Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘laws’

Oxfam America Advocacy

Gabriel –

Imagine that you’re pregnant, injured or gravely ill. You have no car. There’s a clinic building nearby, but no doctors or nurses – the doors are shut. The nearest hospital is 25 miles away.

Women and girls around the world face this nightmare scenario every day. Women suffer from unequal treatment in many ways: less food in crises as they feed their children first, more violence – including rape – during conflicts, inadequate care for themselves and their families when they need it most.

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We can prevent this scenario – but it’s going to take us all working together to make sure women’s voices are heard in the legislative process so we can fix the broken US aid system and keep life-changing programs off the chopping block. The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund is fighting for this day in and day out. To keep our work going in the months ahead, we need to raise $40,000 before June 6. Can you help?

Donate to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund today to join our fight for policies that help women tackle hunger, poverty and injustice at their roots.

Martha Kwataine, a health advocate in Malawi, helped end this nightmare for women in the town of Mponela. Martha brought her neighbors together to pressure the government to meet urgent needs – from convincing the government to staff an empty clinic to restarting scholarships for midwives. “We don’t ask America to do our work for us,” says Martha. “We just want America as a partner in helping us solve these problems.”

Even as we celebrate Martha’s success, we know that there’s a bigger problem here than a lack of doctors and an empty clinic. Why isn’t her government addressing these problems? How can we help communities take control of their resources and their futures? And how can we make sure that the help our government provides to communities in need around the world is making a real difference for Martha, her neighbors and her country?

The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund works to tackle problems at their roots by:

Helping communities control their resources and their futures – Without the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund, community voices – like Martha’s – are left out of important decisions about resources, leading to disastrous consequences. Oxfam works to support women’s leadership programs and make sure that local activists are heard in the legislative process.
Fixing foreign aid – We’re working to change the way food aid is delivered during food shortages so that every dollar can go to work helping people who need it most, rather than being wasted on expensive shipping restrictions or in “red tape” processes.

Fighting to keep life-changing programs fully funded – Too often, poverty-fighting aid programs – from education to food aid to health services – are the first ones cut, despite the dramatic difference they make for people in need.

It takes dedication to long-term development work plus community leadership plus changing laws and policies to truly help people lift themselves out of poverty, hunger and injustice. Martha is fighting for this change – are you?

Donate to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund to make this change – and more – possible.

There are just three days left to help us reach our goal of $40,000 to keep this work going. Please give as generously you can.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Mary Marchal
Advisor, Aid Effectiveness
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Child Marriage In South Sudan

Dear Gabriel,

girl-smile-200x160Marriage isn’t just a milestone. It’s a hugely important decision that determines the course of the rest of your life. It’s not a decision to enter into lightly and certainly not one a 12-year-old can make responsibly.

But in South Sudan, child marriage of girls as young as 12 isn’t just legal, it’s common. Sign the petition demanding an end to child marriage.

Nearly half of South Sudanese girls between 15-19 are married, often at the behest of their family. These girls suffer profound consequences and diminished opportunities. Once married, girls often are denied education, diminishing their earnings potential. Girls quickly become young mothers with high-risk pregnancies and are more susceptible to violence and abuse.

It’s not enough for a country to help girls end abusive marriages. South Sudan needs strong laws to make sure all marriages are consensual — and that means setting 18 as the minimum marrying age.

Tell South Sudan to enact strong laws to prevent coerced child marriage.

Thank you for taking action,

Emily V.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

On the Front Lines

She was a 23-year-old physical therapy student who boarded a bus in Delhi last month. Six men locked the door, and savagely raped her. They dumped her naked in the street, and after bravely fighting for her life, she died last weekend.

Across India, people are responding in massive protests to say enough is enough. In India a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and few see justice. Globally, a staggering 7 in 10 women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. This horror in Delhi is the last straw — it’s 2013, and the brutal, venal, global war on women must stop. We can start by drawing the line in India.

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The government is currently accepting public comments. We urgently need both stronger law enforcement and a massive public education program to change the grotesque but common male attitudes that permit violence against women. If 1 million of us join the call for action, we can help make this young woman’s horror the last straw, and the beginning of a new hope:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

The ringleader of the woman’s rapists coldly says she deserved it because she dared to stand up to him. Blaming the victim and other outrageous attitudes are found across society, including in the police who continually fail to investigate rape. Such views repress women and corrupt men everywhere. Massively funded public education campaigns have radically shifted social behaviour on drunk driving and smoking, and can impact the treatment of women. Tackling the root causes of India’s rape epidemic is vital, alongside better laws and faster legal processes.

Advertising in India is relatively cheap, so a significant funding commitment could blanket airwaves in multiple media markets for a sustained period of time. The ads should target male subcultures where conservative misogyny thrives, directly challenging and shaming those attitudes, ideally using messengers like popular sports figures that carry authority with the audience.

We only have days to influence the official Commission set up to find ways to crack down on India’s wave of sexual violence. If we can show real success in shifting attitudes in India, the model can be applied to other countries. The money spent will more than pay for itself by reducing poverty and promoting development, since treatment and empowerment of women has been identified as one of the greatest single drivers of social and economic progress. Click to send a message directly to the Indian government:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

>From opposing the stoning of women in Iran, to supporting the reproductive rights of women in Morocco, Uzbekistan and Honduras, to lobbying for real action to counter the growing ‘rape trade’ in trafficked women and girls, our community has been on the front lines of the fight to end the war on women. This new year begins with new resolve in India.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Luis, Meredith, Iain, Ian, Marie, Michelle, Alaphia, Allison and the rest of the Avaaz team

India’s Daughter

Gabriel –

Trigger warning: this email contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors.

She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital.

Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now has convinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.

The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita’s petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there’s a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.

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Click here to sign Namita’s petition asking the Indian government to actively prosecute rape cases, introduce compulsory sensitivity training for police, and pass two proposed laws to protect women.

The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long.

According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them.

Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.

Click here to sign Namita’s petition, and ask the Indian government to do everything in its power to make sure tragedies like this are never repeated.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Kristiane and the Change.org team

A Kaleidoscope of Species

Dear Friend,

Hawaiʻi’s famous coral reefs are known to contain a kaleidoscope of colorful species like the tinker’s butterflyfish, dragon eel, and harlequin shrimp. Unfortunately, if we don’t act soon, Hawaiʻi could lose these vibrant sea creatures and the reef ecosystems that depend on them.

Voice your support for protecting Hawaiʻi’s corals now.

The multi-million dollar exotic fish collection industry is capturing hundreds of thousands of bright coral reef fish and fragile invertebrates—many that play a vital role in protecting these corals—from Hawaiʻi’s reefs each year.

Alarmingly, the state is ignoring its own laws that mandate an environmental review before issuing permits for this potentially devastating practice. What’s worse, the state has absolutely NO limit on the number of these tropical marine creatures that can be captured for private profit.

Demand that the State of Hawaiʻi examine the cumulative damage to reef ecosystems before granting permits that allow unlimited removal of marine wildlife.

Coral reefs across the world are already at risk of ecological collapse—faced with serious threats from climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. And, studies have determined that herbivorous fish and invertebrates on coral reefs—the primary targets of the commercial aquarium industry—are extremely important to reef health.

Earthjustice attorneys recently filed suit to require the state to comply with the environmental review procedures that are mandated by the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act. But we need your support to put additional pressure on the state.

Scuba divers and snorkelers have indeed witnessed a disconcerting trend in recent years on their local reefs. One of our clients, a Hawaiʻi resident who has completed more than 10,000 scuba dives, has observed that particular species targeted by the tropical fish collection trade have completely vanished from certain reef areas. These devastating changes are taking place in areas that are open to commercial marine wildlife collection.

Our tenacious team of attorneys is fighting in court to demand that Hawaiʻi conduct an official environmental review of the effects of commercial aquarium collection on the reefs, and to stop all collecting while the study is being done. Please support our efforts to safeguard our nation’s coral reefs by sending a letter today!

Thanks for standing up for coral reefs and all of the marine wildlife that depend on them.

Sincerely,

Caroline Ishida
Associate Attorney
Earthjustice, Mid-Pacific Office

Let Us Vote

Dear Gabriel,

Stop Voter Suppression

Protect the right to vote for all Americans. Tell Congress to pass the Voter Empowerment Act now.

Since the 2010 election, Republicans have approved laws to restrict the right to vote in more than a dozen states despite the fact that only 13 cases of credible voter fraud occurred in a ten-year period. Compare that to the 441 Americans who were killed by lightning or the 47,000 UFO sighting during the same period and you see just how much the GOP is pulling at straws to legitimize suppressing millions from the right to vote.

They say it’s about fraud, which you and I know is a lie, but recent comments by a Pennsylvania lawmaker prove otherwise.

While listing off a string of right-wing legislative accomplishments at a political event in Pennsylvania, state House majority leader Mike Turzai (R) stated, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

So there you have it. The Republican party was never concerned about counteracting fraud, only about ensuring their victory — even if they have to prevent tens of millions of Americans from voting to do it.

On the eve of Independence Day, it’s more important than ever that we protect the right to vote for each and every one of us. Will you tell Congress to stop suppressing Americans from voting and pass the Voter Empowerment Act today?

A key component of the GOP’s campaign has been orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which receives substantial funding from the Koch brothers. Already, the Koch brothers have poured up to $245,550 in campaign contributions to politicians supporting new voter ID laws, such as Scott Walker and Rick Perry.2

And boy has their investment paid off! According to the Brennan Center for Justice, this year, over five million eligible voters could be negatively impacted by the new laws — and it’s no surprise that the majority of which tend to vote Democratic.3

These voter suppression laws are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to prevent minorities, seniors and young people from voting. That’s not just wrong, it’s downright un-American.

On this Independence Day, let’s remember why we’re here and how far we’ve come. The right to vote is a basic, fundamental right in our country. And since the Declaration of Independence was signed, we’ve strived as a nation to increase access to voting to more and more people. That is, until now.

Stand up for voting rights. Tell Congress to stop suppressing Americans from voting and pass the Voter Empowerment Act today.

Sincerely,
David Elliot
USAction / TrueMajority

Turkey & Religious Minorities

This is a very important and courageous development.

Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities
By SEBNEM ARSU. Published: August 28, 2011. New York Times.

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government said it would return hundreds of properties that were confiscated from religious minorities by the state or other parties over the years since 1936, and would pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement on Sunday to representatives of more than 150 Christian and Jewish trusts gathered at a dinner he hosted in Istanbul to break the day’s Ramadan fast. The government decree to return the properties, bypassing nationalist opposition in Parliament, was issued late Saturday.

The European Union, which Turkey has applied to join, has pressed the country to ease or eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against non-Muslim religious groups, including restrictions on land ownership. Many of the properties, including schools, hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries, were seized after 1936 when trusts were called to list their assets, and in 1974 a separate ruling banned the groups from purchasing any new real estate.

Disputes over the groups’ properties have tied up Turkish and European courts for decades, and the European Court for Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay compensation in several cases related to religious minority rights in recent years.

“Like everyone else, we also do know about the injustices that different religious groups have been subjected to because of their differences,” Mr. Erdogan said at the dinner, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency. “Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over.”

Read complete article at NEW YORK TIMES

America’s Backbone

Raphael and Enedina are true Americans. They have lived in California for most of their lives and raised five wonderful children, who are all excellent students or have graduated and are now working themselves. Raphael has labored long hours in the strawberry fields, picking the delicious fruit we take for granted in this part of the world. Enedina, in spite of numerous health problems, has worked at home raising the children.

This family is like countless others who have immigrated to this country, dug deep roots and made a better life for their children. They are also unlike most of us who were born here. In the midst of everything else they have done to survive, they have also been studying English and practicing to take their exams to become US citizens, which is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

I can attest to the painful experience of trying to learn another language as an adult, let alone another country’s history and government. I took Spanish in High School. I took Spanish in College. I attended a class at the Santa Cruz Adult School. I listened to tapes and tried speaking with Spanish-speaking friends. All these attempts ended in dismal failure. Other than rudimentary Spanish, I still can not retain or speak the language.

Raphael and Enedina, on the other hand, not only continued working while studying English, but they also had to memorize and learn more about our country than any native-born American has ever had to do. Not knowing which questions would be asked on their citizenship exams, they had to learn the answers in English and Spanish to more than one-hundred and fifty questions (many with multiple answers, such as the Bill of Rights, The Pledge of Allegiance and the thirteen original colonies)!

How many of us (those who were born and raised in the US) know the answers to these questions? What does the red, white and blue stand for in the American flag? How old must one be to run for the US Senate? What can the Senate do that the House of Representatives cannot do? How many amendments do we now have in the Constitution? What is the Fourth Amendment? What is the Eighth Amendment? Name ten cabinet positions that advise the president. What is the purpose of the United Nations? What are the three ways that bills become laws?

Raphael and Enedina studied year after year for this exam and recently passed on their first attempt! They can now apply for federal jobs, petition for relatives to join them in the U.S. and most importantly, vote. They will now have a say in the country they have made their home, in the country in which they have lived, worked and paid taxes for decades.

Their presence has made this country a better nation. Their presence and accomplishments should inspire us all. They are true Americans. Americans who deeply understand our democratic republic and the constant vigilance and hard work required to keep it a land of freedom and opportunity. They know what it truly takes to be an American citizen.

If you would like to help other hard working individuals and families learn English and/or study for citizenship, contact your local literacy program. Along with Native Americans, immigrants are the backbone that keeps America standing.

The Vital Ingredient

One mother, two mothers, three mothers or four – we can never have enough love and care for our children. One father, two fathers or more – we can never provide too much love and care for our children. Raised by a grandparent, a brother or and aunt – there is never too much love to go around. One mother and a father, a stepfather and/or a stepmother – there is never too much support, stability and loving presence for our children.

If children are our most precious resource (which is repeatedly mouthed by politicians and religious leaders), what difference does it make if their parent(s) and/or those willing to adopt them, are gay, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, black, white or brown? The arguments against adoption by gay or different colored parents become increasingly ludicrous, unsubstantiated and unsupportable.

Everyone, who knows or is a gay parent, understands that sexuality has nothing to do with one’s ability to care for children. Every significant study of children raised by gay or different colored parents over the last two decades has shown there is no difference (other than a slightly safer home environment in lesbian households than in heterosexual ones) in how well-adjusted, successful and happy their children are as adults. Nor is there any significant difference in the percentage of children that become adults and identify themselves as heterosexual or gay, than in those raised in households with a heterosexual mother and father.

Our family has experienced almost every kind of parenting. From a previous marriage I have two amazing children. As a single father I adopted a wonderful son. After re-marrying we became foster parents to an incredible daughter and my wife birthed a beautiful little boy. The only kind of parenting I haven’t experienced is that of being a gay parent and/or a different color then our children, but many friends have had that experience and continue to provide their children the love and support we all need growing up.

I’ll never forget the birth of our friend’s daughter almost twenty-five years ago. She was a bright joyous addition to our world and is now a delightful, intelligent young woman, secure in herself and her own sexuality. She grew up with two moms and had as much or more love and opportunity than most.

Another friend adopted a boy and a girl who are both well adjusted, happy adults who fondly visit their parents and call them both Dad.

One of my foster sisters adopted an incredible little girl with multiple physical problems as a baby and continues to raise her, as a single, gay mom and is helping her grow into a healthy assured teen.

Even though my wife and I both identify our selves as heterosexual, one of my sons and one of our daughters are gay. They will make wonderful parents, not because of their sexuality or gender, but because they are good, caring, respectful human beings.

Common sense and human decency shows us the advantages of providing permanent safe homes for our children. Being part of a responsible, nurturing family with boundaries, limits and an ongoing container of love are the vital ingredients of a good home, not the color of the parents or guardians skin or their sexual orientation.

If some people, acting out of their own religious or political beliefs, choose to make or support ignorance and outdated laws that separate, divide and/or condemn others because of their race or sexuality, that is their sad right. On the other hand, if they really want to support “the family” and wish to make a lasting difference in the health of our nation, they can open their eyes and hearts and lend a hand to those who have taken on one of the toughest, most frustrating and satisfying jobs in the world – parenting.

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