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Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

LGBT Youth on the Streets

Posted by karmalily on September 28, 2009

Homelessness has long been a problem in America, and numerous organizations and programs have been developed in response. Despite this, however, there are many problems left. First, people fail to identify with the homeless people they pass on the street. These people are ignored, ridiculed, and frowned upon as a “nuisance” to society. Second, some groups of homeless people are not receiving the help they need because they are discriminated against even among charities whose mission is to help those very people.

Shannon at the End Homelessness blog at Change.org wrote about the shocking number of LGBT youth living on the streets. She cites a report released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which I would like to take a further look at.

According to the report, the reason for the large number of homeless LGBT youth is due to families kicking the individual out of the home after “coming out.” This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone given the current way LGBT people are viewed in this country – homosexual marriage is still illegal in most of the US, hate crimes are committed, religious communities condemn homosexuality as a sin, and such lifestyles are seen as “radical” or comical (i.e., the stereotypical gay friend you see so often on television). The only way to stop such a problem is education to promote a societal change in the way the LGBT community is viewed. And such a thing is not easy to do…

The report goes on to discuss the psychological damage done to LGBT youth, which can ultimately lead to depression, addictions, and violence. One point I would like to emphasize is that

Lack of funding is not the only obstacle preventing LGBT homeless youth from receiving the services they need. … A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

So essentially, a LGBT youth who is forced out of his/her home may not be able to find help because they will be discriminated against by the assistance programs he/she vitally needs. A few suggestions about improving the circumstances of the homeless LGBT community are cited in the report, such as creating programs specially targeted to this group of people, and teaching people working with homeless people about LGBT issues.

Do Something:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force


Posted in activism, culture, human rights | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Terrorists on Twitter?

Posted by karmalily on November 2, 2008

sigh I can’t believe our government is so unable to use our tax dollars to do meaningful things. From AFP:

A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorists tools.

Oh please. The government has not actually seen evidence that terrorist networks are using sites like Twitter, it’s purely “theoretical.” How much longer before our government pries even ffurther into our personal lives.

What makes me so angry about this is what the Army’s definition of a terrorist is:

“Twitter has also become a social activism too for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences.”

Yeah, we’ve gotta watch out for those Amnesty International types. Damn hippies.

I feel like America is quickly losing our freedoms. We have the obvious threats like the PATRIOT Act, but there is also more subvert actions like taking down peaceful protesters at the RNC and this “Twitter threat” that makes our country look more and more like 1984. It’s scary stuff folks.

Posted in action, activism, animal rights, fear, free speech, freedom, human rights, justice, politics, protest | Leave a Comment »

UK’s Nick Eriksen: "Rape is Like Being Force-Fed Chocolate Cake"

Posted by karmalily on October 26, 2008

The UK’s Nick Eriksen, who was the British National Party’s candidate for the London Assembly this year, said the following in his blog:

Rape is simply sex (I am talking about ‘husband-rape’ here)… Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal… To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.

This comment is incredibly offensive and cruel. Rape is never okay, including when the rapist is a husband or boyfriend. In fact, 85% of rape victims know their rapists, and 35% happen within the victim’s family. (Concordia University)

Sentiment of this sort is dangerous to women. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 60% of sexual assaults and rapes are never reported. Data from Rape Crisis Scotland found that

  • In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women has responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims’ partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey.
  • The survey also found that partner rape entails the highest occurrence of multiple rape (62%) and attacks by partners and ex-partners are more than twice as likely to result in some injury to the victim (39%) as attacks by strangers (19%).

So not only is rape by a spouse more likely to result in violence, but it’s undoubtedly true that a large percentage of those non-reported assaults occur when a woman is raped by a boyfriend or husband, and is confused as to whether or not what happened to her was really rape. If a woman says ‘No,’ it is rape, regardless of who she is saying no to.

Another reason not taking rape seriously is so dangerous is the following statistic from RAINN: “1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.” 1 out of 6. That is equal to 17.7 million women, which is far too high.

