The most authentic thing about us...

is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering

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Ben Okri

Marian Wright Edelman
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The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; It is whether we can afford not to.
Jesse Owens (1913-1980)
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The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals.
 
The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that's where it's at.
Let's NOT waste the opportunites we have...

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Current Issues

This page details current issues going on in the world today - but my purpose is not only to educate you on the issues but to get you thinking.. how can we help?

 

Please see below a list of some prominent petitions that currently need your signatures and action:

 

  • Stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - there are currently two petitions on the internet, so I would encourage you to sign both of them. Here are the links.

    1. Click here to sign the first petition [106,882 signatures]

    2. Click here to sign the second petition [234,376 signatures]

    3. Click here to find out more information about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or here

  •  Petition: Prevent the use of water cannon in the UK -

    The concerns are twofold:
    1 – ACPO’s own report into water cannon states that:
    “the full-pressure jet from a water cannon is capable of causing serious injury or even death and says there are also possible injuries from the impact on the body of street furniture or other debris.”  Report >

    2. The police are not the government’s armed guards, hired to subjugate the will of the people. Increasingly we fear they are becoming so. ACPO argue that they would like water cannon in their arsenal “because austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest”  Report >

    Read more / Sign Petition >

  • Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law set the stage for the injustice we've just witnessed — enabling George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin and walk away a free man. http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/shootfirst/?source=coc_website
    Our message to elected officials:
    It's time to end "Stand Your Ground" and other Shoot First laws that undermine public safety, senselessly put people at risk, and enable the kind of tragedy we’ve witnessed in the case of Trayvon Martin. I’m calling on you to take leadership and undo these dangerous laws now.
     
  • Over 200 people have been killed in the collapse of a building in Bangladesh which housed garment factories making clothes for Primark, Matalan, Mango and other major brands. Over a thousand more have been injured in one of the worst industrial disasters of recent times. Primark, Matalan and Mango make huge profits off the backs of workers in factories like these. Now they must take responsibility for their actions by ensuring justice for the workers and taking action to ensure this never happens again. Clink the link to sign the petition;.@Primarkjobs @Mango @Matalan: ensure safety for workers in Bangladesh & compensate victims of building collapse
  • The elders of the Maasai from Tanzania, one of Africa’s oldest tribes have been told by The government that it plans to kick thousands of our families off our lands so that wealthy tourists can use them to shoot more lions and leopards. The evictions are to begin immediately.
    the world. This is our only chance to get him to back down from destroying our way of life. Click below to send a urgent message demanding they stop the eviction:
    http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai_sam/?boIOWbb&v=23733
  • Donna Thomas has a petition requesting North London Business refund the five-figure sums paid for stalls by her and other “ethnic” catering businesses that lost out on the Olympics 2012 bonanza, because the promised 80,000 foot traffic was allegedly re-directed elsewhere. Click here for online petition.
  • A petition in demand that the Government calls off its proposed rail fare increases.  Britain's train travel is amongst the most expensive in Europe, yet the fares keep regularly going up.  If thousands of us add our names to a huge petition, we can show the government how many of us oppose the plans, and get them to back down. To sign the petition, click here.
  • A petition to campaign to keep Centreprise Trust in Dalston open http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savecenterprise
  • A life behind bars simply for having consensual sex with the person you love? This could be Uganda’s future.A new Bill that could be passed within days of it being debated in the Ugandan Parliament will punish individuals for their sexual orientation. We have a very limited time to stop it. Email the Ugandan authorities now and ask them to stop the Bill
  • You will be aware of the controversy surrounding Michael Gove's announcement to remove Mary Seacole from the national curriculum. Some of you will be aware that I am a trustee of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal and it will come as no surprise to know that we and others are appalled at this decision. Please see the petition below and I hope you will  be encouraged to sign and spread the word to your contacts. https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/michael-gove-secretary-of-state-for-education-keep-mary-seacole-on-the-national-curriculum
  • Call for Herman to be released on humanitarian grounds

    Until his move last week, this frail, terminally ill, 71 year old man was still being held in isolation. Even though prison records indicate he was not considered a danger to himself or others. So why was he there?

    The 'Angola 3' (Herman, Albert Woodfox and Robert King, who is now free) believe they were originally put in solitary confinement back in 1972 because of their political activism as members of the Black Panther party, and for daring to challenge racial discrimination at the notorious Angola Prison where they were being held at the time.

    There is certainly evidence this is why they were kept in solitary confinement for so long, in violation of the prison authorities’ own rules.

    Between them, the three have suffered 100 years of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, confined to a room no bigger than the average bathroom for 23 hours a day, deprived of meaningful human interaction.

    Call on Louisana’s Governor Bobby Jindal to atone for more than 40 years of injustice, and release Herman Wallace immediately

    The decades in these conditions have taken their toll on Herman. Even before the cancer diagnosis, his physical and mental health had been deteriorating. It’s time to let Herman go home. Call for the Louisiana authorities to release Herman on humanitarian grounds

  • Help the Maasai fight to keep their land. Time is short to prevent this sell-off of the Serengeti to well-heeled wildlife tourists. To sign petition and spread the word, click here.
  • Child rights groups in India and the rest of the world have called on the Indian Parliament to prioritise the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill but we need your help to build massive public pressure that leaders in India cannot ignore.

    Join me in telling Indian politicians to immediately pass the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill. 

    www.walkfree.org/indiachildslaverypetition 
  • To President Mohammed Waheed Hassan: As concerned global citizens, we call on you to do more to protect vulnerable women and children. We welcome your government’s initial intervention - but real justice will only be delivered when you end the practice of flogging in the Maldives, and change the law so that it better protects the victims of rape and sexual abuse: http://www.avaaz.org/en/maldives_global/?cpqzJbb 

  • Please sign the petition started by Operation Black Vote and BARAC to ask David Cameron to make sure Walter gets the honour he so richly deserved.
  • Petition For African History In Primary School Curriculum
    A petition to introduce African History to the primary curriculum has thus far received nearly 2k supporters, and this response from the Department for Education: The Government believes that as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should learn about different cultures, and about how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain. The content and structure of the new history curriculum provides plenty of scope for black history to be covered. However, this is not prescribed in detail within the statutory programmes of study. Instead schools have the flexibility to deal with these topics in ways that are appropriate and sensitive to the needs of their pupils.

    Specifically in the history programmes of study, in primary, Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole are listed at key stage 1 as examples of significant individuals in the past that pupils could be taught about, who have contributed to national and international achievements. At key stage 2, pupils should be taught about a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history - one study chosen from: early Islamic civilization (sic), including a study of Baghdad c. AD900; Mayan civilization (sic) c. AD900; Benin (West Africa) c. AD900 -1300.

    Pupils can develop these opportunities further at secondary school level. Key stage 3 includes the example of the impact through time of the migration of people to, from and within the British Isles, as well as Indian independence and end of Empire. In addition, in Citizenship at key stage 4, pupils should be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding. The new national curriculum, including the programmes of study for history, can be found here. To support the petition, click here.

  • Ask your MP to stand with Afghan women to end violence:

    From domestic abuse to public attacks, women in Afghanistan continue to experience systemic violence and discrimination. Ask your MP to pressure the UK Government to ending violence against women: take action now

  • Demand better health care for homeless people 

    Homeless people die at just 47 - that's 30 years before the national average. Crisis Homelessness Kills campaign is demanding NHS reforms that take homeless people's health needs seriously.

  • Oppose a planned cut that will mean parents accommodating an adult son or daughter who is looking for work could lose £800 per year in housing benefit.

    It risks pushing young people out of the family home and forcing them to choose between claiming housing benefit themselves – at far more cost to the taxpayer – or becoming homeless.

    Find out more details

    Take action now

  • Urgent action: boycott tourism to the Andaman Islands

    Every day hundreds of tourists travel along the Andaman Trunk road in the hope of ‘spotting’ members of the Jarawa tribe – treating them like animals in a safari park. The islands' authorities have refused to close the road, even though a faster, cheaper sea route is possible.
     
    Help put pressure on the islands’ government by pledging not to holiday in the Andaman islands while the road remains open to tourists. Even better, if you have time please write to the administration asking them to close the road to tourists.

    If you have 20 seconds, please sign the pledge:


    Sign the pledge now - only takes a few seconds

    If you have longer, please write and mail a letter to the islands' administration

    Write your letter

 

  • Support the Plan to end child marriage 
  •  

    The latest figures show that every 2 seconds, a girl is forced or coerced to marry, shattering her dreams for the future and putting her at great risk of violence and ill-health. In less than 70 days, global experts and government representatives will gather in London to agree how Commonwealth member countries can together, help end child marriage. Show your support for Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, increasing action to end child marriage. Help reach 10,000 signatures of support in time for this crucial meeting.

 

  • Damilola Taylor Trust
    The trust set up in memory of Damilola Taylor killed aged 11.

  • Hassan Ngeze
    Website in support of the African journalist
  • Zahid Mubarek Inquiry
    Timeline: Zahid Mubarek case
  • Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
    The trust set up in memory of Stephen Lawrence killed aged 18.
  • http://www.aclt.org/index.php/appeals/

    Bone Marrow Appeals & Bone requests advertised on ACLT site

  • ANTI-SKIN BLEACHING
    If you have not yet signed the petition then please do so and share the information with your networks.  A lot of money is being made by irresponsible companies that argue there is a legitimate demand for these toxic products. It is difficult to challenge this taboo problem whilst it is still being promoted as an acceptable lifestyle ‘choice’. Politicians usually respond to numbers - money or people power. When we get up to five hundred supporters we will approach the MP’s when they are most vulnerable and susceptible to doing the right thing – election time.
    Remember: If anyone comes across harmful illegal cosmetic products they can contact their local Trading Standards services, every local authority has one.


Skin Bleaching

We need to be aware that there are many women within the black community who are ashmed of their skin colour, wish they were lighter, and who have a real warped sense of self. These women are among us showing subtle signs of lack of self worth, but unfortunately the men they predominently go for DO NOT help their esteem, nor do the sellers of these bleaching creams etc. I cried watching this (the full episode is in shocking truths) but its worth being aware of the complexion crisis among us, and to help ALL WOMEN regain their self worth whatever colour or shade.

photo 2g

 

 

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Conflict Minerals in Congo

Your mobile phone, your computer, your portable music player, and your gaming system all fuel fighting in eastern Congo.

Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year by trading conflict minerals. These minerals are in all our electronics devices.  Government troops and militias fight to control the mines, murdering and raping civilians to fracture the structure of society.

What Are Conflict Minerals?

Gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten (the "3 T's"), are mined in eastern Congo and are in all consumer electronics products.

Locals in mining communities are forced to take part in the illicit mining economy. Money earned from the sale of conflict minerals is used for personal profit and to further violent causes.

Minerals are smuggled out of Congo through neighboring countries, then shipped to smelters around the world for refinement. Once minerals are processed in this way, it’s difficult to trace their origin. Conflict minerals easily make their way to the U.S. and all over the world in consumer products.

We must work together to bring about an end to the trade in conflict minerals. Together, we must create a demand for responsible sourcing for minerals from Congo.


 
More detailed info regarding these types of issues concerning miners, workers and conflict/rights is documented under the 'Current Issues' Tab.
Seafood, not slavefood

Migrant workers are being enslaved in grim and violent conditions to produce many of the prawns on our supermarket shelves. But just as people across Britain rallied to ban the slave trade 200 years ago, we can get our biggest retailer to crack down on these abuses

Recent investigations by the Environmental Justice Foundation and The Guardian have shown serious human rights abuses including trafficking, slavery and murder in the Thai seafood industry. One migrant fisher saw a fellow crew member being murdered, reporting: “The other captains came and pinned him down. They tied his hands and legs to four boats, and they pulled him apart."

MORE INFORMATION:

Sold to the sea: Human Trafficking in Thailand's Fishing Industry (Environmental Justice Foundation)
http://ejfoundation.org/oceans/soldtotheseafilm

Trafficked into slavery on Thai trawlers to catch food for prawns (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/-sp-migrant-workers-new-life-enslaved-thai-fishing

Crime & Anti-Social Behaviour! Lets Bring it Down

Anti-Social Behaviour destroys lives and shatters Communities.  It's a widespread problem...but, it's effects are often most damaging in Communities that are already fragile.  If left 'unchecked' it can lead to neighbourhood decline, with people moving away and Tenants abandoning housing.

It can seriously damage the quality of life of vulnerable people through 'Fear of Crime' and the long-term effects of Victimisation.  It also incurs costs to a wide range of people including individuals and families...Schools, Local Authorities, Social Landlords and Business.

Fiona Pilkington...In 2007 Fiona Pilkington...killed herself and her 18 year old daughter after being bullied by a Gang of Yobs aged between 8 - 17 years old.  This case highlights just how serious the effects of Anti-social behaviour can become:  

Joseph Lappin...In October, 2008 - Fatally Knifed in the Heart...killed by a thug who previously had a string of Anti-Social Behaviour convictions.  An example of the worst possible result of Anti-Social Behaviour taken to it's ultimate conclusion...the needless death of 16 year old Army Cadet...'A much loved Son' who can never be replaced:

...WHY WE SHOULD WORK TOGETHER TO TACKLE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR!

It's time to look at how many great young people we have, doing great work in our society and engage with everyone in our local communities to tackle those 'Young People' that are causing distress and harm to innocent people, that think it's OK to behave in an anti-social way! 

The cases above...Fiona Pilkington and Joseph Lappin illustrates all too clearly that anti-social behaviour is not to be taken lightly...or considered a minor irritation.  Without intervention anti-social behaviour can result in many lives being ruined beyond repair.  What can we do within our local community

The below is a list of things that can be petitioned for change and/or done to mabe aid some form of change...

1. More support for parents

2. Respect for police

3. Better and more flexible education schemes

4. More community groups and community group support to tackle gun and knife crime

5. More groups that the public can join at regional and national and to tackle gun and knife crime

6. Media informing people of what’s out there to tackle gun, gangs and knife crime

7. Multi agency working

8. More police in the area

9. More mentors and the creation of mentoring systems

10. Black role models in schools and secondary and do something to make absent fathers live up to their responsibilities

11. Parents to turn off the TV and speak to their kids

12. More positive role models through education

13. Development of self love in the community

14. Good teachers

15. Need to recognise that peer group pressure is becoming greater influence than parental pressure, so parents need to become more sophisticated in the ways they connects with young people and need to celebrate young people and positive peer-to-peer mentoring

16. More research and evaluation

17. Better access to the opportunities that are out there for young people

18. Recognition of opportunities available for young people after they leave school and commitment to further education

19. Empowering black youth to know- through mentoring and education that they can succeed and there can be more Dawn Butlers in parliament and more great black great teachers

20. Action not re-action systems in society to prevent the need for emergency meetings

21. People taking more responsibility including media and parents

22. Rights of passage

23. More joined up working of organisations

24. Listening to young people

25. More publicity of education grants and other money available for young people

26. Young people being accountable for their own actions

27. Education followed through with opportunity, so educated on life skills as well as academically followed through with realistic opportunities

28. Giving young people a 2nd chance and improving services like Pupil referral Units

29. Old 'uns understanding younger people better

30. Slightly more even handed media coverage – good and bad things reported

31. Coordinating more with all agencies and more positive role models inside and outside schools

32. Better training for police so they treat people with the same respect they’d dealt with if they were stopped and searched

33. Stronger communities and people helping people

34. Praising and celebrating of the good achievements from individuals and organisations in the community

35. Police to stop arresting young black males and giving them criminal records so they cannot pass CRB checks and get jobs

36. Police to stop stereotyping people

37. People to talk to young people and understand their needs

38. More things to do for young people

39. Inter gang discussions and forums to discuss their problems and sort out their problems

40. Youth forums

41. Promotions of groups that are doing well on TV and more positive black role models on TV and in the media

42. Less bias of communities in the media more equality and more access to opportunities

43. Everyone should take responsibility and be inspiring for young people

44. More positive role models in media especially positive black role models

45. Greater awareness and promotion of the good work of role models who can relate to target audience today

46. Working towards unity within communities

47. More youths involved in these committees and bodies dealing with gun, gang and knife crime, so they can get a better incite of what young people think

48. More open discussions

49. Give young people a say in what they are taught in school

50. Re-evaluate the way money is being spent

51. Stop preaching and start doing

52. Something to boost self esteem and self respect of young people

53. More support for young people

54. More communication between parties involved

55. Consult more with young people, e.g. Lewisham Young mayors initiative

56. Authority should reflect the community better - if 40% of community is black or a minority, 40% of people in authority should be black of an ethnic minority

57. Listen to young people and act on what they want

58. Making youth realises that every life is special

59. More respect across generations

60. Police and government need to show us we can trust them

61. Recognising impact and legacy of slavery, repairing damage of history in homes, communities and wider society, greater development of self and programmes for understanding self, lending to greater social and community cohesions

62. More youth workers qualified in dealing with personal issues and life skills programmes and more long term funding of programmes and more black and ethnic minority people in suits in the city

63. People to stop feeling sorry for themselves and face tough consequences for their actions

64. Use of high impact media campaigns from government, like on drinking and driving

65. Support for media outlets that are doing something positive towards tackling or reporting on young people and guns, gangs and knife crime

66. Recognising that young people need to be heard and given a platform to lend and inform this debate

67. Life curriculum as well as school curriculum and access to people who’ve been convicted for carrying guns so they can tell young people not to do the same as them

68. Visits to prisons to show consequences of gun and knife crime

69. Early intervention with children when they show signs of difficulties to stop them falling into the traps that lead to gangs

70. Consolidate and rank existing recommendations

71. Homogenise data collection across government and charitable sectors

72. Divert more funds to where it is needed

Child soldiers

Child. Soldier. Some words don't belong together.

Yet throughout Africa and other parts of the world, children are used to fight in wars that are tearing their lives and communities apart.

Key facts & statistics about child soldiers

  • There are an estimated 250,000 child soldiers in the world today.
  • Many rebel groups use child soldiers to fight the government, but some governments also use child soldiers in armed conflict.
  • Not all children take part in active combat. Some are also used as porters, cooks and spies.
  • As part of their recruitment, children are sometimes forced to kill or maim a family member - thus breaking the bonds with their community and making it difficult for them to return home.
  • Girls are often used as wives and sex slaves for the male combatants.
  • Whilst most child soldiers are abducted or conscripted into the fighting forces, some also volunteer or are volunteered by their parents.
  • It is estimated that 40% of all child soldiers are girls. They are often used as 'wives' - i.e. sex slaves.

Which countries are reported to use child soldiers in their own armies?

Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda, Central African Republic, Somalia amongst others. Countries like the UK, the USA and Canada recruit people into the army from age 17 but do not send them to the front line to fight.

child-soldiers-map
Source: Child Soldiers Global Report 2008

Why use children as soldiers?

Children are used as soldiers because they are easier to condition and brainwash. They don't eat much food, don't need paying much and have an underdeveloped sense of risk/danger so are easier to send into the line of fire. They also tend to be small and quick - making them good scouts and lookouts. 

As children make up the majority demographic in many developing countries, there's always a constant supply of potential recruits.

What do child soldiers do?

Due to their size and 'expendability', children ore often sent into battle as scouts or decoys. They're often sent in first to draw the enemy's fire.

Many child soldiers don't actually fight - they are used as porters, cooks and spies. Girls are often forced to become 'wives' of the male commanders and often bear their children.

What are the effects on children?

child_soldiers_africa

The effects on children are felt long after their physical scars have healed and their drug dependencies overcome. Many child soldiers are desensitised to violence - often at a very formative time in their development and this can psychologically damage them for life.

Even when they're set free or escape, many children can't go back home to their families and communities because they've been ostracised from them. They may have been forced to kill a family member or neighbour just so they can never go back. Many girls have babies from their time in the rebel groups and their communities/families don't accept them home. 

Most have missed out on school - sometimes for many years. Without an education they have very little future prospects and sometimes return to the rebel groups as they have simply no other way of feeding themselves.

How do child soldiers get recruited?

child-soldiers-pictures

In places like nothern Uganda children are often abducted and forced to become soldiers - a tactic most notoriously used by the Lords Resistance Army. In other places a community or village may be forced

to provide a certain number of children as soldiers in exchange for staying safe from attack.

Some children volunteer or are volunteered by their parents due to extreme poverty at home. If they can't afford to feed themselves then life in the army or rebel group is often the only viable alternative.

In some rare cases children make an active decision to join armed groups due to ideological/religious reasons, or the avenge the death of family members.

 

Accused of witchcraft

In some parts of Africa, witchcraft has played a role in rebellions, wars, and the gaining of independence. Some people also consult witchdoctors to cure diseases or find a husband. In some central African areas magic is blamed for diseases such as AIDS and cancer by local people.

WITCH CHILDREN

One major problem with the belief of witchcraft as that children too often get accused of practicing witchcraft and this leads to neglect, emotional distress and physical abuse.

In DRC this is a big issue as many of the children living on the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, had been accused of being a witch. The evidence of so-called witchcraft could include a relative’s sudden death, disease, disability and even bad behaviour; the first three being things that are bound to happen during a conflict.

Families when faced with the problem of what to do with a child accused of witchcraft have only a few options. They could deny the allegation (which carries with it risks as the community could turn against them), send the child away to live on the streets, or get the child exorcised by a pastor.

There are a large number of fundamentalist Christian sects who can make a lot of money out of the witchcraft trend. They can charge to identify a witch and then charge another fee to exorcise them, which can involve starving, beating and torturing them in order to get rid of the ‘devil’ inside them. They pray on peoples’ fears and beliefs.

As life gets harder for people living with conflict and poverty, more children are accused of witchcraft. Poverty is one reason to get rid of a dependent child and religion used as an explanation as to why thousands of children are abused and left unprotected.

Sexual Violence

One appalling thing that happens during conflicts of today is that rape and sexual violence is used as a weapon against communities. In some countries rape has become commonplace and in some cases girls are abducted by soldiers and forced to become ‘wives’ or sexual slaves.

The effects of this form of abuse include the physical, as the victims face pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS and internal damage, as well as the psychological.  The shame and social stigma attached to the experience can lead to social exclusion, emotional distress, an unwillingness to get help from a doctor and even suicide

Sexual Violence in DRC 

Women in DRC don’t have the same rights as men and don’t always get treated fairly. There is a lot of violence against women, including sexual violence. Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war against women and girls by most forces involved in the conflict in the DRC. It is not possible to say exactly how many women have been victims as many women are scared that their attackers will get revenge on them if they speak out or that their communities and families will reject them. There is a lot of dishonour attached to being raped in DRC.

Child victims of sexual violence have been reported as young as five years old; the psychological, physical and social effects can be impossible for children to ever recover from.  Young girls who are raped find it really difficult to marry later in life as there is a huge amount of shame and stigma attached to rape.  Many women and girls are rejected by their families, especially if they end up pregnant and because of the strong social stigma many victims do not seek medical help. Many women are killed or receive terrible injuries during these attacks.

Rape and violence against women was originally used by soldiers as a way of humiliating the enemy. The men who do this almost never get sent to jail as many women never tell anyone and because of the prevailing climate of impunity. The effect of all this is that women are being hurt and damaged and the peace process is made all the more difficult.

Violence & Abuction in Uganda

The abduction of children was a big problem in Uganda. The Lords Resistance Army (LRA) abducted literally thousands of girls and women, some as young as 8, where they were trained as soldiers, and are forced into domestic and sexual slavery.

Life after abduction was hard and traumatic. While in captive they had to obey all of the commanders and were expected to take part in horrific activities, including the abduction of other children, village raids and they were even expected to kill their own friends and family.

Young girls often ended up being domestic servants where they worked long days doing strenuous work. The LRA doesn’t have a practice of raping young girls. Instead they wait until they are around 14 to make them ‘wives’ of the commanders. From this point on the girls experienced rape, unwanted pregnancies and were at risk form catching STDs, including HIV/AIDs. These girls also experienced violence at the hands of the men around them.

If the girls became pregnant they were at risk from the dangers surrounding delivering their babies without medical help. They also then faced the problem of feeding their babies when they themselves didn't have enough food or water. Although being a wife brought the girls some protection from violence and some privalages over the other girls, if their ‘husband’ died they were then open to all the same physical and sexual risks.

Girls who have been abducted as wives and/or servants often find it hard to get back into normal society if they are released or escape. Living through fighting, war, brutal bush life and sexual violence often makes it difficult for them to be accepted by their families and communities. It is especially difficult if they have lost their parents or homes and if they try to return with children of their own. There is a lot of shame attached to under-age and unmarried sex, even if it happened by force.

It doesn’t help that a lot of communities are living with painful memories of losing their homes and families and they may view the returning girls as being part of the reason for their suffering. All of this makes it really hard for these girls to build a life.

Violence against women takes many forms: beyond rape and sexual harassment, it also includes child marriage, wife beating, female genital cutting/mutilation, dowry-related violence, trafficking, sexual violence during wars, femicide, 'honour' killings, forced sterilization, pornography and bride kidnapping. Violence against women may also take many forms of psychological abuse, intimidation and harassment.

All are unacceptable violations of human rights. Together they form a huge obstacle to gender equality and genuine human progress.

Darfur

The Crisis At-a-Glance
People who have died as a direct result of the conflict:
Over 200,000
People displaced from Darfur:
Over 2 million
People displaced from Darfur into Chad:
260,000
Displaced Chadians:
160,000
People displaced from the Central African Republic:
155,000
TOTAL at risk:
Several Million
conflict

Sudan is Africa’s largest country, located just south of Egypt on the eastern edge of the Sahara desert. The Darfur region is a drought-prone area of western Sudan. By area, Darfur is roughly the size of Texas and is divided into three states that had a collective population of approximately 6 million people before the crisis in Darfur began in 2003. Darfurians exist largely on subsistence farming or nomadic herding. There are between 40 and 80 ethnic groups in Darfur. Most villages are multi-ethnic and, despite ethnic differences, there is a history of peaceful coexistence. Local languages include Arabic, Fur and Massalit.

 

Elder & vulnerable people abuse

Every year, tens of thousands of vulnerable people (with mental affliction, disability or autism) and the elderly are abused in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in  facilities responsible for their care. You may suspect that a person you know is being harmed physically or emotionally by a neglectful or overwhelmed caregiver or being preyed upon financially.

By learning the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and how to act on behalf of an elderly person who is being abused, you’ll not only be helping someone else but strengthening your own defenses against elder abuse in the future. PLEASE NOTE THE BELOW DETAILS ELDER ABUSE BUT THE SIGNS & SYMPTOMS CAN ALSO BE NOTICEABLE IN OTHER VULNERABLE PEOPLE SO PLEASE TAKE HEED. 

What is elder/vulnerable people abuse

Your  elderly neighbor

There’s an elderly/vulnerable neighbor you’ve chatted with at civic meetings and block parties for years. When you see her coming to get her mail as you walk up the street, you slow down and greet her at the mailbox. She says hello but seems wary, as if she doesn’t quite recognize you. You ask her about a nasty bruise on her forearm. Oh, just an accident, she explains; the car door closed on it. She says goodbye quickly and returns to the house. Something isn’t quite right about her. You think about the bruise, her skittish behaviour. Well, she’s getting pretty old or vulnerable, you think; maybe her mind is getting fuzzy. But there’s something else — something isn’t right.

As elders become more physically frail, they’re less able to stand up to bullying and or  fight back if attacked. They may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them. Mental or physical ailments may make them more trying companions for the people who live with them..

Tens of thousands of seniors and vulnerable people are being abused: harmed in some substantial way often people who are directly responsible for their care
More than half a million reports of abuse against elderly and vulnerable people reach authorities every year, and millions more cases go unreported.

Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives: most often in the home where abusers are apt to be adult children; other family members such as grandchildren; or spouses/partners of elders. Institutional settings especially long-term care facilities can also be sources of elder abuse.

The different types of elder/vulnerable people abuse

Abuse takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the person, some involving neglect, and others involving financial chicanery. The most common are defined below.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is non-accidental use of force against a person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. Such abuse includes not only physical assaults such as hitting or shoving but the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement.

Emotional abuse

In emotional or psychological abuse, people speak to or treat the person in ways that cause emotional pain or distress.

 Verbal forms of emotional abuse include

  • intimidation through yelling or threats
  • humiliation and ridicule
  • habitual blaming or scapegoating
  • Nonverbal psychological abuse can take the form of
  • ignoring the elderly person
  • isolating an person from friends or activities
  • terrorizing or menacing the person

Sexual abuse

Sexual  abuse is contact with a person without the person’s consent. Such contact can involve physical sex acts, but activities such as showing a person pornographic material, forcing the person to watch sex acts, or forcing the person to undress are also considered sexual elder abuse.

Neglect or abandonment

Elder/Vulnerable neglect, failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation, constitutes more than half of all reported cases of abuse. It can be active (intentional) or passive (unintentional).

Financial exploitation

This involves unauthorized use of a person’s funds or property, either by a caregiver or an outside scam artist.

An unscrupulous caregiver might

  • misuse a person personal checks, credit cards, or accounts
  • steal cash, income checks, or household goods
  • forge the person’s signature
  • engage in identity theft
  • Typical rackets that target elders/vulnerable people include
  • Carried out by unethical doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, and other professional care providers, examples of healthcare fraud and abuse regarding elders/vulnerable people include
  • At first, you might not recognize or take seriously signs of abuse. They may appear to be symptoms of dementia or signs of the person’s frailty — or caregivers may explain them to you that way. In fact, many of the signs and symptoms of abuse do overlap with symptoms of mental deterioration, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss them on the caregiver’s say-so.
  • The following are warning signs of some kind of elder/vulnerable persons abuse:
  • If you suspect elderly abuse, but aren't sure, look for clusters of the following physical and behavioural signs.
  • Announcements of a “prize” that the person has won but must pay money to claim
  • Phony charities
  • Investment fraud

Healthcare fraud and abuse

  • Not providing healthcare, but charging for it
  • Overcharging or double-billing for medical care or services
  • Getting kickbacks for referrals to other providers or for prescribing certain drugs
  • Overmedicating or undermedicating
  • Recommending fraudulent remedies for illnesses or other medical conditions
  • Medicaid fraud

Signs and symptoms of elder/vulnerable people abuse

  • Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
  • Changes in personality or behavior in the elder

 

Signs and symptoms of specific types of abuse

Physical abuse

Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two side of the body

Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations

Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should)

Broken eyeglasses or frames

Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists

Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone

Emotional abuse

In addition to the general signs above, indications of emotional elder abuse include

Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness

Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself

Sexual abuse

Bruises around breasts or genitals

Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections

Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding

Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing

 

Neglect by caregivers or self-neglect

 

Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration

Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores

Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes

Being left dirty or unbathed

Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather

Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)

Desertion of the elder at a public place

 

Financial exploitation

 

Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts

Sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition

Items or cash missing from the senior’s household

Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies

Addition of names to the senior’s signature card

Unpaid bills or lack of medical care, although the elder has enough money to pay for them

Financial activity the senior couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden

Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions

 

Healthcare fraud and abuse

 

Duplicate billings for the same medical service or device

Evidence of overmedication or undermedication

Evidence of inadequate care when bills are paid in full

Problems with the care facility:
- Poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient staff
- Crowding
- Inadequate responses to questions about care

Risk factors for elder abuse

It’s difficult to take care of a senior when he or she has many different needs, and it’s difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur.

Risk factors among caregivers

Many nonprofessional caregivers — spouses, adult children, other relatives and friends — find taking care of an elder to be satisfying and enriching. But the responsibilities and demands of elder caregiving, which escalate as the elder’s condition deteriorates, can also be extremely stressful. The stress of elder care can lead to mental and physical health problems that make caregivers burned out, impatient, and unable to keep from lashing out against elders in their care.

Among caregivers, significant risk factors for elder/vulnerable person abuse are 

  • inability to cope with stress (lack of resilience)
  • depression, which is common among caregivers
  • lack of support from other potential caregivers
  • the caregiver’s perception that taking care of the elder is burdensome and without psychological reward
  • substance abuse
  • Even caregivers in institutional settings can experience stress at levels that lead to elder abuse. Nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they lack training, have too many responsibilities, are unsuited to caregiving, or work under poor conditions.
  • The elder’s condition and history
  • Several factors concerning elders themselves, while they don’t excuse abuse, influence whether they are at greater risk for abuse:
  • In many cases, elder abuse, though real, is unintentional. Caregivers pushed beyond their capabilities or psychological resources may not mean to yell at, strike, or ignore the needs of the elders in their care.
  • Other international helplines include:
  • The first agency to respond to a report of elderly abuse, in most states, is Adult Protective Services. Its role is to investigate abuse cases, intervene, and offer services and advice.
  • The intensity of an elderly person’s illness or dementia
  • Social isolation; i.e., the elder and caregiver are alone together almost all the time
  • The elder’s role, at an earlier time, as an abusive parent or spouse
  • A history of domestic violence in the home
  • The elder’s own tendency toward verbal or physical aggression

Reporting elder abuse

The 500,000 to 1,000,000 reports of abuse recorded by authorities every year (the vast majority of which are proven to be true) are only the tip of the iceberg; according to data from different states, for every case of elder abuse reported, another 12 or 13 are not. Accordingly there’s a great need for people to report suspected abuse.

In every state, physical, sexual, and financial abuses targeting elders that violate laws against assault, rape, theft, and other offenses are punishable as crimes. With some variation among areas, certain types of emotional elder abuse and elder neglect are subject to criminal prosecution, depending on the perpetrators' conduct and intent and the consequences for the victim.

While it’s important for elders to seek refuge from abuse, either by calling a local agency or telling a doctor or trusted friend, many seniors don't report the abuse they face even if they’re able. Many fear retaliation from the abuser, while others believe that if they turn in their abusers, no one else will take care of them. When the caregivers are their children, they may be ashamed that their children are behaving abusively or blame themselves: “If I’d been a better parent when they were younger, this wouldn’t be happening.” Or they just may not want children they love to get into trouble with the law.

Preventing abuse and neglect

We can help reduce the incidence of elder abuse, but it’ll take more effort than we’re making now. Preventing elder abuse means doing three things:

  • Listening to seniors/vulnerable people and their caregivers
  • Intervening when you suspect elder abuse
  • Educating others about how to recognize and report abuse
  • If you’re overwhelmed by the demands of caring for a person, do the following:
  • Finally, if you aren’t in a position to help a person personally, you can volunteer or donate money to the cause of educating people about abuse, and you can lobby to strengthen laws and policing so that the abuse can be investigated and prosecuted more readily. The life you save down the line may be your own.
  • Request help, from friends, relatives, or local respite care agencies, so you can take a break, if only for a couple of hours.
  • Find an adult day care program.
  • Stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when necessary.
  • Adopt stress reduction practices.
  • Seek counseling for depression, which can lead to abuse.
  • Find a support group for caregivers.
  • If you’re having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help.
  • What you can do as a concerned friend or family member
  • Watch for warning signs that might indicate abuse. If you suspect abuse, report it.
  • Take a look at the  medications. Does the amount in the vial jive with the date of the
  • prescription?
  • Watch for possible financial abuse. Ask the person if you may scan bank accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions.
  • Call and visit as often as you can. Help the person consider you a trusted confidante.
  • Offer to stay with the elder so the caregiver can have a break — on a regular basis, if you can.
 IT IS
  • A Matter Of Life Or Death
  • A Life Without Having A Life
  • A Bad Doctor, A Careless Nurse, A Negligent Hospital
  • “Failure To Provide The Proper Standard Of Care”
 IT'S NOT
  • A Highly Paid Researcher Who Can't Find A Cure For Cancer
  • A Disappointing Fund-Raising Lottery For Hospital Expansion
  • A Malpractice Allegation Against A Doctor
  • “That's Just The Way The System Works”

 

What Can We Do

 

Write campaign letters, set up petitions, fundraise.. any and everything... but lets not just watch it happen around us

 

If Black people are to elevate these are the five keys to fixing our economic and social problems:

1) Rebuild the Black family. Every major problem in the Black community, including poor education, massive unemployment, senseless violence, hyper-incarceration, lost spirituality, low-quality housing options and high mortality rates, can be traced to the disintegration of the Black family.

2) Provide Black boys with strong, positive Black men as mentors, role models and, particularly, a connection to their fathers. Black boys, like any other children, will imitate and become what they see. It is critical that Black children see strong, positive Black men.

3) Control the negative peer culture and electronic media that mold many Black boys and men into violent, irresponsible and uncaring human beings. Either Black people will control the media that we consume or the media will control us.

4) Understand that for the rest of our existence, Black people will live in a "STEMM" world, a world based on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine (STEMM). If we are to survive, it will be because we understand and master "STEMM." We must teach Black children accordingly.

5) Control our economic fate by mastering the principles of entrepreneurship, business, management, finance, accounting, manufacturing, saving, investing, banking and tithing, and by teaching these principles to our children.

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 lots more to follow

 

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