Surviving the First Day – State of the World’s Mothers 2013 #Vaw #Womenrights


A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

From the Report……………..

“…….Each year, 3 million newborns die, making up nearly half (43 percent) of the world’s under-5 child deaths. And yet almost all newborn deaths originate from preventable and treatable causes: we already have the tools available to save about three-quarters of the newborns who needlessly die each year.

This report reveals that we know how to stop this trend, because we understand the causes and solutions of newborn death like never before. Simple lifesaving treatments like a basic antiseptic for cleansing the umbilical cord can prevent deadly infections. Antenatal steroids help premature babies breathe. “Kangaroo mother care” keeps them warm, encourages breastfeeding and protects them from infection. These inexpensive interventions haven’t taken hold, but a new analysis in this report shows that four basic solutions alone could save more than 1 million newborns annually as soon as they do. Improvements in access to contraceptives, maternal nutrition and breastfeeding practices would save even more………..”.

Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…………This report contains our annual ranking of the best and worst places in the world for mothers – but no matter if they’re in the United States or Malawi or India, all mothers are fundamentally the same. Every night, millions of mothers around the world lean over their sleeping newborns and pray that they will be safe, happy and healthy. It’s what we all want for our children. And it’s certainly not too much to ask………..”.

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children USA

Key Findings……

“……In South Asia, mothers and babies die in great numbers. An estimated 423,000 babies die each year in South Asia on the day they are born, more than in any other region. South Asia accounts for 24 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the world’s first-day deaths. In India – where economic growth has been impressive but the benefits have been shared unequally – 309,000 babies die each year on the day they are born (29 percent of the global total). Bangladesh and Pakistan also have very large numbers of first-day deaths (28,000 and 60,000 per year, respectively.) Mothers in South Asia also die in large numbers. Each year, 83,000 women in South Asia die during pregnancy or childbirth. India has more maternal deaths than any other country in the world (56,000 per year). Pakistan also has a large number of maternal deaths (12,000). (To read more, turn to pages 27-35 and 65-74.)….”.

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“…..Babies born to mothers living in the greatest poverty face the greatest challenges to survival. At the heart of the newborn survival problem is the widening gap between the health of the world’s rich and poor. Virtually all (98 percent) newborn deaths occur in developing countries, and within many of these countries, babies born to the poorest families have a much higher risk of death compared to babies from the richest families. A new analysis of 50 developing countries found babies born to mothers in the poorest fifth of the population were on average 40 percent more likely to die compared to those in the richest fifth. Disparities within countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, India, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Mozambique and the Philippines are especially dramatic. Many newborn lives could be saved by ensuring services reach the poorest families in developing countries. For example: If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year. Closing the equity gaps in Pakistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo would similarly save the lives of 48,000 and 45,000 newborns each year, respectively. (To read more, turn to pages 15-21.)….”.

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Recommendations…………..

1. Address the underlying causes of newborn mortality, especially gender inequality.

2) Invest in health workers – especially those working on the front lines – to reach the most vulnerable mothers and babies.

3) Invest in low-cost, low-tech solutions which health workers can use to save lives during pregnancy, at birth and immediately after birth.

4) Strengthen health systems and address demand-related barriers to access and use of health services.

5) Increase commitments and funding to save the lives of mothers and newborns.

 

Access the full report at:

http://www.savethechildrenweb.org/SOWM-2013/files/assets/common/downloads/State%20of%20the%20WorldOWM-2013.pdf

 

Kofi Annan: Africa plundered by secret mining deals


Bauxite factory in mineral-rich Guinea (Archive shot) Under-pricing deprives Africa of much-needed money, the report says
BBC

Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.

“Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC.

It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

‘Highly opaque’

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in “highly opaque and secretive deals”.

Kofi Annan: “Transparency is a powerful tool”

This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.

This figure was equivalent to double DR Congo’s health and education budgets combined, the report said.

DR Congo’s mining minister disputed the findings, saying the country had “lost nothing”.

“These assets were ceded in total transparency,” Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters news agency.

The report added that many mineral-rich countries needed “urgently to review the design of their tax regimes”, which were designed to attract foreign investment when commodity prices were low.

It quotes a review in Zambia which found that between 2005 and 2009, 500,000 copper mine workers were paying a higher rate of tax than major multinational mining firms.

Africa loses more through what it calls “illicit outflows” than it gets in aid and foreign direct investment, it explains.

“We are not getting the revenues we deserve often because of either corrupt practices, transfer pricing, tax evasion and all sorts of activities that deprive us of our due,” Mr Annan told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

“Transparency is a powerful tool,” he said, adding that the report was urging African leaders to put “accountability centre stage”.

Mr Annan said African governments needed to insist that local companies became involved in mining deals and manage them in “such a way that it also creates employment”.

“This Africa cannot do alone. The tax evasion, avoidance, secret bank accounts are problems for the world… so we all need to work together particularly the G8, as they meet next month, to work to ensure we have a multilateral solution to this crisis,” he said.

For richer nations “if a company avoids tax or transfers the money to offshore account what they lose is revenues”, Mr Annan said.

“Here on our continent, it affects the life of women and children – in effect in some situations it is like taking food off the table for the poor.”

 

#India- Mobile Gender Courts ? #Vaw #Rape #delhiGangrape


Mobile Gender Courts: Delivering Justice in the DRC

Can mobile gender courts’ swift justice tackle impunity in the DRC’s remote regions?
 | 30 JULY 2012 – 12:03PM | BY LILY PORTER

Kamombo, South Kivu. Photograph by Radio Okapi.

Since 1996, as many as500,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been victims of rape and sexual violence, according to UN estimates. To compound this, these brutal crimes, which have devastated countless lives and communities in the DRC, are widely conducted with impunity. There is a culture of silence around rape, victims are oftenstigmatised by their own communities, and most attempts to bring perpetrators to justice have so far suffered from under-funding, lack of reach and questions over integrity.

A project using mobile gender courts in South Kivu is, however, seeking to use innovative ways to finally put an end to impunity and injustice. These courts travel to remote regions to deal with crimes of sexual violence and have so far enjoyed relative success, although the limitations of their approach cannot be ignored.

Impunity in the Congo

While victims of sexual violence in the DRC number in the hundreds of thousands, only a handful of people have been put on trial and even fewer have gone to prison. In South Kivu in 2005, for example, less than 1% of the 14,200 recorded cases of sexual violence went to court.

Numerous measures have been taken to address violence in DRC but these do not always include sexual violence. In the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) landmark trial of Thomas Lubanga, for example, the rebel leader was convicted of using child soldiers but there was disappointment that he was not also charged for rape and sexual violence, which can be tried under international law as a war crime. Moreover, the trial was lengthy, costly and carried out in The Hague, thousands of miles away from the site of his crimes and his victims.

The DRC’s national courts have similarly fallen short in delivering meaningful justice for victims of sexual violence. Despite a strong legal framework, years of conflict and corruption have rendered a large portion of the country’s judicial system lacking in both capacity and integrity. There has been some progress, particularly in the Ituri district where a court has held prosecutions resulting in 10 convictions on rape charges, but at the moment the DRC’s judicial system simply cannot deal with the scale of the crimes. And even with a more robust and transparent system, there remain practical problems, such as the fact that many victims cannot easily reach courts or police stations and often cannot afford the direct and indirect costs of a trial.

Mobile gender courts

It was with these numerous weaknesses in mind that mobile gender courts were conceived. Launched in October 2009 and focused in South Kivu, mobile gender courts are an enhanced version of existing mobile courts in the DRC which, unlike most national and international measures of delivering justice, primarily seek to bring justice to victims of gender violence.

Supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative and Open Society Institute for Southern Africa in collaboration with the Congolese government, these itinerant civilian and military courts emphasise local-led justice and the rule of law.

The project is active in the larger cities of Baraka, Bukavu and Uvira, but also uses plane travel and long hours of driving along muddy potholed roads to reach more remote places like Kamituga, Kalima and Mwenga. In areas such as these where justice had previously remained elusive, these courts bring justice to the people. Most court sessions are public and audiences come from far and wide to see the trials first-hand. Listening to these cases helps break down the stigma that has encouraged impunity and educates locals on the rule of law and how victims should be treated, something the ICC and national courts typically fail to do.

The mobile gender courts nevertheless operate within the national judicial system, and use entirely Congolese staff, including police, judges, prosecutors and defence counsel, and court administrators. This is important for promoting the project as one aspect of improving the country’s judicial system as a whole rather than creating a parallel externally-led judicial structure.

Delivering justice

From their initiation in October 2009 to May 2011, these courts have handed out 195 convictions, 75% of them being for sexual crimes and 25% for crimes such as murder and theft. Punishments come in form of punitive justice, with up to 20 years in prison. In some cases, financial penalties are awarded.

One of the most prominent cases to date has been the Fizi mass rape trial, which found Colonel Kibibi Mutware guilty of rape as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He is the first commanding officer to be convicted for such a crime in eastern DRC, marking an important moment for justice in South Kivu.

Trials typically last two weeks and are, according to Judge Mary McGowan Davis who was invited by Open Society Justice Initiative and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa to assess the courts, “perhaps better adapted [than international courts] to the actual task of providing timely redress to individual victims in communities still struggling with the chaotic aftermath of war and political upheaval”. The speed of the trials also makes them more effective than national courts. Under national law, courts have 3 months to conclude sexual violence cases, and under-resourced national courts are often too slow to process cases which then get thrown out.

Alongside the trials, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative also works in conjunction with local civil society groups and the South Kivu Bar Association to provide sustainable training on the rule of law, educate people about their rights, and offer medical help and counselling to victims. This offers a more holistic approach to dealing with the problem of sexual violence and goes beyond mere justice and begins to address victims’ other needs.

No silver bullet

Despite the positive work of these mobile gender courts, they have limitations. The speedy nature of the trials, while beneficial in one way, can also make summoning witnesses in time difficult. There is also a lack of resources for basic equipment like writing paper or computers, the prison system is inadequate, and the state has failed to pay out for any form of reparations as of yet. Overcoming these problems, however, requires addressing other areas of the DRC’s judicial system.

Mobile gender courts are no quick fix to the problems surrounding impunity and injustice in DRC. Just as the scope of the ICC and the national courts are limited, these courts can only reach out to some of the many victims. These itinerant courts could, however, be a crucial foundation upon which the national judicial system and restoration of rule of law can be strengthened. In conjunction with the ICC and national courts, mobile gender courts can help tackle impunity at various levels and inculcate a sense of accountability around sexual violence.

By reaching victims in remote areas and delivering justice quickly, these courts offer perhaps the most optimistic indication to date that justice for victims of sexual violence in the DRC could be an achievable reality.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact: editor@thinkafricapress.com

Commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty #mustshare


 

The Advocates Post
By Rosalyn Park | 10:20 am

Our graphic design volunteer, Cuong Nguyen, and I pondered the scribbles on our notepads, stumped. We were charged with developing this year’s poster forWorld Day Against the Death Penalty. World Day on October 10 marks the date when activists around the world rally to oppose the death penalty and commemorate the day with educational events, demonstrations, and other initiatives to voice their opposition to this human rights violation.

We were creating this poster at the request of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (www.worldcoalition.org), an international coalition that opposes the death penalty. The World Coalition spearheads World Day, along with many other campaigns, in its efforts to end the death penalty around the world. This October 10, 2012 is particularly special, because it marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of the World Coalition.

The poster would be a pivotal piece in the World Day campaign as the rallying symbol for hundreds of death penalty activists around the world. Our main challenge was that the World Coalition’s Steering Committee specifically requested a positivemessage in the poster. But how to convey a positive image about the execution of people and the end of human life? There’s nothing innately positive about the death penalty– images typically used to portray capital punishment are morbid: nooses, syringes, knives, stones, and execution chambers. Not exactly the ingredients for positive messaging.

Fortunately, the World Coalition suggested we focus on progress made over the past ten years—and there’s much to celebrate in this regard. The World Coalition has grown from a fledgling initiative to an independent organization composed of almost 140 members from around the world. Member organizations hail from numerous countries, such as Morocco, France, Iran, Lebanon, Taiwan, Japan, Puerto Rico, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, UK, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. As The Advocates’ representative on the World Coalition’s Steering Committee I have been privileged to meet and work with an inspiring group of individuals from all over the world.

The work of the World Coalition and other abolitionists has had a big impact. Today, 141 countries are abolitionist in law or in practice (97 countries have passed laws that have eliminate the death penalty, and 36 countries have not legally abolished the death penalty but have not used it in years). A glance at some of the countries that have abolished the death penalty in the past ten years shows the trend is global and reaches all corners of the world: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burundi, Cook Islands, Gabon, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Togo, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Some countries that have not abolished the Death Penalty have signified their strong disinterest in continuing the practice: Sierra Leone and Nigeria have declared a moratorium on executions and Tajikistan has had a moratorium on both death sentences and executions since 2004. Finally, eight countries have restricted the scope of their death penalty and abolished its use for ordinary crimes.

Even in the United States, where the use of the death penalty is one of the gravest human rights violations, we’ve seen a demonstrable shift by states toward rejection of the death penalty. In April 2012, Connecticut became the 17th State to abolish the death penalty, closely following Illinois in 2011, New Mexico in 2009, and New Jersey in 2007. California will be putting the vote to the people when the death penalty is up for referendum this November—a recognition that public support is waning.

Indeed, looking at these facts and figures, the progress is astonishing. It is clear: the global trend is countries moving away from using the death penalty.

Thinking about the death penalty in light of these developments was inspiring for Cuong and me as we sought to portray this message. W hile we still face dire problems with capital punishment here in the United States and elsewhere, the world overall is shifting toward abolition. It’s a positive sign and one that we can truly celebrate.

Given this insight, we decided on the simple image of the world atop a broken noose. We finished it with an inspiring message to capture our past progress and the brighter future we all face:  Abolish the death penalty. It’s a better world without it.

For more information about the death penalty, please see The Advocates’ Death Penalty Toolkit at http://discoverhumanrights.org/Death_Penalty.html.

This post was written by Rosalyn Park and originally published on The Advocates Post. Follow The Advocates Post on Twitter: @The_Advocates.

 

UN adopts historic ‘land grab’ guidelines


Man next to a pile of hay
In recent years large-scale acquisitions of farmland in developing countries have caused concern
11 May 2012 Last updated at 15:23 GMT,  BBC NEWS

The United Nations has adopted global guidelines for rich countries buying land in developing nations.

The voluntary rules call on governments to protect the rights of indigenous peoples who use the land.

It is estimated that 200m hectares, an area eight times the size of Britain, has been bought or leased over the past decade, much of it in Africa and Asia.

But aid agencies warn it will be very difficult to ensure the guidelines are implemented everywhere.

AFP quoted Clara Jamart from Oxfam as saying this was just a first step and urging caution.

“Governments have no obligation to apply these measures,” she said.

There has been growing concern about so-called land grabs, when foreign governments or companies buy large areas of land to farm.

In Africa countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone have all signed major land deals with foreign investors.

Responsible investment

It is hoped this new agreement will secure access to land, fisheries and forests for millions of poor people who have historically used the land.

The document took three years to draw up and calls on governments to be transparent about land deals, consult local communities and defend women’s rights to own land.

It also emphasises the responsibility of businesses and multinational corporations to respect human rights when they move in to an area.

Problems can arise because in many parts of Africa local farmers, herders and gatherers do not have any formal documents for the land they use, which is often owned by the state.

Authorities often argue that big international deals bring investment and new technology to a region, benefiting local people.

But this is not always the reality and human rights organisations have highlighted cases where tens of thousands of people have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands to make way for foreign investors.

Congolese women graduate from inaugural rape survival class


By Faith Karimi, CNN

Jan 29 (CNN) — An inaugural group of Congolese women graduated Saturday from a gender violence survivors program in the nation’s east, where armed rebels roam the hills and rape residents.

Eastern Congo residents — including men and boys — have faced brutal rapes for years, with the assailants thrusting chunks of wood and guns into them in some cases.

As part of the program in Bukavu, 180 gender violence survivors took part in activities such as group therapy, dance classes, theater, self-defense and sex education.

The six-month program, called City of Joy, also teaches leadership skills with hopes that the women will help bolster peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Upon their arrival, the faces of these women showed signs of despair, discouragement and loneliness,” said Christine Deschryver, Congo director of the program.

“Over time, they have, little by little, been helped to use their past difficulties as a source of empowerment. … These women have moved from pain to power and will return to their homes ready to help revolutionize their communities.”

The program is run by V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler, the award-winning playwright and author of “The Vagina Monologues.”
These women have moved from pain to power and will return to their homes ready to help revolutionize their communities.
Christine Deschryver

Congo’s program was created and developed by women on the ground and provides a platform to turn their pain to power, the group said.

Eastern Congo is vast and poverty-stricken, but rich in resources such as diamonds, timber and copper.

Large parts of the country lack authority, giving government soldiers and homegrown militias free rein to pillage and rape.

A study in the American Journal of Public Health last year reported that 1,152 women — or 48 per hour — are raped daily in Congo, a rate higher than previous estimates by aid agencies.

The eastern region is also a hot spot for the so-called “conflict minerals,” which led the United States to intervene after human rights groups said the resources are used to fund wars in the nation and neighboring countries.

While Congo is among the nations with the largest United Nations peacekeepers, the forces have been ineffective in stopping rapes in the sprawling, remote region.

Stability in Congo — which borders nine countries — is vital to Africa’s Great Lakes area. The eastern region has undermined peace in the nation years after a 1998-2003 conflict left 5 million people dead.

At the time, neighboring nations joined the civil war, arming rebel groups of choice to gain access to the vast resources. Some African soldiers later retreated, but some rebel groups remained and are mostly based in the east.

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