The Global Citizen: Human Rights
I decided I will start off this gushy, loving article on Mother's Day with a depressing statistic (sorry): around the world, every two minutes a woman dies from preventable causes related to pregnancy. The real kicker? These deaths are 100% preventable.
There are several factors that play into this astonishing statistic. In some parts of the world, maternal health simply is not a priority. In Save the Children's mother index, you can see which countries are the best and worst places to be a mother. Can you guess how the United States ranks? The US came in 30th. 30th place. Wow.
The report explains that several factors are at play when it comes to a mother's health, including economic status, education level, and women's political status (to name a few). The Democratic Republic of Congo came in last place - the worst place to be a mother. Cultural practices play a role as well. For example, women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) are twice as likely to die during childbirth and are more likely to give birth to a stillborn child than other women.
President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he believes Syria has used a small amount of chemical weapons ignited a debate. Has the Assad regime crossed the "red line" the White House laid down?
U.S. intelligence reports "varying degrees of confidence" that Syria used chemical weapons. "We have to act prudently," Obama said. "But I think all of us...recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations."
The situation in Syria is clearly dire, with more than 70,000 deaths. Over 2.5 million Syrian refugees (including 600,000 children) have overwhelmed the ability of the United Nations and neighboring countries to provide adequate care. Another 2 million kids are internally displaced within Syria.
But politicians seem more concerned about U.S. credibility than suffering Syrians. So what's next for Washington?
If I were president, I'd try to carefully navigate between two horrendous mistakes my predecessors made:
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News guest commentator, Erik Rush, tweeted "Yes, they're evil. Let's kill them all," to his nearly 40,000 twitter followers. Rush was talking about Muslims, who he had immediately blamed for the bombing.
The shocking and unacceptable nature of his words, however, has much deeper consequences. In the United States, free speech is valued -- after all, it is the first right guaranteed under our constitution. Yet what Rush tweeted is not protected as free speech because it insights violence. If one just ignores his words or dismisses them as being intentionally controversial -- they run the risk of encouraging and promoting hateful ideology and perpetuating the cycle of violence in humanity.
Encouraging others to "kill" an entire certain group -- whether a religious, racial, or ethnic group -- is polarizing and dangerous. Rush might explain the scandal away by saying he was only being sarcastic, but hate speech isn't something that we should ignore or just explain away.
Rush has a global platform that most do not -- he is invited to speak on Fox News as an unpaid commentator. His hate inducing words are completely unacceptable. Fox News should drop Erik Rush from their program, or else they will be endorsing his hateful ideology. It's time to take a deep breath and stop the cycle of violence.
2012 was the hottest year ever in the United States recorded since 1895. Global sea level rose approximately seventeen centimeters within the last century and we have experienced twenty of the warmest years since 1981. But that is not the only problem we are currently facing...
The United Nations made a report on the relationship between climate change and women's equality, stating that "women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men -- primarily as they constitute the majority of the world's poor and more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change."
Women make up 45-80% of all food producers in developing countries. Climate change has caused a wide array of inconsistent agricultural patterns, making traditional practices to be inadequate. This creates many problems for women, who may solely depend on agriculture for food and income.
It is important to understand the effects of climate change to citizens of developing countries. In places such as Africa and Asia, women and their families are very dependent on agricultural crops and resources. But due to climate change, the likelihood to gather these resources has decreased -- leading to a variety of issues for women and their families.
After the initial relief of the guilty verdict of the Steubenville rape case, I was horrified to see postings, tweets, and even newscasters giving sympathy to the accused convicted rapists. Complete victim-blaming rants along the lines of "Be responsible for your actions ladies before your drunken decisions ruin innocent lives," were scattered throughout the internet. As if the unconscious girl provoked the attack. As if she had any say in what was done to her. Now the brave survivor is receiving death threats.
These reactions make it no wonder that only 46% of rapes are even reported because of the fear and public shaming the victims receive. The Steubenville Case is only one out of 3% of cases that result in a conviction. One in 3%. It seems the impossible has happened --- justice for a rape survivor. Yet the backlash and rape-sympathizers that we have seen throughout the case and after the delinquent verdict, points to a huge problem our society has with women and girls.
The verdict has finally come out for two teenage males accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays were found guilty and must serve up to one and two years in the state juvenile system respectively.
From Steubenville, Ohio to New Delhi, India, we seem to be living in a world where gender based violence is a common human abuse. "Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined," writes Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times. He continues by stating that "Americans watched the events after the Delhi gang rape with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States."
The Internet has been around for the last five decades and its influence has reached all corners of the world. From recreational blogging to professional online journalism, it seems that anyone can voice their opinion on the Internet and share their thoughts to any person, no matter where they may be. But what if you were not allowed to express your beliefs? What if, you were imprisoned if you posted, commented or simply 'liked' something that was considered unpatriotic? What if, your government forbids you to have a voice?
On March 11th, the Better World Campaign and the United Nations Association of the United States hosted a panel discussion on "Protecting International Freedom of Expression on the Internet". They invited four panelists to discuss their personal experiences in countries where Internet data, publications and news was controlled by the government.
Today is my favorite holiday. I learned about it in Italian class. In Italian, the holiday is called, La Festa della Donna, in English we call it International Women's Day. La Festa della Donna is my favorite holiday because in Italy, women are given mimosa flowers, a mimosa cake and are told to take the day off. It's like the Italian Valentine's Day for every woman.
In honor of La Festa della Donna I am taking the United Nation's International Women's Day theme of A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence against Wome.
Project Mimosa is my own personal motto to create awareness of women's issues. This is the year for ending violence against women. The United States Congress recently passed the Violence Against Women Act and with the same commitment to ending violence against women, the US Senate should ratify the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Here are my reasons why:
Did you know that international laws dictate the rules of the game when it comes to selling bananas and iPods, but not grenade launchers and AK-47s?
It’s crazy but true. Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Negotiators at the United Nations will soon wrap up a global Arms Trade Treaty that will establish much-needed rules to prevent selling arms to human rights violators.
Every year, more than 500,000 people around the world are killed as a result of armed violence. Firearms are used in armed conflicts and to carry out human rights violations, including genocide, gang rape, and the practice of forcing children into combat as underaged soldiers.
There are about 250,000 child soldiers.
Roughly 60 percent of documented human rights violations involve the use of small arms (such as rifles and machine guns) and light weapons (such as grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles). In fact, more human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other category of weapon.
This morning the Violence Against Women Act passed in the House of Representatives. This is exciting news for women all around the country, as this bill protects survivors of sexual and domestic violence and gives them various resources and services to prosecute their attackers. Since it's passing in 1994, this landmark legislation has reduced domestic violence by 64%, saved taxpayers billions in averted social costs, and was the first bill to make domestic violence a federal crime.
Human rights advocates breathed a sigh of relief, previously unsure of how the VAWA would get through the often-deadlocked House of Representatives. Since the bill has indeed passed and is on its way to President Obama's desk, it is a sure sign that maybe, just maybe, congress can put petty partisan fights aside and protect those who most need it.
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