SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights News You May Have Missed

SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights News You May Have Missed

World Moms care about human rights, whether at home or around the world.   Here is a roundup of some of the recent human rights news items that we think deserve some more attention.

ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE

There has been some good news recently about efforts to raise the age of marriage and eliminate child marriage.

Nabina, age 15. Her story is one of three child brides told in Camfed's film The Child Within.

Nabina, age 15. Her story is one of three Malawian child brides told in Camfed’s film       The Child Within.

MALAWI’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill that raises the minimum age for consent to marriage from 16 (or 15 with parental consent) to 18 years of age.  While this will end legal child marriage in the country with one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, more work will need to be done to sure that the law is implemented.

And INDONESIA’s government is preparing a bill to raise the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 years of age.  While the legal age of marriage for females is currently 16, marriage at a younger age is legal with parental consent and judicial approval. According to data from the Health Ministry in 2010, 41.9 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were married.  (P.S. The minimum age for boys to marry is 19.)

ENSURING EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION 

A gathering to promote the rights of girls and education for all in Barrod village of Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Photo: UN Women/Gaganjit Singh Chandok

A gathering to promote the rights of girls and education for all in Barrod village of Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Photo: UN Women/Gaganjit Singh Chandok

A new UNITED Nations human rights report analyzing the problem of attacks against girls trying to access education found that schools in at least 70 different countries were attacked in between 2009 and 2014, with many attacks specifically targeting girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education.

 “The educational rights of girls and women are often targeted due to the fact that they represent a challenge to existing gender and age-based systems of oppression.”

Reggae band SOJA partnered with UNICEF’s Out-of-School Children initiative to produce the video “Shadow” to draw attention to the importance of education for all of the world’s children.  Globally, an estimated 58 million children of primary school age and 63 million young adolescents are not enrolled in school.  Like the girl in this video, many of them are girls. Yet data demonstrates that reaching the most marginalized children may initially cost more but also yields greater benefits.  This video was filmed in Jigjiga, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, where 3 million children remain out of school. For more on global trends regarding out-of-school children, visit the UNICEF website.   

EFFORTS TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

In January, A women-only minibus service was  launched in NEPAL’s capital Kathmandu to reduce sexual harassment on crowded routes. According to a 2013 World Bank survey, approximately a quarter of young women in Nepal report having been subjected to sexual harassment on public transport.

Turkish men aren’t known for wearing skirts. But in February, they began turning out in large numbers in Istanbul to protest about violence against women in TURKEY.

Men in mini skirts campaign
Men in mini skirts campaign

They’re joining others outraged by the murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan who was abducted on 11 February and killed for apparently trying to prevent a bus driver from raping her.

ENDING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

IN TANZANIA, some 800 school girls returned home on January 12 after escaping female genital mutilation (FGM) by spending three months hiding in safe houses.  FGM is traditionally carried out on girls between October and December. Run by charities and church organisations, the shelters offer protection (including police protection at some) to ensure the girls remain safe.

FGM was outlawed in Tanzania in 1998 and carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison, but is still regularly carried out, especially in northern and central regions of Tanzania.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.  It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The UN estimates that more than 40 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.  If current trends continue, more than 15 million girls will be cut by 2020; more than 86 million additional girls worldwide will be subjected to the practice by 2030. The UN states that, although this harmful traditional practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM can end in one generation.

#endFGM

This year, the UN has decided to place a special focus on the role of health care workers in FGM.  Although the practice of FGM cannot be justified by medical reasons, in many countries it is executed more and more often by medical professionals. This constitutes one of the greatest threats to the abandonment of the practice. 

(c)TARA TODRASS-WHITEHILL / REUTERS / LANDOV image retrieved from Aljazeera America

(c)TARA TODRASS-WHITEHILL / REUTERS / LANDOV image retrieved from Aljazeera America

For the first time ever, a court in EGYPT has sentenced a doctor to prison for the female genital mutilation (FGM) of a 13-year-old girl that resulted in her death.  Soheir al-Batea died in June 2013 after undergoing an FGM procedure carried out by Dr. Raslan Fadl.  A court in Mansour handed down not guilty verdicts for the doctor as well as the girl’s father for ordering the procedure in November 2014.  But Egypt’s Justice Ministry reportedly contacted the court to say it was “displeased with the judgment”, resulting in a retrial.  Fadl was sentenced at retrial to the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment; the father was sentence to three months’ house arrest. A ban on FGM has been in place since 2007 in Egypt,  yet this is the first time the law has been implemented. 

