Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Human Rights and Covid-19

"It is essential that governments remain vigilant against racist, xenophobic or stigmatising acts, and provide wide access to unbiased information on the public health situation, availability of services, and the measures undertaken." - Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Coronavirus cases have been ramping up throughout the major parts of the world for the last two months. The virus has botched up every sphere of life. Health systems of approximately all affected nations have been collapsed which are being exposed badly and unfit to provide the basic right to health to their citizens. No vaccine has been found yet to mitigate the effects of coronavirus for rapid recovery.

Human Rights Watch is committed to reporting on the human rights dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic.Their research has identified 40 questions to guide a rights-respecting response to this crisis that addresses the needs of groups most at risk, including people living in poverty, ethnic and religious minorities, women, people with disabilities, older people, LGBT people, migrants, refugees, and children. 
They have also identified a large variety of responses to the crisis, some of which are positive and others problematic. Positive examples are not intended as prescriptive measures for governments to adopt, but rather as evidence of policy choices open to governments that seek to take their human rights obligations into account. The inclusion of an example should not be taken as an endorsement or critique of that government’s entire approach to addressing the crisis, or its human rights record in general.

Government officials in Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, China, Mexico, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, the United States, and Zimbabwe have exhibited disturbing denialism about COVID-19, depriving their publics of accurate information on the pandemic. In India, authorities have done little to curb the spread of viral disinformation which claims that the minority Muslim community is deliberately spreading COVID-19. In contrast, United Kingdom police forces are reported to have launched investigations into similar efforts to smear Muslims there. In Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Venezuela, journalists and others have been arrested and detained for reporting on or expressing opinions about COVID-19 on social media. Egypt and China have expelled journalists. In Bolivia, authorities have used COVID-19 as a justification to threaten political opponents with up to 10 years in prison for spreading “misinformation.” In China, outrage over the reprimand of a whistleblower led to a rare apology from the local police.

Corona Pandemic in the USA

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented health crisis, but governments must not use the virus as cover to introduce invasive or pervasive digital surveillance,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Any surveillance measures must have a legal basis, be narrowly tailored to meet a legitimate public health goal, and contain safeguards against abuse.”

Human Rights Watch has found that the governments in China and Russia are expanding their surveillance capabilities and restricting rights in ways that are not justified on public health grounds to counter the spread of COVID-19. Public health authorities in the United States are also working closely with the private sector to aggregate and analyze vast pools of data about people’s movements, in a bid to gain insights into how the virus is spreading and assess the effectiveness of public health interventions. However, those large datasets often do not fairly represent communities, especially people living in poverty and other minorities.

For people who are homeless or living in informal settlements, self- isolation, social distancing, and other protective measures are extremely difficult if not impossible to stick to.

The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on the importance of the rights to adequate housing, water and sanitation. These rights are critical for protecting oneself from the virus, for stopping its spread and also recovering from it. At a minimum, governments should ensure that people who are homeless, including children in street situations, are provided with emergency accommodation where they can protect and isolate themselves. Governments must also put in place measures to make sure no one is made increasingly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of a lack of housing - for example by being evicted if they can't pay rent or mortgage.
Governments must also urgently put in place adequate, affordable and safe water and sanitation facilities that are accessible to everyone who is homeless or living in inadequate housing.
Stuart Malcolm, a doctor with the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, walks by a supportive sign on a boarded-up shop while speaking with homeless people about the coronavirus in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco on March 17, 2020.

Amnesty International has expressed concerns over the violation of human rights in the fight against the global epidemic. According to the Regional Director at Amnesty International, Nicholas Bequelin, “Censorship, discrimination, arbitrary detention and human rights violations have no place in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.”

Quoting Yuval Noah Harari, "Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity? If we choose disunity, this will not only prolong the crisis, but will probably result in even worse catastrophes in the future. If we choose global solidarity, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future epidemics and crises that might assail humankind in the 21st century."

Digital technology could help in combating this pandemic and keeping people safe, but only if governments follow human rights rules when using these tools.

Article written by: Millena Ferraz


Gender Inequality in Brazil

  • What is Gender Inequality?
Quoting the European Institute for Gender Equality, the definition of gender inequality is: "Legal, social and cultural situation in which sex and/or gender determine different rights and dignity for women and men, which are reflected in their unequal access to or enjoyment of rights, as well as the assumption of stereotyped social and cultural roles". This inequality might affect an individual's living experience, and while some differences are empirically grounded, others appear to be socially constructed. 

UN Secretary General calls for fighting gender inequality

  • Gender Inequality in Brazil
The new report of the European Comission for the Latin America and Caribbean, published at the end of January, 2020, affirms that gender equality and women's autonomy should be the new model for the development and progress of the region. 

This report, entitled "Women's autonomy in changing economic scenarios" highlights that "gender inequalities are an obstacle to the sustainable development, and the changes the region faces are a manifestation of the urgency on stepping forward, aiming the styles of development and progress that rely on gender equality and women's autonomy, always guaranting the rights for all people, no exception". Also, according to this study, this region is developing less, yet inequality and poverty are increasing, so, considering the challenges of technological, demographic and climatic changes bring, governments should hurry to achieve gender equality and women's autonomy.

Brazil has many issues regarding inequality, but gender inequality might be one of the biggest disparity present in nowadays brazilian population. Women have been fighting for equality since the 1970's in Brazil, trying to earn their rights to work, vote and stop violence, but Brazil is a very religious country and most of the population still believes women should not be allowed to work, their job is to stay at home taking care of the house, of their husbands, of their children, because they're less intelligent than men and so they don't deserve to even try an education or work.

Desigualdade de gênero e tributação da mulher prejudicam ...Nowadays, women, on average, are more educated than men, but this is still not reflected in the labor market.Almost all of the female brazilian population (92,6%) that is 14 years old or more, representing more than 80 million people, do domestic chores and take care of people on a twenty-one hour per week job, according to data from Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios Contínua (Pnad Contínua), refering to the last semester of 2018.
The social roles seen as female or male still greatly influence career choices and social inequalities. For example, 94,1% of domestic workers are women and their average salary is R$846,12, while men receive an average of R$1.019,61. This difference is caused by the number of hours worked: while women usually work less than 40 hours a week to be able to reconcile with the tasks at their own home, men work an average of 42 hours a week. If we analyze all jobs, the average salary of women is R$1764, while men receive an average of R$2306 - of course, keep in mind this is statistically speaking, most of the population live with way less than R$800.

Another example is that brazilian organizations attempt to recover from years of recession and technology businesses, - which are the ones that can boost the economy significantly - must prioritize gender equality agendas to ensure the innovation delivery delivery their clients need, but there is simply not enough people to deliver such projects because, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), women are a minority in the technology market place, representing only 20% of sectors professionals, even if they're the majority of the population (52%). Also, at leadership level, the situation is even worse with IBGE data suggesting that men still occupy 97% of top seniority roles.

Jair Bolsonaro - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro

In the political spectrum, 10,5% of the deputies' chamber seats are occupied by women (worldwide, women occupy more than 23%), and in terms of management positions, men occupy 62,2% while women only occupy 37,8%. On International Women's Day, the president Jair Bolsonaro raised yet another controversy by saying that his Cabinet "for the first time ever" had achieved gender-parity, even though two out of the country's 22 ministers are women. "It means each women here is worth 10 men", he explained.

The social-economic differences between men and women are the reasons for such a difference, because often they have to choose between the family and career, leaving no space for political worries. Furthermore, the political environment is predominantly masculine, where they are verbally or morally attacked for being women, contributing to the removal of women from this picture - it does not encourage their participation. Women normally have a more active voice in manifestations for their rights than in the political matters.                 

Article written by: Adriana Santos





Thursday, April 9, 2020

Violence against women and femicides in Brazil

On a Women's Right protest in Brazil, it reads, "Brazil 5º place on the femicide ranking"

In the last decades, women have been fighting for their rights and it's notorious how, in many aspects, they have conquered a lot of battles and managed to amplify their rights and gain a voice. But the differences still persist and when it comes to Brazil, the number of cases of violence against women is the most touching aspect regarding gender inequality. 

In 2019, 1.6 million of women were beaten or suffered strangulation attempt, while 22 million (37,1%) of brazilian women went through some kind of harassment. 42% of violence cases happened in the home environment and after suffering from any form of violence, 52% didn’t look for help or accused/filed a complaint against the aggressor, according to the NGO Brazilian Forum of Public Security. These statistics made the executive-director of the Forum, Samira Bueno, raise the question: is there any safe places in Brazil for women?

Last year, 3,739 women died, which is a 14,1% drop when compared to 2018 - but there was an increase of 7.3% when talking about femicides - hate crime motivated because of the gender. This means that 1.314 women were killed just because they were women - one case every 7 hours. 

Why do the numbers of homicide drop, but femicide increases?

Since March 9, 2015, the legislation provides for more serious penalties for homicides that fit the definition of femicide - that is, those that involve "domestic and family violence and/or disparagement or discrimination against women." The most common cases of these murders occur for reasons such as separation. After 2017, the Federal District started to adopt a protocol in which every case of women found dead, gone missing or apparent suicide would be treated as femicide until the investigations found out if it was a gender motivated crime - if not, it’d be considered as homicide or suicide.

To Samira Bueno and Juliana Martins, from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, although the number of homicides against women dropped, analysis of gender-based indicators of violence indicates that domestic violence is increasing.


How does the president Jair Bolsonaro reacts to this worrying reality?
Who follows the political issues in Brazil knows that most of the population is religious, which is one of the reasons why Jair Bolsonaro won presidency - he is religious himself, and that gives him credibility among the population. Besides political and religious believes, the also conquered the votes by defending he’d make it easier to buy guns for self-defence - but there is alarm that this decision would make pervasive violence against women even worse and more deadly. The gun policy debate goes to the heart of divisions in Brazil as the country adapts to a new president. While many revile Bolsonaro for his expressions of misogyny and homophobia, his toughness on crime resonates with women panicked by what has become a violent crime epidemic. Many domestic violence survivors state that if their aggressors had a gun, they wouldn’t be alive. In communities where violence is already rife, the idea of introducing more weapons is widely seen as sheer madness. Women in such areas are disproportionately affected by gun violence, not just from drug trafficking gangs but also from military police during operations.

On a more recent note, the CoronaVirus world crisis has been a polemic political issue to the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who is defending that quarantine and isolation should be stopped, and people should be back to work. To sustain his belief that the issue is not that important and what matters it the economy of the country, he stated that if domestic violence numbers increase is because, in his own words, food is missing from people’s homes, and if men can’t provide for their families, women will pay the price. 
If the president himself doesn’t try to reduce the numbers of violence against women and femicide by implementing measures that could protect women and fight against gender inequality and only tries to stabilize the economy by going against WHO worldwide advices to fight the pandemic by using such an important subject as domestic violence as an excuse for his political ideologies, how can Brazil improve and battle against it? How many more women have to die until people understand the importance of fighting for gender equality and women Human Righs?

Article written by: Adriana Santos

Monday, April 6, 2020

Refugees and the pandemic: Covid-19 Crisis

 “Refugee artisans and tailors in Kenya's #Kakuma camp have started to produce kitenge  masks to show their commitment and #solidarity as part of the society. These masks will soon provide additional protection to help prevent the spread of #COVID19” - ​Dra Fathiaa   Abdhalla ( via twitter) in the ​Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya 

In March of 2016 after more than one million people – mostly refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war – crossed from the Turkish coast to Greece in the course of a year, and with that it was really important an agreement to be signed with The EU and Turkey. On 28 February of 2016, the Turkish government announced that It would no longer prevent asylum seekers and migrants from leaving Turkey, unleashing scenes of chaos and sending the Greek government scrambling to prevent people from crossing its borders."What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors," Erdoğan told the Turkish parliament on 29 February - Said The New Humanitarian. Numerous NGOs denounced both Turkey for manipulating the refugee issue and the Greek government for its heavy-handed response and abandonment of international and EU law.

