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Rise of Golden Dawn: A presage of doom

The undisguised extremism promoted by Golden Dawn is a chilling watershed in Greece’s post-war democracy. Fascist gangs are turning Athens into a city of shifting front lines, seizing on crimes and local protests to promote their own movement, by claiming to be the defenders of recession-ravaged Greece.

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‘The People’s Association – Golden Dawn,’ usually known simply as ‘Golden Dawn,’ is a right-wing extremist political organization in Greece. It is led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos and has grown considerably since its inception to a widely known Greek political party with nationwide support.

 

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is gaining popularity in the midst of the country’s deepening financial crisis. The group has been implicated in torture cases, and for inciting a wave of racial violence sweeping the country.

 

An opinion poll published by KAPA Research in October showed that support for the extremist political group had grown from 7.5 percent of the population in June to 10.4 percent currently.

 

The Golden Dawn emerged from political obscurity into the mainstream in May after winning 7 percent of the vote in the Greek parliamentary elections. Since then, the country has reportedly witnessed an upsurge in racial violence connected to the right-wing group.

 

The party entered the international spotlight after some of its members reportedly participated in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims. Its publication praises the Third Reich and often features photographs of Hitler and other Nazis.

 

Golden Dawn has manipulated a weak Greek state and disastrous austerity management by European bureaucrats to become, according to recent polls, the third most popular political party in the country — a noxious omen for the euro zone and a worrying challenge and counterpoint to the very idea of the E.U. itself, which received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Three years ago, Greeks ignored Golden Dawn, seeing its members as neo-Nazi thugs waging war against migrants and giving it a miserable 0.29% of the vote. Last year, however, Golden Dawn — rebranded as an anti-austerity party — won nearly 7% and secured 18 of the 300 seats in Parliament. Its ascent has continued in opinion surveys despite its parliamentary deputies’ being filmed attacking immigrant vendors and demanding that all non-Greek children be kicked out of day-care centres and hospitals.

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As the cash-strapped government struggles to offer its citizens basic services, Golden Dawn has set up parastate organizations to police the streets, donate to Greek-only blood banks and help unemployed Greeks find jobs.

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The party has also promised to cancel household debt for the unemployed and low-wage earners. “Soon we’ll be running this country,” says Ilias Panagiotaros, a beefy 38-year-old army-supply-shop owner who is now a Golden Dawn parliamentary deputy representing Athens.

 

Public Love from Fear

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“The people love us.” says Ilias Panagiotaros. Golden Dawn draws much of that love from fear. Greece is now the main entry point for at least 80% of the EU’s un-documented migrants. Frontex, the EU border-patrolling agency, estimates that 57,000 illegal immigrants slipped into Greece last year and more than 100,000 entered in 2010. Many travel through Turkey, often via a land border that Golden Dawn wants to plant with land mines. Some seek asylum, and because of EU rules, those who want to apply for refugee status must do so in their country of entry — in this case, Greece — which often takes years to review the applications. As Europe turns a blind eye to the immigration crisis, many impoverished foreigners find themselves trapped in an economically crippled country that can’t sustain them.

 

Some Greeks no longer want to be hospitable. In the past year, gangs of vigilantes, many sporting Golden Dawn’s black shirts, have beaten and stabbed hundreds of migrants, according to human-rights groups.

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In June 2012, a number of them broke into the Piraeus home of Abouzeid Mubarak, 28, an Egyptian fisherman, bashing him with iron rods until he fell into a coma. “It was a hate that was inhuman,” says Mubarak, who is still recovering.

 

Ali Rahimi, a 27-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was hanging around with friends outside his building in central Athens when more than a dozen Greeks approached. Several men set upon Mr. Rahimi, one with a knife. Panicked, he fled into his apartment and fought back, managing to push the men out the door. He found blood gushing from just above his heart, one of five stab wounds in his back and chest.

 

Mr. Rahimi survived and is staying put for now. But his friend, Reza Mohammed, who was also injured in the attack, is considering what was once unthinkable: moving back to Afghanistan, which he feels would be safer than Greece. 

 

Parts of Athens feel like a war zone. Racist gangs cruise the streets at night in search of victims. Themis Skordeli, a member of the group that is accused of stabbing Mr. Rahimi, ran unsuccessfully for Parliament on the ticket of Golden Dawn.

 

A few blocks down the street, a crowd was leaving a mosque after Friday Prayer. At the mention of Golden Dawn, immigrant men began lifting their shirts to show their scars. A short, sullen-looking young man with a cut across his nose and freshly sutured cheek bone was pushed forward by the crowd. Just the night before, he said, he was beaten and cut with a knife by “fascists.”

 

“Go into the Omonia police station,” said another man. “You will see how violence is going on.” Several blocks away, I walked into just such a scene. As I stepped out of the elevator at the police station, I saw an officer screaming at a black man and backhanding him hard across the shoulder.

 

In Athens, Sayd Jafari owns a cafe frequented by fellow Afghans. It has been repeatedly ransacked by mobs of black-clad attackers wielding sticks, chains and knives and performing fascist salutes.

 

Like others who have been assaulted, Mr. Jafari is also contemplating returning home to Afghanistan. “There, maybe someone has a bomb hidden on his body that he detonates,” he says. “Here, you don’t see where the knife that kills you comes from.”

 

It’s now common to see police lineup immigrants from South Asia and Africa in public squares and along streets in central Athens. Those without legal-residency permits are arrested and sent to detention centres to be deported.

 

Police claim they have detained nearly 42,000 people since August, though only about 3,400 were arrested for not having residency papers. They defended the crackdown, which was strongly denounced by human-rights groups, by comparing undocumented migrants to the Dorian invaders who purportedly brought down the Mycenaeans in 1100 B.C.

 

The most recent example of fascism shown by Golden Dawn in its series of discriminating activities is when it said a visit to Greece by American Jewish Committee leader David Harris is meant to ensure further “Jewish influence over Greek political issues” and safeguard the interests of “international loan sharks.”

 

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), is leading a Jewish delegation to the region to meet with several Greek leaders, including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. During the meetings, Harris expressed his “concern and solidarity for Greece during the crisis.”

 

“The only solidarity of this gentleman is to his compatriots – the international loan sharks, who are humiliating the Greek people. His concern most likely is related to the inability of Greece to make the payments of the predatory interest rates of the vile loans,” Golden Dawn said in a statement, adding: “We do not need the crocodile tears of a Jew.”

 

Its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, uses the Heil Hitler salute and has denied the existence of gas chambers at Nazi death camps during World War II. Another lawmaker read a passage from the anti-Semitic hoax “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

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The attack on Harris and a separate article titled “Absolute Evil” that was published on the party’s website Friday appeared to be a hardening of Golden Dawn’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, apparently in anger over pressure from Jewish groups to get the Greek government to reign in the party. The “Evil” statement said that blaming Golden Dawn for Greece’s woes constituted an attempt to divert attention from the real culprits for Greece’s financial crisis.

 

“They are none other than those who possess most of the international wealth. The people behind the international loan-sharks,” the statement said. “Everyone knows they belong to a certain race, which presents itself as a victim, while in reality it is the perpetrator. Everyone knows that they are none other than those pulling the strings behind the marionettes. They are the absolute evil for mankind.”

 

The second statement ended with a threat.

 

“The time will come when the nationalists of the Golden Dawn will take revenge like the horsemen of the storm, and all of them, being the absolute evil, will pay!”

 

Not content to proselytizing in their homeland, Golden Dawn has started to expand worldwide.

