It doesn’t get worse than this. Last week, 13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped.
Reports indicate that was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in conflict capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died.
When some of the people at the stadium tried to save her, militia opened fire on the crowd, killing a boy who was a bystander.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a heated statement condemning the brutal killing, calling for the protection of children in Somalia. She said, “The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia, which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness.”
Coomaraswamy also raised concern of the increasing recruitment of children as soldiers, in which they are killed on a daily basis. But Aisha’s death not only serves as a reminder of the brutality towards children in the midst of war, but a reminder of the brutality towards women. This girl was raped, and killed, because she was female.
At about one minute in, Congo peacekeeping chief Alan Doss complains that he has no choice but to move peacekeepers out of areas where they are needed to areas where they are needed even more. Meanwhile, this video shows how the conflict is spreading to Uganda and Sudan.
Children from around the world showed off both their artistic skills and their awareness of climate change in an exhibit yesterday called “Paint for the Planet,” part of the UN Environment Program’s “UNite to Combat Climate Change” initiative. This painting comes from 11-year-old Siem Diem Siong of Malaysia, a testament to the importance of reversing deforestation.
The focus on young climate activists is both a moral imperative and a shrewd strategic decision. Children are disproportionally at risk of suffering from natural disasters that stem from climate change, and, with almost half the world’s population under 25 years old, youth represents the vanguard of climate activism. Overwhelming percentages of children in surveyed countries attested to the urgent need to combat the threat posed by climate change with major steps in the immediate future — revealing the extent to which this position has become almost mainstream in a very short period of time.
For those interested in artwork like Siem’s above, UNEP is holding an auction of 26 such paintings, with the proceeds going to UNICEF emergency relief programs. The deadline for pre-bidding is midnight tonight, so make a bid!
I don’t want to give away one of the answers to the Better World Campaign’s quiz on the MDGs, but this will provide at least a hint for #4…
Today is the first UN-organized “Global Handwashing Day,” in which an estimated 120 million children are expected to take part. The day is devoted to conveying a simple, but often under-appreciated, health measure.
“The message we are really trying to get out is the importance of correctly washing your hands with soap and water at the critical times,” Unicef’s senior Sanitation and Hygiene programme adviser, Therese Dooley, said.
Unicef says using soap to wash hands, particularly after contact with excreta, can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by over 40% and respiratory infections by 30%.
This may seem an obvious precaution, but in South Asia, where half the population has no access to toilets, its importance cannot be understated.
(It seems that folks in northern Britain could stand for a handwashing lesson as well.)
Yesterday, I read that the United Kingdom was dropping its only remaining objections to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, bringing its child immigration policy up to the standards of this fundamental human rights text. From a quick look through the FAQs section on the website of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF, the organization that spearheads efforts to implement the Convention), I made the unfortunate discovery that the UK was not the only one not to have fully adopted this treaty.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. Only two countries, Somalia and the United States, have not ratified this celebrated agreement. Somalia is currently unable to proceed to ratification as it has no recognized government. By signing the Convention, the United States has signalled its intention to ratify–but has yet to do so.
Somalia? The U.S. government may have its foibles, but it is at least a functioning, recognized government. Sadly, the explanation for the U.S. “delay” in ratification is even more galling.
[T]he US Government typically will consider only one human rights treaty at a time. Currently, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is cited as the nation’s top priority among human rights treaties.
If supporting human rights for different segments of the population has to be prioritized, then these priorities are in need of serious recalibration. They are also clearly in need of a boost, as neither treaty has yet been ratified, putting the United States in a rather ignominious position on the world stage.
Washington has made many legitimate criticisms of the UN Human Rights Council, calling on the body not to shy away from real human rights crises. Surely, the need to uphold the basic human rights of women and children fits under this category, and the United States could signal a more honest commitment to human rights around the world by putting these two treaties into practice. With human rights conventions and the Human Rights Council alike, engagement, not estrangement, will accomplish far more in both defending human rights and ensuring that every country plays by the rules.
Three more young girls have been kidnapped in Haiti over the past week, the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the impoverished Caribbean country reports, amid mounting UN concern about the continuing spate of child abductions.
An eight-year-old girl was kidnapped in the capital, Port-au-Prince, last Thursday, and the following day a seven-year-old girl was abducted in the town of Arcahaie, according to the UN mission (known as MINUSTAH).
On Saturday, a three-year-old girl who had been kidnapped two days earlier was found in Arcahaie and brought to hospital after being injured with a razor blade.
While both boys and girls have been kidnapped, it seems that females are a large target, and often raped and sexually abused. The criminal gangs who are kidnapping the children (while on their way to and from school) also frequently end up killing them, despite the family paying their requested ransom. Massimo Toschi, a child protection adviser with MINUSTAH, says that while successfully decreasing the prevalence of adult kidnappings may have led the gangs to move on to target children in response.
MINUSTAH, the Haitian police and the military have been working diligently to curb this devastating trend, and now have a new victim to protect.
UN Photo/Sophia Paris
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.