Foreign Policy Blogs

Updates on Women, Children and Human Rights from Around the Globe

Updates on Women, Children and Human Rights from Around the Globe

The promise of humanitarian assistance has encouraged thousands of Somali families affected by drought and conflict to converge on Mogadishu. But while the capital’s refugee camps appear to offer a safe haven, the reality for mothers and daughters is markedly different, with many living in fear of rape by armed bandits. Photographer Kate Holt travelled to Mogadishu to document their plight

For girls, Somali refugee camps are unsafe
Violence against women and girls is rife in Somalia, especially in the refugee camps in and around the capital, Mogadishu, where many fear rape by armed bands. “The other night a bandit came into my house and raped my little girl. I tried to fight but I couldn’t, and he escaped,” says one woman, Mayeda, in an audio slideshow that features several women.

More is needed to help children subjected to child labor
A report warns that child labor is projected to rise in sub-Saharan Africa even as rates decline worldwide. The scale of child labor — notably in agriculture and mining — could mean that Millennium Development Goal efforts will fail to ensure that all children complete primary school by 2015, said Gordon Brown, United Nations special envoy on education.

Getting poor expectant mothers to hospitals
Getting women to medical clinics to give birth instead of at-home births with midwives reportedly can help save lives in the developing world. The benefits are seen even if a nurse or doctor exam a baby within two days of birth. The non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement has won a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to devise ways for more Ghanaian women to have their babies delivered in hospitals

Malala attack emblematic of wider schools crisis
More than two schools each week, on average, have been destroyed or damaged this year by militants in Pakistan, according to Human Rights Watch. While the gun attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has drawn attention to the Taliban campaign against secular government education, hundreds of thousands of Pakistani children are being forced to miss one school year or more.

Saudi move to curb religious police could ease lives of women
The Saudi Arabia cleric in charge of the country’s religious police — notorious for harassing women in public for behaviors and dress they believe to be in violation of Islamic law — intends to distribute guidelines re-iterating that police are not empowered to make arrests or interrogate citizens. The force “was created as a guidance body and we want to make sure it is just a guidance authority,” said Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh, whose remarks are seen as an effort by the monarchy to improve the position of women.

Going mobile, and green, to deliver education
Some developing countries in Asia and Africa have undertaken novel approaches to provide educations to their poorest children. The community of Chitradurga in India uses a solar-powered bus, while communities across Bangladesh are being visited by solar-powered floating schools. Shipping containers are being converted into solar-powered classrooms and delivered to rural communities in five countries in Africa, while SUVs are serving as mobile solar computer classrooms in Uganda.

Sexual violence in India’s Haryana is a social stain
For the past month and a half, police have been deployed across the village of Dobra in the northern state of Haryana, India, to protect a 16-year-old who was abducted by a dozen men while walking, then raped by seven of them while the others kept watch — some filming the episode on their mobile phones. Last year, 733 rapes — or two a day — were reported in Haryana, but officials say most incidents are never reported.

Children are a neglected casualty of Pakistan conflicts
Nearly 1,000 schools have been destroyed since 2006 in the tribal regions of Pakistan, displacing families and tens of thousands of children, dozens of whom died last year from “landmine explosions, roadside bombs, shelling and targeted attacks,” the BBC reports. Pakistan has ratified three conventions related to children, but compliance has been slow ahead of a review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Seizing the chance to eradicate polio
India could export the lessons it learned eradicating polio to the world’s three remaining countries where the disease is still endemic, writes Siddharth Chatterjee, of the Red Cross, on World Polio Day. The Shot@Life campaign of the United Nations Foundation is leading awareness of this global effort, writes Paralympian Dennis Ogbe, who contracted polio as a child. “UNICEF and others are doing amazing work delivering polio immunizations, including in hard-to-reach places where the fight against polio will be won or lost. They need our support,” he writes.

Where is the outcry over plight of Afghan women?
Prominent Afghan women are seeking to use the global outcry over the shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai to draw attention to the situation faced by women and girls in their country. “Every day an Afghan girl is abused, raped, has acid thrown on her face and mutilated. Yet no one remembers or acknowledges these girls,” said Elay Ershad, a female member of parliament, adding that Afghan officials are more outraged over the attack on Malala than similar incidents against Afghan girls.

Helping women overcome poor educations
The term “education widows” is being applied to young women in northern Ghana who have attended school so poor that they are unqualified for most jobs. UNESCO reports that most women ages 15 to 29 cannot read even one sentence after six years of schooling. The organization Camfed is trying to remedy this.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict