Posts Tagged ‘human-rights’

The Global Gag Rule, a harmful human rights violation

March 12, 2017

The Global Gag Rule (GGR) is harmful to women and families and violates human rights. Originally known as the “Mexico City Policy” because it was enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984 at a conference in Mexico City, the policy is more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule because of how it silences NGOs and health care workers. Specifically, the original policy dictated that no USAID family planning funds could be awarded to organizations that performed or promoted abortion and therefore prohibited them from even speaking about abortion.

The GGR is highly partisan- every Democrat president since Reagan has rescinded the policy and every Republican has reinstated it. The current administration, however, has not only reinstated the GGR but has dramatically expanded the funds that are affected.

Reagan’s version applied to USAID family planning funds; G.W. Bush’s version limited the GGR by exempting USAID HIV/AIDs related work. The latest iteration, however, greatly expands the affected funds to cover all foreign aid arising from any agency or department. The current version restricts up to $9.5 billion in aid, or 16x the amount of funds that would have been affected by previous versions.

Worse yet, beyond being a clear example of religious overreach in US politics and a violation of human rights, evidence suggests that the policy reduces sex education and contraception use while increasing both abortions and the proportion of abortions that result in health complications- maternal, family, and child health all suffer. There is a large coalition of organizations that oppose the GGR. You can take action today by learning more information about the GGR and volunteering or donating to organizations like IPPF, PAI, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who, together with UN member countries, are attempting to counteract the extreme funding deficit.

Religion and The Rights of the Child

March 10, 2013
Photo courtesy of April Muniz

Photo courtesy of April Muniz.
Talibes often travel together in search of alms.

They are all over Senegal: young boys aged 5 to 18 years, walking around in tattered clothing, carrying tomato cans and asking for money or sugar, swarming market streets and public transportation garages.

They are talibes, or children sent to a marabout to learn the Koran.  Some are taken care of by their marabout and the community, or do field work in rural areas, but the vast majority of urban talibes are forced to spend their days on the street begging to earn a daily financial quota that they must immediately turn over.   They live in crowded rooms with questionable hygiene and nutrition.

Begging puts talibes at an increased risk of traffic injuries, abuse, disease, and further exploitation. This is especially serious in Dakar where there are an estimated 8,000-10,000 talibes, and over 50,000 across the entire country.

Photo courtesy of Casey McConnell.Talibes wander between buses and cars in search of alms at public garages.

Photo courtesy of Casey McConnell.
Talibes wander between buses and cars in search of alms at public garages.

The Senegalese government officially banned forced begging in 2005 but has largely looked the other way because Islamic brotherhoods hold a lot of power in the country.  In 2010, there was a small-scale campaign and arrest of a few marabouts for the practice, but little has been done since.  Human Rights Watch also released a report detailing the issue.

The government needs to work with the leadership of the brotherhoods to prevent this practice and uphold both national law and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.  Women’s groups in the country should be encouraged to “adopt” the talibes in their neighborhoods to make sure that they are able to actually be children.

Photo courtesy of Beth Lang

Photo courtesy of Beth Lang.
A talibe reads from the Koran.

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