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Child marriage, an unspoken kind of violence – International Day of the Girl 2014

October 20th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Child marriage, an unspoken kind of violence – International Day of the Girl 2014 

See source content: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage-unspoken-kind-violence-international-day-girl-2014/
When Kalinde married at the age of 15, she was told to respect her husband and “never deny him sex.” She found herself trapped in a marriage that she did not want and over which she had little control. Every year, 15 million other girls face a similar fate.

 

On 11 October, the world celebrates International Day of the Girl, a chance to reflect on the challenges that girls face daily around the world. This year’s theme, “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”, offers an opportunity to call for action on child marriage, a practice that has violent consequences for girls.

 

Child marriage is violence against girls

According to the World Health Organisation, one in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. Child marriage is a manifestation of that violence, putting women and girls at risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence throughout their lives.

 

Ela Bhatt of The Elders describes the unspoken, yet very real, kind of violence presented by child marriage as one that is happening “with the consent of society.”

 

Accelerating change to end child marriage

 

2014 has been an important year for efforts to end child marriage. The African Union launched a continental campaign to end child marriage in Africa, the Girl Summit saw an unprecedented number of countries committing to address the issue, and a number of leaders have recognised child marriage as a critical issue to the post-2015 development agenda.

See source content: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage-unspoken-kind-violence-international-day-girl-2014/

TEACH-IN: Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth

October 20th, 2014 | Add a Comment

TEACH-IN:

Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth

See source content: http://ifg.org/techno-utopianism-teach-in/

This event comes at a crucial historical moment.

 

Ecological systems are near collapse–global climate, soils and fertility; fresh water supply; deep ocean life, forests, biodiversity; diminishing global food production; and unprecedented rates of species extinctions. Human life is also threatened by these, as well as by shocking rates of economic inequality, and the expanding threat of wars to control lands and scarce resources. But proposed solutions rarely stray off the corporate message: “Technology will solve our problems. Leave it to technology.” We do not share this optimism.

 

[When President Truman dropped the A-Bomb, he said "for the good of mankind." He should have said, "for the good of General Electric" and a new technological era that brought us hundreds of nuclear power plants including Fukushima.]

 

SUBSTITUTE NATURE

 

Many in our society see the ecological crisis as a grand new economic opportunity for growth and profit. If nature is being destroyed, we can create new nature. Technologies are rolling out to introduce substitute nature. For example: GEO-ENGINEERING (to “solve” the climate crisis by “re-seeding” the heavens and inventing techno-climate); GMOs (to re-arrange the genetics of food, animals, and trees, making them more profitable); SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY (creating new artificial life forms, including genetically redesigned humans– taller? smarter? better looking?); and NANO-TECHNOLOGY (to replace the planet’s billion-years-old molecular structures for greater efficiency.) We prefer the old planet.

See source content: http://ifg.org/techno-utopianism-teach-in/

OUTRAGEOUS: IN SMALL TOWN KANSAS, 3 OLD MEN CONTROL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

October 20th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Saline Co. leaders weighing approved birth control pills

See source content: http://www.kwch.com/news/local-news/saline-county-commissioners-must-approve-birth-control-pills/28996800

County leaders will now control which birth control pills women have access to in Saline County after the health director resigned.

It’s the latest in a series of controversial comments and decisions by the Saline County Commission.

Saline county commissioners approved a $1,000 grant, but it can only be used to buy birth control pills the county approves. It can also be used to buy other things like supplies.

Some commissioners were concerned after learning the health department wanted to buy a birth control pill called Portia with grant money.  Commissioner John Price said if the pill is misused, it’s abortion.

Since the commissioners are now the head of the health department, they get to decide.

“We can approve, the commission, whether we will approve that pill or not,” Price said.

See source content: http://www.kwch.com/news/local-news/saline-county-commissioners-must-approve-birth-control-pills/28996800

Human overpopulation: When no news is bad news

October 20th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Human overpopulation: When no news is bad news 

See source content: http://www.stanforddaily.com/2014/10/06/human-overpopulation-when-no-news-is-bad-news/

Last week, a high-profile study using the latest United Nations data revisited predictions of global population size. The news wasn’t good: Updated estimates using new statistical analyses suggest the world’s population will hit nearly 11 billion by 2100. There’s some uncertainty in this measure because birth and death rates may be changed by political and social dynamics. Still, the study’s authors wrote that there’s a four in five chance the world’s population will be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by the end of the century.

 

I was glad to see several media outlets pick up the story. But while most of the reports alluded to the challenges of feeding and employing additional billions of humans, almost none acknowledged the fundamental issue with human population size.

 

There are already too many people on the planet, and this overpopulation drives the ongoing environmental crisis.

 

It’s no wonder we shy away from open discussion of this issue. First, “overpopulation” is hard to quantify. It’s obvious that the present-day human population is too large to sustainably support on the planet. For example, modern agriculture relies on the chemical fixation of nitrogen for fertilizers, which experts believe allowed Earth’s population to grow beyond 4 billion. Yet this fertilizer production requires energy from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource. In other words, more than 3 billion people on the planet survive because of an unsustainable energy subsidy.

See: http://www.stanforddaily.com/2014/10/06/human-overpopulation-when-no-news-is-bad-news/

Aid agencies at breaking point: UN refugee Chief

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Aid agencies at breaking point: UN refugee Chief 

See: http://www.enca.com/aid-agencies-breaking-point-un-refugee-chief

GENEVA – Aid agencies are close to breaking point in their efforts to help millions of desperate victims of conflicts around the globe, UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres warned on Friday.

 
“The international humanitarian community is really reaching the limits of its capacity, with multiplication of conflicts,” Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, told reporters.

 
Worldwide, 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, according to UN figures, mostly remaining within their embattled homelands’ borders or fleeing to neighbouring countries.

 
The total was the highest since World War II.

“In 2011, there were 14,000 new refugees and internally displaced people every day. In 2012, 23,000. In 2013, 32,000. An exponential growth of needs,” said Guterres.

Global attention is focussed squarely on the conflict in Iraq and Syria, which has driven millions of people from their homes, but the world also faced less headline-grabbing crises such as those in Africa, he underlined.

 
Wars are not the only factor.

 
“The impacts of climate change, of food insecurity, of water scarcity, of the multiplication of natural disasters, combined with population growth and urbanisation, and their impacts on the global environment, all this is making humanitarian needs grow in a dramatic way,” said Guterres.

See: http://www.enca.com/aid-agencies-breaking-point-un-refugee-chief

The rates of child births in Uganda should be of major concern

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The rates of child births in Uganda should be of major concern 

See: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/660320-the-rates-of-child-births-in-uganda-should-be-of-major-conce.html

At this year’s International Community of the Banyakigenzi Convention (ICOB), held August 2014, from Washington DC, I was one of the guest speakers.

I presented a paper titled “the impact of high population growth on youth entrepreneurship in Uganda.”

 
I elaborated the socioeconomic imperatives of Uganda’s high population growth rates and called on the Government to urgently promote family planning services nationwide.

 
My presentation was met with checks and balances by some high ranking politicians that included Hon. General Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, who echoed that he considered Uganda to be underpopulated.

 
The General Muhwezi reiterated that Uganda’s geographical size was almost the same size as that of United Kingdom, which has a population of 64.1 million, nearly twice (36.9 million) that of Uganda.

 

Indeed, I implored UK’s population density to be 264 compared Uganda’s 153 people per square kilometer, which shows Uganda to be less densely populated than UK.

 
This far, I agree with Muhwezi, who in addition, challenged the ICOB audience never to lose sight of the progress the current leadership has brought to Uganda over the last 30 years.

 
However, comparing Uganda with United Kingdom presents to us the popular puzzle of likening apples with oranges. Uganda’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita per person is $1,140 whereas Britain’s is thirty times ($35,800) more.

See: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/660320-the-rates-of-child-births-in-uganda-should-be-of-major-conce.html

No Undue Burden? What Texas’ HB 2 Means for Maria

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

No Undue Burden? What Texas’ HB 2 Means for Maria 

See: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/10/03/undue-burden-texas-hb-2-means-maria/
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that the State of Texas can now enforce HB 2, the omnibus anti-choice law that mandates that legal abortion facilities meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. HB 2was opposed as medically unnecessary-and even dangerous-by state- and national-level major medical associations. Anti-choice lawmakers claimed, against all evidence to the contrary, that HB 2 would increase the “health and safety” of Texans who seek legal abortion care.

 
The law also bans abortion after 20 weeks, and severely limits the provision of medication abortion.

 
In light of this ruling, here are the burdens women like Maria will face.

 
Maria* is a representative 26-year-old woman living in Harlingen, Texas, who finds herself pregnant. She is unable to have another child right now.

 
Maria works full time-more often, up to 60 hours a week-for minimum wage at a laundromat in Harlingen about 30 miles from Matamoros, Mexico. Before anti-choice lawmakers passed HB 2, she could have accessed legal abortion care near her home in Harlingen, or traveled 40 minutes away to McAllen for similarly safe, legal abortion care.

See: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/10/03/undue-burden-texas-hb-2-means-maria/

Teenage Girls Given Choice of Free Contraceptives Get Far Fewer Abortions

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Teenage Girls Given Choice of Free Contraceptives Get Far Fewer Abortions 

See: http://time.com/3453184/free-contraceptives-cut-teen-abortion-rates/
Girls allowed to choose between free contraceptive methods had 76% fewer abortions than their peers in the general population – and most chose IUDs

Three in 10 teenage girls in the U.S become pregnant each year-a rate far higher than in other industrialized countries. But when girls are counseled about the most effective contraceptives and given their pick of birth control at no cost, their rates of pregnancy drop by 78% and they get 76% fewer abortions than the general population of sexually active teens.

That’s what a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests, in which researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis attempted to see what would happen when they tore down the three main barriers to teenage birth control-ignorance of options, limited access and prohibitive cost.

 

They studied a group of 1,404 teenage girls enrolled in the Contraceptive CHOICE project, a study of adolescents and women at high risk for unintended pregnancy. 62% of the girls were black and 99% were sexually active. Black teens have even higher rates of pregnancy than the rest of the population: 4 in 10 become pregnant, compared with 2 in 10 white teens.

See: http://time.com/3453184/free-contraceptives-cut-teen-abortion-rates/

A Mother in Jail for Helping Her Daughter Have an Abortion

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

A Mother in Jail for Helping Her Daughter Have an Abortion

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/magazine/a-mother-in-jail-for-helping-her-daughter-have-an-abortion.html?_r=2
On Sept. 12th, Jennifer Whalen, a 39-year-old mother of three in the rural town of Washingtonville, Pa., went to jail to begin serving a 9-to-18-month sentence. Whalen’s crime was, in effect, ordering pills online that her older daughter took in the first several weeks of an unplanned pregnancy, when she was 16, to induce a miscarriage. The medication was a combination of mifepristone (formerly called RU-486) and misoprostol. The drugs have been available from a doctor with a prescription in the United States since 2000 and are used around the world to induce miscarriage.

 
Recent research increasingly suggests that early in a pregnancy, women can safely use mifepristone and misoprostol to miscarry at home. (Much more about this here, in a story I wrote in August). But if the medical risk of this kind of do-it-yourself abortion is relatively small, the legal risk still looms large.

 
On the night before Whalen went to jail, I drove to Pennsylvania to meet her. We sat at a conference table in the office of her lawyer, who was present for the 90-minute conversation. For most of the time we spent together, she sat hunched forward, arms wrapped around herself. She was dreading the prospect of leaving her 11-year-old daughter and her husband at home, she said, as well as her older daughter, now 19, who still lives with the family. (The oldest child, a 20-year-old son, lives nearby.) “I’m scared,” Whalen said of serving her sentence. “And I’m hurt because I can’t be with my family.”

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/magazine/a-mother-in-jail-for-helping-her-daughter-have-an-abortion.html?_r=2

Applying the Sabido Methodology: A Story of Community Heath Work in Burundi

October 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

“My name [is] Jeanne d’Arc Butoyi. I live in Muremera, in the Ndava region of Cibitoke Province. I am thirty-five years old, a farmer, and a community organizer. I went to school but eventually left during high school, when I was in eighth grade. I listen to Agashi on our National Radio station four times a week, and it helps me a lot with my community organizing work.”

 

“In the Agashi episodes, I often listen to stories about women, such as one [named Muhorakeye] who tells her brother and his wife to go to a clinic for prenatal care instead of consulting witchcraft. More importantly, she gives advice about the diets of pregnant women and she’s very insistent-especially when it comes to eating liver. Many women don’t eat it, but it’s very rich in nutrients.”

 

“Muhorakeye’s character helped me a lot. I think Muhorakeye is a great community organizer. Her advice is really useful. I invite women to listen to Agashi with me, and we all listen to the show very closely. I have seven children. I invite women who don’t yet have seven children and tell them, ‘Come, listen to these messages on Agashi. Listen to the misfortune that this woman [Tengenge] has to go through-giving birth to so many children and not being able to feed them.’ When I used her case as en example, people really began to understand the problem.”

 

“What I like about the series is that Agashi has plenty of advice. There are plenty of lessons. There’s a community organizer on Agashi, and she teaches us a lot. She helps us with our community education and advocacy work. She teaches people even more about what I already teach, and people that didn’t used to listen to me are now convinced that they should.”

 

“Agashi helps us a lot with young people. I have kids that are a bit older that listen to Agashi, and they see that the behavior of Trésor and Ange [two negative characters] isn’t good.”

 

“For example, when I was talking about the latest episode with some young people, we came, we sat down and I asked them, ‘What did you hear in the last episode? Who listened? Some [of the group] said that they listened. Twelve people did in total, eight boys and four girls. And I asked them what the episode covered. They told me what happened to Trésor, how Ange’s father and mother gave her advice, how Ange’s mother reacted to her wearing the necklace [that Trésor gave her], and what that did before they got into a proper debate…I asked them about that storyline in Agashi, if they knew about similar cases in their schools-cases like Ange and Trésor. They said yes. They even gave me several examples. I asked, ‘In general, do you think that behavior is good or bad?’ Some of them told me, ‘You mothers and your questions mess with us! Things are different now than they were when you grew up!’ Gradually, the conversation continued, and there were some people that didn’t want to participate at all. Others opened up to me little by little. Later on, some of them came by to ask me for condoms because I have them. And some even told me what they did. Most of them have become friends of mine, and I give them advice. I forbid them from being like Trésor, who vowed to never use another condom.”

 

“Many come to share. There’s an orphan girl from Kayanza who lives with a foster mother. When she arrived, people talked about her a lot, saying things like she had been with lots of boys. I approached her just to talk with her. Initially, things were a little closed off. I went back to see her, and she finally realized that I’m a friend. She’s open to me now. I advised her to go get tested. She went to do it and, thank God, she is HIV negative. She came back to tell me that ‘It’s hard to abstain.’ I then advised her to use a condom. Today, she sensitizes the other girls, who still make fun of her condom use. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t realize the importance of condoms. More and more girls, age 14 and older, are following my advice. And often they come back to tell me thank you.”

 

“I am of those girls that had their first pregnancy too young, when I was still living at my parents’ house. It happened. The first child was illegitimate, but I was lucky enough to have a husband who immediately helped me raise my daughter. And now, she’s a big girl in seventh grade. I had her at 16 or probably younger; I was in the eighth grade, in high school, and had just finished the second quarter.”

 

“What’s at stake in the series reflects the reality of the country. It really exists. For example, in schools, these kinds of behaviors exist. You know that education has become a headache [for the public]. You really have to insist on education. What’s described in the show exists. It really does.”

 

“Another storyline in the soap that helps us a lot is the one about the man [Ndegeya] who leaves his wife for a prostitute. It teaches us a lot, listening to Agashi. This man left his wife and sold their land without her approval. There was no communication between the woman and her husband, and you can see that his wife suffered. That taught us a lesson.”

 

“I think all of the messages you send are important. These are messages that reflect the reality that we live in the country. For example, people like Ndegeya exist here. We have many ‘Ndegeyas’ here. There are men here that go knocking on the doors of other people’s women, like the character Sofiya who visited Piyo at night. Lots of men behave like Piyo. This [message] should really be emphasized, especially for youth. Young people are now a high-risk category. For example, there are orphan girls living with their aunts who are at risk because of poverty. After their adoptive parents feed them or buy them a book, they forget that they have other needs. You have to pay attention to these kinds of situations. I myself fell into that trap.”

 

“There’s also, for example, a man [in my village] who lived an adulterous lifestyle. And now he’s gradually giving up that vice. Often, when he has a beer, we hear him say ‘Dear friends, we have to abandon our ‘second office’ because Agashi advises against it.’ People beginning to talk openly is a sign of change.”

 

“After seeing the difficulties that Tengenge faced in Agashi when she had births too close together, one of my neighbors decided to change her behavior and use contraception. I testify to that 100%. When she heard the passage about Tengenge’s child becoming skinny and malnourished, that affected her.”