Jan 292008
 

We’ve talked about the hundreds of thousands of women who die of childbirth related causes every year more times than I care to think about on this blog.  As this report makes clear, this is an ongoing problem and one that in some countries is getting worse, not better.
The maternal mortality rate in Namibia:

“increased from 227 per 100000 live births in 2000 to 449 in 2006. Child mortality rate increased from 62 per 1000 live births to 69 per 1000 live births while the infant mortality rate also went up from 38 per 1000 live births to 46 per 1000 live births.

Health and Social Services Minister, Dr Richard Kamwi, yesterday said HIV/Aids was at the core of these shocking statistics.

However, HIV/Aids is not the only cause of the deaths because many children die of preventable diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition and diarrhoea.”

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 January 29, 2008  Posted by on January 29, 2008 Comments Off
Jan 292008
 

When you read the typical reports in the mainstream media about the violence that is occurring in Kenya, there is rarely any mention that much of it is being specifically targeted at women and children. However, if the 4th estate would do their damned homework, and read the Kenyan press, they would hear the specifics of these horrors. Or perhaps they do and just don’t think it is worthy of mention.

Fortunately, organizations like All Africa are making sure that reports  like this one  from The Nation, a Kenyan publication, are seen by a wider audience:

“(I)t is emerging that sexual violence targeting women and girls is rampant in the camps. It follows that the recovery of women and children already traumatised could be fundamentally compromised.”

“(S)exual violence is taking place inside the camps where circumstances of the moment have thrown strangers-men, women and children-into living communally in school halls and tents. In some areas, women and children are living in makeshift structures that are not secure enough to keep out would-be sex predators. Their safety is further compromised by the fact that most of the informal camps lack lighting, and many of the attacks are carried out in the dark.

At another level, the deprivation that informs the lives of the IDPs has bred a situation where desperately impoverished young girls are sexually exploited in order to get some food or clothing.”

There is nothing surprising about these reports being invisibilized by the media outside of Kenya.  Perhaps there are those of you who ask, yes but have these reports been verified, do we know they are true?  What is true is that violence against women has always been a part of armed conflict.  What would be surprising is if men somehow found a way to destroy each other without leaving women and children in their wake.  What we can know with a certainty is that as long as the Atrocities against women and children aren’t considered to be a part of the ‘important’ news, the heinous acts will continue, as they are in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

“Rape and other forms of sexual violence remain prevalent in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite the cessation of military activities and the disarmament of militias in the region, according to aid workers. Before, this was mainly attributed to men in uniform, but now civilians comprise a significant number of the perpetrators.


“The rapists roam the streets; [local] customs allow them to pay a goat [as recompense to the victim’s family] without serving prison terms. Even worse, some of the rapists are HIV-positive or old and rape girls of around 12 and 13 thinking they will be cured [of illness] or live longer,” Marie Pacuryema, the coordinator of a local NGO, Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix et le Développement Intégré en Ituri, said.

A November 2007 report released by Médecins Sans Frontières-Suisse said that since 2003, between 30 and 500 patients reported sexual assaults each month in Ituri. At least 2,708 people were also raped in an 18-month period, with 7,000 more having been raped in a four-year period, according to the report.  “

“”It does not stop; we think that the same rapists of yesterday who were released from the armed groups into the community are still carrying on with the habit,” Francine Mangaza, an officer with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in the district of Ituri, said.”

One of the truly great gifts of the digital age is that these stories can no longer be hidden.  We can no longer say that we did not know.

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 January 29, 2008  Posted by on January 29, 2008 1 Response »
Jan 282008
 

I’d like to tell you that I’m making this up, but sadly, it is from The Guardian (UK):

“This year, the London Dungeon plans to relaunch its Jack the Ripper show, according to the PR firm, which emailed a support service for women trafficked into Britain for prostitution. “The show will be an actor-led experience with Victorian-era ‘prostitutes’ talking to visitors about the Jack the Ripper killings.”

The firm was hoping that the support service would approach Billie Piper, star of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, to secure her as a “celebrity judge”, who would audition “real” prostitutes for the roles. They were asking the service to put them in touch with prostituted women: “We feel this is an opportunity to help them off the streets,” said the email.”

As the author of the piece puts it,

“Asking women in prostitution, who have been chronically abused and whose lives are constantly in danger, to take part in such a show is insensitive and misguided at best.”

At best. Perhaps misogynist exploitation might be a more adequate description.

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 January 28, 2008  Posted by on January 28, 2008 Comments Off
Jan 252008
 

As Robert Fisk points out, it is quite easy to create orphans in Iraq.  What truly can you say about 3 young girls whose mother’s body was riddled  by 40 bullets fired by employees of an Australian “security” company while she committed the heinous crime of driving home from church to her Baghdad home.  And then when the girls try to go to the waiting arms of an uncle in Amman, Jordan, they are turned back at the border.

Earlier this week, we wrote about how the U.S. military is poisoning children with its rocket fuel  and about the 100,000 children in Kenya who have been displaced by conflict .  As Cindy Sheehan asked upon the death of her son Casey, WHAT NOBLE CAUSE???

Some days I am angry, other days I just weep.  The girls names are Alice, Karoon and Nora.  Their mother’s name was Marou.

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 January 25, 2008  Posted by on January 25, 2008 2 Responses »
Jan 252008
 

Yes, you guessed it, that is a Target ad and no actually we don’t think targeting women with their legs spread wide on a bullseye, even if it happens to be your corporate symbol is a good marketing strategy. But to add insult to injury, when another blogger wrote to protest the ad, she got this insulting, not to mention just plain stupdid, reply:

Good Morning Amy,

Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.

Seriously. As Beauty and the Breast points out, Target’s supposed demographic is

“the with it and hip, a demographic that comfortably fits in the 18 to 49 age range. Well, about 85 percent of such people are online, and NOT exclusively hanging out at, say, newyorktimes.com. They are spread across gaming sites, social networking sites and… blogs.

They did not have an email contact on their website for customer service, but you might try writing to this address:

investorrelations@target.com

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 January 25, 2008  Posted by on January 25, 2008 1 Response »