanding).

This year sees the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, proclaimed in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th December 1948. Following the unmitigated horrors of the Second World War, it was a milestone in the history of human rights. Yet, seventy years on, the river of human history continues to be poisoned by injustice, starvation, displacement, fear, instability, uncertainties and politicised sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Today it seems we are moving further away from the concept of Universal rights, in favour of my rights, even if at the expense of yours (although the other may be you yourself), with a callous disregard for the Declaration’s two key ethical considerations: a commitment to the inherent dignity of every human being and a commitment to non-discrimination.

The schisms in the world today have become so numerous, the inequities so stark, that a universal respect for human dignity is something that must be brought back to the consciousness of the international community.

Recognition of religion and individual cultural identities are a crucial part of the mix. Unlike citizenship – the legal membership of a sovereign state or nation, identity encompasses the totality of how one construes oneself, including those dimensions that express continuity with past ancestry and future aspirations, and implies affinity with certain groups and the recognition of common ties. In brief, it demands the recognition of the totality of the self, of one’s human dignity, irrespective of background, ethnicity or financial clout. A call to be empowered to fulfil one’s potential, without kowtowing to a social construct or relinquishing any part of one’s heritage.

We need to be proactive in addressing the growing global hunger for human dignity for it goes to the very heart of human identity and the polarity / plurality divide, and without it, all the protections of the various legal human rights mechanisms become meaningless.

We have gone from a world of symmetries and political and military blocs, to a situation of fearful asymmetries and violent, armed non-state actors.

The polarity of hatred among people is corrosive, not only in the Mashreq/Levant, but across the globe. The retrenchment into smaller and smaller identities is one of the most striking paradoxes of globalisation. Binary fallacies lead nations to dead ends; to zero sum games.

Cross border themes of today, water, energy and human dignity, must be discussed at a regional level, as a creative common, rather than country by country. The neglect of these themes has meant that the West Asia area has become a breeding ground for rogue and extremist actors. The complex dynamics among the three greatest forces shaping our planet – man, nature, technology – require a whole new outlook. Yet there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

In drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its proponents [OR the drafting committee] sought to underpin a shared ideal, a common standard for all peoples and all nations, a code of conduct of rights and responsibilities if you will.

I should like to pay tribute to my late mother-in-law, the Begum Shaista Ikramullah. When she, the first Muslim Indian (as she then was) woman to gain a PhD from the University of London, working in 1948 with Eleanor Roosevelt on the Declaration of Human Rights and Convention Against Genocide, declared:

It is imperative that there be an accepted code of civilized behaviour.

Adding later:

The ideas emphasized in the [Declaration] are far from being realized, but there is a goal which those who believe in the freedom of the human spirit can try to reach.

To date we have fallen far short. Nonetheless the UDHR, not only provided the first step towards the creation of the International Bill of Human Rights (completed 1966, came into effect 1976), but gave rise to numerous conventions and international agreements which should give us cause for hope. I would like to mention but a few.

Of personal interest is the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was worked on and signed by the late Begum Ikramullah. She strongly supported the work of Professor Raphael Lemkin who lost 24 members of his family in the Holocaust. Raphael Lemkin defined genocide as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves“.

Some years later, the Helsinki Final Act (1975) “provided a basis for creating conditions favourable to peace in Europe and made human rights a common value to be respected by all nations in a world which was divided into East and West camps in that period”. It gave rise to the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, a non-governmental organisation of people in Europe, dedicated to the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism and to our own Middle East Citizens’ Assembly.

More recently I had the honour to serve on the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, whose fundamental purpose was to empower those living in poverty through increased protections and rights – thereby addressing simultaneously, exclusion, loss of dignity, and the link between poverty and lack of access to the law.

The basic premise of its report (published in 2008) was that the law should work for everyone, and included as a key underpinning, state/governmental investment in the conditions of labour.

Despite these positive steps, the three main challenges identified by the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (ICIHI): man against man, man against nature and man-made disasters, summarised in the title of our report: Winning the Human Race? continue to prevail (OR there is much much more to be done.)

In a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution, and where 85% of the worlds’ displaced are being hosted by developing countries, ill-equipped to do so, of which Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan and Lebanon are in the forefront and in which 15% of all mankind live in areas somewhat euphemistically described as ‘fragile states’, the moral lobby that is still strong across the world must act in cohesion. Together we must ensure that equal citizenship rights and human dignity are at the forefront of all development efforts. Further that the shift towards viewing human dignity as an individual, and not collective attribute, is realised.

This means placing human welfare firmly and definitively, at the centre of national and international policy-making.

We continue to hear of a security order or an economic order, neither of which have succeeded in creating a Universal order from which all of humanity benefits. In the face of this disharmonious logic, it is time for an humanitarian order based on the moral and ethical participation of the peoples of the world, as well as an intimate understanding of human nature.

We have, in the reports mentioned above and in other projects, a well-honed tool box of critical issues and agendas which should form the multi-stakeholder platform of our commitment to the universal ideals we all cherish. As with the UDHR, these reports are a clarion call to action – it is up to us to ensure they also represent a continuation of imaginative thinking for a universally beneficial creative process.

It is time to take off the blinkers of thinking only of ourselves – of our tribe and of our nation against all others – and consider how much can be achieved by drawing on the whole pool of our talents and resources to address common concerns on the basis of our shared humanity. We need an inclusive approach to meeting challenges, one that accounts for both the natural and the human environment. Only thus can we attain the desired organic unity between man and nature and the ethics of universal responsibility. This may sound idealistic; it is, but whether we are talking about water scarcity, food security, poverty, education, the ability for everyone to fulfil their potential, we need to focus on human dignity both in its ontological dimension by virtue of our very humanity and in its operative dimension as enhanced by our self-accomplishment.

We were not put on this earth to go forth and multiply, desecrate and destroy, but to bring life as well as hope for future generations.

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Power and Sexual Abuse: The Danger of Doublinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:05:55 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159106 Several celebrities use their power to insult or take advantage of women. We read about sexual abuse from men like Harvey Weinsten, Bill O´Reilly, Leslie Moonves, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Dennis Hastert, Robert Packwood, Roger Ailes, James Levine, Hans Hermann Groër, Marcial Maciel, Justin Forsyth, Ruud Lubbers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Several celebrities use their power to insult or take advantage of women. We read about sexual abuse from men like Harvey Weinsten, Bill O´Reilly, Leslie Moonves, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Dennis Hastert, Robert Packwood, Roger Ailes, James Levine, Hans Hermann Groër, Marcial Maciel, Justin Forsyth, Ruud Lubbers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump. The list is just a sample of an extensive catalogue of Western men accused of abusing women, using their fame, fortune and power to exploit and humiliate them. Unfortunately, misogyny, contempt of and prejudice against women and girls, may even be characterized as a cultural universal, an element, pattern, trait, or institution that is common to all human cultures worldwide.

Humans are herd animals. We depend on relations with other humans, a dependency that seldom is equal. Every moment of our lives we suffer subjugation – under parents, teachers, colleagues, bosses and government officials, at the same time as we might have power over others. Power may act as poison. Several persons I have been acquainted with and who reached powerful positions have changed completely, poisoned by their elevation above other human beings. Several imagined they earned their position though intelligence, hard work and charm; outstanding qualities that distinguished them from others, especially those who are dependent on these formidable leaders.

Endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin constitute a blissful quartet of neurotransmitters that make us content. Feelings of well-being increase levels of serotonin, which stimulate our appetite and general contentment, while low serotonin levels trigger stress hormones. Powerful beings benefit from serotonin streaming through their bodies, creating feelings of a refreshing exhilaration. Powerful men become supermen, assuming their behaviour cannot be equalled to that of inferior beings, whose blood and brains are acidified by stress hormones.

This blissful state of mind has to be protected. Power-drunk sex abusers are generally safeguarded by others, who like them fear that their power, and that of their sheltering organizations, will be weakened if voices of abused victims are taken seriously. Maybe a reason to why even the Catholic Church and United Nations, organizations supposed to care about evil and social injustice, so often have proved reluctant to address abuse committed by powerful men and women within their own domains.

While I in Paris was working at the gender division of UNESCO, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the IMF, went to trial in Lille, accused of pimping. He was acquitted from all charges, though I found his defence deplorable. He admitted that he was a “libertine” and liked to participate in orgies, though he had not realized that his partners in those excesses had been prostitutes. He assumed they were “libertines” like him. He was contradicted by several women who had shared his “pleasures”. One of them told the court: ”No other customer would have dared to do what he did. Does he assume that he can behave like that just because he does not have the same social status [as women like me]?” Fabrice Paszkowski, one of several arrangers of Strauss-Kahn´s nightly pleasures, used to text him messages about planned sexual encounters. The nature of these messages reflects opinions of men like them. Strauss-Kahn: ”So, who will you have in your luggage?” Paszkowski: “I have some very beautiful and new things for my trip to DC!!!”

While reading about the trial in Lille I found that another of Paszkowski´s clients had been the strapping sailor, author and artist Titouan Lamazou. A frequent visitor to UNESCO´s gender division. He was actively involved with charitable organizations defending the rights of women and children and had in 2003 been appointed as “UNESCO´s Artist for Peace”. Lamazou´s defence was the same as Strauss-Kahn´s: “I did not know that these women were prostitutes”.

The case of Titouan Lamazou made me remember when I was working for The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and once listened to a lecture by Karl Göran Lindberg, lawyer, police chief and former rector of the Police Academy. Lindberg was project manager of an EU project called Genderforce, aiming to improve international efforts to include a gender perspective in all police work. In 2010, Lindberg was by the Swedish High Court sentenced to a long prison term for repeated serious rape and sexual abuse of under-aged girls.

Lamazou and Lindberg might have been victims of what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton in a book about Nazi doctors called doubling. A psychological trait enabling a person to invoke evil potentials and forbidden urges, at the same time as s/he considers them to be completely alien to her/his true humanitarian and philanthropically inclined self. Jay Lifton stated:

          To live out the doubling and call forth the evil is a moral choice for which one is responsible, whatever
          the level of consciousness involved.

If we, our laws and our society accept and condone doubling, we identify with the perpetrators and pave the way for immorality, injustice and violence.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Central America: Eradicating Gender Violence is Vital to State Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 08:08:55 +0000 Richard Barathe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159067 Richard Barathe is Director, UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean

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Credit: Caroline Trutmann / UNDP

By Richard Barathe
PANAMA CITY, Panama, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

María is a 35-year old Salvadoran woman with three young children. Growing up, María knew her mother but never met her father. When María was six, she started working at the Central Market of San Salvador and at the age of 12 she was raped and became pregnant for the first time.

Later, María was expelled from her home once her mother got married for a second time, “My stepfather did not want to take care of me, even less with a son”, she told the researcher for “Resilient Youth, The Opportunity for Central America”, a study developed by the Regional Project Infosegura, a UN Development Programme-USAID joint initiative.

María lived in many different places until she met the father of her second daughter- who was killed years later. After his passing, María had a third child with a third partner whom she soon separated from, due to domestic violence. Currently, María’s teenage son lives with her father, uncle, and grandmother since she simply could not take care of him while also working full time.

Richard Barathe

Women all across El Salvador, women just like María have a life expectancy of around 75 years. It is safe to say that about half of María’s life has been deeply marked by the violence that women experience in Northern Countries of Central America, a region that for the past two decades has seen chronic violence despite Central America not having a regional war in decades.

When speaking of violence in the Northern Countries of Central America, it is assumed to be a problem concerning young men, since “only” 11 percent of the victims of violent deaths are women. However, the story of María is more common than is realized.

María is just another example of how women of this region live surrounded by a violence that affects them differently and specifically just because they are women.

This violence is not necessarily lethal, and victims often survive, but these women continue to be subjected to the same cycle of violence throughout their whole lives, impacting families and communities through generations, affecting their economy and sustainability, and distorting their capacities for development.

Data shows that in María’s home country, 93 percent of the victims of sexual crimes are women. Over two in every five the victims are under the age of 18. We also know that domestic violence is present throughout the adulthood of a woman and that a woman between 12 and 50 years old is at high risk of “disappearing”.

Over 3,500 women have been killed between the years 2010-2017, while nearly 2,700 were reported as Enforced Disappearances around the same period (201-2016) with 43 percent of them being minors.

We know this because the Salvadoran State has made progress in the management of information on citizen security with a focus on gender and has oriented public policies to guarantee evidence-based analysis.

Migration is a phenomenon that also characterizes this region, and data indicates that violence against women is an important factor to be considered. Our initiative also analyzed returnees data: migrants detained in transit who were sent back to their place of origin.

We know that 26 percent of these ‘returnees’ are women and 30 percent of all women say they have migrated due to violence, compared to only 18 percent of men who say violence is the main reason for leaving their country.

Every November, national, regional, and global actors campaign to eradicate violence against women. It is crucial to recognize violence against women as an essential element of citizen security: tackling it is a key step to build more cohesive and peaceful societies.

Addressing general societal violence with a special focus on violence against women must be at the foundation of comprehensive public policies on citizen security, that aim to eradicate all types of violence. Understanding everyday violence that women experience in their homes and streets is a security problem for communities and nations.

No nation will be safe unless women can live safely and develop their full potentials.

In this spirit, the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a holistic model for a comprehensive approach to ensure that women have a life free from all types of violence. All of society thrives with firm steps towards development when no one is left behind.

At UNDP, we are systematizing good practices and success stories of the work in Central America within the framework of the UNDP-USAID Infosegura Regional Project, which is dedicated to the development of capacities for the formulation of public policies based on evidence and with a gender approach. We are, thus, establishing standards, methodologies and scalable processes.

An essential part of the process has been to build trust and coordinate our work with national institutions producing and analyzing data, leveraging new technologies, national experts and innovation.

This coordination has resulted in regional accomplishments in information management with a gender focus, such as specialized surveys and standardized reports on acts of violence against women.

In El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, understanding the context of María’s story as accurately as possible will allow us to efficiently eradicate violence against women as well as all other types of violence. If countries are to achieve the 2030 Agenda, boosting gains in the economic, social and environmental realms, this can only be done if we ensure that no “Marías” are left behind.

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Excerpt:

Richard Barathe is Director, UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean

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Why Bother about World War Ihttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bother-world-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bother-world-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bother-world-war/#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2018 06:59:20 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159033 Why do we still need to be concerned about a war that ended a hundred years ago? Sure, it caused the death of at least 37 million people, but why bother about that now? Anyhow France´s president Emmanuel Macron believed it was worthwhile to commemorate the end of World War I and seventy world leaders […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Why do we still need to be concerned about a war that ended a hundred years ago? Sure, it caused the death of at least 37 million people, but why bother about that now? Anyhow France´s president Emmanuel Macron believed it was worthwhile to commemorate the end of World War I and seventy world leaders were invited to attend the centennial ceremony by Paris´s Arc de Triomphe.

In pouring rain Macron delivered a speech in which he reminded the gathered leaders that “old demons” were once again emerging all over the world, threatening peace and global co-operation. A common theme for these forces is Nationalism. We all know what that is all about – an intense form of loyalty to one’s country, or to what is often labelled as “our people”, exaggerating the value and importance of our own nation, placing its interests above those of other countries.

In his speech Macron declared that: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism, which in fact is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ´our interests first; who cares about the others?´, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.” Upholding moral values requires listening to others, efforts to co-operate and understand one another. We have to accept that the fate of all humans is intertwined and “giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error” for which future generations will hold us all accountable.

Listening to this speech was the US President Donald Trump, a leader who once tweeted about Kim Jong Un: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” and who is supporting Saudi Arabia´s devastating war in Yemen. Present was also Russia´s president, Vladimir Putin, whose regime supports a long-winding war in the Ukrainian Donetsk Oblast and bombed civilian targets in Syria. Trump, who like Putin proudly has ¬declared himself a nationalist, sat stony-faced during Macron´s speech, but smiled broadly as he exchanged a handshake with Putin, who flashed him a thumbs-up sign.

Like any other statesman Trump also gives speeches, maybe not as eloquent as Macrons´, but nevertheless quite forceful:

      You know what a globalist is, right? You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that.

Why bother about all this? What is the use of remembering World War I? The reasons to this overwhelming affliction were manifold; political, territorial and economic. However, the main cause of the disaster was the growth of nationalism and imperialism, fuelled by a breakdown of the European power balance. The crumbling of the Austro-Hungary and Ottoman Empires. The unification of Italy and Germany, combined with a grave intoxication of nationalism, which appeared to have poisoned every European nation.

A case in point was England, with an anthem that declared Rule, Brittania, Britons never, never will be slaves and where the press constantly warned about German, Russian or French aggression, as well as the Yellow Peril and the danger of losing admirable hereditary genetic characteristics due to the influx of and mixing with “inferior races”. Such “invasion literature” depicted the Germans as cold, cruel and calculating. Russians were described as uncultured barbarians. The French were above all leisure-seeking nonentities, while the Chinese were murderous, opium-smoking savages and Africans childish and underdeveloped.

Germans sang Deutschland, Deutschland über alles. Über alles in der Welt, Germany, Germany above all. Above all in the world and celebrated German culture as humanity´s most perfect creation, protected and backed up by a splendid Prussian war machine. In Russia, more than 80 ethnic groups were forced to speak Russian, worship the tsar and practice the Russian Orthodox religion. Africa, the Middle East and Asia were being “carved up” and economically exploited by European powers, while people of almost every ethnic European group were convinced that they, their nation, or the one they aspired to create, occupied or would be destined to obtain a position of cultural, economic and military supremacy. With provocative remarks and high-flown rhetoric, politicians, diplomats, authors and journalists contributed to this divisive and eventually destructive mind set.

The result? Millions of dead, wounded, bereaved, bewildered and starving people all over the world. Did humanity learn anything? Twenty years after the armistice a great part of the world was plunged into the abyss of another devastating war, even worse than the first one. And now? Have we learned anything? What are we doing now? We are once again listening to the siren song of nationalists. Please – let us take warning from what has happened before and pay attention to other tunes:

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
                                     (Pete Seeger & Joe Hickerson)

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Mothers of Drug War Victims Demand Justice in the Philippineshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/mothers-of-drug-war-victims-demand-justice-in-the-philippines/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mothers-of-drug-war-victims-demand-justice-in-the-philippines http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/mothers-of-drug-war-victims-demand-justice-in-the-philippines/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 13:12:27 +0000 Yonna Waltersson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159016 Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs has claimed tens of thousand of lives. Lorena Villanueva and Emy Pagaduan lost their sons. Now they are demanding that the President of the Philippines be held responsible for the killings. A basketball bounces. The heat feels almost physical against the skin. Young men dribble the ball playfully on […]

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