Tens of thousands of young Nigerian girls and women leave their country every year with sincere hopes of starting a brand-new life in Europe where they believe they will be met with ample job and educational opportunities to provide for their families. That is what they are often told by “recruiters” in their home states who seek out vulnerable girls (sometimes as young as ten) and women to leave for Europe. Unfortunately, the promises made to them by human traffickers are empty promises. In reality, four out of every five Nigerian girls and women who survive the long, harrowing journey to Europe will end up in the sex trade.
We often read about these stories in the news, but cannot adequately understand the harsh lives these girls and women endure at the hands of their traffickers. Essentially held in modern slavery, the women and girls have a debt placed upon them that they must pay off by prostituting themselves or else face dire consequences, sometimes fatal. Not only are they faced with threats by their Nigerian madams, they are also exploited in the streets where they are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, rapes, and physical violence. Wanting to tell these stories, Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezai wrote and directed Joy, an award-winning drama that shows the harsh and complex realities of these women and girls’ lives as prostitutes.
We often think about poverty and how to fix it. There isn’t one magic bullet that moves people out of poverty. However, there are a few tenets about reducing poverty in families who live in underserved communities that work nearly every time and those are working directly with women and giving them financial tools to empower their lives and those around them.
Kiva, a leading lender in micro-loans financed by everyday people, is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting how they facilitate this year’s theme of “Balance of Better”. While women make up 40% of the world’s workers globally, 75% of them do not have access to credit, loans, and savings. To help women-owned businesses, you can give money to finance their businessesand today on International Women’s Day your donation will be matched to fund 10,000 businesswomen. Generous funders will match up to $1.5 million dollars today, March 8.
One woman who has been helped by Kiva, Regina, survived human trafficking – and now her clothing store is also a sanctuary for those affected by it
Regina Evans, Oakland resident, owns a store calledRegina’s Door, a theater and apparel shop that also serves as a community spot and a haven to those affected by human trafficking. In the past, she’s hired survivors of trafficking, and put on in-store programming for survivors including healing circles, improv, spoken word, and poetry. When Regina’s doors first swung open, she had no back stock, working with only 35 pieces of clothing and a 3-month lease. A month later, 193 Kiva lenders supported a $5,000 loan for Regina to purchase stock and buy simple necessities like hangers and an “open” sign. “That was like a million dollars to me,” Regina says of the loan.
Experts explained that the U.S. resistance, although extreme, was nothing new. The United States previously demonstrated its allegiance to the formula industry by refusing to sign on to the World Health Organization’s Ban on the Marketing of Breast Milk Alternatives.
This U.S. stance, like its intimidation of Ecuador, flew in the face of near universally accepted medical and scientific research proving that breastfeeding saves lives. Perhaps even more surprisingly, both acts perpetuate an alarming racial divide in breastfeeding rates that leads to significant racial health disparities. American support of the formula industry comes at the cost of the health and lives of Black and brown babies, at home and abroad.
Both the resolution and the U.S. opposition to it stemmed from a decline in formula sales in the United States. The industry has sought to make up for its considerable domestic losses on the global market. The racial aspects of this local-global dynamic are hidden in plain sight.
PHOTO: Navi Pillay (third from right), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, poses for a group photo with South Sudanese women from Jonglei State who shared stories about their experiences with human rights violations, including violence, child abduction, and forced marriage. UN Photo/Elizabeth Murekio
A woman was recently elected as a senior chief in South Sudan – a not unheard of, but very unusual occurrence. This surely a positive change in a country ravaged by civil war and attendant sexual violence.
Rebecca Nyandier Chatim is now head chief of the Nuer ethnic group in the United Nations Protection of Civilians site (PoC) in Juba, where more than 38,000 people have sought sanctuary with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers. Her victory is of symbolic and practical importance.
South Sudan’s chiefs wield real power, even during wartime. They administer customary laws that can resolve local disputes but also reinforce gender differences and inequalities, to the advantage of the military elite.
So could a female chief work towards changing this? Admittedly, even if the new female chief is determined to effect change — which remains to be seen — the odds are against her. The chief and her community are vulnerable, displaced persons, living in a sort of internal refugee camp, guarded by UN peacekeepers. Fighting and atrocities have continued outside, especially in the devastated homelands of the Nuer people. But the new chief has the support of the former head chief and a group of male paralegals, who have celebrated her victory as an advance for gender equality. Together, they might make a difference.
Venezuela sits on the world’s biggest oil reserves, but in terms of GDP growth per capita, it’s now South America’s poorest economy. It is mired the worst economic crisis in its history, with an inflation rate in the region of 500%, a volatile exchange rate, and crippling debts that have increased fivefold since 2006.
The economic crisis is inflaming a longstanding “economic war” between the government and the business sector – and a dangerous cycle of protest and repression is further polarising Venezuela’s already divided society.
In this scenario, violence of all sorts is approaching what could be a point of no return. The very ability of democracy to combine forces of transformation and resistance is at stake.