This isn’t the first time Eriksen has made such statements. He has pretty much said that rape is okay:

I’ve never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime…

The BNP is trying to distance themselves from Eriksen’s destructive comments by removing him as their candidate. However, when a candidate fucks up, people tend to blame not only the candidate, but also their party, much like Americans are weary of the Republican Party due to George W. Bush’s inadequacy. In this case the British people have a good reason to blame the BNP, after they made this statement:

It was felt that no matter how much Nick Eriksen’s blog comments, written back in 2005, had been distorted and taken out of the context of a blog which reflected our tough stance on all sorts of crime, they could still be perceived as trivialising the issue in a manner that many women in particular could have found extremely offensive. [emphasis mine]

The statements that Eriksen made are not taken out of context. The BNP’s attempt to sugarcaot Eriksen’s comments make the party just as responsible for what was said.

Posted in crime, feminism, human rights, politics, rape, women's rights | Leave a Comment »

Vietnam Journalist Jailed

Posted by karmalily on October 15, 2008

Nguyen Viet Chien, a Vietnamese journalist who investigating and reported on a corruption case within the Ministry of Transport, has been sentenced to two years in jail.

In many cases, journalists are the first and hardest hit in countries with poor human rights records and little freedom among citizens. A journalist’s job is to report the news to people outside of the government or parties involved, and as a result they are often punished by the government they are investigating. They know there’s a chance of arrest, or in some extreme cases torture or death, but yet these brave people still soldier on and continue to report on their leaders’ wrongdoing.

So here’s a huge thank you for every journalist who is brave enough to stand up for what is right and provide a much needed veil of transparency to people who would otherwise be clueless. THANK YOU!

UPDATE: According to the BBC News, the US has condemned the Vietnamese sentences.

Posted in free speech, freedom of the press, human rights | Leave a Comment »

Two aid workers kidnapped

Posted by karmalily on September 23, 2008

From BBC News:

Two aid workers working for Medecins du Monde in Ethiopia have been abducted from the Ogaden region that borders Somalia, the French aid agency says.

Nothing is known about the aid workers other than that it was a man and a woman who was kidnapped. Aid workers who go to conflict zones to help people are putting their lives in danger, and they know it, but their courage to help people no matter what the conditions are is amazing. I hope these two are released safely and quickly.

Posted in activism, africa, human rights, Somalia | Leave a Comment »

Child Kidnappings In Haiti

Posted by karmalily on August 29, 2008

Haitian and United Nation officials are becoming alarmed at the rising number of child kidnapping in that country. The kidnappings are being carried out by gangs who are taking the children on their way from school, in some cases raping and sexually abusing them, and then charging a ransom for their release (although there have been cases where a family paid the gang the ransom and the child was still murdered). According to the International Herald Tribune, in the last five weeks there have been fourteen kidnappings and one murder of children by these gangs.

This is not a new problem. In 2007, according to the UN, there were 80 kidnappings. According to Haitian officials, the kidnappers are now viewing what they do as a “business”, especially since some ransoms can be as high as $25,000.

Although MINUSTAH, an UN mission inside of Haiti, have attempted to end the gang problem, there is still an obvious problem. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2008 Annual Report, “Police lawlessness continues to contribute to overall insecurity. HNP [Haitian National Police] members are responsible for arbitrary arrests, as well as excessive and indiscriminate use of force.” Haiti’s legal system is also crooked, and “ranked as the most corrupt of the 163 countries surveyed in 2006 [by the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index]” (HWR Annual Report). So, as we can see, Haiti’s government is not in a position to do much to help these children.

United Nations
International Herald Tribune

Posted in Haiti, human rights, United Nations | Leave a Comment »

Help Children… And Improve the Future

Posted by karmalily on May 2, 2008

“We are all born helpless. Without a parent’s kindness we could not survive, much less prosper. When children grow up in constant fear, with no one to rely on, they suffer their whole lives. Because the minds of small children are very delicate, their need for kindness is particularly obvious.” – H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, How To Practice the Way to a Meaningful Life.

Children all over the world suffer from a number of causes – famine, disease, land mines, war. They are unable to have much of a say in the way their governments act, and thus are caught in the middle of the disastrous plans of a distant leader. It’s well-known that women and children suffer the most in developing and warring countries, and there is a lot that needs to be done by developed nations to fix this problem.

One can argue that the most important reason (other than basic human rights) that children need to be helped is that because they are heavily influenced by their experiences and surroundings. A child raised in a compassionate, kind atmosphere is more likely to end up as a compassionate, kind adult than a child raised with no food and a gun in their hand.

