Human Rights Violations in Our World


 

Some days, we all need some humor. I have over a foot of snow here. So you get humor!!!

 

The world calls it FGM or Female Genital Mutilation. I prefer to call it exactly what it is: a violation of a woman’s human rights. Alice Walker has written a book about it and I read it about twenty years ago while I was doing some work for the UN. I was so horrified, I threw up. But I read every word of the truth and went on to do some research.

 

It is Black History month and I decided that I wanted to write about this because it is happening around the world to women of color. It is an old tribal custom that is supposed to make the little girls marriageable. It has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

 

I am going to describe this procedure because we have to know what women around the world are suffering. And as people are immigrating here, they are bringing this barbaric ritual with them and so it is happening here and in European countries.

 

When girls begin to get their menses, their mothers take them to the tribal woman who performs this cruel procedure on little girls so a man will want to marry them. Their mothers hold them down as there is no anesthesia used. The cutting and sewing are done while the girl screams and cries. It is terribly painful.

 

Now, the reason for this barbaric act is that they cut the labia or sew it up so there is only a small spot for urination. If she has sex, it would tear her apart. Sometimes, the clitorus is removed so that she will never feel any sexual pleasure. If there is no pleasure, then the girl/woman will not stray because sex is painful and causes bleeding as well as pain.

 

At first I was very upset with the mothers, then I realized it was the way they all grew up and they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that the majority of women do not have this experience.My horror was so deep it was a physical reaction to the words.

 

Whether you are male or female I realize that most of you would react in horror. But the men brought up with this ritual feel that they own the woman and since women are inferior to men, it is a way to keep her from wandering into another man’s bed. We all know how women seduce men and that the men are innocent.

 

Men are so solidly behind this ritual that some of them have their wives sewn shut before going away on business to ensure her fidelity. Some check their wives’ genitals everyday to make sure she is intact.  Childbirth is even more painful than usual because of the mutilation these girls/women go through. Some die from infection, some try to run away. It is nothing but pure torture and misogyny.

 

It is a serious problem and it isn’t disappearing. Some girls/women just don’t get married so they won’t have to have it done. Others are tortured and killed. Humankind is a dysfunctional species living in a dysfunctional world. Men and women need to know what is happening so we can get the practice stopped.

 

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

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                                         This little girl has survived the procedure.

 

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             Tears are still streaming down her face.

 

This is the procedure being performed.

This is the procedure being performed.

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Never Stop Making the World a Better Place


To have peace we also have to have equality for all peoples, nations, religions and cultures. We do need to address the racism which remains here in America and all over the world.  Women’s and girls’ rights are being denied many places across the world. They are an invisible minority. Women are being beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many females are treated with contempt and violence.

 

We find that the violence against women is perpetuated by fellow citizens. There are laws to protect women but they are not always enforced. Often authorities look the other way. It is a woman after all.

 

Women are often denied opportunities for education and work. Women wanting a better life can’t protect themselves from violence and harm. They also can’t protect their children.

 

Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for your dignity and the dignity of others. It also means encouraging others to do the same.

 

Human rights mean that all people are treated like human beings. It means being able to stand up as a woman, a radical, religious, tribal or ethnic minority and being treated the same way as everyone else. Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.

 

We need to recognize the gains we have made as women as well as the gaps where women and girls can fall through. We then need to focus on the gaps and filling them logically. Social media has improved things somewhat. But we have 200,000 million fewer women with access to the internet than men who are online in the developing world.

 

“I have loved and been loved; all the rest is background music.”   —Hilary Clinton

 

To everyone who has worked as an advocate or feminist, you can’t rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place for all of us to live and thrive. We have unfinished business and we must go forward until all human beings enjoy human rights and full equality.

 

Since the time of our founding fathers, we have had to work on equality and human rights for all. The founding fathers began our country as a great experiment. They had a dream and they created America from that dream. There were many people who predicted our demise as a nation. George Washington, the father of our country was criticized as being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden teeth.

 

People who have bet against America have found themselves to be surprised and dumbfounded. The one issue which caused much debate and angry words was, as it is now, equality between the races. The founding fathers finally agreed to disagree. They crafted America and left future generations to come to terms with the question of equality. This job fell upon the shoulders of Abraham Lincoln. He was assassinated and therefore his plans were not implemented. After the Civil War, there was no slavery but there also was not any equality except for a very few.

 

These days women are not equal. Black citizens and white citizens are not equal. Middle Eastern people are not equal since 9-11. Poverty has increased here in America as well as around the world. The future brings opportunities to learn our lessons and heed the call of history. We need to make  human rights a priority. America needs to stand together firmly and united in pursuit of a more just, free and peaceful world.

 

“It ‘s supposed to be hard…The hard is what makes it great.”   —Excerpted from A League of Their Own.

 

We need leaders who will lead in a way that will unite us all and renew the American Dream.

 

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The Spoils of War


We are ending ten long years of war. Wars not won but thousands of people dead. Now we are putting ourselves into Syria to protect the citizens and the Western world. Peace isn’t being spoken about at all. Yet, there are many of us who know that peace is the only way for us to go.

 

As sides line up and stories begin to flow out of the war torn countries, we will find that not only will there be deaths and emotional scarring but there will be a huge amount of using women to shame their families and themselves. The countries in Africa and the Middle East are finding that their women and children are in particular danger due to all the wars around the world.

 

Raping women and girls has become an important aspect to war. It is part of the plans for winning wars. The Democratic Republic of Congo is known as the “rape capital of the world.”  Women and children are enslaved and gang raped. If they conceive, they are killed.  Why rape women and children?  If women can escape, their husbands and families don’t want them. They are dirty and full of shame.

 

Women and girls raped in war are far more likely to die due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Young women who are impregnated during war do not receive prenatal care. They are owned, after all. The death rate increases by five times for these young women. It would have been kinder if we could have provided abortions for those that wish them. These babies represent the horrors of their rapes and /or gang rape. All monies going to war-torn countries from America cannot be used to provide a compassionate abortion for these women who have suffered the worst thing that can happen to a women.

 

So, US aid is prohibited from being used for abortions and they can’t even be discussed. Today’s wars continue to use sexual violence as a tool to win battles and even wars. It is part of genocide. To contaminate the gene pool of a country has a devastating effect on its citizens.

 

Currently in Syria, reports have found that armed men, often many at a time, kidnap, rape, torture and kill women and girls. One of the primary reasons for human displacement during this conflict has been fear of rape. The Global Summit held in London this past summer, rape as a tactic of war was discussed.

 

Because we do not provide abortions for rape victims, we are re-victimizing these poor women and children. The United Nations and the Security Council have urged countries to take steps to help these women. Because the US forbids any of its monies from being used for abortions in these cases, America is in violation of the Geneva Conventions policy to comply with the human rights of women and children.

 

President Bush’s administration specifically forbade funding for rape survivors and child slaves. The Obama administration can take steps to address this injustice but hasn’t so far. The administration has yet to abolish Bush’s unfair restriction.

 

When applied to women and girls raped in war, the abortion ban not only denies them their rights to all necessary care under the Geneva Convention, it also interferes with the way the aid is distributed by countries that do allow abortion.

 

For young girls, their bodies are not developed enough to give birth. Young girls who do manage to give birth and live, face long-term economic and psychological trauma. Again, we are re-victimizing these human beings.

 

Save the Children’s “Unspeakable Crimes Against Children: Sexual Violence in Conflict” report says that these children are being condemned to a lifetime of extreme poverty, illiteracy, increased vulnerability to risky or exploitative economic practices as children and then as adults. Poverty will spread across generations.

 

Female bodies must not be used as a background in war.

 

 

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            We are all one family and we are all the same species

 

Guatemalan-rape-victims-006                   Victims of rape during war.

You Are Entitled to Change Your Mind


From the New York Times  A version of this article appears in print on August 31, 2014, on page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: Hillary Clinton’s Gay Rights Evolution. 

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — The crowd of supporters stretched around Main Street on a busy Saturday in August, hundreds of Hamptonites curving past the Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co. stores, waiting patiently to greet Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 

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Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean at a book signing for her “Hard Choices” in East Hampton, N.Y. CreditSonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

 

Mrs. Clinton had taken a break from her beach vacation to sign copies of her latest memoir, “Hard Choices.” Her presence transformed BookHampton, the bookseller the Clintons frequent on their working summer vacations, into a sort of pre-campaign event with Secret Service agents, and well-wishers including Martha Stewart and Howard Dean.

The shores of Long Island are not exactly a proxy for the enthusiasm Mrs. Clinton may find on a nationwide presidential campaign. But among the many gay couples in the crowd, a refrain emerged.

“You literally brought tears to my eyes when you said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” said a stylish man in white jeans who greeted the former first lady with his partner in tow.

It’s a sentiment often expressed as gay voters mull what Mrs. Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential campaign would mean for gay rights. In her four years at the State Department, she prioritized international gay rights, including a 2011 speech in Geneva in which she urged countries to accept gays and lesbians. In the year and a half since she left her post, she has made gay rights a focus. Last fall she accepted an award at the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York; the singer praised Mrs. Clinton’s efforts for human rights.

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Hillary Clinton and Elton John in New York last fall, when Mrs. Clinton received an award from Mr. John’s AIDS Foundation. Credit Larry Busacca/Getty Images

 

In June, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Mrs. Clinton denounced Russia’s treatment of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. In March 2013, she released a video endorsing same-sex marriage both “personally and as a matter of policy and law.”

The efforts have endeared Mrs. Clinton to many gays and lesbians who are raising money toward her potential run. But others look back on the policies of the Clinton Administration and question why it took Mrs. Clinton so long to get on board.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 measure President Clinton signed into law that barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages, are widely viewed as among the most significant setbacks the gay rights movement has encountered.

“She wasn’t at the back of the pack, but was she out in front with a banner? No,” said Tom Sheridan, a lobbyist who works on H.I.V.-AIDS policy. The Economist put it more bluntly, calling her “belated conversion” to support same-sex marriage “cautious to the point of cowardice.”

So far, Mrs. Clinton does not have an easy answer as to where she stood in the 1990s. An interview with NPR’s Terry Gross in June to promote “Hard Choices” turned awkward when the Defense of Marriage Act came up. Ms. Gross pressed Mrs. Clinton on whether she supported same-sex marriage as first lady but backed Mr. Clinton’s policies for political expediency.

“For me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states,” Mrs. Clinton said. As for whether she supported same-sex marriage when she was in the White House, she said, “I think I’m an American, and I think we have all evolved.”

For some gays and lesbians, the exchange opened old wounds.

“She was not just another evolving American,” the author Andrew Sullivan wrote on his website, The Dish. “She was the second most powerful person in an administration in a critical era for gay rights.” In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern wrote that her “apparent position on gay marriage — leave it to the states — is about as progressive as Dick Cheney’s circa 2004.”

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton declined to comment for this article, but pointed to a CNN interview in which she said that marriage “should be available to everyone regardless of who they love.”

To a generation of younger gay men in particular, Mrs. Clinton’s appeal extends to a more primal connection. Her ability to come back after a bruising defeat by Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries appealed to gay men, many of whom had also weathered setbacks.

“We get her like we get our moms,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group. “We’ve seen the travails she’s been through and the fact that she’s not just a survivor but a conqueror.”

Richard Socarides, a Democratic strategist, gay rights advocate and White House adviser to Mr. Clinton, said, “People see her as a survivor and someone who despite her many, many gifts and blessings, survived some personal and political setbacks and persevered in the face of them.” That, he added, “is very appealing to gay Americans because it’s a shared experience.”

When it came to choosing a Halloween costume after the contentious 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, the decision for Robby Browne, a real estate broker in New York, was simple: a blond wig and an orange Calvin Klein pantsuit like the one Mrs. Clinton wore when she endorsed Mr. Obama at the Democratic convention. Mr. Brown, who is among Mrs. Clinton’s prominent gay donors, had told the former first lady he planned to dress like her.

“Without skipping a beat, she said, ‘Be sure to shake a lot of hands,’ ” he recalled.

Ready for Hillary, an independent group that aims to build grass-roots support for Mrs. Clinton, has signed up tens of thousands of supporters and sold “Out and Ready for Hillary” rainbow T-shirts at booths at 28 gay pride festivals and on college campuses nationwide.

