The Human Impact

Q+A: Turning London family planning summit into action

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – A major summit on family planning held in London on Wednesday secured enough funding to extend contraception to 120 million women in the developing world who want it but cannot get it.

Now that the money has been promised, what steps must be taken to ensure this global pledge translates into action to improve the lives of millions of women and children?

Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), spoke to TrustLaw about using the money effectively.

Now the funds have been found, what needs to happen next?

Once the funding is secured, the first thing is what management structure, what kind of programme is going to be decided? Every country is different and there is a need to prioritise.

There’s a shortage of contraceptives. Sometimes (countries) don’t have the infrastructure to roll out the programme; some of them have the clinics but not the equipment and contraceptives… There should be an assessment to identify where we start and what the programme content (is going to be). So it is important to have a mechanism of programme design, prioritising the countries.

How can contraception cut child deaths?

LONDON (TrustLaw) – It’s well known that good family planning vastly reduces the risk of women dying from pregnancy complications and helps prevent miscarriages and still births.

What is far less recognised is the effect that spacing out pregnancies has on the survival of children way beyond birth.

A report published by the Lancet medical journal on the eve of an international summit on family planning says improving access to contraceptives in developing countries could reduce deaths in young children by 20 percent.

Rape hotline a lifeline for Haitian women

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – A 24-hour hotline for survivors of sexual assaults and rape is proving a lifeline for Haitian women and girls, in a country known for its high levels of sexual violence.

Thousands of woman and girls are sexually abused and raped every year in the Caribbean nation.

Although it was a widespread problem long before the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, sexual violence escalated after the disaster, women’s rights groups say.

Asylum tales: London museum hosts a tour with a twist

What connects a brass medallion to Leonardo da Vinci’s diary, a Japanese sake kettle and an ornate wooden pulpit that once belonged to the Sultan of Qa’itbay?

All are housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and all were chosen by Sudanese asylum seeker Marwa Fedail on one of a series of special tours giving new meaning to old treasures.

For an hour, Fedail showed visitors different objects she relates to her life in the spotlight as a daughter of Darfur rebel leader Jibril Ibrahim, and her medical training in the far-flung reaches of Sudan.

UK MPs investigate child marriage

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – An unknown number of girls in Britain are married before the age of 18 each year, with many sent to their family’s country of origin to get married over the summer break, according to the chair of a parliamentary inquiry on child marriage.

Last week in London, the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health held an inquiry into child marriage to collect evidence and advance action to stamp out this widespread practice.

Early marriage often condemns children to lives of poverty, ignorance and poor health, and is a major obstacle to development, rights groups say.

Aid workers praise Tunisian generosity to Libya refugees

In early 2011 Tunisians hung a handwritten banner over the main street of the market town of Tataouine reading: “Welcome to our Libyan brothers”.

Their support was just as well, as Libyans pouring across the border soon doubled the town’s population from 40,000 to 80,000.

As we mark World Refugee Day it’s worth asking how many other countries would have shown the same hospitality.

VIDEO BLOG – ‘Scarlet Road’, the hidden side of sex work

By Maria Caspani

SHEFFIELD, England (TrustLaw) – Can sex work ever be a good thing or even do some good?

Meet Rachel Wotton, a witty, outspoken young woman from Sydney, Australia, where she has been working legally as a sex worker for the past 18 years.

It was her choice, and one she is proud of.

“I realised there was quite a lot of diversity within the sex workers community,” Wotton told TrustLaw during an interview in Sheffield, where she and director Catherine Scott are presenting the documentary in which Wotton stars.

IOM hopes landmark trial will help stem child trafficking from Haiti

When authorities from the Dominican Republic raided several houses in a poor residential neighbourhood last year in the capital city Santo Domingo, they found 44 children crammed in rooms, some sitting on the floor, others huddled under beds, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

After the raid, 22 of the children were identified as victims of child trafficking, and this month two child traffickers received 15-year prison sentences for the smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of Haitian children after a historic trial.

It is the first time Haitian traffickers have been jailed in the Dominican Republic for trafficking children, IOM said in a statement.

Human rights group urges access after Papua violence

An international rights group is urging Indonesian authorities to allow foreign media and civil society groups access to its Papua island following violence which has left at least 14 people dead since May.

In a separate incident – perhaps a sign of rising tensions – latest news reports say angry residents in Papua burned cars and shops on Thursday after an independent activist was shot and killed.

Mako Tabuni, deputy of a group pushing for a referendum on Papuan self-determination, was shot dead while resisting arrest, a human rights activist toldReuters. Tabuni had been campaigning for an investigation into the recent spate of shootings which HRW also expressed concern about in its statement.

Foreign “land grabs” risk draining Africa dry, warns report

By Emma Batha

In the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, the power-hungry villain wasn’t seeking to control supplies of gold or oil but another commodity that some argue could one day be far more precious – water.

Not so long ago it would have seemed far-fetched to suggest water might ever be worth more than oil. But as the world population continues to soar, so does the demand for water to make enough food to feed us – it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of wheat and five to ten times more for 1kg of meat.

The problem of finding all this water is highlighted in an interesting new report which looks at the recent scramble by foreign investors to snap up millions of hectares of land in Africa to grow crops for export.