Education is a human right. It is both a right in itself and also a pathway to the enjoyment of other rights. Education is also an inalienable right for every child, and every child deserves the opportunity to receive one.
October 11th marked the fifth year that the global community recognized International Day of the Girl Child, which the United Nations established to acknowledge girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges girls face around the world. The list of challenges for girls is not short. Girls around the world are more likely to experience exclusion, discrimination, and gender-based violence than their male counterparts. They are also more likely to have unequal access to education and economic opportunities in the future.
The good news is that the world is paying closer attention to the rights of adolescent girls and, as a result, there have been some improvements over the decades. We have seen progress in girls’ education, and many countries have enacted laws to promote gender equality. At the same time, there are challenges for girls where change is insignificant or where progress is uneven: chief among them is early and forced child marriage. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International
It was a situation almost too heart-wrenching to comprehend. In April this year came the news from Paraguay that “Mainumby” (not her real name) then a 10-year-old girl, had become pregnant after she was repeatedly raped, allegedly by her stepfather. The girl had been taken to hospital several times in a four-month-period before the pregnancy was discovered.
After finding out the horrific news, Mainumby’s mother, whose legal complaint against her daughter’s abuser had fallen on deaf ears, made a request to the authorities to allow her daughter to have an abortion. But the government refused it, and instead moved the girl into a home for young mothers.
The reason? Paraguay, like many other countries in Latin America, has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws – where terminating a pregnancy is only allowed if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. Authorities decided this case did not fall under the exception, despite the risk that a pregnancy poses to such a young girl’s physical and mental health.
In Malawi, Kalinde* was 15 years old when she was forced to marry due to her family’s poverty. She was told to respect her husband and never to deny him sex. Her husband’s work takes him away from their home for long periods of time, leaving her and their two children with nothing to live on. Kalinde’s husband also physically abuses her and has affairs with other women. As a result, Kalinde contracted HIV. In Kalinde’s words:
“Marriage is not good for girls. There is no happiness. I want change for girls and that is why I want my story to be heard by all girls out there thinking of marriage.”
By Leah Schmidt, Identity and Discrimination Unit, Amnesty International USA
In July 2013, an 11-year-old girl became pregnant after having been raped repeatedly for two years by her stepfather. However, ending the pregnancy was not an option for her. In Chile, where she lives, abortion is outlawed in all cases, even in cases of rape and even for children. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On Friday, 19 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged Secretary of State John Kerry to defend the human rights of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.
Led by U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, the 19 Members of Congress signed a letter to the U.S. State Department that focuses on the thousands of Palestinian children who have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted, and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system.
Here’s who signed: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
With just hours left before today’s deadline, 13 Members of Congress have now joined the call for Palestinian children’s human rights.
Led by U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, these elected officials are signing a letter (PDF) to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that urges him to raise the human rights of Palestinian children in his dealings with the Government of Israel.
By Debbie Sharnak, Argentina-Paraguay country specialist
A ten-year-old girl and her mother arrived at a hospital in Asunción, Paraguay on April 21 with stomach pains. The doctors quickly discovered the cause of the discomfort—the girl was 21-weeks pregnant, the result of having been raped by her stepfather.
At such a young age, the pregnancy is considered high risk by the World Health Organization— child pregnancies are extremely dangerous for the health of the pregnant girl and may lead to complications and even death. Because the bodies of young girls are not fully developed to carry a baby, these pregnancies tend be high risk, and in Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among adolescents younger than 16 years old. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The lights are going out in Syria.
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading. More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.
If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:
“Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.
if you really care about immigrants’ rights, in your State of the Union, can you explain why:
- Since 2001, immigration detention in the United States has more than doubled from just over 200,000 annually under President Bush to 478,000 in 2012, an all-time high?[i]
- Your administration has deported an average of 390,000 immigrants a year since 2009, with a record 409,000 deportations in 2012?[ii]
- Your administration deported its 2 millionth immigrant in 2014, while hundreds of thousands of families have been separated during the past six years?
This is a pace of deportation and exposure to abuse that cannot continue. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST