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Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

I would like to thank Ashley Judd for being gracious enough to say a few words about the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). She was a panelist at “Slavery and Human Rights” earlier this month with journalist and abolitionist, Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves.

The bill was introduced in the House as H.R.4594 by Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA-D) and it is currently co-sponsored by 71 representatives.  On the Senate side, S. 2982, has been introduced by Sen. John Kerry (MA-D), and this bill currently has 28 co-sponsors.

Violence against women takes many forms.  Rape is often used as a weapon in military conflicts such as the former states of Yugoslavia and in the Congo where the BBC has reported gang rapes are on the rise.

Another form of violence left Manzour, a mother of two from Pakistan, scarred for life after her in-laws threw acid at her causing her chin to fuse to her chest in a report found by the BBC.  The video contains disturbing images.

A reporter from The Economist recently reported the visit of Xinran Xue, a Chinese writer, who witnessed a birth in Shandong province and wrote about it in her book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother.

Xinran writes, “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door. . .The cries from the inner room grew louder- and abruptly stopped.  There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly:’Useless thing!’  The writer saw in horror a tiny foot poking from a slops pail after the baby girl was discarded by the midwife.  She tried to save the baby but was restrained by two policeman who told her, ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’  An older woman explained the rationale to the writer saying, “It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it.  Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son.  Girl babies don’t count.'”

This is an outrage, but you can do something about it.  You can help these women break free by asking your US Senator and US Representative to support IVAWA in an e-mail.  Writing personal letters are extremely effective.  One state politician revealed that they pay attention to an issue if they receive five letters on the same topic.  This is an achievable goal.

IVAWA would lend support to non-government organizations that would develop a strategy unique to the area as they work their way towards preventing violence against women.  It could be as simple as funding the education for girls or providing a micro-finance loan that would allow women to be economic independent.   Amnesty International’s website offers a range of actions that you can take to support this bill.

During the panel discussion, Ashley Judd talked about finding your outrage.  Once you found your outrage, your passion will rise up and empower you to make a difference.  My outrage is human trafficking,  a problem which has touched my own city, Quincy, where a Chinese brothel was recently discovered.

Activist and historian Howard Zinn, who passed away earlier this year, wrote, “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change.  Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

Change starts with you.  Be the change.

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Here’s a nice short audio slideshow done for Human Rights Day by the BBC.  They interviewed Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.  The organization has recently called for president elect Obama to undo damage caused by the policies of the Bush Administration in their war on terror.  Human Rights Watch also said that China broke promises to Olympic organizers.  The full report can be found here. Video from the press conference can also be found on their website.

In somewhat related news, on Human Rights Day, Chinese scholars signed Charter 08 which calls for a radical overhaul of China’s political system by introducing elections, a new constitution and an independent judiciary according to the BBC.  Ever since they signed the document, they have been detained by the police, questioned, and monitored by authorities.  China seems to want silence any reforms.

In the article, journalist Li Datong justifies signing the document despite knowing the consequences of his actions by saying, “Change requires ordinary citizens, particularly intellectuals, to speak out. This will slowly influence the government.”  This statement applies to all of us.  Hopefully, we will learn from Li and stand up for what we believe in.

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In the most pointed remarks made by an African leader, the BBC reports on Thursday that Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has called for his fellow African leaders to oust Robert Mugabe saying, “it’s time for African governments… to push him out of power,” after the power sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai has failed.

Some 12,545 cholera cases have been recorded since August, the UN says.  AP Photo

Some 12,545 cholera cases have been recorded since August, the UN says. AP Photo

The Kenyan PM says that if his South African counterpart asked Mugabe to stand down, he would have no choice but to do so.  He also thinks that Tsvangirai should not participate in the power sharing deal since Mugabe is not truly interested in being a partner.

In the past few monthes, Zimbabwe has accelerated towards calamity as the BBC has reported 10 soldiers rampaged through the capital on Monday because a bankrupt bank could not pay them their wages.

A cholrea epidemic has claimed 565 lives and has infected 12,545 people since August according to the UN.  Scores are fleeing towards South Africa hoping for medical treatment exacerbating a refugee problem in South Africa.

Immigrants, most from Zimbabwe, rush the gate to apply for refugee asylum permits at a government refugee center June 17, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Officials were overwhelmed by the crowd of thousands that appeared Tuesday morning, after a three day weekend in South Africa. The wave of immigrants crossing illegally from Zimbabwe continues, despite the xenophobic violence against immigrants last month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Immigrants, most from Zimbabwe, rush the gate to apply for refugee asylum permits at a government refugee center June 17, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Officials were overwhelmed by the crowd of thousands that appeared Tuesday morning, after a three day weekend in South Africa. The wave of immigrants crossing illegally from Zimbabwe continues, despite the xenophobic violence against immigrants last month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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