 

Barely a month after their electoral victories, Golden Dawn launched a widely-criticized branch in Melbourne, Australia, home to one of the largest Greek populations outside of Athens. In October, several groups protested the opening of a Golden Dawn office in New York City, which had opened for the explicit purpose of building support for the party among Greek expatriate communities and collecting food and medicine to distribute in Greece – only for Greeks. And in Montreal, Golden Dawn is holding a Christmas food drive. The catch? They’re only giving food out to Greek Christians.

 

Golden Dawn members in the United States have told CBC News they plan to open chapters shortly in Chicago, in Connecticut and in Toronto.

 

What’s at stake is the health of European democracy, and the values and institutions on which it rests. But while the euro crisis touched off a scramble to halt a financial meltdown, European leaders have done virtually nothing to reverse the union’s dangerous political trends.

 

As recent polls show that its strength continues to grow, and its support runs as high as 50 percent among police officers, who routinely fail to investigate growing numbers of hate crimes.

 

Far-right ultranationalist groups are exploiting old enmities and new fears across the Continent. Although this is not the Europe of the 1930s, the disillusioned citizens of countries like Greece and Hungary have turned increasingly to simple answers, electing parties that blame familiar scapegoats — Jews, Gypsies, gays and foreigners — for their ills.

 

Maria Chandraki, 29, an unemployed beautician, hadn’t heard of Golden Dawn until the last election. “Their positions may be extreme,” she said, holding plastic bags of food she’d just received. “But the situation is extreme as well. So we need extreme measures.” She went on, “We can’t have so many nations and so many different sets of values and ideals under the same roof.”

 

Beneath the looming basilica of Athens’ largest church, middle-aged men and women in black Golden Dawn T-shirts were busy one bright September morning distributing food to needy Greeks. Kids ran across the courtyard, which was painted with the party’s unofficial platform: “Get foreigners out of Greece.” Clusters of fit, stoic young men in dark glasses ringed the perimeter.

 

Nikolaos Michos, a square-jawed Golden Dawn Member of Parliament with the build and tattoos of a heavyweight boxer, leaned against a bloodmobile watching. He wore a black polo embossed with the party’s Swastika-like logo. “We’re fighters and we’re not going to back down,” he said, referring to death threats from leftists and the burning of a Golden Dawn office. “But they’re not striking fear into us because every centre they destroy, we’ll build new ones,” he added.

 

European leaders must not cede the battleground in the war of ideas. They should publicly denounce parties that espouse racist doctrines and spew hate-filled rhetoric and clearly define and defend the shared values of an increasingly integrated Europe.

 

To do so, they must develop a pan-European approach to monitor hate crimes and investigate right-wing extremist networks that operate across borders. And the European Union must ensure that all member-states, old and new, respect the same criteria that countries currently aspiring to join the European Union are required to meet, especially maintaining the “stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities.” Otherwise, Europe faces the spectre of more xenophobic violence and the unravelling of the liberal democratic order that has drawn so many persecuted people to seek asylum and opportunity on European shores.

 

Nikos Katapodis, 69, can see the crossroads where his family has lived since 1863. A bald, chain-smoking funeral-home owner, Mr. Katapodis describes the Greek government with a string of expletives. The flood of immigrants over the last decade created ghettos in central Athens, he explains. Crime rates rose, property values dropped and bars appeared on second-floor windows. “It looks like a prison,” he said, nodding to the street. “Today it reminds me of the late 1940s,” he adds. “You see people scrounging for food in the trash cans.”

 

Although he didn’t vote for Golden Dawn, he sees it as “the only party that is actually doing things for the Greek people” — a cross between the welfare state and the Mafia. If he needed an escort to walk down the street or help paying for his cancer medicine, he’d call Golden Dawn. “They’re doing what the politicians should be doing,” he said. “There’s a hole, and they fill it.”

 

Authoritarian elements in the Greek government have a history of using far-right groups to outsource political violence against critics. Recent moves to rein in Golden Dawn came only after it grew too powerful to control and the state felt its own authority was challenged, explained Anastassia Tsoukala, a legal scholar. “They were bitten by their own snake,” she said. And Greece is not alone. Golden Dawn’s rise has parallels across Europe, and its significance should be of Continental concern.

Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times interview with the Hungarian Ambassador Mr. Géza Jeszenszky

Oslo – This is to inform to our readers that today a meeting was to conduct an exclusive interview at the embassy of Hungary with the honorable Ambassador Mr. Géza Jeszenszky.

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The interview was held successfully under the supervision of our editor in chief Mr. Hatef Mokhtar who had gone and conducted this exclusive interview session with the honorable Ambassador. It was a 40 minutes session of questions and answers.

Various issues and concerns were raised during this interview that range from simple economics to the concerning issues like of human rights and democratic transition.

The best part and most vocal message which The Oslo Times got from Mr. Jeszenszky was that he has been an open critique of Communism which he defines it as a long date of the world politics.

The interview session has clearly put across the most vital and strategic point across on the position of Hungary towards global politics, economic crises in Europe, situation of democracy / human rights / media in the erstwhile Communist states that are now progressing towards a major shift to democratic framework in particular Hungary which is experiencing the great leap forward towards the integration with the rest of Europe and the world at large.

In a few days of time The Oslo Times would be going to publish this exclusive interview and wish its readers would find something extra that rest of the media misses out these days.

Stay connected to The Oslo Times for more news updates.

Islamophobia is a big problem in Europe. says Swedish MP Carl Fredrik Malm

WHILE IN A MEETING WITH HIM I FOUND HIM A VERY DETERMINED AND CLEAR PERSON. A PERSON WHO UNDERSTANDS THE VALUES OF HUMANITY AND WHO WORKS FOR THE SAME ON PRACTICAL GROUNDS. IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE OSLO TIMES THIS IS WHAT HE HAS TO SAY ABOUT HIS GOALS AND THE CAUSE WHICH HE FIGHTS FOR.

TOT: So, what are the challenges which you have faced in endorsing these causes and the hindrances which are still needed to be overcome by you?

 

 

 

Carl Fredrik Malm: A lot, but above all, I feel that there is grooving support for a more active and value driven foreign policy. Of course, states and non-state actors often make considerations based on real politik and economic interests, but, nonetheless, there has to be room for a much stronger critique against extensive abuse and clearer red lines against the oppressors of the world.

TOT: “Being a member of parliament in Sweden and a supporter of democracy” – What are the steps are being taken by the Swedish Government to promote democracy in other countries?

Carl Fredrik Malm: Sweden has a strong and extensive focus on democracy in the foreign aid policy. We give 1 percent of our GDP in foreign aid. From our point of view, a larger proportion of this amount should go to supporting democracy and human rights around the world. Sweden has also taken a lead role in supporting the access to and training in information technology for dissidents, to name a few examples.

 

TOT: How you can describe the struggle of Kurdistan?

 

Carl Fredrik Malm: The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without an own nation. The Turkish state has for 70 years denied the very existence of the Kurdish people. In Iraq, the Kurds was attacked with chemical weapons. It is not particularly surprising, then, that the Kurds decide to go their own way.

 

 

TOT: Is there any progress till date which you have got in independence movement of Kurdistan?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: For the Kurds, the most important question is to have the right to determine their everyday life and their own future. This must also apply to non-Kurds in Kurdistan, such as Armenians and Assyrians. However, self-determination in Kurdistan is not a question for the Swedish Parliament to decide, whether it be independence, autonomy or federalism.

 

 

TOT: What are the future prospects you have for Kurdistan independence movement?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: The support for Kurdish independence will be large as long as the wide spread oppression continues in Kurdistan, albeit to a varied extension in different regions. Kurdish nationalism is a young phenomenon and to a big part a reaction to oppression from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. However, this does not necessarily imply that if and when these countries become more democratic that the demands for Kurdish independence will lose its strength. Rather, increased openness might lead to a situation where Kurds are freer to speak their mind, allowing Kurdish identity and culture to flourish, and thereby increasing the impact of the political struggle. This is problematic, not at least for Turkey. If Turkey decide to implement democratic reforms for the benefit of the Kurds, this does not necessarily mean that the Kurds will be more loyal to the government in Ankara, but rather that the Kurds will gain new possibilities, tools and channels to promote their cause.

 

TOT: What does your project Cuba Free Library stands for?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: The Cuba Free Library is a project that I started with a friend in the late 1990’s. The purpose with the project was to gather books and magazines in Spanish and then bring them to Cuba in order to break, or undermine, the monopoly on information that the state currently have. We also supported independent libraries on Cuba. I personally visited Cuba at three occasions in order to support the libraries and follow up projects.

 

 

TOT: What are the main proposed objectives which you have set for your project Cuba Free Library?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: The main objective is to contribute to break the information monopoly on Cuba. But after the mass arrests of political opponents in the spring of 2003 we shifted focus from supporting the independent libraries to instead focus on helping political prisoners and their families. This was carried out within the framework of the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC), which is the Swedish Liberal Party’s international aid organization.

 

 

TOT: What kind of role you want to play in promoting your democratic concept in Iran?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: I try to shape public opinion and give support to Iranians who work to promote democracy, because, it takes democrats to build a proper democracy. The government in Tehran has no interests in forming a democratic Iranian society, why the only possibility to build democracy in Iran is when the current government is removed from power.

 

 

TOT: What is your outlook on Communism and how you will define its role in 21st century?

 

 

Carl Fredrik Malm: Communism no longer plays a major role on the global international scene, even though there still are some armed groups and political parties that call themselves communists. The way I see it is that those who call themselves communists today are not so often the bearers of the communist ideology as once formulated by Marx and Lenin. I am however very concerned about the political heritage of oppression and control that continue to characterize the political life in many post-Soviet states. There is therefore an unfortunate, and dark, communist legacy which has been transferred to new authoritarian regimes in former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

 

 

TOT: According to your belief what are the democratic measures which Iran should execute for the sake of democracy in country?


Carl Fredrik Malm: It’s not about Iran, it’s about the Iranians. It’s the population that needs the political and moral support in order for them to be able to contribute to political and social progress in the country.

 

 

TOT: According to Amnesty International report Muslims around the world are being discriminated and particularly in Europe. So, what are the measures you and your party have taken so far to abolish the discriminatory issues faced by the Muslims?

 


Carl Fredrik Malm: Islamophobia is a big problem in Europe. There is also a risk that xenophobic political parties will grow stronger now that Europe is going through hard times economically and financially. The Swedish Liberal party has a strong agenda and works extensively to counter all forms of hatred and extremism. We also believe that the EU must make it easier for immigrants from outside the EU to enter the union. Furthermore, it is important to show that Islam is not about to conquer Europe – on the contrary, many Muslims are excluded from society in many European states and face discrimination as they try to enter these societies. It is clear that radical Islamism must be opposed, but I consider these movements more as groups driven by ideology rather than religion, even if they promote and conduct their ideology and struggle on the basis of Islamic religious teachings and to a wide extent on the Islamic arena and in Muslim countries.

 

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©The Oslo Times – All Rights Reserved 

Virgin suicides

“My family attacked my personality, and I felt I had committed the biggest sin in the world. I felt I had no right to dishonor my family, that I have no right to be alive. So I decided to respect my family’s desire and die.” Derya, 17 years old. Turkey.

The order to kill herself came from her uncle in a text message to her cell phone. “You have blackened our name, kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first,” it said. Derya’s crime was to fall in love with a boy she had met at school. She knew it was dangerous because her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for speaking with a boy.

When news of the love affair spread to her family, her mother warned her that her father would kill her but she refused to listen. Her brothers and uncle sent her text messages every day threatening her. Filled with shame and afraid, Derya decided to commit suicide. First she jumped into the Tigris River, but survived. Then she tried to hang herself but another uncle cut her down. Last she tried to slash her wrists with a kitchen knife.

Elif, another young girl received her death sentence when she declined the offer of an arranged marriage with an older man. Her wish was to continue on her education. The disobedience brought shame on her whole family and the only way out was death. She managed to escape.

These honor suicides in Turkey has reached new heights as they have turned into honor suicides. This phenomenon emerged after the new reforms to Turkey’s penal code in 2005. Before, killers could receive reduced sentences claiming provocation but after the reforms, the government introduced mandatory life sentences for honor killings. Soon after the law was passed, honor suicides increased in numbers. Batman, a city in the south east with a population of 250,000 has got the nickname “suicide city” because of the high number of suicides among girls. The city was also featured in the novel by Turkish writer and Nobel literature winner in 2006 Orhan Pamuk’s “snow”. The story was about a journalist’s investigation of a suicide epidemic among teenage girls. Between 2001 and 2006, there were 1,806 murders in Turkey that fell under the definition of honor killings, according to the State Minister for Women and Family Affairs Nimet Çubukçu. Meanwhile, during the same period, 5,375 women committed suicide.

 A man showing pic of his 14 year old daughter who committed suicide

A majority of the murders happens in the Kurdish regions where people have been segregated from the rest of the society. Education usually ends in an early age and ignorance seems to transfer from generations to generations. These rural communities are ruled under a strict patriarchal system and decisions are usually made by a “family council” when the extended family meets to discuss honor. They discuss everything from how the victim should be killed and if it isn’t a forced suicide, a killer is chosen. The youngest member of the family is often chosen in hope that they will receive a shorter sentence. The families have the choice between sacrificing a son to a life in prison or forcing the daughter to finish the job herself.

23-year-old Yildiz A. from Turkey was stabbed in the stomach six or seven times and her nose and ears and part of her lip cut off, then she was dumped in a field. She managed to crawl to the side of the road where a passing motorist took her to hospital.

13 year old Rojda was raped and as punishment for “allowing” herself to be raped, her nose was cut off

There are many honor killers in the prisons and oddly enough, they are treated with huge respect among the other inmates and even some prison guards. In the recent years, many Kurds have fled their hometowns and settled to other cities across the country because of the fighting’s between Turkey’s government and the rebels PKK. With the migration, the honor killings and suicides are spreading as well.

Turkey has the highest proportion of female professors in Europe, at 27% and the lifestyle has developed into modern and secular. Families who move to bigger cities and face a modern secular lifestyle have a hard time adjusting and the clash of culture makes it hard on the females who are forced to behave conservatively when there are more temptations around.

Almost every week, a young female tries to commit suicide in Batman or in the nearby areas which are commonly poor and rural with deeply rooted tribal traditions. Others have been stoned to death, strangled, shot or buried alive. Their crime was everything from looking at a boy, wearing a short skirt, declining an arranged marriage, wanting to go out with friends, being raped or engaged in sexual relations out of wedlock. Once the shame has spread to the family, the only way it can be restored is through death. Some women’s group have reported that the girls are being locked up in a room for days with a gun, rat poison, rope etc. they are constantly reminded on that their disgrace is punished by death.

In an effort to help these girls, Ka-Mer, a local women’s group has created a hot line for women who fear that their life might be at risk. They help the girls find shelter and to apply to the courts for restraining orders against their relatives. Ayten Tekar, a caseworker for Ka-Mer in Diyarbakir stated that half of the 104 women, who called the hot line, were uneducated and illiterate. Some had also told that the families hadn’t wanted to kill them but the social pressure and the village gossip had driven them to commit suicide.  “We have to bring these killings out from the shadows and teach women about their rights. The laws have been changed, but the culture here will not change overnight,” she said.

A worldwide epidemic

According to the United Nations, about 5,000 honor killings take place each year, most of them in the Middle East. Iraqi Kurds, Palestinians in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey appear to be the worst offenders. But honor crimes long ago spread to Britain, Belgium, Russia and Canada and many other nations.These killings have spread throughout Europe and reached to the US during the last 10 years as migrants have settled down. Police authorities across Europe who wasn’t familiar with the problem met in 2006 to discuss the reasons and preventions. Denmark was the first country out in a European court to sentence several family members for honor killing instead of just the triggerman. It can now be found in USA, Germany, Sweden, France, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Ghazala Kahn, a Pakistani 18 year old, had an intimate relationship with her future husband, Emal Khan 3 years before her murder. She kept the relationship secret but eventually revealed her feelings to her mother, who became outraged and beat her, joined by Ghazala’s older brother, Akhtar Abbas, the same man who would later shoot her. After this, Ghazala was locked up inside the house and “frozen out” by the rest of her family, all of whom refused to speak to her or eat with her. Finally, on 5 September 2005 she managed to escape and lived with Emal. In the period up until her murder they lived with various friends in Denmark. They repeatedly contacted the police for protection, but were denied help. On 21 September they married and two days later, the family, pretending to want to come to a peaceful reconciliation, convinced the newlywed couple to arrange a meeting at the railway station where Ghazala’s brother shot both Ghazala and Emal Khan. Ghazala was killed instantly while Emal, shot twice survived.

The family was upset so they persuaded Ghazala’s brother to shoot her. The court however convicted 9 members of the family, including her father who conceived the murder and received a life sentence. Her brother received 16 years in prison and an aunt will spend 14 years in prison for luring Ghazala to what she believed would be a family gathering.

Migrants have lived in Europe for many years, so why haven’t they managed to integrate to the society? The problem goes way longer than a couple of years. After World War 2, Europe, especially Germany was left war stricken and the country needed guest workers to rebuild its cities. A huge amount of immigrants, mostly Turkish and Kurds migrated to West Europe and most of them were poor and uneducated. The mistake Germany commit was to allow separate schools for over 20 years and special housing for the guest workers where only their native language was spoken. This led to closed communities where Western culture and values were disregarded making room for ghettoes. Today, there are still classes at public schools where the native language is spoken and in the afternoon the children go home where the parents doesn’t speak German.

Iraq

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has regularly highlighted “honour” killings of Kurdish women as being among the country’s most severe problems. Most of these crimes are reported as deaths caused by accidental fires in the home. 12,500 women were murdered or had committed suicide between 1991 and 2007 for “honour” reasons in Iraq’s 3 major Kurdish provinces. Authorities have admitted that they feel powerless when it comes to preventing the honor killings and honor suicides following by an increase of 70%. On reason can be that there is almost no conviction. Few years ago, 81 women were reported murdered and the authorities had made only 5 convictions. The police release the killers shortly after the arrest and does little attempt to track them down.

Rand Abdel-Qader was killed after her family discovered that she had formed a friendship with a 22-year-old infantryman whom she knew as Paul. She was suffocated by her father then hacked at with a knife. Abdel-Qader Ali was arrested and shortly after released without charge. Rand’s mother, Leila Hussein, who divorced her husband after the killing, went into hiding but was tracked down weeks later and assassinated by an unknown gunman. Her husband had told The Observer that police had congratulated him for killing his daughter. The father has left Basra. He was held by police in connection with his daughter’s murder for only two hours and a local businessman who described the actions of Rand’s father as ‘courageous’ was believed to have given a huge amount of money to him and his two sons, who disowned their mother after she objected to Rand’s killing.

An Iraqi lawyer said that some fathers had started to hire professional hitmen to carry out ‘honour killings.’ “The life of these women isn’t higher than $100. You can find a killer standing in any coffee shop of Basra, discussing prices of a life as if he was buying a piece of meat,” he said.

Mariam Ayub Sattar, an activist in Basra, said that any woman caught speaking to a man in public who was not her husband or a relative was considered a prostitute and punished. Three women were burned with acid while walking through a market in Basra after stopping to speak to a male friend, Sattar also told. This shows how narrow minded the Iraqi’s are and how much they try to isolate the women while the men have enormous freedom. A blow to the face was when The Women’s Rights Association in Basra was forced to close down after receiving death threats following the murder of Rand’s mother. Two women from a voluntary organization who had been helping her to hide from her husband were also injured.

Besides the murder, hundreds of women commit suicide every year by setting themselves on fire. In the first half of 2010, 80 suicides were reported in the Kurdish city of Suleimania according to a human rights activist named Suaad al-Khazraji. These suicides are actually not suicide but murder since they are forced by family members to restore the family honor. Looking at the numbers in Suleimania that is regarded to be the most open and modern city, the numbers are probably in thousands in the more conservative provinces like Baghdad, Basra, Arbil and Dahouk.

I don’t think that the elder generations will change their opinion about honor killings and suicides. For them, this is the only right thing to do and honor goes before everything. What the government should do is to target the younger generations in the rural areas. Education is number one solution to everything. When they know their rights, know how to read and write, then they also can escape this horrible practice. We cannot afford to lose more daughters, sisters and wife’s.

“In my village and in my father’s tribe, boys are in the sky while girls are treated as if they are under the earth. As long as families do not trust their daughters, bad things will continue to happen.”Derya, 17 years.

Human trafficking and modern day slavery

Trafficking has become a lucrative industry and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Globally, it is tied with the illegal trade, as the second largest criminal activity, followed by the drug trade. Human trafficking usually affects women and children more than it affects men. Sex trafficking is nothing less than slavery because when an offender takes a woman or girl against her will and forces her to engage in prostitution, he not only sells her body but also her freedom and dignity. Much sex trafficking is international, with victims being taken from places such as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less-developed areas to more developed places including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. Those who profit from victimizing children and adults in the sex trade are only one half of the problem. The other half is those who patronize this industry.

The total annual revenue for trafficking in persons is estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion. The Council of Europe states, “People trafficking have reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion,” and The United Nations estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked around the world.

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. As for smuggling, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to transport them from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. After entry into the country and arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free to find their own way, while smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination, they are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work includes anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation.

1. How Does Human Trafficking Take Place?

Traffickers find their victims from developing countries where poverty is widespread, commonly through force or deception. The victims are typically very young, from 8 to 18 years old and some as young as 4 or 5 years old. A common scenario involves a poor Asian or Eastern European girl who is offered a “better life” as a housemaid, restaurant server or dancer in a wealthy country such as the United States, Great Britain, or Italy. As she arrives, her passport is taken away, she is physically and sexually abused and forced into prostitution in a country where she neither speaks the language nor have any friends nor relatives. She is forced to service 8-15 clients a day and does not receive any pay as she is told that the money is used to pay off her “debt” to the trafficker and brothel owners for transportation, food, lodging and so on. After some period of time, she will be resold to another brothel owner, often in another country, and the cycle will continue all over again. She is likely to acquire HIV/AIDS, and to pass it on to her clients and their wives, all around the world. She has a greater chance than most of dying early, and is certain to live a horrible existence in whatever short years she has. Even if she is eventually rescued and repatriated to her country and community, she is likely to be ostracized as a result of her involvement in prostitution.