While FGM is most prevalent in Africa and the Middle East, it is also practiced in Asia, Latin America, Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.  This week, a new report from the Population Reference Bureau came out discussing the potential risk of girls and women in the UNITED STATES for undergoing FGM.  In 2013, there were up to 507,000 U.S. women and girls who had undergone FGM or were at risk of the procedure, according to PRB’s preliminary data analysis. This figure is more than twice the number of women and girls estimated to be at risk in 2000 (228,000).

us-fgmc-map

And in the UNITED KINGDOM, the trial of a British doctor accused of performing female genital mutilation recently began in the United Kingdom’s first prosecution of an outlawed practice.  Dr. Dhanuson Dharmasena allegedly performed FGM in November 2012 on a 24-year-old woman soon after she gave birth to her first child at North London’s Whittington Hospital. The woman in the U.K. case, referred to as “AB” in court, reportedly underwent FGM as a 6-year-old in Somalia, when a section of her labia was sewn together, leaving only a small hole for menstrual blood and urine but too small for safely giving birth.  Defibulation, or re-opening the vagina, is commonly needed for FGM survivors about to give birth, and was required in AB’s case during delivery. But AB allegedly underwent re-infibulation, or sewing the labia together again after giving birth. The stitching or re-stitching together of the labia is an offense under section 1 of the United Kingdom’s Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

A LITTLE BIT OF INSPIRATION

I’ll end with several beautiful, inspirational videos.  The first is an advertisement from SOUTH AFRICA for the telecom company MTN. It is a reminder that no dreams are too big for a child.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxU1ZhINaHk#t=39

The second is from a campaign that came out last June, but which recently received national and international attention.

Some brilliant teenagers in the UNITED STATES inspire with their spoken word poem Somewhere In America. 

 This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Human Rights Warrior Jennifer Prestholdt.

Did we miss any other recent Human Rights stories you know of? If so, lease let us know!

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights Day Activities for You & Your Kids!

SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights Day Activities for You & Your Kids!

Each year on December 10, people all around the world celebrate Human Rights Day.  

The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption on 10 December 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global statement of international human rights principles.  As we have done on World Moms Blog before (see 10 Things to Do With Your Kids on Human Rights Day and Human Rights Activities To Do With Your Kids), we’re sharing some ideas this year for simple yet meaningful ways for your family to celebrate the rights and responsibilities that we all share as human beings.

1.  Learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The full UDHR is on the UN website here, but you can also find a simplified version of the UDHR here.  And check out this cool video created by the Human Rights Action Center that summarizes the rights in the UDHR:

2.  Be a mapper for UNICEF Voices of Youth.   UNICEF has created an online platform to empower youth around the world to map important issues in their community, advocate and bring change. A featured tool from Voices of Youth Maps is UNICEF-GIS – a youth-friendly mobile mapping application that produces web maps and visual reports on youth-related issues. UNICEF is asking youth to

Open a window into your community and share issues that you and your friends and family face. Tell us about the experiences you live, share your success stories and show us the beauty of your cultural background. Post on Voices of Youth and make your voice heard!

You and your kids can read about and see photo galleries by youth mappers in Brazil and Haiti here.   Click here to get involved in Voices of Youth.

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3.  Make a Human Rights Calendar for 2015.  Choose a UDHR article (or two or three) to focus on each month.  Decorate the calendar with photos and drawings that illustrate the right(s).  Try to coordinate the UDHR rights with local, national, and international holidays.  For example, choose Article 15 (right to a nationality) for the month of your country’s national independence day and Article 18 (right to practice your religion) during a religious holiday period.  You can download free calendar templates here.

Mandela memorial painted on a building in Capetown, South Africa.

4.  Learn about a human rights heroine or hero.  Pick your favorite activist for social justice, either from your country or another country.  Go to the library to find a biography or search online for information about her/his life.  Try to find out

  • When the person lived (if not still living).
  • What problem (or problems) they faced.
  • Who or what formed their opposition.
  • What was the outcome of the stand they took, in which they believed?
  • What tactics did they use in their campaign?
  • How much success do you think they had?

What did you learn that surprised you?  What else would you like to know about this person?  Brainstorm your own questions together!

