Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Thousands of Young People Registered to Vote at ‘March For Our Lives’ last Weekend #MarchForOurLives #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs

“That’s a really invigorating number. I mean, damn, that’s awesome.”

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“If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote,” former U.S. president Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, “not just for a president, but for mayors and sheriffs and state’s attorneys and state legislators.” 

Two years later, that message still rings true — and in 2018 young people across the country may be starting to take on the mantle of representative democracy for themselves.

As hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world marched for gun reform, at least 4,800 young people — and perhaps many more — registered to vote at marches across the country, NBC News reports.

Voter advocacy groups present at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., New York City, and other major US cities included HeadCount, League of Women Voters, and Rock the Vote, according to the NBC News report. 

Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesperson for HeadCount told NBC that as of Sunday 4,800 people had registered to vote at or after the nationwide rallies, with others expected to return their voter registration forms in the coming week.

“That’s a really invigorating number,” Ghitelman told NBC. “I mean, damn, that’s awesome.”

The organization, Mic reports, sent volunteers to 30 cities across the country.

“This was the No. 1 day in our history, by a wide margin. Nothing else was even close,” HeadCount founder Andy Bernstein said Sunday.

The record voter registration at the March For Our Lives is another sign that young Americans are taking their political futures into their own hands, not only through marching and school walkouts, but also through the ballot box.

Youth voter turnout has traditionally lagged behind other demographics. Just under 45% of voters aged 18-29 went to the polls in 2016, compared to more than 70% of voters over 60, according to the United States Elections Project, which uses statistics from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

Youth voter turnout in the United States peaked in 2008, according to the Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). That year, 52% of voters aged 18-29 went to the polls in Obama’s historic election.

Low voter turnout in democratic countries is nothing new — and is not relegated to the United States. Around the world, voter turnout has declined more than 10% in the past 25 years, Quartz reports.

But going to the polls is critical to ensure the 16th Global Goal for Sustainable Development: peace, justice, and strong institutions.

The participation of young people in the March For Our Lives, and the record numbers of voter signups, shows that the trend of low voter turnout is not irreversible.

“The engagement has really increased and I think it’s an awareness,” Diane Burrows, a vice president of the League of Women Voters in New York, told NBC. 

“People are really understanding the power of the vote and that’s what’s really motivating a lot of them,” she added. “They’re figuring out the importance and power of civic engagement.” 

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Environment, Pollution & Life Below Water: Hawaii Is Close to Banning Ocean-Polluting Takeout Containers #Plastic #Hawaii #AplasticOcean #PlasticBan

They would be the first state in the US to ban the foam containers.

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By Erica Cirino, Oceans Deeply

Hawaii, a state with a $17-billion tourism industry and a persistent plastic pollution problem, is moving toward a groundbreaking ban on polystyrene food containers.

While hundreds of cities and counties have passed local ordinances eliminating polystyrene in food containers or in other uses, no legislation has so far been successful at the state level in the United States.A similar effort failed recently in California, while Maryland’s General Assembly is now also considering legislation that was introduced in early 2018.

Internationally, a few nations have imposed strong regulations against the importation and use of polystyrene, including Zimbabwe and the Seychelles, which has banned the use of all disposable plastic items.

All plastic debris is a concern for marine and coastal health because it does not biodegrade and can end up polluting beaches and the ocean, where it breaks up into tiny pieces that can be eaten by marine life. Lightweight polystyrene foam is particularly worrisome in an island state such as Hawaii because it easily blows out of trash cans and eventually out to sea.

“The ban would be a positive step forward in preventing more plastic debris from affecting Hawaiian shores and waters,” said Mark Manuel, Pacific Islands Marine Debris Program regional coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Honolulu.

On Monday, spectators packed a small room in the Hawaii State Capitol building and watched as five senators read public testimony from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 2498. This is the first time in 10 years that a statewide polystyrene foam prohibition bill has moved through Hawaii’s Senate, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu Chapter, and follows bans passed in Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii last year.

After the hearing, the members of the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health committee unanimously voted to move the bill forward. If passed by the full Senate, and the House passes its own version, the provision would take effect January 1, 2019, if signed into law by the governor.

The proposed ban wouldn’t forbid all uses of the polystyrene foam, commonly called by the trade name Styrofoam, just the kind used in food service businesses. However, because so many food vendors in Hawaii distribute polystyrene food containers daily, supporters say the ban could greatly reduce plastic litter across the islands and in the surrounding waters. (The popular Hawaiian plate lunch, for instance, is commonly served up in polystyrene containers.) Senator Stanley Chang, a co-sponsor of the bill, said polystyrene foam is one of the most common sources of litter and marine debris in Hawaii. A 2014 study found that polystyrene foams are the most commonly seen visible plastic material at sea.

The polystyrene debris is affecting the quality of our marine environment and harming our wildlife, both in our major population centres and as far away as the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, where birds and aquatic life often die because of their consumption of human-generated debris,” said Chang.

Takeout container pollution is particularly dangerous to marine wildlife. The lightweight material easily breaks into pieces that can be eaten by animals, disrupting their digestive system and contaminating their blood with toxins.

Douglas McCauley, a University of California, Santa Barbara marine biologist, estimates that 98 percent of all albatross chicks found dead on the islands contain plastic, including polystyrene foam. He said Hawaii’s polystyrene foam pollution is contributing to a mess “in a place that should be famous for generating sunsets, good waves, Mai Tais and memories.”

He said, “This ban is not going to fix the problem of plastic pollution in Hawaii, but it will be a big step in the right direction.” McCauley also added, “It will cut back on a particularly insidious form of plastic pollution that is easy to replace and that is known to harm ocean wildlife.”

Hawaii asks residents to dispose of polystyrene foam in the trash. In Oahu, polystyrene is burned along with other garbage at H-Power, its waste-to-energy plant. Elsewhere on Hawaii, it is sent to a landfill. Polystyrene can technically be recycled, but few recycling centers handle the material and there are none in Hawaii.

At the hearing Monday, opponents to the legislation submitted comments, but they were outnumbered by individuals, scientists, environmental organizations, food vendors and companies. Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu Chapter, a major supporter of the ban, pushed the public to post testimony supporting the bill on social media. In Hawaii’s public schools, teachers asked dozens of students to send letters to their senators. Only one individual – a Hawaii state resident – submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, stating that polystyrene is “practical” and that the state should instead focus on solving its homelessness problem in order to reduce littering.

“This is a bold bill, but it is way overdue,” said McCauley. “Hawaii is usually a global leader on oceans. People in Hawaii know, perhaps better than any other place on the planet, that ocean health and human health are intertwined. This has been a part of Hawaiian knowledge systems for thousands of years.”

Opponents of the ban – including the American Chemistry Council, Hawaii Restaurant Association, Hawaii Food Industry Association, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and local polystyrene manufacturer KYD – argue efforts to deal with plastic pollution should focus on litter prevention. They contend that switching to eco-friendly food containers would be prohibitively expensive for small businesses, and that alternate materials would not be sturdy enough to hold classic Hawaiian plate lunches – which are often served hot and drenched in sauces.

This article originally appeared on Oceans Deeply. You can find the original here

Women & Girls: American Kids Are Starting to Draw More Scientists as Female #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs #GlobalGoals

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, fewer than 1% of kids thought to draw women scientists.

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You can’t be what you can’t imagine.

It used to be that an overwhelming majority of American children imagined the archetypal scientist to be male. But a new report says that’s finally changing, suggesting a trend toward improved gender representation in the sciences.

Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed 78 studies conducted over five decades, all of which asked schoolchildren to do one simple thing: draw a scientist. When the researchers broke down the numbers, they found that, although a large majority of children in every study drew men, more children in recent decades have been drawing female scientists.

In one of the earliest studies dating back to the ‘60s, just 28 of nearly 5,000 boys and girls drew women when asked to draw a scientist. And all the children who did were girls.

On the other hand, in “Draw-A-Scientist” studies conducted from 1985 to 2017, about 28% of nearly 21,000 kids drew women, though girls were more than eight times as likely to draw female scientists than boys.

“Given that children might see a greater representation of female scientists [today] and are more often seeing female scientists in media marketed toward children, we wanted to know: How are those cultural changes influencing children’s images? Have children’s stereotypes changed along with them?” David Miller, one of the Northwestern report’s authors, told TIME. “The basic finding is that, indeed, yes.”

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The study’s findings also reinforced an idea popular among gender equality advocates — that gender stereotypes are learned and reinforced rather than innate.

According to the research, children under six tend to draw male and female scientists about equally often, and only begin associating scientists with men as they get older.

For researchers, the study’s findings are encouraging, but they’re also a renewed call to action. Gender representation in science is moving toward equality, but the field is still largely male-dominated. Except for health sciences, where women are more equally represented, only about 20% of published scientists in the US are women.

And children pick up on that gender disparity.

“I think it reflects the environment children are in,” Miller told Mashable. “Women do indeed remain a minority in several science fields. If you look at children’s media, there’s still more male than female scientists depicted. If children are exposed in this environment, we shouldn’t expect them to draw equal numbers of female and male scientists.”

 

Reduced Inequalities: 5 Ridiculous Refugee Policies You Should Know About #WeAreDisplaced #Refugee #RefugeesWelcome #SDGs #GlobalGoals

The worst refugee crisis since World War II has brought out some countries’ inhospitable sides.

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Although it no longer dominates headlines, the world is still facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II. According to the United Nations, there are more than 65 million displaced people worldwide, including 22.5 million registered refugees, who have fled war, persecution, hunger, and natural disaster in hopes of finding safety and security across international borders.

While countries like Canada — where many families have privately sponsored and supported resettled refugee families — and Germany — which is welcoming asylum-seekers as a way to revitalize run-down towns — have responded to the increasing numbers of refugees arriving at their borders with compassion and humanity, others are less hospitable.

Some governments have done everything they can to close their borders and slow refugee arrivals, giving rise to some shocking policies. These are the five of the most ridiculous refugee policies in place right now.

1. In one French town, it’s illegal to feed refugees.

Calais, in northern France, used to be the the site of the “Jungle” — a makeshift refugee settlement occupied by migrants from countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In 2015 and 2016, thousands of refugees, including many unaccompanied children, set up camp in the Jungle as they attempted night after night to sneak across the English Channel to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

But in October 2016, citing public health, crime, and terrorism concerns, French authorities dismantled the Jungle, forcing around 9,000 of its residents to move elsewhere. To discourage refugees from forming another settlement in Calais, the city’s mayor enacted decrees effectively banning humanitarian organizations from distributing food to migrants. Since the camp was destroyed, French politicians have also committed to preventing large gatherings of refugees in public spaces.

2. In Saudi Arabia, refugees aren’t refugees

In late 2015, Amnesty International asserted that Saudi Arabia was hosting a grand total of zero resettled Syrian refugees. By late 2016, the Saudi government claimed that it was hosting as many as 2.5 million.

Strange as it may seem, both of these things may have been true.

To be officially considered a refugee, a displaced person has to register for refugee status. That status, and countries’ obligations to protect refugees, are outlined in a 1951 United Nations convention which most UN member states have signed. However, Saudi Arabia, along with other Persian Gulf countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, never signed it.

So, when migrants fleeing violence enter Saudi Arabia, they’re not registered as international refugees, and therefore usually have to go through Saudi visa processes. This might not sound like it would make a big difference, until you consider that the Saudi government can, and often does, deny visas to migrants whom it would otherwise be illegal to deport under international law. This means that some refugees, like Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, have to make tough decisions, like between rotting in a Saudi jail or being deported back to a country where their people are experiencing ethnic cleansing.

3. Immigration officials can seize asylum-seekers’ jewellery in Denmark

Nestled between two of the world’s most desired destinations for asylum-seekers — Germany and Sweden — Denmark has become a bastion of anti-refugee policies over the past few years.

These policies came to a head in early 2016, when the Danish parliament approved a law that would allow officials to seize cash and valuables valued at $1,450 or higher from asylum-seekers entering the country, supposedly to pay for the government services they were going to use during their stay.

Initially, the law was used simply as a way to deter migrants from entering the country, but in June 2016, Danish immigration authorities seized around $11,000 from a group of Iranians who had flown to Denmark to seek asylum.

Some critics of the law have compared it to the Nazi policy of stealing valuables from Jews as they were removed from their homes during the Holocaust.

4. Australia’s military blocks refugees from reaching its shores

They call it “Operation Sovereign Borders.” In Australia, military officials patrol the waters seeking to intercept asylum-seekers traveling to the country by boat in order to send them (or even tow them) back to Indonesia or India.

If refugees’ boats end up making it to Australia’s shores, they’re not allowed to stay in the country while their asylum cases are processed. Instead, they’re sent to processing centers on the tiny island nation of Naura, which Human Rights Watch says is rife with “appalling abuse,” or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, which the UN has described as an “unfolding humanitarian emergency.”

If migrants are granted asylum, they’re still not allowed into Australia. Rather, they have to resettle on whatever island nation they were detained.

While the Australian government is starting to close the processing centers on Nauru and Manus Island because of well-documented human rights abuses at the facilities, asylum-seekers being released from those centers still aren’t allowed in Australia. Instead, the Australian government is exporting them to the United States.

5. In the US, asylum-seeking toddlers can represent themselves in court

Since 2014, more than 200,000 unaccompanied children — mostly fleeing violence in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador — have traveled through Central America and Mexico, braving rape, robbery, and death from exposure to seek asylum in the United States.

When they arrive in the US, half of these children don’t have lawyers to represent them as they present their asylum cases in immigration court.

As the saying goes, “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” Well, not in this case.

Asylum cases are heard in civil court rather than criminal court, so the government is not required to appoint free lawyers, even if the defendants are children. According to one immigration judge, children as young as three are capable of representing themselves.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience,” the judge said during a deposition. “They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

According to Kids in Need of Defense, a legal nonprofit that represents immigrant children pro-bono, children without legal representation are five times more likely to be deported back to danger than those who have lawyers.

Partnership For The Goals: “Foreign Policy” The US May Withhold Foreign Aid from Poor Countries That Don’t Vote With It at UN #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs

Either you’re with the US or you’re against the US.

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The United States is far and away the world’s biggest donor of foreign aid — at least for now.

This aid — which has come in the form of economic, health, educational, climate, and other assistance — has helped millions lift themselves out of extreme poverty, while also furthering US interests in key strategic regions.

But now, the generous foreign assistance packages doled out by the world’s largest economy are under threat for poor countries that fail to get in line with the US on UN votes, according to an internal State Department memo obtained by Foreign Policy.

“It is the opinion of the U.S. mission to the U.N. that all U.S. foreign assistance should be reevaluated to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent to advance U.S. interests, not to fund foreign legacy programs that provide little or no return on investment,” the memo said, according to FP. 

In all, 40 countries that frequently cast UN votes that differ from that of the United States, including Iraq and Egypt, could lose some or all US aid going forward, according to the report. Specific programs that face cuts, according to FP, include a job training program in Zimbabwe, climate change program in Vietnam, and a school construction program in Ghana.

The memo comes months after just eight countries voted with the United States on its UN resolution declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

After that vote, the US sent out ‘friendship’ invites to countries that either didn’t vote on the resolution, abstained, or voted with the US.

“We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the U.N., and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said at the time

The memo, “America First Foreign Assistance Policy,” also falls in line with US President Donald Trump’s “America First” platform, which prioritizes “Americanism, not globalism.”

Although foreign aid makes up just 1% of all US spending, its impacts around the world are enormous — and enormously positive. Foreign aid has helped increase access to health care around the world, provide quality education to millions of children, and help communities become more resilient to climate change. 

Still, more than 800 million people still live in extreme poverty, and foreign aid can play a major role in helping them secure a better, more prosperous future.

Environment and Pollution: A Beach in Hawaii Has Become One of the Dirtiest Place on Earth #GlobalGoals #2030Now #SDGs

Kamilo Beach lies at the easternmost tip of the Hawaiian Islands. Grassy green hills slope down toward the sand, and dark volcanic rock has birthed tidepools throughout the beach. It could be the perfect spot for an afternoon of relaxation amid the sound of crashing waves. 

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 But few people spend time lying on this beach. 

Those who visit Kamilo Beach are more likely to be scientists, activists, and volunteers. They spend their time cleaning up some of the world’s 8 million tons of plastic that find their way into oceans and then onto beaches like Kamilo each year.

Kamilo Beach, which translates from Hawaiian to “twisting or swirling currents” is more often known as “Plastic Beach.” It’s one of the dirtiest places in the world.

Last month, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, an ocean conservation organization, picked up 15,000 pounds of trash over the course of just one weekend at Kamilo Beach.

Centuries ago, native Hawaiians would gather giant evergreen logs that floated down from the US Pacific Northwest and landed on the shores of Kamilo Beach, using the logs to build dugout canoes.

Today, instead of collecting trees or other natural materials, Kamilo Beach is a hook for the world’s plastic debris. Trash from Japan, Russia, the US, and other countries finds its way to the Big Island of Hawaii’s Ka’u coastline, and the most southern tip of US where Kamilo Beach is located. Over 90% of this trash is plastic.

“This plastic sand is coming from all around the Pacific rim, swirling into a vortex which eventually brings it to these shores. This is the place where Hawaiians came to find bodies of people who were lost at sea. Nowadays, this beach is where we come to find what our throw-away society has done to the environment,” environmentalist Charles Moore told Hawaii News Now. 

Plastic at Kamilo Beach has been an issue for decades.

HWF regularly cleans up Kamilo Beach, but because of its location the beach is consistently bombarded with plastic waste.

“The Hawaiian archipelago acts like a sieve, collecting debris that was floating around the Pacific Ocean and accumulating it along our shores,” Megan Lamson, director of HWF on Hawaii’s Big Island and survey diver for the Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources, told The Huffington Post. 

“My shoes were filling up with little bits of plastic. That’s never happened to me before at any beach,” Suzanne Frazer, a volunteer with HWF, said back in 2007. 

Ten years later, HWF continues the endless battle to stave off the massive vats of plastic, large and small, that migrate to the Hawaii’s eastern coastline. Volunteers from recent beach cleanups have similar takeaways as Frazer.

“If you were to dig up the sand through the rocks and sift through it with your hands, you’ll find more plastic than sand,” Alison Teal said. “It’s so sad to see it covered in everything you can imagine.”

Each year, volunteers clean up between 15 and 20 tons of trash from Kamilo Beach and its surrounding nine-mile-long coastline.

Once plastic enters the ocean, UV rays break it down into smaller and smaller microplastics. This creates a swampy soup of plastic debris that can collect on massive scales, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastic can take hundreds to thousands of years to break down completely. Fishing line, for example, lasts for 600 years in oceans. 

As long as people continue to use plastic at current rates, beaches will remain covered in garbage. There is simply not enough human power to keep up with beaches like Komila that act as convergent points for ocean currents carrying plastic.

While HWF’s efforts should be applauded, beach cleanups shouldn’t be the only answer for places like Kamilo Beach.

Ocean activists like Megan Lamson believe the solutions must come from reducing plastic and finding alternative methods to an unsustainable material.

“The solution is not to encourage more people to come to Kamilo to clean up,” Lamson told the Huffington Post. “The solution will come with [humans] reducing our dependence to plastics, especially single-use items that we can do without.”

Innovative solutions are all around. And bizarre-sounding inventions like edible water bottles, and mushroom packaging are just some ideas for the future that can transform “Plastic Beach” back to its natural habitat.

Zero Hunger: An Alabama Sheriff Used Inmate Food Funds for His $1.7 Million Beach House #GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

Sheriff Todd Entrekin freely admits to depleting the food fund and using it to buy a beach house.

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An elected sheriff in Alabama has taken more than $750,000 from a fund to feed jail inmates and used the money finance his own, personal beach house — but, he told AL.com, that’s all perfectly legal.

For the last three years, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has received more than $750,000 worth of additional “compensation” from a source he identified as “Food Provisions” on ethics disclosure forms, AL.com reports.

Federal, state, and municipal agencies allocated the money to feed inmates in the county jail, not for the sheriff to buy a beachfront property. But Entrekin told AL.com his personal use of taxpayer money follows existing state law.

According to Entrekin, the law stipulates that as long as inmates receive food, sheriffs can keep excess money in the food fund.

“As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates,” Entrekin said in an email to AL.com. “Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the sheriff must follow the current law.”

Though Alabama’s ethics commission has not penalized Entrekin for his appropriation of food funding, Entrekin’s challenger in this year’s election for sheriff has made the issue a big part of his campaign.

“I believe the funds belong to the taxpayers and any excess funds should go toward things that benefit the taxpayer,” Jonathon Horton, the police chief in Rainbow City, Alabama, told AL.com. “There’s been a tremendous amount of money left over that shouldn’t be used as a bonus check.”

throughout the US, jails and prisons provide paltry meals and inadequate nutrition to inmates — often with little oversight.

In Gordon County, Georgia, inmates are served just two meals a day, up to 14 hours apart, according to the Marshall Project. In Morgan County, Alabama, where another sheriff diverted more than $200,000 from a jail food fund to his private account, inmates’ tiny meals cost less than 60 cents per serving.

But Entrekin did not stop at using the money to purchase his $1.7 million beach house, the New York Daily News reports.

One Etowah County resident said Entrekin paid him to mow his lawn using a check labeled “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account”

“I saw that in the corner of the checks it said ‘Food Provision,’ and a couple people I knew came through the jail, and they say they got meat maybe once a month and every other day it was just beans and vegetables,” resident Matthew Qualls said.

All that money could have gone to providing healthier and more substantial meals to inmates, a key provision of the the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights’ report on prisoner rights. The UN states that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall have the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food.”

But across the US, prison reform advocates and local leaders say that stripping food provisions to the most basic level is a violation of the human right to adequate nutrition.

In many states, including Alabama, jails and prisons contract with private companies, which cut prisoner food provisions in order to save money and horde profits.

“They are the biggest benefactors of prisoners,” Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, a spokesman for the Free Alabama Movement opposing privatization in prisons, told PBS. “And they have a history of neglecting prisoners, serving bad food, not enough food, or undernourished food. [And] this is why we have chosen to boycott.”

Women And Girls: “#FGM Detectives” Focus “Bristol” A Bristol Man Was Prosecuted for FGM — But Found Not Guilty (Really? Yes “Really”) #WomensDay #InternationalWomensDay #PressForProgress #TimeIsNow

A Channel 4 documentary followed the case for two years.

On February 22, a 29-year-old Somali father was cleared on charges that he allowed his 6-year-old daughter to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) in Bristol.

The judge threw out the case, declaring the medical evidence “wholly inconclusive at its highest”.

FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but there has never been a conviction — and the Bristol case was only the second-ever prosecution attempt. There are an estimated 137,000 women and girls who have undergone the procedure in Britain.

On February 27, Channel 4 aired “The FGM Detectives” — a documentary narrated by presenter Cathy Newman that followed the story of DCI Leanne Pook as she led the Bristol prosecution over two years of filming.

The documentary explained that the case began when anti-FGM activist Sami Ullah reported being told by a taxi driver — the defendant — that he had allowed his daughter to undergo a form of FGM, and that it was often carried out in his culture to prevent women “feeling sexy all the time”. Ullah, as a safeguarding professional with anti-FGM charity Integrate UK, was required by law to report such a discovery to the authorities if there was any suspicion the girl was at risk

It was previously reported that Bristol is a unique city in the context of FGM, where years of high-profile campaigning and education work from anti-FGM organisations like Integrate UK has meant “all the taboos have been lifted.”

And this became clear in the documentary, as the police pursued the case while ensuring open communication with the Somali community. Indeed, Pook was a trustee of Integrate UK, although Conservative Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said the role represented a “conflict of interests.”

The 6-year-old girl was examined by a medical professional, and a “small lesion” was found, according to the documentary. The consultant paediatrician raised concerns that the girl had been “pricked or had a small burn to her clitoris using a hot, sharp object.” However, another expert reexamined the girl nine weeks later, and could not find the alleged injury. Pook described that as a “hammer blow” in the documentary, while the prosecution argued the injury had healed, like a piercing.

According to the documentary, the equipment used to capture the first lesion was 15 years old — and Judge Julian Lambert, presiding over the case, described the medical evidence as so blurry that they were of “no value clinically or forensically.”

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The judge said the prosecution against the man was “deeply troubling” and described Ullah’s testimony as “inconsistent.” The judge said that, although “honest”, he had been “influenced by his views while working for the charity.”

“It is a shame that the judge did not elaborate further because it is difficult to interpret exactly what he meant,” Dave McCallum, Chair of Trustees at Integrate UK “[Ullah], who was one of our young people, is very well informed… This understanding [about FGM] will give him an enhanced ability to interpret comments made about FGM.”

 

“Does he see FGM everywhere because of his work and misinterpret innocent comments accordingly?” McCallum added. “The conversation that he describes does not indicate this. He would have had real concerns that a very young child had undergone FGM as a result of the conversation he describes and he was right to report it.”

The environment which allowed the case in Bristol to be brought forward in the first place is emblematic of immense progress in the wider fight against FGM. Integrate UK has trained young people, teachers, lawyers, and medical professionals all over the country for years — and this training is helping to bring the practice of FGM and how it does exist in British communities to light. This awareness will only be enhanced by mainstream programmes like “The FGM Detectives”.

After the verdict, Pook said the police force would “take some lessons from this and apply them next time.” The programme acknowledged the flaws within the evidence itself — and successfully unpacked the complexities in gathering it. The process is difficult, but through quite literal trial and error, a conviction seems increasingly likely in different cases in the future.

“We would much prefer to see an end to FGM to successful prosecutions,” said McCallum. “If the police and CPS continue with this determination, and awareness of FGM continues to spread, we may well see a successful prosecution.”

“However, I am also concerned that the wilting criticism directed against our young person, the police and prosecuting authorities in this case may deter witnesses coming forward and agencies taking the proactive stance illustrated in the programme,” he added.

Finally, there’s a subtle but vital contention. Integrate UK’s statement after the verdict referred to a “trend” of less “physically invasive” forms of FGM, like pricking, burning, or scraping, also known as type four FGM. It’s less noticeable in medical examinations, and far more difficult to gather evidence on.

But the prosecution pursued the trial, sending a powerful message: all types of FGM will warrant investigation in Britain, without compromise.

The UK’s third-ever FGM trial is provisionally scheduled for March 5. A 49-year-old man from south London faces two counts of FGM against his daughter.

Women And Girls: #PressForProgressBill and Melinda Gates Commit $170 Million to Empower Women #InternationalWomensDay #TimeisNow

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If women could fully and equally participate in the economy, global GDP could increase by 26%.

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Something’s gotta give.

“We’ll never reach our goals if we don’t also address the systematic way that women and girls are undervalued,” Melinda Gates said in op-ed for Quartz published on Monday.

That’s why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to invest $170 million to advance women’s economic empowerment over the next four years.

“When money flows into the hands of women who have the authority to use it, everything changes,” Melinda said

Studies have shown that when women have financial resources they tend to put their families first, leading to better health and hunger outcomes. Children of women who are able to manage their own money and have their own source of income have better survival and growth rates, according to the World Bank.

And if women were able to participate equally in the workforce and were paid equally for their work, the global annual GDP could increase by 26% — up to $28 trillion — helping to combat poverty, the McKinsey Global Institute reported.

But around the world, women are paid less than men and are more likely than men to work low-paying jobs in the informal job sector. This kind of work, including domestic work, seasonal agricultural work, and street vending, is often under-regulated and under-valued, according to the UN, and can leave women more vulnerable to abuses of their rights, including sexual violence.

Often women are relegated to such roles because of social norms that limit their education and work opportunities and systematically under-value them. According to the UN, at least 79 countries have laws that place limitations on the kinds of work women are allowed to do, and in 15 countries, a woman’s husband can prevent his wife from working.

But when women gain economic empowerment, even in small measures, these perceptions of women and their potential begin to shift.

In her op-ed, Melinda cites a recent study that found that simply opening a bank account encouraged women in India to begin working outside of their homes and began to change men’s attitudes about women working.

The Gates Foundation’s commitment to advancing women’s economic empowerment over the next four years is accompanied by its new gender equality strategy, which Melinda outlined in her op-ed. As part of this initiative, the organization will support female farmers across Asia and Africa and help to ensure that they receive fair prices for their products.

The foundation also plans to encourage women in eight different countries, including Tanzania, Pakistan, and India, to gain direct control over their finances by using digital bank accounts.

When a woman has greater control over her finances and economic opportunities, she is better able to realize her full potential and has greater control over her own life, the Gates Foundation said.

 

Child Labor Is Most Rampant in These 5 Regions, New Report Shows #Childlabor #slavery #SDGs #GlobalGoals #ReducedInequalities #HumanRight #ChildRight

Children continue to toil their childhoods away in dangerous conditions.

In the United States, the first successful effort to end child labor began in 1938. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 16 became the minimum age for jobs during school hours, 14 for jobs after school hours, and 18 for hazardous jobs.

The seedy history of 12-year-olds laboring in factories for 18 hours a day, six days a week seemed to be a thing of the past.

Except that wasn’t the end of child labor. All over the world, and even in the US, children continue to toil their childhoods away often in dangerous conditions, according to a new report.

Today, an estimated 152 million children aged 5-17 work, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.

More than half of the total jobs held by children, 73 million, are in dangerous conditions. The vast majority of children, seven in 10, are working in agriculture, according to the report

“Poverty is the main cause of child labour in agriculture, together with limited access to quality education, inadequate agricultural technology and access to adult labour, high hazards and risks, and traditional attitudes toward children’s participation in agricultural activities,” ILO said in a newly released report, Ending child labour by 2025: A review of policies and programmes.

Across countries, boys are at a higher risk of being forced into work than girls, but the report notes that this figure does not fully take into account domestic chores and labor. Throughout the world, girls are regularly pulled from school so that they clean homes, collect water, and prepare meals, among other tasks.

Since 2000, the number of children working has dropped by 94 million, which the ILO attributes to laws being passed, greater enforcement of these laws, investments in education, and a decrease in conflict in parts of the world.

Conversely, the report found that child labor is 77% higher in countries with armed conflict than the global average, which means that finding solutions to conflicts in countries such as Syria and Yemen will likely lead to less child labor

Overall, the ILO report makes clear that there is a lot of work to be done.

“Now we must turn this renewed commitment into accelerated action and consign child labour to the dustbin of history, once and for all,” the report states.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.4 Quality Education. which  campaigns to ensure universal access to education, as a tool to combat child labour.

Here are how the five regions of the world compare when it comes to child labor.

1/ Arab States / 2.9% Child Labor Rate / 1,162,000 Children Working

yemen child

The real level of child labor is hard to gauge throughout Arab states because, according to the ILO, many children work in the informal sector. In the United Arab Emirates, it’s common for child victims of human trafficking to work as camel riders, the ILO notes. In recent years, warfare has devastated countries including Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, and children are being forced to work as sex workers, soldiers, and drug traffickers.  

2/ Europe and Central Asia / 4.1% Child Labor Rate / 5,534,000 Children Working

europe and c.asia child labour

In Moldova, for example, some schools have reportedly signed contracts with agricultural groups that require students to work. In Bulgaria, many children work in the the tobacco industry, where putting in 10 hours a day is common. Children in Albania, also work predominantly in agriculture. Drug trafficking, forced begging, and sexual exploitation are some of the worst forms of labor children are subjected to in not just this region, but globally.  

3/ Americas / 5.3% Child Labor Rate / 10,735,000 Children Working

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Throughout the Americas, agriculture and domestic work are the dominant forms of child labor, but a high proportion of children are engaged in sex work, according to the US Department of Labor. Progress is being made, however. In 2016, Argentina banned hazardous work for children under 18, Brazil passed a new law criminalizing sexual exploitation, and Belize and Haiti both secured their first child trafficking convictions, according to the DOL.

4/ Asia and the Pacific / 7.4% Child Labor Rate / 62,077,000 Children Working

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Child labor throughout this region varies considerably, as do mitigation efforts. In Afghanistan, child laborers are involved in everything from farming to mining to selling goods, and the worst forms of child labor in the country are likely armed conflict and sexual exploitation. In Indonesia, children fish, lay bricks, and drive buses, and, as elsewhere, are forced into sexual exploitation, forced begging, and more. Both of these countries have made efforts in recent years to crack down on wage exploitation, slavery, and the use of child labor in general, but children are still being forced to work.

5/ Africa / 19.6% Child Labor Rate / 72,113,000 Children Working

child labor africa 2

With nearly one in five children working throughout the continent, the forms of child labor in Africa are diverse. More than a million children are engaged in gold mining and cocoa producers across West Africa regularly enlist children. The vast majority of children engaged in agricultural work across Sub-Saharan Africa are working on family farms, highlighting how familial poverty can push children out of school. Young girls in Southern Nigeria are routinely forced into international sex work.

While policies throughout the continent are being enacted to stamp out the worst forms of child labor, enforcement is inconsistent, and six countries in Sub-Saharan lack a framework for dealing with the worst forms of child labor.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.10, for Reduced Inequalities.

 child labor africa