Government and police corruption, primarily in under-developed countries, play a large role in the perpetuation of the sex slave industry, with blind-eyes being turned toward openly active brothels and payoffs being accepted by those officials charged with the enforcement of national and international laws prohibiting trafficking, prostitution and child sexual exploitation.

Click at the pictures for a larger image.

2. Types of labor work

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”

Forced labor is when victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.

Sex trafficking victims are generally found in poor circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. These circumstances include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background. Traffickers are known as pimps or madams, offers promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Various works in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. Most have been told lies regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 1,229 human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 % were sex trafficking cases.

Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.

3. Trafficking in children

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.

Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records. One of the major reasons is the parent’s extreme poverty where they sell their children in order to pay debts or gain income. Some is deceived that the traffickers will give a better life and education for their children. The adoption process, legal or illegal, can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world. Thousands of children from Asia, Africa, and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.

Trafficking victims are also exposed to different psychological problems. They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatization, social exclusion and intolerance make reintegration into local communities difficult. The governments offer little assistance and social services to trafficked victims upon their return.

4. Global nature of the problem

Sex trafficking is global in nature and the victims come from all developing countries and are trafficked into or through virtually all developing and developed countries. It is estimated, for example, that 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year, most of who are sold into prostitution. This is not dependent on nationality, race or religion and not on economic or social standing. The one substantial difference is that it is the wealthy countries – through their military, businessmen, tourists, and Internet pornography subscribers, all of whom pay significantly more for the use of a sex slave that keeps this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers.

Trafficking does not only occur in poor countries, but in fact in every country. A source country is a country where people are trafficked and these countries are often weakened by poverty, war, corruption, natural disasters or climate. Some examples of source countries are Nepal, Guatemala, and the former Soviet Union, Nigeria, Thailand, China, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and many more. Then there is transit country where the victims are enslaved and the destination country is where the victim ends up. Japan, India, much of Western Europe, and the United States are all destination countries and the most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US, according to a report by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).

Almost every human trafficking prevention organization works to spread public awareness of trafficking. Several methods have been used to achieve public awareness, and while some produce little results, others have succeeded in persuading governments to pass laws and regulations on human trafficking. By pushing the issue of human trafficking into the public eye through the media, organizations work to educate the general public about the dangers of being trafficked and practices of preventing individuals from being trafficked. Television, magazines, newspapers, and radio are all used to warn and educate the public by providing statistics, scenarios, and general information on the subject.

Regardless of the type of human trafficking, nearly 1 in 5 of its victims was children, according to various reports. Their innocence is abused for begging, or exploited for sex as prostitutes, pedophilia or child pornography. Others are sold as child brides or camel jockeys.”

In a 2008 report on human trafficking, the U.S. State Department listed Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as destination countries with widespread trafficking abuses, particularly forced laborers trafficked from Asia and Africa who are subject to restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats and physical and sexual abuse. The report found those countries made feeble efforts to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers. The department’s report also says slave labor in developing countries such as Brazil, China and India was fueling part of their huge economic growth. Other countries on the blacklist were Algeria, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Myanmar, Moldova, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Syria.

According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. In Central Asia and Eastern Europe, women make up more than 60 percent of those convicted of trafficking. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor, or slavery, making up 18 percent of the total, although the writers of the report say it may be underreported. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour counting 18 %. Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority, up to 100% in parts of West Africa.

Click at the picture for a larger image

5. War and abuse

Women and girls in war zones are especially touched by the ugly side of war. They are not able to defend themselves and after being abused or sold they are stigmatized in their communities besides ending up pregnant or with HIV/AIDS.

In August 2001, soldiers with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea were purchasing 10 year old girls for sex in local hotels.

Before the arrival of 15,000 UN troops in Cambodia in 1991, there were an estimated 1,000 prostitutes in the capital. Currently, Cambodia’s illegal sex trade generates $500 million a year. No less than 55,000 women and children are sex slaves in Cambodia, 35 percent of which are younger than 18 years of age.

Over 5,000 women and children have been trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and are forced into prostitution in bars servicing the U.S. Military in South Korea.

6. Children – lost innocence

  • Children from Pakistan and Bangladesh are kidnapped or sold by their parents to traffickers who take them to Persian Gulf States including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to work as camel jockeys. These children are 3 to 7 years of age and kept malnourished to keep their weight below 35 pounds. They suffer physical abuse from the traffickers and work all day training camels. Many of these children do also suffer extreme injuries or death from falling off camels during the races.
  • Child victims of trafficking are very vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Misconceptions that having sex with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS have fueled an increased demand for child prostitutes.
  • Girls from 15 to 17 years of age are trafficked from Thailand and Taiwan to South Africa. Traffickers recruited these girls to work as waitresses or domestic workers and once they arrive to South Africa they are forced into prostitution.
  • Filipino children are trafficked to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and Southeast Asia, where they are sexually exploited. Traffickers loan parents a sum of money, which the girl must repay to the trafficker through forced prostitution. In one case, a Filipino woman rented her 9-year-old niece to foreign men for sex, and eventually sold her to a German pedophile.
  • 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States from no less than 49 countries every year. As many as 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the United States over the last decade.
  • Women and children as young as 14 have been trafficked from Mexico to Florida and forced to have sex with as many as 130 clients per week in a trailer park. These women were kept hostage through threats and physical abuse, and were beaten and forced to have abortions. One woman was locked in a closet for 15 days after trying to escape.
  • In Fresno, California Hmong gang members have kidnapped girls between the ages of 11 and 14 and forced into prostitution. The gang members would beat and rape them into submission. These girls were trafficked within the United States and traded between other Hmong communities.
  • The Cadena smuggling ring brings women and some are as young as 14, from Mexico to Florida. The victims were forced to prostitute themselves with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park. Of the $25 charged, the women received only $3. The Cadena members keep the women hostage through threats and physical abuse and the women must work until they paid off their debts of $2,000 to $3,000.
  • Domestic servants in some countries of the Middle East are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day with little or no pay, and subject to sexual abuse such as rape, forced abortions, and physical abuse that has resulted in death.
  • Traffickers in many countries in West Africa take girls through voodoo rituals in which girls take oaths of silence and are often raped and beaten, prior to their leaving the country. They are also forced to sign agreements stating that, once they arrive in another country, they owe the traffickers a set amount of money. They are sworn to secrecy and given detailed accounts of how they will be tortured if they break their promise. Traffickers have taken women and young girls to shrines and places of cultural or religious significance; they remove pubic and other hair and then perform a ceremony of intimidation.

7. Human trafficking and the facts

  • An estimated number of 700.000 to 4 million people are forced in forced labor (including the sex industry) as a result of trafficking. Of these are:
  • 1.4 million – 56% are in Asia and the Pacific
  • 250.000 – 10% are in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 230.000 – 9.2% are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
  • 130.000 – 5.2% are in sub-Saharan countries
  • 270.000 – 10.8% are in industrialized countries
  • 200.000 – 8% are in countries in transitions
  • 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination count. People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy.
  • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age and 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
  • 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence.
  • 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation of which 98% are women and girls.
  • 32% of victims are used for forced economical exploitation of which 56% are women and girls.
  • 52% of those recruiting females are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women.
  • In 54% of the cases, the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of the cases, the recruiter knew the victim.
  • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labor are US$ 31.6 billion. Of this:
  • US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
  • US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
  • US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
  • US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle east and North Africa

Click at the picture for a larger image (statistics from 2008-2009)

8. Slavery and sex-trade in the Arab world


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a destination for men and women, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers, who stand for more than 90% of the UAE’s private sector workforce, are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to work as domestic servants or administrative staff, but some are victims of forced labor, including unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, or physical or sexual abuse. Men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are drawn to the UAE for work in the construction sector, but are often subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage.