According with the UNHCR ​statistic more than 200,000 Refugees arrived to Greece from Turkey.

Refugees around the world - facts and figures

● 25.9 million refugees globally - the highest level ever recorded 
● Half of the world's refugees are children 
● A third of refugees - 6.7 million people - are hosted by the world's poorest countries 

Refugee Camp in Greece


Emergence Pandemic: Covid-19 Crisis

With the appearance and rapid spread of Covid-19, the countries of the world immediately began to take measures to prevent and contain the virus for the safety of the population, taking into account the groups at risk. 
 According to the World Health Organization the basic protective measures against the new  coronavirus are: 
  • “​Wash your hands frequently” 
  • “Maintain social distancing”
  • “Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth".

           Pandemic impact on Refugees 
Amid the emergency for the new coronavirus in the world, refugees, displaced persons and asylum seekers are vulnerable populations. Some do not even have a place to live and others are in camps crowded with people, where neither a quarantine nor an isolation order are possible to comply.The possible spread of Covid-19 among the world's refugees and asylum seekers worries aid organizations. Thousands survive in places where sanitary conditions are nil and overcrowded conditions are high.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warns about the risk that it means. In the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, there are 22,000 people. “Lack of hygiene in the field is a perfect situation for an outbreak. We now all know that Covid-19 is highly infectious. All health authorities say that washing hands is an act of prevention. How do you want this to happen in the Moria camp? There is no place to wash your hands, much less, several times a day, ” declares Stephan Oberreit, head of the MSF mission in Greece. 
 UNHCR has tried to give the best possible response,but it is known that it is difficult to reach everyone in need.  UNHCR is delivering lifesaving supplies and support to refugees and displaced in countries like Bangladesh and Syria. 

Based on the experience gained in previous health emergencies (Ebola, SARS and influenza), UNHCR is taking immediate action to curb the spread and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak globally. Are they:  

Germany:​ UNHCR has sent 4.4 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Iran. Items include masks, gloves and essential drugs to support the response to COVID-19 in the country. Iran is home to nearly a million Afghan refugees and its health system is in a critical situation. 

 Maratane Refugee Camp, Mozambique: ​After Mozambique registered its first case of COVID-19 earlier this week, UNHCR teams began distributing soap and giving residents advice on how to protect themselves from the virus. 

 Cox’s Bazer, Bangladesh:​ In the world's largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh, UNHCR is giving health tips and distributing soap to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak among rohingya refugees. 

 Uganda:​ In the country that is home to more than 1.4 million refugees, UNHCR has produced a video explaining how refugees can protect themselves against COVID-19, clarifying some common myths.
 Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan:​ The largest refugee camp in the region is home to almost 80,000 Syrians, and residents have come up with their own solution to ensure adequate social distance in the food distribution queue, which takes place daily. 

 Ukraine:​ In the Donetsk region, at a community center for displaced Ukrainians, volunteers are using sewing machines donated by UNHCR to produce masks for the local population. 

 Poland:​ Refugees living in the port city of Gdansk have taken the initiative to sew protective masks, a missing item in the market, as healthcare systems in the country struggle to address the growing number of patients with COVID-19.

 In these difficult times, we must not forget those fleeing wars and persecution. No part of our society can be overlooked if we are to effectively face this global challenge. 
In conclusion, if you want to financially support UNHCR, which is the Un Refugee Agency, you can access this link: https://donate.unhcr.org/int/coronavirus-emergency/~my-donation#_ga=2.186643369.10 94281470.1585829384-1056854664.1585829384

Article written by Millena Ferraz