The Human Impact

Does the president’s penis matter?

Does it matter how many wives the South African president has and whether he is faithful to them? Should we care whether he enjoys dancing semi-naked in a kilt made of animal tails?

Jacob Zuma, the ‘100 percent Zulu boy’, is a colourful polygamist with four wives and more than 20 children.

South African artists have portrayed him with his genitals exposed, as an erect penis and with a shower growing out of his head – a reference to his comment that he took a shower after having sex to reduce the chance of contracting HIV.

But, experts warn, his influence upon one of Africa’s most progressive countries is deeply corrosive.

He is – once again – shamelessly using tradition and culture to justify sexism in a country where there is an epidemic of violence against women: from the ‘curative’ rape of lesbians (to make them straight) to that of babies.

Dial-a-maid, get-a-slave in middle class India

When I arrived in India some years back as a single mother and full-time journalist, there was one thing I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about – finding domestic help.

Maids, nannies, drivers, cooks and cleaners are ten-a-penny amongst the urban middle classes here.

In New Delhi’s neighbourhoods, for example, most families employ full- or part-time help, who do everything from feeding and bathing babies and cooking family meals to sweeping and washing floors.

Technological solutions are key to fix Africa sanitation crisis

Morris Marah is project manager at Africa Gathering, a network of people focused on encouraging sustainable development using technology and social networking.

The Sanitation hackathon is a global project where developers are working on solutions to challenges facing the sanitation sector using mobile technology over a 48-hour period. Globally, 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities. listen to ‘Africa Gathering's Morris Marah on #SanHack solutions’ on Audioboo

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Financial app would set sanitation cost benchmarks

Nick Dickinson from International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) discusses the Quick Financial Sustainability Check project under construction by Team Fresh Sh!t at the Sanitation Hackathon in London.

The hackathon is a global project where developers are working on solutions to challenges facing the sanitation sector using mobile technology. Globally, 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities. listen to ‘Fresh Sh!t’s #SanHack “Quick Financial Sustainability Check”’ on Audioboo

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Hackathon seeks solutions to global sanitation crisis

Applying mobile technology to help provide proper sanitation to 2.5 billion people who lack it makes sense given that globally 5 billion people are subscribed to mobile phone services, many of them in the developing world, according to the organisers of a two-day global brainstorming event.

The Sanitation Hackathon, which is taking place this weekend, has attracted software developers, designers, entrepreneurs and students to sites in at least 30 cities around the world.

We’re trying to find solutions by building on the massive penetration of mobile phones in the developing world and the availability of data that now makes it possible to improve services for many people, said Andy Narracott, deputy chief executive of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), who inspired the London initiative.

One Hour Eighteen Minutes – a review

One hour, eighteen minutes is the amount of time that remains unaccounted for between a doctor being called to treat Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison and the time Magnitsky, a lawyer, was pronounced dead. It is also the name of a new play by Elena Gremina – a play that portrays accounts, from his supporters and from his own diary entries, of events in the year leading up to his death. The play uses as background official reports that were either public or dug up by supporters.

Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year old father of two, died just under a year after being held on tax evasion and fraud charges.  Former colleagues say the charges were fabricated by police investigators he had accused of stealing $230 million from the Russian state through fraudulent tax refunds.

While Magnitsky’s death was officially attributed to an undetected illness, the Kremlin’s own human rights council has said he was probably beaten to death.

Slavery beyond the sex trade

In Haiti, it’s the little girl who is kept home from school and forced to clean her sister’s house or else be beaten with electric cables.

Thousands of miles away in India, it’s the shy, young woman left at the mercy of an agent who finds her a job as a maid but takes her earnings. In Bahrain, it’s the Filippino domestic worker who, abused and exploited by her employer, cannot leave.

Millions of people around the world today are trapped in slavery, like seven-year-old Wisline was in Haiti.

London Olympics: The sex-trafficking event that wasn’t

Media reports predicting that London would be overrun by women trafficked to Britain to service spectators with sex during the Olympics reinforced negative stereotypes and diminished the complexity of trafficking, an expert has said.

Georgina Perry, who manages Open Doors, a service for sex workers in London run by Britain’s National Health Service, said fears the Olympic Games would create a surge in sex trafficking were unfounded. The hype around this issue also drove vulnerable sex workers from health care services out of fear they would be treated as criminals, putting them at risk, she added.

Although London’s Met Police are investigating one case of trafficking for sexual exploitation linked to the Olympics, there was no rise in trafficking directly connected to the event, Laura Godman, a spokeswoman for the Met Police, said.

Community project frees 24 million from open defecation – UNICEF

At least 24 million people living in 39,000 communities in 50 countries have eliminated open defecation over the past five years, signalling that progress is being made in the fight to help 1.1 billion people who do not use proper facilities, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) reported on Monday.

Under its Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme, UNICEF aims to eliminate open defecation by encouraging social and behavioural change among villagers leading to the construction of latrines.

“No aid operation in the world can provide toilets for 1.1 billion people,” said Therese Dooley, UNICEF’s senior advisor on sanitation, on World Toilet Day.

World Toilet Day chance to fight sanitation indignities women face – activist Helen Pankhurst

Helen Pankhurst, a member of charity WaterAid’s board of trustees, spoke at a World Toilet Day event at London’s Anthologist restaurant.

http://youtu.be/rv8tfYezxRc

The “1 in 3 women event” marked the day by drawing attention to the fact that there are 1.25 billion women in the world who have nowhere safe to go to the toilet.

Globally, 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Picture shows WaterAid trustee Helen Pankhurst at London’s Anthologist restaurant on Nov. 19, 2012. HANDOUT/WaterAid/Neil Wissink

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