Issues

Leprosy & Human Rights

The chronic illness of leprosy is an infection persisting from ancient Egypt to today. Though a cure exists, centuries of stigma and discrimination have marginalized leprosy patients and made it difficult to effectively treat and diagnose them. Legislation in India, England, and the US forced infected individuals away from their homes, their family, and their community. Religious practices further encouraged the exile of these persons and led to a curable disease becoming debilitating. Today, due to lack of early detection and cultural norms, infected individuals allow the curable disease to progress resulting in nerve damage and disfigurement. Organizations like the United Nations are dedicating themselves to end the stigma and eradicate the disease.

Water and Sanitation in Africa

Access to adequate, sanitary drinking water and proper sanitation facilities is a prevalent and critical issue in Africa. The sub-Saharan regions of Africa are prone to a physical lack of water from droughts, which leads to water stress in many areas. In addition to a physical water scarcity in these regions, this issue stems from economic hardship, because too often, there is inadequate funding toward sustainable water sourcing in Africa. This page explores causes, solutions, and impacts created by the human rights issue of water and sanitation in Africa.

Military and Political Torture in the United States

Following the attack on the World Trade Center during 9/11, the use of harsh interrogation tactics and cruel and unusual punishment by the CIA has increased dramatically. These tactics and methods may be commonly described as 'torture'. Methods include waterboarding, electrocution, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, confinement in small spaces, and many more. The sources included below contain background info on the topic of torture in the United States, statistics about CIA methods, and organizations which are currently working to increase regulation on CIA and US military interrogation tactics.

Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. This leads to growth delays and some intellectual disability. Down Syndrome can occur in any parent and is not caused by anything that the parents have or do not have although the probability of a child being born with the disorder increases the older the parents are. However, studies have shown that education and proper care can help people with Down Syndrome and many live into their fifties and sixties. Also the number of adults with Down Syndrome that are in the work force is constantly increasing. The more information becomes readily available and the greater awareness people have of Down Syndrome, the better we can help enrich their lives.

Human Trafficking in Latin America

Human Trafficking can be defined as ““the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery” (http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers). In Latin America and the Caribbean, over 1.8 million people are trapped in forced labor, creating the third largest illicit industry in the country (Gagne). While there are strong international laws against human trafficking, some countries in Latin America still do not have laws against it. For the countries that do have policies in place, ambiguity of the law and lack of enforcement are common themes. While this is a domestic issue, this is also a transnational problem affecting over 21 million victims (http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers). Human trafficking is often combined with other crimes and is often done by organized groups for profit. Unfortunately, millions of people are trapped in a dangerous and exploitive system of modern-day slavery.

Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka

Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka

Every single day, all over the world - "People literally disappear, from their loved ones and their community, when state officials (or someone acting with state consent) grab them from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are." (“Disappearances”) Families are being torn apart, children are growing up without parent figures, and justice isn't being served to those that are affected. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to disappear and that leaves a greater number of loved ones to be in the dark. Many of these people can't find peace until they know what's happened to those that have gone missing. It is said that Sri Lanka, as a whole, can't heal until justice and truth have been served.

 


The Use of Chemical Weapons and the Survivors

The Use of Chemical Weapons and the Survivors

Chemical weapons come in a number of forms and, despite being banned internationally, have taken the lives of thousands of innocent people. Chemical weapons have been used both by states and by terrorist organizations as a means of blindly killing thousands. Future chemical weapon threats are associated with terrorist groups and cult-like groups that are able to develop chemical weapons on their own. Chemical weapons survivors are left with long-lasting physical and mental conditions that affect their ability to live life as they once did.


Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation, also known as Female Circumcision, is the intentional disfiguration or alteration of the outer portion (and sometimes inner portion) of a woman’s genitalia. This is practiced in many countries for cultural or religious reasons on women and young girls. It can lead to many health issues that the women suffer with for the rest of their lives which can cause problems with menstruation and intercourse, promote infections, and even lead to the death of the women or any children born. Warning: Some of the sources and media related to this issue include graphic images and video. Proceed at your own discretion.


Labor Rights in Brazil

Labor Rights in Brazil

Laborers in Brazil face serious human rights abuses as they are subjected to exploitation in many forms. There is debt bondage, a form of slavery in which companies outsource to immigrants and then subject them to exploitation because they are vulnerable in the unfamiliar environment and do not know their legal rights. Brazilians also face horrible working conditions, forced labor, child labor, and physical and emotional abuse. There is not enough being done at the moment to resolve numerous violations of human rights.


Rape in the Instance of Marriage

Rape in the Instance of Marriage

Rape is an ongoing issue that effects many different types of people and genders. When hearing the word rape, many people often think of the most common situation of a man forcing non consensual sex onto a girl. The boundaries of rape expand much farther than that. What I want to address, is rape within the instance of marriage. In some parts of the world, there are perpetrators who can get off of charges of sexual assault if they marry their victims. Even diving in deeper into that, there are many situations where a partner has actually raped their spouse. No matter the circumstances rape is defined as forcing sexual activities on someone who has not given the perpetrator consent. Whether that be when the victim is visibly showing that they don't want to participate or even in times when the victim is unable to give consent in the circumstances where they aren't conscious


Climate Change and Agriculture

Climate change has become a topic of great debate and interest in the recent years. As scientific studies and data become more available, agricultural specialists have begun to observe the negative impacts caused by dramatic changes in climate that have directly impacted agricultural systems. Topics such as the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources have come to the forefront of discussion as developing countries begin to feel and experience the negative impacts of these significant changes. Given health and well-being are unalienable rights, climate change and its impacts on food security is an urgent and necessary issue to discuss on a human rights platform.

Australia Refugee Crisis

Since 9/11, Australia has upheld a strict refugee and immigration policy known as the “Pacific Solution.” This policy prohibits any refugees or asylum seekers from stepping foot on the mainland, and instead transfers them to offshore detention centers while their claims as a refugee or an asylum seeker are processed. Three such detention centers exist: one on the Pacific island of Nauru, one on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and one on Christmas Island. These “processing” detention centers are specifically located on land that is not considered Australia, allowing the nation to shirk the responsibilities of the refugees under the U.N. Refugee Convention. The Australian military is responsible for intercepting migrant boats bound for Australia, where the migrants are then relocated to these camps. Australian leaders claim that this approach deters the dangerous sea crossings by the asylum seekers and refugees, as well as allowing the country to more closely monitor who comes into the country. However, the cruel and inhumane conditions of the camps (such as a lack of facilities, cramped conditions and unbearable heat with almost no available shade) have led to numerous protests across the country, as well as a possible court case by the ICC for crimes against humanity and violations of multiple conventions against torture. While Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has recently ruled the detention center on Manus Island as unconstitutional and ordered the camp closed, the Australian Supreme Court has ruled that the camps are legal, and it will likely remain open. Even if these centers are closed, the issue of settling refugees on the mainland and in normal lives remains.

Violence Against Native American Women

Native American Women face disproportionate amounts of violence, especially sexual violence, to their American counterparts. They are raped at shockingly higher rates than women of any other race in America. These perpetrators have been both Native Americans and non-Native Americans. Instituting proper jurisdiction in tribal courts, improving policing systems, and re-establishing inherent respect of minority women can be used to help solve this issue.

Women in Prison

In recent years, the incarceration of women has risen at a higher rate than men, with 82% of these imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. In addition, 86% of women in prison have experience sexual violence in their lives. If we want to reduce the incarceration of women, we need to look at all variables and base “punishment” on treatment rather than punishment as revenge for crimes that could be premeditated for reasons like income or sexual abuse.


