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On Green-Bashing

Ed. note. To honor Earth Day, we are highlighting some of our more poingnent climate change posts over the past year.  Here's UN Dispatch publisher Peter Daou exploring the morally bankrupt worldview of climate-deniers 

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Tragedy Strikes Poland

From the Washington Post:

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a group of leading lawmakers and civil servants were killed Saturday when the presidential jet crashed in heavy fog on approach to an airfield in western Russia -- the haunted site of an earlier Polish tragedy, which the delegation was arriving to commemorate.

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If The World Can Mobilize Like This for Haiti, Why Not for Sexual Violence in Congo?

On Tuesday evening, I received a short email from Mark.  The message was this:

"massive, 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. really, really devastating"

Mark is an even-tempered and measured guy and I knew that he wouldn't exaggerate the severity of the situation.

In the days since the quake struck, I've tried, like so many millions of people, to do as much as possible to raise awareness, donate money, and help the victims of the Haiti catastrophe.

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9-Year-Old Raped in “One of the Worst Places to be a Woman or Girl”

From CNN:

The young girl whispered in a hushed tone. She looked down as she spoke, only glancing up from her dark round eyes every now and then. She wanted to tell more, but she was too ashamed. She was just 9 years old when, she says, Congolese soldiers gang-raped her on her way to school. ...

The United Nations estimates 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo over the last 12 years, when war broke out with Rwanda and Uganda backing Congolese rebels seeking to oust then-Congo President Laurent Kabila. Rape became a weapon of war, aid groups say.

"It is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman or girl," says Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who has spent the last 10 years focusing on Congo. "These are often soldiers and combatants deliberately targeting women and raping them as a strategy of war, either to punish a community, to terrorize a community or to humiliate them."

Most times, the women are raped by at least two perpetrators. "Sometimes, that is done in front of the family, in front of the children," Van Woudenberg says. She sighs, "What causes men to rape -- I wish I had an answer to that."

I'm glad that my former boss, Hillary Clinton, is there speaking out forcefully about this issue. We need to draw more attention to it.

More from my Dispatch co-blogger, Alanna.

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Afghan Battlefield Spreading Into Residential Areas

From AlertNet:

The Afghan battlefield is spreading into residential areas where more people are being killed by air strikes, car bombs and suicide attacks, according to a U.N. report published on Friday.

The U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan said that 1,013 civilians were killed on the sidelines of their country's armed conflict from January to the end of June, compared to 818 in the first half of 2008 and 684 in the same period in 2007. Commenting on the report, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said it was critical that steps be taken to shield Afghan communities from fighting.

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U.S. Still in Denial on Gender Violence

This is welcome news:

The Obama administration has opened the way for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States. The action reverses a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees.

But one sentence caught my eye:

In addition to meeting other strict conditions for asylum, abused women will need to show that they are treated by their abuser as subordinates and little better than property, according to an immigration court filing by the administration, and that domestic abuse is widely tolerated in their country.

Are we kidding ourselves? Name a country, including the U.S., where domestic abuse isn't widely tolerated.

In the words of the WHO, "Gender-based violence, or violence against women (VAW), is a major public health and human rights problem throughout the world."

Here's a chilling video in which Keira Knightley reenacts the vicious and cowardly abuse women are subjected to on a daily basis: