article placeholder

China’s One Child Policy is Changing – China’s Families Aren’t

China has had a one-child policy since 1978. It’s written into the constitution. It has been strictly enforced, through methods that include local officials in charge of monitoring birthrates, heavy fines for couples with more than one child, and social services available only to firstborn children.  Now, with the nation’s demographics permanently altered, the Chinese government would like to see more kids born. Parents, however, don’t agree.


article placeholder

Happy 20th Birthday, Convention on the Rights of the Child

The most ratified treaty in the world turns 20 years old today.  On November 20 1989, the Convention on the Rights of Child entered into force.  Today only two countries remain outside the treaty: Somalia...and the United States.  (Somalia is without a functioning government.  The United States is without a functioning Senate.) To mark the anniversary, UNICEF  released a report today, "State of the World's Children, 2009" and UNICEF director Ann Venemen

Happy 20th Birthday, Convention on the Rights of the Child

This year marks the 20th anniversary of  the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  UNICEF is celebrating accordingly with a series of PSAs like the one above (here's one with Ewan McGregor and one with Claudia Schiffer).  To date every country in the world has ratified the agreement, except the United States and, um, Somalia (which has no functioning government.)

article placeholder

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.

article placeholder

How much shame can child murderers really have?

Don't get me wrong, I am wholly supportive of this step, mostly because of the consensus required to enact it:

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to name and shame countries and insurgents groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped.

The council resolution will expand a U.N. list that in March identified more than 60 governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers.

But, first, it's already pretty clear which countries or groups are responsible for the deaths and rapes of children, isn't it? Second, naming and shaming alone obviously won't suffice. Anyone who can kill innocent children is likely lacking in the moral compunction department, so "shame" would seem to be out of their range of emotional responses to this crime.

That said, this is an impressive and positive step for the Security Council to take unanimously. The tougher part, of course, will be following the naming and shaming with concrete and effective action.

article placeholder

Unicef, the Killers, MTV and USAID team up


Starting today, MTV audiences around the world will see a new music video that aims to raise awareness about sex trafficking. Featuring the rock band The Killers, the video is an exclusive collaboration between UNICEF, MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) and the US Agency for International Development.

The track, Goodnight, Travel Well, is from the album Day & Age. The video is the second in a series of music video collaborations that highlight the danger and impact of human trafficking.

The series launched last year with an award-winning film - produced by MTV EXIT that featured the Radiohead single All I Need.