Transgender Rights

Gender discrimination, particularly that of transgender men and women, has been an issue in our society for decades, but gender discrimination in our prison system is something that is often overlooked. Transgender men and women often face entering prisons of the opposite gender than they identify with in addition to being stripped of their rights to such things as hormone treatment they’ve been receiving for years or the care products of their identified gender. Furthermore, they often face solitary confinement for their own safety as they are harassed and/or violently attacked by fellow inmates.

Immigration Detention

Every year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are locked up in detention centers in the United States. These immigrants, mostly undocumented, face brutal and inhumane conditions, lasting days to months. With no personal liberties and freedom, many detained immigrants face no option but to remain voiceless and powerless within the system until deported or released. For this issue of immigration detention, the sub-topics of privatized detention centers, inhumane treated, lack of medical care, and protests are discussed.

Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration

Private prisons have gained popularity as they have been coined as ways to save the government money. However, numerous studies have found that private prisons are prone to corruption to make a profit. As a result, prisoners are exposed to horrid conditions as well as subjected to longer sentences.

Solitary Confinement

Conditions of solitary confinement vary significantly. The term solitary confinement refers to physical isolation of individuals in which they are confined in their cells for around twenty-three hours each day (typically twenty-two to twenty-four hours). The amount of contact with prison staff can vary and may constitute more than an hour each day, but only rarely will this contact be socially and psychologically meaningful. Contact with prison staff typically takes place in connection with being escorted to the exercise yard or the toilet or through brief encounters when meals are delivered to the cell door. Complete and total isolation is not practiced anywhere. In that sense, solitary confinement constitutes individual social isolation (and perhaps perceptual deprivation) rather than sensory deprivation (Volkart, Dittrich, et al. 1983, p. 27).

The Death Penalty

The Death Penalty

The death penalty is a widely discussed topic in America and around the world. Can we justifiably kill a killer? Is there a humane way to end someone's life? The public appears to mostly think that no, you can't. There are a number of crimes that will lead to an inmate being sentenced to death. What does it take to get yourself killed? Do other countries kill for different reasons?


Child Marriages in India

There are certain traditions and religious reasons for child marriage in order to find out how Indian culture allowed this phenomenon to exist in which girls must be married off before the age of 12. Not only is there the risk of child marriages in India, but women often don’t have the power to refuse marriage. Forced and arranged marriages are a growing issue along with child marriages. This is an issue that should be more widely noted and recognized. We must protect the children of the future in all countries.

US Mass Incarceration

The United States of America is known globally for being the land of the free, the land of voting rights, and the land where all people have the right to achieve success regardless of their upbringing. Unfortunately, greed, social circumstances, and political gain have created a human rights vacuum in which over 2 million US citizens are not free, they are enslaved by the Prison Industrial Complex. Mass incarceration in the United States is an unsettling phenomenon that allows for the systemic disenfranchisement of predominately Black and Brown low socioeconomic status (SES) men and teenagers. Nongovernment organizations are working toward criminal justice reform, so the justice system is more fair for all US citizens.

Barriers in Female Education

“Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come”- UNICEF, 2015

Women's Right to Their Bodies; Women's Health Programs and Health Education

Women represent half of the global population and have the right to their own bodies. Women's rights are at different places all over the world. Every woman should have access to women's healthcare and health education. In some cultures and religions, women do not have control over their own reproductive health. In others, it is extremely frowned upon to talk openly about sexual activity and or sexual health. Because of this, many woman go without the treatment that they need. It can also lead to mistreatment of women and placing them into unwanted situations. The sources below encompass the specific issues that different countries face, since this topic is broad. Below are also organizations that assist these women in need or try to change policies that bar women from their rights.

LBGT Rights in Russia

LGBT persons in Russia are highly prosecuted and denied many of their human rights and are not granted the same legal rights as heterosexuals.

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

“The 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis refers to the mass migration of thousands of Rohingya people from Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Bangladesh in 2015, collectively dubbed 'boat people' by international media. Nearly all who fled traveled to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand by rickety boats via the waters of the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea.The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 25,000 people have been taken to boats from January to March in 2015 by human traffickers.There are claims that around 100 people died in Indonesia, 200 in Malaysia, and 10 in Thailand] while on their journey after the traffickers abandoned them at sea. In October 2015, researchers from the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London released a report drawing on leaked government documents that reveals an increasing "ghettoisation, sporadic massacres, and restrictions on movement" on Rohingya peoples. The researchers suggest that the Myanmar government are in the final stages of an organised process of genocide against the Rohingya and have called upon the international community to redress the situation as such.” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya_insurgency_in_Western_Myanmar


LGBT Rights in Indonesia

LGBT Rights in Indonesia

The LGBT community in Indonesia is facing many social and political challenges. Politicians have used anti-LGBT rhetoric and government organizations have even placed bans on several LGBT media sources. Governmental officials and Islamic organizations, as well as local oppositions, discriminate against homosexuals and transexuals and diminish their rights at an increasing rate. Several movements and activists continue to fight against homophobia and transphobia year after year, slowly making progress towards equality and tolerance for all sexual orientations and genders.


Indigenous Land Rights in America

Repeatedly throughout American history, the United States government has treated the resources of indigenous groups (cultural and geographic) as its own. After forcibly relocating indigenous peoples onto reservations in 1851, the U.S. has, piece by piece, sold portions of ancestral land to non-native business interests without consultation of the concerned tribes. In response to outcry, many lawmakers label the humanist and spiritualist claims of native peoples to be negligible or outright lies, making these claims as self-evident facts which do not require further explanation. These lawmakers include Senator John McCain, Senator Ann Kirkpatrick, Congressman Paul Gosar, and others. Their behavior, and the text of congressional acts concerning native peoples dating back more than a century, betrays a strong undercurrent of racism, motivated by greed, in the highest levels of our society.


LGBTQ Rights in Indonesia

LGBTQ Rights in Indonesia

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia face legal challenges and prejudices not experienced by non-LGBTQ residents. Traditional Indonesians disapprove of homosexuality and cross dressing, which impacts public policy. For example, Indonesian same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for any of the legal protections available to opposite sex married couples. Indonesia does not have a sodomy law and Indonesia does not currently criminalize private, non-commercial homosexual acts among consenting adults, yet Indonesian law does not protect LGBT community against discrimination and hate crimes. Currently, Indonesia does not recognize same sex marriage. In July 2015, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister stated that it is unacceptable in Indonesia, because strongly held religious norms speak strongly against it. The importance in Indonesia for social harmony leads to duties rather than rights to be emphasized, which means that human rights along with LGBTQ rights are very fragile. Yet, the LGBT community in Indonesia has steadily become more visible and politically active.

Recently LGBT people in Indonesia are facing growing hostility and intolerance. In early 2016, LGBT people and activists in Indonesia are facing fierce opposition, homophobic attacks, and hate speech, even launched by Indonesian authorities. In February 2016, Human Rights Watch urged Indonesian government to defend the rights of LGBT people and publicly condemn officials' discriminatory remarks.

Coming out to family and friends is seldom carried out by LGBT people in Indonesia, as they are more afraid of rejection and social backlash. Nevertheless, there are some rare examples of understanding and acceptance of the family of LGBT person.


Chinese Child Labor

Chinese Child Labor

Chinese child labor is often thought to be an outdated issue but this is far from true. Because consumer demand for technological products like our iPhones is quite high, a growth in unregulated working to bring down costs and maximize profits has increased. Currently, the forced labor is hard to measure as these young children are hidden away in sweatshops and factories owned by large companies. Kidnapping has also increased many being forced into either labor work or prostitution. In order for these children to be laborers, they lose their chance to ever get an education. Their hazardous work often impairs them physically and mentally, leading them to never attend any schooling later on. What is most unfortunate is high-tech factories such as Samsung, Apple, or HTC may not even be truly aware of the working conditions themselves. Because the economy is continually booming, the export industry has managed to avoid government control and exploit many from rural areas. Bottom line, there is a lack of extensive monitoring of enterprises and in the majority of cases it isn't even discovered.


Honor Killing

The oxymoron “honor killing” has inundated Eastern news, and its significance has unfortunately been ignored. Honor is about respect and moral uprightness In contrast, killing is associated with death, a violation of human rights and a heinous crime. Alas, the two words put together end up meaning cold-blooded murder. In many Eastern cultures, honor is a central value. Families are distinguished or noted among the community depending on how honorable their family is. There is disproportionate pressure on women to comply with a certain code of behaviour. It usually consists of: dressing modestly, not interacting with men outside of their immediate family, and staying an untouched virgin until she marries the man hand-picked by her family. Failing to comply with the norms set by society means staining and dishonouring the reputation of her family. When females damage the family reputation in many Eastern cultures, the men of the family respond by taking their life. This convention is not seen as a crime in many Asian countries, in fact, it is socially acceptable. This is why those who kill for “honor” or cold-blooded murderers as I prefer to reinstate it, are almost never punished. The United Nations estimates around 5000 murders of women per year worldwide from this wicked mindset, and this is an underestimation as many murders occur in sylvan, remote areas and go unreported to authorities. The number is frightening for such a barbaric practice.


Human Rights of Crimean Tatars Oppressed by the Russian Federation

On March 18, 2014 the Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine. After Russia’s rule began, Crimean Tatars, a Muslim community native to Crimea, were targeted as extremists. Human rights violations including freedom of expression and freedom of association have escalated since then. Crimean Tatars and the LGBT community in Crimea are being cauterized and persecuted.

Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve "civilizational rehab" of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.

Source: University of California, Berkeley: Center for Race and Gender

(http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/islamophobia/defining-islamophobia)


Press Freedom in China

Press Freedom in China
From Freedom House (2015) "China is home to one of the world’s most restrictive media environments. The already limited space for investigative journalism and politically liberal commentary shrank during 2014, continuing a trend of ideological tightening since Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012. For the first time in several years, professional journalists from established news outlets were subjected to long-term detention, sentencing, and imprisonment alongside freelancers, online activists, and ethnic minority reporters. Also during 2014, a crackdown on social-media platforms that began the previous year—with increased restrictions on the prominent Sina Weibo microblogging service—expanded to Tencent’s WeChat instant-messaging program, further reducing the ability of ordinary users and journalists to share information and political news without prepublication censorship.
Nevertheless, as internet access via mobile devices continued to climb, reaching over half a billion people during the year, the censorship system was unable to completely stop the circulation of unfavorable news. Dedicated users continued to employ circumvention technology and other, more creative tactics to defy and bypass restrictions on free expression."

Sex Workers Rights

Sex Workers Rights
Sex workers are too often stigmatized by law enforcement officials, politicians and the general public.  This is made worse by the ubiquitous anti-trafficking rhetoric and marketing strategies.  In the name of rescuing trafficking victims, too often consensual sex workers are labeled as trafficking victims.  They are often arrested in anti-trafficking stings.  An already marginalized population is further marginalized in the name of human rights.

Human Rights in Eritrea

Human Rights in Eritrea
Eritrea has been called the North Korea of Africa. Since the dictator Isaias Afwerki took almost absolute power, the situation has been horrible. All of this is detailed in the recent commission of inquiry report - co written by Sheila Keetharuth.  See the Committee's work here:

Comparative Immigration

Comparative Immigration
The most comprehensive reviews and critiques of theories of international migration published in the last decade cover a broad range of issues, but have nothing to say about the politics of immigration nor the sources and consequences of migration policy (Massey, et al., 1993, 1994; Massey, 1998). This oversight reflects both the tendency of scholars outside political science to neglect the political dimensions of migration, even so obvious a topic as state regulation of population flows, and the equally unfortunate tendency of students of politics to ignore migration altogether.