For Mr. Browne, 66, Mr. Clinton’s 1992 campaign was a major break from the Reagan and Bush years.

“When the Clintons came along and said the word ‘gays’ at the ’92 convention, I felt like I existed,” said Mr. Browne, who lost his brother to AIDS.

The gay rights movement has made major strides since Mr. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. While gay activists said there was still much work to be done on making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, safeguarding against workplace discrimination and advancing transgender issues, they were hopeful that by 2016 both parties’ nominees would accept, if not wholeheartedly endorse, same-sex marriage. Next year, the Supreme Court is expected to decide the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage bans that exist in 31 states.

The year 1996 “is ancient history,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist.

That means Democrats can no longer rely on the built-in support of gay voters. Such voters still skew liberal, but polls show they are not without ideological diversity. Republicans see an opening with leaders like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, whose son is gay. “I find it difficult to see all these Democrats celebrating Hillary Clinton coming to the marriage equality game as late as she did, when Republicans came to the marriage equality game late, too,” said Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.

Freedom to Marry, a nonpartisan group, is working to recruit young Republicans who support same-sex marriage to become delegates and help “get anti-gay language out of the platform in 2016,” said Evan Wolfson, its president.

Chad Griffin, the president of Human Rights Campaign and a former Clinton aide, said, “It’s going to be difficult for any candidate, Democrat or Republican, to not support full equality in 2016.”

Activists said the gay-rights movement has a tendency to embrace supporters, rather than cast judgment about when a politician got on board. After all, in the 2008 primary season neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama supported same-sex marriage. They mostly split the gay vote.

“The L.G.B.T. community is, in some respects, very forgiving,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of Glaad, a nonprofit organization (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that does not endorse candidates. “We’ve seen our own family and friends evolve around us so it’s not out of context to see a politician evolve as well.”

Regardless of what Mrs. Clinton believed in the 1990s, most activists interviewed said she had emerged as a forceful advocate at the State Department, devising policies to help gays and lesbians abroad and in the Foreign Service. And her speech in Geneva marked a major turning point in a movement that is increasingly focused on discrimination in countries where same-sex relationships are illegal.

“In one fell swoop, she changed the entire global playing field for gay rights,” said Mr. Socarides, the Democratic strategist.

The speech also sent a message to activists in the United States. Mrs. Clinton “might not be as quick as others but once she’s there, she’s committed,” said David B. Mixner, an author and Democratic donor. “I think she’s grown into a forceful advocate for L.G.B.T. rights, especially internationally.”

Others said there was a collective yearning among gays for a female president that has little to do with Mrs. Clinton’s superficial Liza-appeal.

Mr. Mixner noted that it was often lesbians and straight women who supported gay men through the AIDS epidemic. “There’s a very strong bond between the feminist community and the gay rights community,” he said. “It’s a real symbiotic relationship and it diminishes it to say we’re supporting her in some Judy Garland way.”

 

 

God’s Children Include Women


Women can not be equal without legally being equal.

Women can not be equal without legally being equal.

Our world is living within a horrible hangover. In most religious communities there is something leftover from the past. It is the subordination and subjugation of women. We are striving to live in a world very different from that of our ancestors. Now this has been a cultural earthquake. Many people from different cultures are grasping to hold on, to hold on to their version of the past.  They want the past to remain immovable.  There are people who are even coerced into sexism.

The Vatican has tried to do this with Catholic nuns. American Catholic bishops consult with women to try to make them not use contraceptions. Without adequate contraceptives the size of families becomes too large to give each child the education they need to be productive members of our world.

In Israel, some state-supported Orthodox people have used physical violence. Groups of Jewish women have been praying as a group, chanting and wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall. Jewish traditions see the Wall as the refuge of Shechinah, the Feminine Indwelling Immanent aspect of God, after the destruction of the nearby Temple.

This war on women

This war on women

We are moving into a new world, given us by God. Women and men are learning the difficult practice of dancing in God’s earthquake. Men and women need to resist the subjugation of women. Women who have tried to pray at the Western Wall are being mishandled and forced to leave the Wall because it is holy and women have no right to pray there.

In other countries, women are still participating in genital mutilation. Female midwives with the cooperation of mothers, will perform a clitorectomy and cut out the clitoris. This makes sure the child will never enjoy sex when she grows up. In some countries, the vagina is sown up to prevent her from having sex with a different man while her husband is away on business. A girl who has not had this done will not be able to marry. No one will want her. These procedures are done without anesthesia or pain medication.  These procedures make child birth more dangerous. I don’t know about everyone else but this makes me want to throw up.

Women are equal and deserve to receive equal pay for equal work. They deserve equal recognition for their work. They also deserve promotions when their work equals that of a male co-worker.

Two thirds of females in the world are illiterate.

Two thirds of females in the world are illiterate.

The majority of women in the world are considered so insignificant that it is felt they are not worth educating. They stay at home while brothers go off to schools to learn to do math and to read. This is why Oprah’s schools for girls are so important. Knowing someone believes in them helps them to believe in themselves. They know, when they are grown up they will be able to get a job in a city and save money to help their families.

God did not make a mistake when he created Eve, if you accept the story. Eve was not a secondary creation.  I think that if there was a serpent and he talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, then she made a choice. Adam also made a choice. When she offered the apple to Adam, he could have said no. He was responsible for his choice not to say no. Eve was not at fault. Women don’t have to carry that guilt. There is also a legend in Judiasm that Lillith was created to be Adam’s partner and she lived with him in equality. Adam complained to God and he got Eve instead.

Whatever you believe, women are equal. All human beings are equal. Where inequality remains, we will squelch it and make sure everyone is equal. Teach your daughters to be confident in themselves and your sons to respect women.

Betty is a feminist to help women receive equality

Betty Freidan is a feminist and writer who worked to help women receive equality

Kindness in Our World


Jews pray at the wailing wall for peace, kindness and for their families

Jews pray at the wailing wall for peace, kindness and for their families

The harder part is people.

So Lord, help me face them

without rancor or disappointment.

Help me see the pain behind their actions

rather than the malice;

the suffering rather than the rage.

And in myself, as I struggle

with the vice of my own desire—-

give me strength to quiet my heart,

to quicken my empathy, to act

in gratitude rather than need.

Remind me that the peace I find

in the slow track of seasons

or an uncurling fern frond,apples

is married to the despair I feel

in the face of nuclear war.

Remind me that each small bird shares atoms

with anthrax, with tetanus, with acid rain, that each time I close my heart

to another, I add to the darkness,

Help me always follow kindness.

Let this be my prayer.      ——Karen Holden

Trafficking in People


Think about this and see what happens

The organization Trafficking  In People, or TIP, evaluates the progress of over 175 nations; progress towards eradicating human trafficking within its borders. Nations are ranked according to Tier’s.

Tier 1 is countries whose governments fully comply with the minimum standards of the TVPA. America is ranked Tier 1.

Tier 2 is countries whose government do not fully comply with the minimum stands. But they are making significant efforts to do so.

Tier 3 is countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making any efforts to do so.

Human slaves are victims and as such they need housing, food, and clothing. They need cash assistance, protection and safety.

Mental health care is needed for the victim and the family and friends. Excellent medical care and education and jobs are needed.

Often when victims are being held they are given drugs to make them compliant, so rehab may be what is needed to get them off of drugs and alcohol.

Many victims need legal assistance, nutritional counseling,  and unwavering support and care.

International victims will need help possibly with language, repatriation help or immigration assistance and reunion with their families.

These people are not criminals, but they are victims. They were owned and they were made to do the things they did. They have been used and abused and they need a lot of love, acceptance, and support.

 

Let's help all victims up!

Let’s help all victims up!

This is why I am a feminist.

This is why I am a feminist. Equality is for everyone.

Severe Human Trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provisioning , or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act,  which is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such an act is a minor. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provisioning  or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

1-888+3737+888 is the number to call if you think someone is being held against their wishes. If you ever meet someone who has been owned by another person, give them support, acceptance and no pity. Rejoice that they got out. But remember, if they are out, someone else is in the process of being taken.