The Human Impact

Poor Kenyan women robbed of choice to give birth

The saddest part of the stories told by 40 HIV-positive Kenyan women who are suing the government for forced or coercive sterilisation is not that they can no longer give birth.

Most already have children, often more than they can comfortably provide for.

“Getting food is a problem,” said Pamela Adeka, who was sterilised after giving birth to twins in 2004.

She later gave them up for adoption as she could not afford to raise them and now lives with her HIV-positive, 14-year-old son.

What struck me was their poverty, joblessness and desperate wish to have more children just to secure a roof over their heads.

“I can miss a place to stay because I can’t give birth,” said Sem, a widow living in Nairobi’s Kibera slum who has given birth 10 times, quoted in Robbed of Choice, a recent study by the African Gender and Media Initiative.

Iraqi Kurdistan govt failing to enforce FGM law – HRW

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – Women and girls in Iraq’s Kurdistan region continue to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) because the local government is failing to enforce a law banning the practice, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The provision against FGM was part of a 2011 landmark law the Family Violence Law - to tackle violence against women in the autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Kurdistan’s government has launched awareness campaigns and training courses for police and judges on the part of the law addressing domestic violence against women but has neglected to inform and enforce the articles banning FGM, the New York-based group said.

Pregnant teen with cancer stirs abortion debate in Dominican Republic

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – When gynaecologist Lilliam Fondeur recently wrote about the plight of a pregnant teenager diagnosed with acute leukaemia in her column in the Dominican Republic’s El Nacional newspaper, little did she know it would revive debate about the country’s blanket ban on abortion and stir public support in favour of the young girl.

Following a change to the constitution in 2010, abortion in the Dominican Republic is banned under any circumstances, even when the mother’s health or life is in danger.

In recent weeks, Fondeur and local women’s rights groups have been campaigning for the 16-year-old girl, who is around 10 weeks pregnant, to undergo potentially life-saving chemotherapy to treat the cancer.

Man’s world: poll highlights best and worst G20 countries for women

When heads of state from the Group of 20 most industrialised nations gather for their annual summit in Mexico next week, there’ll be four women in the family photograph.

Take a look at national parliaments and corporate boardrooms across much of the G20 and the male-to-female ratio doesn’t get much better – and in some cases it’s a lot worse.

Yes, women’s rights have come far in past decades but the statistics show we still live in a man’s world.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Men a key weapon in women’s battle for top jobs

By Maria Caspani

I recently went to the launch of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, hosted by the UK chapter of the United Nations women’s agency (UN Women) in London.

The principles – signed by over 400 CEOs worldwide – provide companies with a framework to improve women’s empowerment and promote gender equality in the workplace.

It was thrilling to be in the same room eating canapés and sipping white wine with 85 top executives of UK and global companies—particularly because they were practically all women.

Solutions for a hungry world

By 2050, experts say, the planet will need at least 70 percent more food than it does today as its population soars, cities sprawl and climate change takes its toll. Will it be possible?

That’s a question AlertNet put to hunger fighters worldwide for a special multimedia report out today probing the future of food. Their answer: The planet can feed itself – but only if two “revolutions” happen, and happen soon.

The first would involve sweeping changes to entrenched policies and practices that are, in the end, unsustainable. Policies such as spending trillions on agriculture and fuel subsidies. And practices such as eating so much meat and dairy.

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