5.  Explore what it means to be a peacemaker.  You can interview each other or other kids or adults.  Ask each other

  • What does peace mean to you?
  • Describe a time when you experienced peace.  Where were you?  What were you doing? Who was with you?
  • When was a time when you were a peacemaker? What happened? Who were the people involved? How did it turn out?
  • Are there some ways that you think you are not a peacemaker?
  • Who do you know who you would describe as a peacemaker?  What does this person do that you consider peacemaking? Why do think of these actions as peacemaking?

Ideas number 4 and 5 are from the Hague Appeal for Peace’s curriculum Learning to Abolish War: Teaching Toward a Culture of Peace.  Check out more ideas for teaching about peace in this resource.

6.  Learn more about the work of United Nations human rights experts.  “Special Rapporteur” is a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations who bear a specific mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to investigate, monitor and recommend solutions to human rights problems. Appointed by the UN Secretary General, these experts are “of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights.” They act independently of governments.  Special Rapporteurs often conduct fact-finding missions to countries to investigate allegations of human rights violations.  They also regularly assess and verify complaints from alleged victims of human rights violations. Once a complaint is verified as legitimate, an urgent letter or appeal is sent to the government that has allegedly committed the violation. To learn more, you can listen to the podcast series Meet the Special Rapporteurs.

 7.  Participate in the 7 Billion Others project.  In this beautiful series of portraits of humanity, more than 6000 people from around the world have answered the same 40 questions, including: What did you learn from your parents? What would you like to pass on to your children? What challenges have you had to face? What does love mean to you?  Series creator Yann Arthus-Bertrand says,

There are more than seven billion of us on Earth, and there will be no sustainable development if we cannot manage to live together. That is why 7 billion Others is so important to me. I believe in it because it concerns all of us and because it encourages us to take action. I hope that each one of us will want to reach out and make these encounters to listen to other people and to contribute to the life of 7 billion Others by adding our own experiences and expressing our desire to live together.

Download chapters of the eBook to read what more than 500 people shared about their experiences or simply spend some time exploring the videos of people testifying (there is even a helpful search function).    Listen to thematically organized podcasts to hear people from different parts of the world voice their opinions on common experiences like freedom, anger, love, and family.  You can even add your own testimony by video or text.

8.  Look for human rights in the news.   Clip articles about local, national and international human rights issues out of newspapers and magazines.  Listen to radio or watch television news programming and point out the human rights coverage.  Be sure to look for news about human rights successes as well as news about human rights problems.

9.  Learn more about the human rights issues related to the products you buy.  The International Labour Organization estimates that more than a quarter of a million children work in the cocoa plantations of West Africa that produce most of the world’s chocolate. It’s hazardous work, which exposes children to injury and highly toxic pesticides. Hershey’s, the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, has not thoroughly addressed accusations of child labor in its supply chain and refuses to release any information about where it sources its cocoa. Consumers play an essential role in diminishing the food industry’s injustices. You and your children can make the choice to buy chocolate that is not made with child labor.  See a list of the companies that do NOT use child labor in their chocolate production here.  Read more about child labor in the cocoa industry here.

Twin Cities March to Bring Back Our Girls, May 2014 

10.  Get out there and raise your voice for what you believe in. Participate in a march or protest related to an issue that is important to you. And be sure to bring your kids!  There is no better way to teach empathy and compassion for others than by doing it together.

You and your kids are on your way to a great Human Rights Day!  What are YOU going to do this year? Please share YOUR ideas for human rights activities with us in the comments.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:  If you are a classroom teacher or homeschooling your kids (or if you just want to dig deeper), you can find tons more ideas through the following resources:

United Nations Cyber Schoolbus – human rights activities and information about the United Nations’ work

ABC – Teaching Human Rights – practical activities in English, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Advocates for Human Rights’ Discover Human Rights Institute – human rights education lesson plans and curriculum

Human Rights Here and Now  – human rights lesson plans and resources

Raising Children With Roots, Rights and Responsibilities – activities for preschool and young elementary children

UNRIC’s Human Rights Education website –  great source for multimedia on human rights!
See also my past posts on Human Rights Day activities:

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Prestholdt.

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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Standing in Solidarity to #BringBackOurGirls

Standing in Solidarity to #BringBackOurGirls

Photo: Twitter.WomenGirlsLead

 

It’s the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night.

Even if it is not your own child.

