Ending illiteracy could also mean ending poverty, hopelessness
An estimated 775 million adults and 122 million children are unable to read or write, missing out on the positives of globalization while disproportionately bearing its negatives, write Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, and Laura Bush, an honorary ambassador with the U.N. agency, in recognition of International Literacy Day last week. While most of the world’s illiterate live in developing countries, many adults remain functionally illiterate in the developed world too.
Pakistani women are risking lives for love
More Pakistani women have been risking their lives to marry men of their choosing ever since so-called freewill marriages — unions entered without requiring a guardian’s signoff — were legalized in 2003. “They know that they will be killed, but even then they are taking these steps because they can’t conform to the values of their parents. They are the girls of this modern age,” says women’s rights advocate Mahnaz Rahman.
Action needed to prevent food price catastrophe-UN
United Nations food agencies recently warned that swift action is needed to avert a catastrophic food crisis that could affect tens of millions of the world’s poor. Nestlé is lobbying the U.S. and EU to reduce their biofuel quotas, while three U.N. agencies — the World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development — urged governments of developing countries to increase assistance to small-scale farmers, women and children.
India to punish employment of children under 14
Proposed changes to India’s child labor laws would mete out prison terms of up to three years, in addition to substantial fines, to anyone who employs children under 14. About 28 million children under 14 are working, chiefly in agriculture, according to UNICEF. The government has “recognized that the long-term benefits of education are far more consequential than the short-term gains of child labor,” said A.K. Shiva Kumar, an economist with the National Advisory Council.
Pakistan arrests aimed at ending polio vaccine refusals
Authorities in Mardan, Pakistan, have arrested six people who allegedly had harassed polio vaccination teams and refused to allow their children to be immunized against the virus. Meanwhile, health officials detected traces of polio in sewage lines in the city of Hyderabad.
In photos, an infant’s burial in S. Sudan
Photographs by Nichole Sobecki chronicle the hours after the death of 9-month-old Hassan Mahmour, who died of severe acute malnutrition in the Batil refugee camp in South Sudan. “As many as four young children die at Batil camp every day, according to Doctors Without Borders: more than double the established emergency threshold,” she writes.
Domestic violence remains top Timorese crime
Two years after the government of Timor-Leste passed a law making domestic violence a crime, such assaults against women remain the newly independent country’s top crime. Changing the culture of violence remains difficult in a country where nearly one-third of all women 15 and older have been assaulted or experienced some form of violence.
Traumatized children are casualties of Syria crisis
A 24-hour spike in the number of Syrians arriving in Turkey has refocused attention on the refugee crisis that has seen numbers nearly quadruple between April and August, according to the United Nations. About three-quarters of refugees — registered in camps in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq — are women and children. Organizers and volunteers are trying to assist children who have witnessed horrors.