UNICEF – The United Nations Children’s Fund provides children in developing regions with proper food, education, medicine, and protection from violence. They teach both children and their parents the importance of nutrition, equality, and how to deal with emergences.

Coalition To Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was created and 1998 and does exactly what their name suggests – they prevent the use of children as soldiers.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines not only helps children, but everyone in a landmine ridden area.

War Child International also serves to put an end to children being forced to fight wars.

Posted in human rights | 1 Comment »

Innocent Ethnic Uighurs In Guantanamo Bay

Posted by karmalily on March 20, 2008

There are currently seventeen Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay who have been told that they would all be freed (in 2004) and that they are innocent.

“We fail to know why we are still in jail here,” [Abdulghappar] Turkistani says…

“We are still in hope that the US government will free us soon and send us to a safe place.”

So if they’re innocent, why are they still imprisoned?

American officials have acknowledged that while they will not be pressing charges against the 17 Uighurs, they cannot be sent back to China because they are likely to face persecution.

Therefore, the US government is keeping them in small, insanitary cells against their wishes for twenty-two hours a day.

“Being away from family, away from our homeland… being forbidden from the natural sunlight, natural air, being surrounded with a metal box all around is not suitable for a human being,” Turkistani wrote.

Al Jazeera

Posted in human rights | Leave a Comment »

Lynndie England blames the media

Posted by karmalily on March 20, 2008

Lynndie England, one of the people responsible for the Abu Ghraib scandal, is once again putting the blame somewhere else.

I feel sorry and wrong about what I did. But it would not have escalated to what it did all over the world if it wouldn’t have been for someone leaking it to the media.

Obviously it’s okay so long as people don’t know about it. Because, according to England, “what we did happens in war.”

She also makes the statement that there were worse pictures the public didn’t get to see, and that, “if it had been broken by the news without the pictures it wouldn’t have been that big.”

So, as you can see, it was the media’s fault that it was such a big deal. Not the people responsible, because that’s just what happens during a war.

USA Today

Posted in human rights, media, war | Leave a Comment »

Fred Phelps

Posted by karmalily on March 14, 2008

One of my (more time-consuming) hobbies is watching documentary after documentary, in the hopes that I’ll learn a little more about a number of issues I care about. Once in a while I’ll watch one that makes me furious by the time it’s over. Jesus Camp is a good example of one. And now I want to discuss the one I just finished, Fall From Grace.

Fall From Grace is the story of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. He and his congregation have devoted themselves to hating homosexuality, on which they blame all of America’s troubles. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a hate organization, and with good reason.

One of the things that they’re most famous for is protesting at funerals. The people of Westboro Baptist Church frequents the funerals of soldiers killed in action to protest homosexuals, whose fault it is, according to WBC, that the soldiers are dying. According to Phelps, “I’m thankful for all that get killed over there in Iraq, I just wish it would be not 2,000 but 2 million.” They parade around at these funerals and anywhere else they feel the need to spread their influence with signs reading “God hates fags” and “Thank god for dead soldiers.” These are the people responsible for the hate website godhatesfags.com.

According to three of Fred Phelps children that separated themselves from the family say that abuse was prevalent. From the SPLC:

Mark and Nathan Phelps and sister Dortha “Dotti” Bird offer plenty of brutal details – details that their father has long dismissed as “a sea of fag lies.” Nathan told the Intelligence Report that he was beaten with a leather strap regularly. Then, he says, Fred Phelps switched to a mattack handle – like an axe handle – and beat Nathan until he “couldn’t lie down or sit down for a week.” The three charge that Phelps also beat their mother, forced the children to fast and more.

One of the things that always strike me when watching this sort of documentary are how brainwashed their children are. Jesus Camp, which I’ve already said above enraged me, is a perfect film to show the effects that fundamentalist Christians have on children. These children are taught to hate people different from them. They don’t know tolerance, and will probably never know tolerance, because they’re taught from the time they are old enough to understand that it is okay to be hateful.

Since I became aware of politics in high school, there has been one things I’ve feared more than anything else: the Christian far right. Separation of church and state is very important to me, as I imagine it is for many Americans, and Christian fundamentalists want to control all aspects of American life, which means that non-Christians will essentially lose all their rights. This threat is real.

Fall From Grace
Jesus Camp
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg – one of the best books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend this.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Posted in human rights, religion | Leave a Comment »