For the foreign female domestic workers, it is a life of isolation both physically, psychologically, socially and culturally. Some of these women live in abusive environments but others are able to live a little bit more socially. Under the law, once a foreign female worker enters a employers house, she is under his/her control since the employer is the visa sponsor. The employer bears total responsibility for his/her domestic workers and has total control over them. But during the first 3 months of the contract, both the employer and the employee have the right to contact the recruiting agency in order to report problems or to seek change in the status or employment of the foreign female domestic worker. Most recruiting agencies, however, do not encourage this practice, and often hide information from the foreign female domestic worker about their rights. The immigration regulations governing the status of domestic workers and the social practices towards foreign female domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates enslave them to their employers until the duration of their contract ends. Whether one is placed with a desirable or an undesirable employer is a matter of luck.

Saudi Arabia is a place for men and women from South East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation and forced begging for children from Yemen and Africa. Hundreds of thousands low skilled workers from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya migrate voluntarily to Saudi Arabia to work. Many of these workers meet conditions of physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, withholding of travel documents and restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Unfortunately, the government of Saudi Arabia has done little or almost nothing to eliminate trafficking and has lack of efforts to protect victims and prosecute those who are guilty of abuse. Some victims of abuse, chooses to leave the country rather than to confront their abusers in court and according to the law, they are required to file a complaint first before they can be allowed in any shelter. If a victim chooses to file a complaint, he/she is not allowed to work and the Saudi Government does in fat provide food and shelter for female workers who file report.

9. Iran – High profitable sex-trade


Iran has for 25 years, has enforced humiliating and punishments on women and girls, enslaved them in a system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing, and stoning to death. Joining a global trend, in Tehran there has been a 635% increase in the number of teenage girls in prostitution. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that exist in the city. The trade is also international as thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad. The head of Iran’s Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today and government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and girls.

Many of the girls come from poor families living in rural areas. Drug addiction has become epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. There is also a problem with high unemployment, 28% for youth between 15-29 years of age and 43% for women between 15-20 years of age.

Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf because of the booming tourism and the good economy. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 years old, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8. The victims are often physically punished and imprisoned besides being examined if they have engaged in “immoral activity.” Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.

Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain, Turkey, as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, made fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000.

One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home for different reasons and 90% of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. The perpetrators look after street children, runaways, and vulnerable high school girls in city parks and manage to convince them. In large cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways but these places are often corrupt and run prostitution rings from the shelters. In one case, a woman was discovered selling Iranian girls to men in Persian Gulf countries; for four years, she had hunted down runaway girls and sold them. She even sold her own daughter for US$11,000.

For further information about the slave and sex trade and the work that is done to prevent, you can click into these links.

http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/

http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking/international_initiatives

Overview of the violence against women around the world

The situation of women and girls, facts and figures all over the world*


Gender and HIV/AIDS:

  • Nearly a third of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are under the age of 25 and 2/3 of them are women.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are getting infected faster and earlier than boys. In the group from 15 to age 24, two girls are infected for every boy. According to surveys that indicate women who have some post primary schooling compared to women with no education are 5 times more likely to lack basic information about HIV/AIDS.
  • In 2002, an estimated 800,000 children under the age of 15 were infected with HIV as a result of parent-to-infant transmission.

Gender and girls education:

  • Over 110 million of the world’s children, 2/3 of them being girls are not attending school.
  • Of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults, 2/3 is women.
  • Half of the girls who live in developing countries (excluding China) will be married before their 20th birthday. Increasing girl’s time in school is one of the best ways for the girls to get married in an older age.

Gender and violence against women and girls and child protection issues:

  • One in every 3 women is a survivor of some form of gender based violence, most often by someone in her family. Between 15 and 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Girls between 13 and 18 years constitutes the largest group in the sex industry and it is estimated that around 500,000 girls below the age of 18 are victims of trafficking each year.
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) affects around 130 million girls and women globally and places 2 million at risk but the last decades this problem has improved.
  • In some cultures, the preference for boys results in pre-natal sex selection and death of many girls. In India for example; there are 933 Indian women for every 1000 men resulting in 40 million missing women.

Gender and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and other health issues:

  • 1,400 women die every day from pregnancy-related causes, 99% of them in developing countries.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman has 1 in 3 chance of dying in child birth. In industrialized countries the risks are 1 in 4,085.
  • Direct obstetric deaths account for about 75% of all maternal deaths in developing countries.

Emergencies

  • More than 80% of the world’s 35 million refugees and displaced people are women and children.
  • Emergencies put women at risk of extreme sexual violence and abuse. In Rwanda, 2,000 women and many of them are being survivors of rape tested positive for HIV during the 5 years following the 1994 genocide.

Femicide

  • In Guatemala, two women are killed every day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007 and unknown number of murders of women and young girls were labeled as “suicides” or “accidents”.
  • Between 40 and 70% of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States.
  • In Chihuahua, Mexico, 66% of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and young women

  • Up to 50% of sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls under the age of 16.
  • An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002.
  • The first sexual experience of some 30% women was forced and the percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation.

Harmful practices

  • Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have experienced female genital mutilation leaving more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides and married before the age of 18. The numbers are divided as; South Asia-31, 3 million and Sub-Saharan Africa-14, 1 million. Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
  • Trafficking
  • 80% from the estimated number of 800,000 people being trafficked across the national borders is women and girls.
  • One study in Europe found that 60% of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual harassment

  • Between 40 and 50% of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
  • Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40% of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.
  • In Nairobi, 20% of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.
  • In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Rape in the context of conflict

  • Estimates suggest that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  • Between 50,000 and 64,000 women in camps for internally displaced people in Sierra Leone were sexually assaulted by combatants between 1991 and 2001.
  • In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996: the actual numbers are believed to be far higher.

Conservative

  • The following figures are some of the facts of violence done on women compiled by Amnesty International and Feminist.com from various researches done by individuals and/or organizations all over the world;
  • An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or labor (US Central Intelligence Agency, 2000).
  • One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime (WHO 1997).
  • In USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds (US Department of Justice, 2000).
  • Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds (UN Study on the Status of Women, Year 2000).
  • Up to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their male partners (WHO 2008).
  • In Kenya more than one woman a week was reportedly killed by her male partner while in Zambia, five women a week were murdered by a male partner or family member (Joni Seager, 2003).
  • In the Russian Federation 36,000 women are beaten on a daily basis by their husband or partner, according to Russian non-governmental organizations (OMTC, 2003).
  • More than 135 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation and an additional 2 million girls and women are at risk each year (6,000 everyday) (UN, 2002).
  • 82 million girls who are now aged 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday (UNFP).
  • In India there are close to 15,000 dowry deaths estimated per year. Mostly they are kitchen knives designed to look like accidents (Injustice Studies, Vol. 1, November 1997).
  • 4 million women and girls are trafficked annually.
  • An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year (UNICEF).
  • A study in Zaria, Nigeria found out that 16 per cent of hospital patients treated for sexually transmitted infections were younger than five (UNFPA).

Population and families

  • The world’s population tripled between 1950 and 2010 to reach almost 7 billion.
  • There are approximately 57 million more men than women in the world, but in most countries there are more women than men.
  • There is a “gender spiral” with more boys and men in younger age groups and more women in the older age groups.
  • Fertility is steadily declining in all regions of the world but still remains high in some regions of Africa.
  • Life expectancy is steadily rising as women lives longer than men.
  • International migration is increasing and there are more and more women migrants and in certain areas they outnumber men.

Health

  • Women live longer than men in all regions.
  • 2 out of every 5 deaths of both women and men in Africa are still caused by infectious and parasitic diseases.
  • Women are more likely than men to die from cardiovascular diseases, especially in Europe.
  • Breast cancer among women and lung cancer among men tops the list of new cancer cases globally.
  • Women stand for the majority of HIV positive adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.
  • The majority of over half a million maternal deaths in 2005 occurred in developing countries.

Education

  • 2/3 of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide are women.
  • The global youth literacy rate has increased to 89%.
  • 72 million children of primary school age are not attending school out of which over 39 million (54%) are girls.
  • Women in tertiary education are significantly underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering but remain predominant in education, health and welfare, social sciences, humanities and arts.
  • Worldwide, women account for slightly more than a quarter of all scientific researches that is an increase compared to previous decades.
  • Use of and access to the Internet grew in the past decade as it narrowed the gender digital divide, however, women still don’t have the same level of access as men in most countries whether it is more developed or not.

Work

  • Women are predominantly and increasingly employed in the services sector.
  • Vulnerable employment – own-account work and contributing family work – is prevalent in many countries in Africa and Asia, especially among women.
  • The informal sector is an important source of employment for both women and men in the less developed regions but more so for women.
  • Occupational segregation and gender wage gaps continue to persist in all regions.
  • Part-time employment is common for women in most of the more developed regions and some less developed regions, and it is increasing almost everywhere for both women and men.
  • Women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work – paid and unpaid – is considered, women work longer hours than men do.
  • Half of the countries worldwide meet the new international standard for minimum duration of maternity leave – and two out of five meet the minimum standard for cash benefits – but there is a gap between law and practice, and many groups of women are not covered by legislation.

Violence against women

  • Women are subjected to different forms of violence – physical, sexual, psychological and economic, both within and outside their homes.
  • Rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several per cent to over 59% depending on where they live.
  • Current statistical measurements of violence against women provide a limited source of information, and statistical definitions and classifications require more work and harmonization at the international level.
  • Female genital mutilation is the most harmful mass perpetuation of violence against women shows a slight decline.
  • In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept abuse.

Environment

  • More than half of rural households and about a quarter of urban households in sub-Saharan Africa lack easy access to sources of drinking water, and most of the burden of water collection falls on women.
  • The majority of households in sub-Saharan Africa and South-Eastern Asia use solid fuels for cooking on open fires or traditional stoves with no chimney or hood, disproportionately affecting the health of women.
  • Fewer women than men participate in high-level decision-making related to the environment.

Poverty

  • Households of single mothers with young children are more likely to be poor than households of single fathers with young children.
  • Women are more likely to be poor than men when living in one-person households in many countries from both the more developed and less developed regions.
  • Women are overrepresented among the older poor in the more developed regions.
  • Existing statutory and customary laws limit women’s access to land and other types of property in most countries in Africa and about half the countries in Asia.
  • Fewer women than men have cash income in the less developed regions, and a significant proportion of married women have no say in how their cash earnings are spent.
  • Married women from the less developed regions do not fully participate in intrahousehold decision-making on spending, particularly in African countries and in poorer households.

Harmful tradition practices include;

  • Forced marriage
  • Child marriage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Honour killings
  • Dowry related violence
  • Female infanticide
  • Trafficking of women and girls

Afghanistan at a glance*

  • Only about 15% of births are attended by trained health workers while more than 90% of the births take place at home. According to UNICEF, the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the second highest in the world with an estimated 15,000 women dying each year from pregnancy related causes.
  • The infant mortality rate is 165 per 1,000 and less than 5 mortality rate is 257 per 1,000 with 1 in 4 children in Afghanistan dying before the age of 5 from preventable diseases.
  • Only 23% of the population has access to safe water, and only 12% have access to adequate sanitation which increases the incidents of diseases. 15,000 Afghans die of tuberculosis every year and of this 64% are women.
  • Malnutrition of women which affects pregnancies negatively is caused by the food scarcity linked to the war and drought.
  • The poor health situation has been aggravated by the lack of basic health services and resources, especially in rural areas because of the small number of trained female doctors, nurses and midwifes that remained in the country after the rise of Taliban.
  • 23 years of war have destroyed the infrastructure of the educational system and increased the illiteracy rate in Afghanistan. Only 10% of women are able to read and write.
  • 54% of girls under the age of 18 are married. Families of girls and young women were forced to marriage for several reasons and often for the purpose of dowry for the family’s survival.
  • *Source; Report of the Secretary-General on Discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan (E/CN.6/2002/5)

Child Marriages – Robbing them of their innocence

Throughout the world, the problem of early, forced marriages of children is considered to be a violation of basic human rights. Child marriage is defined by when a child who is below the legal age (usually below the age 15) is married to an adult. Usually it’s almost a Young girl married to an older man. The second form of marriage is an arranged marriage where the parents of the child(ren) and the other person arrange a future marriage. Here, the two individuals who are promised to each other, does not often meet until the wedding ceremony which happens when they both are considered to be of a marriageable age.

Occurrence

It has been estimated that 49 countries around the world has a significant child bride problem, but the numbers are estimated to be higher because of the unregistered and unofficial marriages. UNICEF survey results of 100 countries shows that in developing countries, over than 60 million women aged between 20 and 24 was married before the age of 18. In the countries of Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Niger, more than 60% were found to have been married before 18. Despite sanctions on child marriage, more than 100 million children were expected to marry between 2005-2015.

Article 16.1 of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 (CEDAW http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm)states that;

a) Men and women have the same right to enter into marriage.

b) The same right to freely choose a spouse and enter that marriage with their free and full consent.

Article 16.2 states: The betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage. CEDAW has not been ratified by seven UN member-states; the United States, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Nauru, Palau and Tonga.

Although this practice is banned by many countries, there are still many children who are victims of practice. It is combined with culture and has many purposes. Some cultures use child marriage among different tribes, villages and families to secure political and other ties between them to prevent themselves from being assimilated. Other families use child marriage to gain financial ties with wealthier people to ensure their success. Every women and girl has the right to a healthy and just life but when violence of any kind occurs, the international community has the supreme responsibility to respond and transform norms and behavior that condones these human right violations.

How does child marriage affect girl’s futures?

No matter where child marriage occurs, it is regarded as violation towards the children with tiny voices. Parents choose to marry off their daughters early for a number of reasons. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family and some see no value in girls compared to a boy. Others are concerned of their daughters might lose their virginity or get pregnant before marriage. Changing these views requires education and the right to refuse marriage. The parents think that marrying away the daughters protects them from the risk and danger of sexual assault and the husband cares of her as a male guardian.

In the rural villages of these countries many young girls are rarely allowed out of their homes unless it is to work in the fields or to get married. These uneducated girls are often married off at the young age of 11. Some families allow girls who are only 7 years old to marry. It is very unusual for a girl to reach the age of 16 and not be married.

Child marriage by region

Click at the image for a larger picture.

Europe

In France, 11% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Africa

Because of poverty, culture, tradition and conflicts makes child marriages widespread all over Africa. In many tribal systems, the groom has to pay a bride price to the bride’s family in order to marry her. In many parts of Africa, this payment happens in cash, cattle or other valuables but the amount decreases as the girl gets older. That’s why, the family’s wishes to marry the girl as early as possible, most of the times before puberty. Over half of the girls are sent away for marriage as the parents needs the bride price to clothe, feed and educate the rest of the family while a boy can gain education, employment and get married later.

According to many UN related reports made in Sub-Saharan countries, the incident of child marriages under the age of 15 is very high. This has resulted in health problems such as obstetric fistulae, prematurely, stillbirth, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), cervical cancer and malaria. In parts of Ethiopia and Nigeria, 50% of the girls are married as young as the age of 7. In parts of Mali, 39% of the girls are married before the age of 15 and in Niger and Chad; over 70% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Asia and South Asia

India

The status of the woman has been lower than the men for centuries and she has been regarded as the disrespected element of the society in many places. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh tops list of child marriages by accounting 40% of these incidents a year. A total of 104 cases of child marriage were reported across the country in 2008, which is an 8.3% increase over the previous year’s figure.

The child marriage restraint Act, 1929 was passed during the British rule in pre-partition India that forbade a male younger than 21 and a female younger than 18 to get married. As South-Asia has the highest rate of child marriages in the world, India stands for 40% of the world’s child marriages according to UNICEF’s ”State of the World’s Children -2009”. In an effort to handle this problem, the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, laws has been made and passed to register all marriages in order to make them valid. According to”National Plan of Action for Children 2005,” (published by the Department of Women and Child development of India) a goal was set out to eliminate child marriages by 2010. As for the child restrain act, a child is a person who, if a male, has not completed 21 years of age and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age. In case of such incident, the parent or guardian concerned may be punished with a simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and a fine. Those who solemnize and give consent to the wedding ceremony face the same punishment. A male above 18 years and below 21, entering into wedlock with a child, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to 15 days or with fine which may extend to Rs1,000 or both. A male above 21 years marrying a child shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to fine.

Afghanistan

It is believed that between 60 and 80% of marriages are forced marriages and occurs mostly in the rural areas. This deprives the girls from education and isolates them further.

Pakistan

Even though the minimum age for marriage is 18 for men and 16 for girls, child marriages are still widespread and still practiced.

Bangladesh

According to the”State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 63% of all women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has been and still is making progress to increase women and girl’s education and employment opportunities. To reach out to those in rural areas, an attempt to speak with the religious leaders and cooperate with them has shown results and is hoped to decrease the practice.

Middel East

In April 2007, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) published a new study on child marriage in the world, “New Insights on Preventing Child Marriage: A Global Analysis of Factors and Programs.” The study included the latest ranking of the countries with the world’s highest incidence of child marriage. The chart included 68 countries and the country first on the list was Niger where 76.6% of women were found to have married before age 18, followed by Chad, at 71.5%. The proportion of child brides was above 60% in Bangladesh, Mali and Guinea and above 50% in Nepal, Mozambique, Uganda, Burkina Faso and India. Afghanistan does not appear on the list only because reliable facts are not available from that country. However, the incidence of child marriage in Afghanistan is believed to be quite high.

Yemen

49% of girls are married by the age of 18.

Saudi Arabia

Several human rights groups have documented high number of child marriages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi clerics have justified marriage of girls as young as the age of 9 and there is no laws defining the minimum age of marriage. The Saudi Ministry of Health on their side issued an official statement expressing its rejection of the marriage of minors, warning of repercussions, including adverse health and psychological effects on young girls. The statement gave details of related reproductive problems, increased incidences of early osteoporosis, in addition to a higher probability of high blood pressure, possibly leading to kidney failure, emergence of distortions of pelvic bones, also accounting for mental illnesses caused by emotional deprivation suffered by young girls after being taken away from parents, such as hysteria, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and may even lead to addiction as a means of escape, as well as negative effects on children of minors, including delayed mental development.

United States

Laws regarding child marriage vary throughout the United States, though generally children 16 and over may marry with parental consent. Fewer than 16 generally require a court order in addition to the parental consent. The awareness of early forced marriage and sexual abuse of young girls in the United States was increased by the April 2008 rescue of numerous children living on a ranch owned by a polygamist sect in Texas. Children can also be married under the age of 18 with permission from their parents. In Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, girls can marry at the age of 14, in New Hampshire at 13, in Massachusetts and Kansas, as early as 12.

Until 2008, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practiced child marriage through the concept ‘spiritual (religious only) marriages,’ as soon as girls are ready to bear children, as part of its polygamy practice and laws have raised the age of legal marriage in response to criticism of the practice. In 2008, the Church changed its policy in the United States to no longer marry individuals younger than the local legal age as the Church leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to statutory rape of a minor due to arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man in 2007. The state of Texas removed all 468 children from the ranch and placed them into temporary state custody. FLDS denied the charges. The charges were eventually dropped in court as there was no solid evidence in support of this, and it was determined that the state entered the ranch illegally.

South America

It is estimated that 29% of women aged between 15-24 were married before the age of 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean with Guatemala and El Salvador with the highest rates at 41% and 38%.

According to a report issued by the United Nations, these early marriage unions violate the basic human rights of these girls by putting them into a life of isolation, service, lack of education, health problems, and abuse. The UNICEF paper also states: “UNICEF believes that, because marriage under the age of 18 may threaten a child’s human rights (including the right to education, leisure, good health, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination), the best way to ensure the protection of children’s rights is to set a minimum age limit of 18 for marriage.

Negative effects on child marriages

Poverty

Girls living in the poorest 20% of households are more likely to get married at an early age than those living in the wealthiest 20%.

Education

Women with primary education are significantly less likely to be married or in union as children than those who received no education. In Zimbabwe for example, 48% of women who had attended primary school had been married by the age of 18, compared to 87% of those who had not attended school. Furthermore, once entering a marriage or union, women are much less likely to receive further education or get divorce.

Health

Premature pregnancies are common with young brides, and these cause higher rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Since many married adolescents are pulled out of school at an early age, they may be unfamiliar with basic reproductive health issues. Despite the large number of married girls, policies and programs often fail to address their vulnerability to HIV, sexual transmitted diseases (STD) or other reproductive health needs. Furthermore, while parents may see early marriage as a way to help keep their daughters from becoming infected with HIV, data indicates that 17-22 percent of 15-19 year old girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV/AIDS as opposed to 3-7% for their male counterparts.

Poor health, early death and lack of education lead the list of major problems related to child marriages. Child brides have a double pregnancy death rate rather than women in their 20s because of their young age. Besides from having children in young age, girls are also exposed for damages and rupture in their reproductive organs and their children will end up being sicker and weaker ending in an early death. These young girls are also at an increased risk of chronic anemia and obesity. Other problems are listed as:

  • Limited social support due to social isolation.
  • Limited educational opportunities or no schooling options.
  • Intense pressure to become pregnant.
  • An increased risk of maternal and infant mortality.
  • Restricted freedom of movement and social mobility.
  • Early marriage that creates a lifetime of poverty
  • Statistically, child brides have a higher risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and murder.

Abuse

Abuse is common in child marriages. Women who get married in a young age are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife. Some women end up being murdered as well for different reasons. In addition, children who refuse to marry or who choose a marriage partner against the wishes of their parents are often punished or even killed by their families in so-called ‘honour’ killings.

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