The Human Impact

Video makes plea for alleged LRA sex, gender victims in CAR

A short documentary about the alleged atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) shifts the spotlight from Uganda, where the notorious rebel group originated in 2005, onto the plight of women living in remote regions of Central African Republic (CAR).

In “Our Plea: Women and Girls from the Central African Republic Turn to the ICC for Justice”, two young women say they were captured, raped and tortured in the CAR jungle by members of the group led by Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic leader who at one time wanted to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments.

The 10-minute YouTube video features Nanzouno-Dadine Lea and Joelle Mazungi asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to expand its current investigations into the activities of the rebels in Uganda to include LRA activities in CAR.

In the video, the two women also ask for financial, medical and psychological help.

“When we refused to satisfy their sexual requests, they beat us,” Lea says in the film, which was presented this week to the office of the prosecutor at the ICC by human-rights groups WITNESS and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice.

A cash injection will aid India’s ailing health system

“No, thanks,” is the response most middle-class Indians give as they scoff at the idea of visiting a public hospital for medical treatment. And rightly so.

Run-down, poorly staffed and under-equipped, dilapidated state-run hospitals are full of patients waiting for a doctor or a bed in squalid corridors – in a scene that is played out across the country.

Reports abound of neglect and mismanagement. Of expectant women refused admission and giving birth outside hospital gates, of reckless fires which see patients burnt alive in their beds and of babies dying within hours of being born.

Indigenous women lead land rights struggle in Ecuadorean Amazon

When Argentinian oil company CGC began seismic testing on their ancestral land – in one of the most remote and pristine areas of the Ecuadorean Amazon – it was the women of the Sarayaku community who decided to take a stand against Big Oil.

“As mothers, we were concerned about our children and our land,” Noemi Gualinga told me.

The 44-year-old is one of the leaders of the decade-long fight over land rights between the Sarayaku, who number some 1,200 people, and CGC and the Ecuadorean government.

Zimbabwe’s women activists face filthy prisons, insults

By Katie Nguyen and Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – For someone who has been arrested 43 times while protesting for social justice in Zimbabwe, the prospect of elections in her homeland evokes a special kind of fear in campaigner Jenni Williams.

The 50-year-old is the executive director and a founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), formed in 2003 to encourage Zimbabwean women to stand up for their rights.

The group of some 80,000 activists has held peaceful demonstrations to highlight issues ranging from access to sanitary pads to the right to education and making electricity more affordable.

End of war doesn’t spell peace for women in West Africa

The photo shows a woman sprawled in the dirt, grimacing in pain. A man is lunging towards her.  The image needs no caption – the man has obviously beaten the woman up and hurled her to the ground. His demeanour suggests her ordeal is not over.

This is the disturbing picture at the front of a new International Rescue Committee report on domestic violence. It was taken by an Ivorian woman who wanted to help highlight the severity of abuse happening in her country.

Fighters may have put down their arms in Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but the end of war has not brought an end to violence for women.

Congolese migrants in Angola abused during expulsions -HRW

Migrant women and girls in Angola who lack adequate legal documents have been raped and sexually exploited during expulsions carried out by Angolan security forces, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report – “’If You Come Back We Will Kill You’: Sexual Violence and Other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola” – denounced sexual violence, children being forced to witness such abuses, arbitrary beatings and other rights violations suffered by such Congolese migrants in detention centres in Angola.

Detainees were kept in overcrowded cells with no basic sanitation systems and with little food or clean water to drink and wash, the report added.

Researchers hope to reduce sub-Saharan Africa newborn deaths

Clinical trials are underway to test a new treatment for pregnant women, which could tackle some of the leading preventable causes of death for babies in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have said.

A large number of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with both malaria and sexually transmitted–reproductive tract infections (STIs – RTIs), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year an estimated 25 million women in sub-Saharan Africa  are at high risk of malaria infection during pregnancy, the study said. Malarial infection heightens the risk of miscarriage, still births, or premature birth and death.

Climate change means doing Asian development differently

In the face of climate change, is it time to re-examine the way we do development in Asia?

For years, many developing countries have believed it can be only one or the other – economic growth or reducing carbon emissions.

But a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it’s possible for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to do both.

Little justice for Colombia’s acid victims

Acid attacks are on the rise in Colombia.

In the first four months of this year, 19 women have been attacked with acid in Colombia – more than during the same period in 2011.

Gloria Piamba, 26, is one of those victims.

As I wait on a street corner for Piamba to turn up on a recent drizzly day in a gritty residential neighourhood in central Bogota, she is an easy figure to spot.

Piamba emerges from a government-run women’s refuge with her head wrapped in a shawl and a young son in tow.

Foreign bribery fines and settlements: Who should get the money?


By Luke Balleny

‘Share and share alike,’ some parents love to tell their offspring. But when it comes to fines or settlements from foreign bribery cases, the issue of sharing is a contentious one.

The U.S. government receives all proceeds from fines or settlements that companies pay it in connection with violations, or alleged violations, of U.S. anti-bribery laws.

But would the country ever share the proceeds of such fines or settlements with governmental and non-governmental groups working in the countries where the bribery allegedly occurred?