Category Archives: International Issues

Human Trafficking Awareness for Students in Qatar

Wonderful to see children so young being taught what to watch for. This is how we change the future.

News on Modern Day Slavery

Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking (QFCHT) has conducted a special programme for school students in Qatar to introduce them to the concepts of human trafficking.
The programme, “We are all humans”, targets school students of different ages to raise their awareness about the types and causes of human trafficking, related legislations and agreements, and the current stand of Qatar on the issue. It also aims at introducing them to the role and tasks of QFCHT in addressing such phenomena.
The programme was initially launched in three local independent schools of kindergarten, primary and preparatory stages, where a team of QFCHT spent a complete school day with students.
The team distributed pamphlets among the students that contain simplified information on human trafficking related issues and engaging exercises as well.
The team conducted various competitions and quizzes to encourage children to acquire the information in an interesting way. Children expressed their…

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Once again, sexual violence is used as a weapon

Sexual terrorism in Egypt

This came from a friend of mine in Cairo, Egypt where rape and sexual assault are being used as weapons to terrorize and silence protestors. Almost daily, he is sending reports of women being assaulted in the crowds and on the streets. Why do men do this? I just don’t understand. Those commiting assault say it is improper for a woman to have her head uncovered or her face or her feet or even her eyes or her voice should not be heard on the streets, but it is not improper for a man to tear her clothes off, grope her or shove his hands inside her or worse?? Like in the New Delhi rape or Sohaila Abdulali’s case, the men point at the perceived improper behavior of the women and justify their own rampant sexual violence. Again, I just don’t understand. Sigh.

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International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C, Panel Discussion Tomorrow

While I do not claim to be fully informed on the subject of female genital cutting (or mutilation) and recognize that there are a lot of cultural traditions that are difficult for those of us in the U.S. to understand, I believe this is a practice that comes out of male dominance and control of the female population. I realize women support it in many places, but it has more to do with cultural acceptance and marriage possibilities than that it enhanced their lives. One sociologist purporting tolerance equated it with female genital cosmetic surgeries in the U.S. The difference (in my mind) is the cosmetic surgeries are completely voluntary and done on consenting adults. In most countries FGM/C is done on girls from infants to young teens or as a right of passage into womanhood at the onset of puberty.

The information below is from the U.S. Department of State with a link to a panel discussion on the topic that will air tomorrow:

“In observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will deliver remarks and lead a panel discussion on February 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Loy Henderson Auditorium. To raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of FGM/C and discuss efforts and solutions to address this harmful traditional practice, Ambassador Verveer will be joined by leaders and practitioners in the field including: The Honorable Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States; Dr. Nawal Nour of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA; Bakary Tamba of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Tostan in Senegal; and Jessie Hexpoor of the NGO Hivos in the Netherlands.”

Follow the event @S_GWI and hashtags #EndFGM/C and #ZTD on Twitter.

The program will also be webcast live for international audiences at URL:

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Afghan girls used to pay off family debt

How can one look into the eyes of this little girl and not be heartbroken for her. Lord have mercy.


By Samuel Burke, CNN

The mother of a little Afghan girl cannot even turn to face her daughter. She looks down in shame as she explains why she must hand the girl over to drug lords.

The father of the girl has done what many Afghan farmers must do to finance their opium farms: borrow money from drug traffickers. But the Afghan government and international forces’ attempt to halt the opium trade has quashed the father’s poppy business, and with it, his ability to pay back the lenders.

The drug lords have taken him hostage to extract a payment.

“I have to give my daughter to release my husband,” the mother explains with the girl at her side. She looks no older than six.

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A tough start

I was propelled out of my procrastination and fear of starting this blog by an article I read this morning from the New York Times by Sohaila Abdulali that set my thoughts to swirling. Ms. Abdulali was gang-raped in Bombay 32 years ago. She was stirred to write this article after the recent events with the girl in New Delhi who died following a gang-rape.  The link for Ms. Adbulali’s article and the one she wrote 30 years ago are at the end of this post.

I would like to think that in thirty years there has been a great deal of growth in awareness and understanding of rape and the survivors of rape, and I suppose that is true in some cultures. But in far too many countries around the world, the victims are still being stigmatized and blamed. The shame and isolation they endure is crushing. Even in the U.S., victims continue to be revictimized by the system.

Ms. Abdulali said in her culture she was taught that the horrible thing about rape is the loss of virginity/virtue and that loss of virtue brings shame on the family, particularly the male relatives. So what about married women who are raped who have no virginity to lose? It is still considered a shame to the husband, why?  They are not shamed because they did not protect their daughters or wives. No, they are dishonored as if the girl had done something wrong, as if she brought it upon herself. This is not only true in India, but in many places around the world.

What the articles did not address, and this is where my mind started whirling, is what happens to boys and men who are raped in these cultures. What is the significant loss for them (according to the same sources)? What are they told? How is the shame transferred to these male victims? I have no doubt that men and boys are raped in those cultures. I’m not sure there is a people group where they are not. I don’t have any study to cite but looking at the human trafficking statistics for males, it is easy to see that sexual predators exist worldwide and will use their power to exploit regardless of gender.

All societies, including the U.S., are still fairly silent on the rape of males. I’m sure a great many go unreported so statistics are skewed.  But the truth is, the damage from rape is the same whether male or female: one’s body is violated and controlled by another; one’s power to choose is taken away; one’s sense of personal wholeness and safety is damaged; and for most, no matter how unfair it is, they will bear the burden of shame. A shame that belongs on the perpetrators. A shame that belongs on the powerful who misuse their power. A shame that belongs on authorities that turn a blind eye. A shame that belongs to societies who want to pretend these problems don’t exist and close their hearts to victims.

I honor Sohaila Abdulali for being a bold woman and speaking out, for taking her life back and finding joy again. I honor all survivors of sexual assault, and do my small part in bringing awareness. Let’s begin to put the shame where it belongs.


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