Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Stop Female Genital Mutilation in the UK


Each year, tens of thousands of girls in the UK are forced to have their genitals cut, often with no anesthesia. But there has been never been a conviction for female genital mutilation here -- even though in London alone, police have received 166 complaints in the last four years.

Undercover reporters for the Sunday Times recently caught three medics on film offering to mutilate young girls, massively scaling up the pressure on law enforcement to act. Avaaz, the global civic organization, is urging all of us in the UK to use this moment to call on Home Secretary Theresa May for real accountability. She is in charge of every police chief in England and Wales -- if she takes the issue up personally, the entire police system could be shaken into action.

Avaaz member Ruth Burnett has created a petition calling on the Home Secretary to start prosecuting people involved with these assaults and already more than 2000 people have signed. If they reach 20,000 signatures, Avaaz will deliver it directly to Home Secretary May and the head of Metropolitan Police Force -- click here to sign and forward to everyone:

Female Genital Mutilation is a custom widespread in nearly 30 Middle Eastern and African countries. But FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and in 2003 the law was tightened to stop girls being taken abroad for the operation -- on so-called “FGM holidays”.

Still, the practice is widespread here in the UK. When the undercover Sunday Times reporter explained to Mohammed Sahib, an alternative medicine practitioner in East London that he represented a Ghanaian couple who wanted to have their two daughters -- aged 10 and 13 -- circumcised, he said “I can do it here,” confirming that he would both remove the clitoris and sew up the vagina. “This is my work. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to do it. I will tell you how [much] to pay [for one]: £750.”

Home Secretary Theresa May -- who oversees women’s issues for David Cameron, and who has the power to hold police chiefs all across England and Wales accountable -- recently admitted people would be “shocked” by the number of young girls in Britain subjected to FGM. Now we can push her to take concrete action to end FGM in the UK -- please to sign Avaaz' petition now and share with everyone.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Women Farmers Grow Food and Peace

In periods of affluence, most people get along fine – even when they are from different ethnic or religious backgrounds, but when resources are scarce, former friends and neighbours often turn into foes. We have seen this too many times throughout history. Across the world, food insecurity fuels conflict and in turn, conflict fuels food insecurity, creating a vicious circle.  For example, when in 1994, genocide engulfed Rwanda, this human catastrophe was fuelled by ethnic hatred, but economic crisis, poverty and hunger also played their part.
This vicious circle is found around the world and women can play a vital role in breaking it. One in seven of the world's population is malnourished. The UN Food Agency estimates that by giving equal rights to women farmers – meaning giving them the same access as men to productive resources such as land and credit – 100 to 150 million people would be lifted out of hunger.
The charity, Women for Women International, which aids women who have lived through wars around the world, has launched an innovative programme, helping women to put food on the table, earn an income and move from victim to productive member of society.  The Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative (CIFI) programme trains women in organic farming techniques and food production in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Afghanistan.
To find out more or sponsor a woman, click here and watch this video:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Disarm dictators - call for a bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty

This July, governments across the world will draw up the world’s first ever Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Let’s make sure it’s tough enough to disarm dictators, warlords and human rights abusers. 
We’ve recently seen Syrian soldiers turning their guns and missiles on their own people – men, women and children shot down in cold blood.  We’ve seen dictators like Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, whose regimes tortured, murdered and raped so many men and women. We know of countries like Somalia, where children are given  AK-47s to fight and kill, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where soldiers and members of armed groups rape women and men at gunpoint.
These are not big arms producing countries. They rely almost entirely on buying weapons from abroad.  What if none of them had been able to buy their deadly weapons? What if there was a legally binding treaty that meant no arms could ever be sold to anyone who was likely to use them to commit human rights abuse?
If such treaty existed, it could literally save hundreds of thousands of lives and prevent human rights atrocities across the world.
After 20 years of campaigning by various human rights organizations, this treaty is on the verge of becoming a reality. Governments representatives from around the world are meeting at the United Nations in July to negotiate the text of the Arms Trade Treaty.
This treaty has many facets, but it has to make absolutely clear that arms sales must not be authorized if they are likely to contribute directly to serious human rights abuses. If this statement is not clearly included, the treaty will be a failure and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rein in abuse will be lost.
Amnesty International, one of the organizations which conceived the idea of an International Arms Trade Treaty two decades ago, is campaigning in the UK and abroad to make sure the treaty is as effective as it could be.  Amnesty activists will be traveling to the UN at the end of June to insure that human rights are not traded away at the final crucial negotiations,  and they are now putting pressure on our government and David Cameron in particular to support a human rights based treaty. 
This treaty, says  Amnesty’s Arms Trade Campaigner Olly Sprague, could be “one of the most significant human rights breakthroughs in history.”
Please support Amnesty's campaign and help pay for vital campaigning material and tools to lobby for a bullet-proof treaty. To donate, click here.