Friday, December 16, 2016

A woman's place

Allegations of sexual misconduct by UN soldiers have been documented in most of the countries where UN peacekeeping troops serve. However, what seems striking in CAR is the alleged involvement of senior officers and the age of the victims. The damning report alleged that three girls had been tied up and forced to have sex with a dog, that one of the victims subsequently died and that many of the abuses were orchestrated by a French General. More victims have come forward. Many spoke of degrading sexual acts including soldiers urinating on the victim’s body or in her mouth.

Nearly two in every five pregnancies among girls in El Salvador aged 10 to 12 are the result of rape and incest but the rapists nearly always go unpunished, a U.N. agency has said. Girls under 12 are four times more likely to get pregnant as a result of rape by stepfathers and relatives, mainly fathers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins, than girls aged 13 to 17, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) said in a report this week. Under Salvadoran law, having sex with a child under 15 is a crime that is regarded as rape, which carries a jail sentence. But of the 1,445 reported cases of girls aged 10 to 14 who got pregnant last year, there were no convictions against perpetrators of the crime. "None of them have been prosecuted by the institutions that have to do that," said Hugo Gonzalez, UNFPA's representative in El Salvador.

Women in Ethiopia live under constant fear of violence, illness, hunger and poverty but they are now also facing a new threat - human trafficking, according to veteran women's rights campaigner Bogaletch Gebre. "When a child is born a girl in Ethiopia ... she is born into servitude. She is literally there to serve the family," Gebre said, as she recalled growing up in the 1960s in Kembatta, southern Ethiopia. "It's a tragedy." In the past decade, human traffickers have increasingly lured girls away from their schools and homes in poor, rural areas with the promise of jobs and other opportunities in cities like the capital Addis Ababa, Gebre said. But many ended up being exploited as maids and sex workers. "An abducted girl can never return home. She is considered damaged goods," Gebre told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The U.S. State Department's 2016 Trafficking in Persons report found that girls as young as eight were working in brothels around Addis Ababa's central market.

Jamaican women bear the brunt of a "culture of fear" intended to intimidate families and stop them seeking justice for thousands of extrajudicial police killings on the Caribbean island, according to a report from a human rights group. Women who are already grieving for lost sons, brothers and partners are further traumatized by police who intimidate, harass, and threaten witnesses and relatives of victims of police killings, said Amnesty International. Police have shown up at homes, hospitals, courts, and even funerals and wakes. Some women reported struggling to pay rent or buy food after the death of a husband or son while burial expenses and the cost of lawyers and pathologists also put pressure on finances prompting the sale of cars, cows, and other items.

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