On the night of April 14, dozens of armed men showed up at the dormitory of the Government Girls Secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria.  Dressed in Nigerian military uniforms, they told the girls that they were there to take them to safety and herded the girls into trucks and onto motorcycles.  At first, the girls believed them. But when the men started shooting their guns into the air and shouting, “Allahu Akbar,”  they realized that the men were militants from Boko Haram and that they were in serious danger.

Nearly 50 girls managed to escape by running away or jumping out of the trucks. But as many as 276 school girls (higher than the initial reports of 234) between the ages of 12 and 17 were kidnapped, disappearing into the night without a trace. Three weeks later, their parents still have no idea where they are. And last week reports began surfacing that the abducted girls were taken across the borders to Chad and Cameroon and sold as brides to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira (about $12). While we still don’t know where the girls are or what has happened to them, these reports remain a chilling reminder of the threat of sexual violence faced by women and girls in conflict zones.

One of the worst things in this truly horrible story is that the girls who were abducted were targeted simply because they were exercising their right to go to school.  Throughout the world, there is clear evidence that education is the key to reducing poverty for women and girls.

Access to basic education for girls has remained low in Nigeria; the northern region where these girls lived has the  lowest girl child enrollment —in 2008 the net enrollment rate for girls into secondary school was only 22 percent.  The girls (who were both Christian and Muslim) at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok must each have been determined to get an education in spite of tremendous odds.  The fact that these girls were also risking violence to be in school illustrates how important the right to education was to each of them.

For more than two weeks, the Nigerian government failed to take effective action to find and rescue the abducted girls.  The lack of government response has provoked outrage in Nigeria. Last week, several hundred participated in a “million-woman protest march” in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to demand that more resources be put toward finding and securing the kidnapped girls. The protesters in Nigeria are joined on Twitter with a growing movement under the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #BringBackOurDaughters and #234Girls.  Finally, international media outlets are paying attention to the story.

While it is ludicrous that it took more than two weeks of pressure from both inside and outside Nigeria to finally bring about action, there are signs that the increased international attention is having some effect.

This week, President Goodluck Jonathan met “through the night” with security, school and state officials and issued a new directive that “everything must be done” to bring back the abducted girls.

We at World Moms Blog stand in solidarity with the girls and their families.  It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls!

Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign the Petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/over-200-girls-are-missing-in-nigeria-so-why-doesn-t-anybody-care-234girls

2. #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

Use social media to spread the word about the situation in Nigeria. Put massive pressure on the government, security forces, and the neighboring governments to spur them to action. Use the hash tag, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS. Change your profiled picture to Bring Back Our Girls.

#BringBackOurGirls

3. Get More Information

Read more by World Moms Blog contributor Jennifer Prestholdt in The Advocates for Human Rights post, “Nightmare for Nigeria’s School Girls,” at:
http://theadvocatespost.org/2014/04/30/nightmare-for-nigerias-school-girls/

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by international human rights lawyer, Jennifer Prestholdt, of Minnesota, USA.

 

 

 

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

More Posts

SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights Day Activities To Do With Your Kids

SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights Day Activities To Do With Your Kids

IMG_1800

Every December 10, people around the world celebrate Human Rights Day.  The date was chosen to honor the United NationsGeneral Assembly‘s adoption on 10 December 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global statement of international human rights principles.

As we have done on World Moms Blog before (see 10 Things to Do With Your Kids on Human Rights Day), we’re sharing some ideas for simple yet meaningful ways for your family to celebrate the rights and responsibilities that we all share as human beings.

1.  Make a World Wishes Dove with your family.  Cut feathers from white paper or colored construction paper.  Have everyone in the family decorate and write their wish for the world on a feather.    Cut out the body of a dove or other bird and glue all the feathers on it.  Once decorated, your bird will be a beautiful and hopeful expression of your family’s hopes for our world.

Template for a doveImage Source
Template for a dove
Image Source
2.  Play a game that helps kids understand human rights.  Blind Trust (from ABC – Teaching Human Rights):  In pairs, have one child blindfold the other and have the sighted member of the pair lead the “blind” one about for a few minutes. Make sure the leading child is not abusing the power to lead, since the idea is to nurture trust, not to destroy it. The “leader” of the pair should try to provide as wide a variety of experiences as possible, such as having the “blind” partner feel things with his or her feet or fingers, leading with vocal directions or even playing a game. After a few minutes have the children reverse the roles and repeat the process so that the “leader” is now the led, and the “blind” partner is now the sighted one.

Once the activity is over, allow the children to talk about what happened. Discuss how they felt – not just as “blind” partners but their feelings of responsibility as “leaders” too. This can lead not only to a greater awareness of what life is like for people with sight (or hearing) disabilities, but to a discussion of the importance of trust in the whole community. This can lead in turn to a discussion of world society, how it works and how it can fail to work too.  (teaches about Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 28; Convention on the Rights of the Child articles 3, 23)

3.  Learn about how children live in other countries.  For example, you can learn what kinds of food children in East Africa grow and eat from the Lessons from Africa resource created by the British non-governmental organization Send A Cow (also check out their website www.cowforce.com).  You can download the  powerpoint  about typical East African food.   You can also print out some of the recipes for things like chapatis and pepper soup to make and try for yourself.

4.  Find out what kids and teens can do to help stop child labor.  The ILO’s Youth in Action against Child Labour campaign has ideas, information,  videos and other resources to help young people take action to end child labor.

5.  Play Human Rights Twister to teach about cooperation, respect and inclusion.   Make a “Twister” game in which kids spell out key human rights words using their feet and hands.  Draw a grid with 6 columns and 5 rows with marker on a  large piece of cloth (like an old sheet) or plastic (like a plastic tablecloth). You can also use chalk to draw it on the ground. Write the following letters in the grid:

(blank) W X Y Z(blank)


Q R S T U V

K L M N O P

E F G H I J

(blank space)A B C D(blank)

Ask the children to name some rights and list them on a large piece of paper or whiteboard. Underline a key word in each right from this list of rights in one word:

Dignity            Education            Equality             Food            Freedom            Home            Love (from parents)            Name

Nationality          Opinion          Participation (in decisions that affect us)          Play          Protection          Religion

When you have listed at least 3 or 4 rights, have the children spell out the key word in the human right from the list by placing their hands and feet on the  appropriate letters of the “Twister” game.  When 1 child’s hands and feet are in place and the word is not yet completed, ask another child to join in  to complete the word. If the hand or foot of another  child already covers a letter, the player just has to touch the child that is on that letter.  When a letter is too far to reach, invite another child to join in.  (This activity and dozens of others to teach about human rights values and peaceful conflict resolution are available for free download in the Canadian organization Equitas‘ Play It Fair Toolkit. )

6.  Make toys and play games that children play in other countries.

 Many kids throughout the world live in poverty and don’t have money to buy toys and games.  They make their own toys out of recycled materials that they find.  Your kids can try making a football (soccer ball) out of recycled plastic bags or a toy car made from a plastic bottle.

http://vimeo.com/39763894

You can also  make and play the Sudanese game “Dala” (the Cow Herder Game).  In many parts of the world, games mimic everyday life; this game mimics the Sudanese practice of bull herding.  Sudanese people play it on the ground, using sticks to make the lines and pebbles or seeds as “bulls”.

7.  Ask the question “What Does a Child Need?”  Have your child lie down on a large piece of paper and trace their outline on the paper.  Ask your child(ren) to name this paper child. Discuss and decide on the mental, physical, spiritual and character qualities they want this ideal child to have as an adult (e.g. good health, sense of humour, kindness) and write these qualities inside the outline. They might also make symbols on or around the child to represent these ideal qualities (e.g. books to represent education). Talk about what human and material resources the child will need to achieve these qualities (e.g. if the child is to be healthy, it will need food and health care); write them down on the paper outside of the outline.  You can also read a simplified version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, German, etc.)  When children hear an article that guarantees a child each of the needs they have listed, they can write the number of the articles next to that item. Circle any needs identified but not covered by the Convention.

DSC_0599

 

8.  Read some books with strong female characters.   Non-discrimination and equality are key concepts in international human rights law.  Yet girls and women are generally not been portrayed as equals to boys and men in literature.  A Mighty Girl has compiled several great lists of girl-empowering books, including Top Read Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls,  Top 100 Mighty Girl Picture BooksTop Graphic Novels Starring Mighty Girls, and Top Mighty Girl Books & Films on Women’s History.

9.   Get creative and enter your work in a contest with a human rights theme.   Local, regional or international contests are powerful activities for getting youth involved and learning about human rights.  Take action by entering some of the contests listed here on the Youth For Human Rights website.  (You can also learn more on the website about their educational programs, projects, awareness campaigns and human rights outreach campaigns.)

10.  Make a Human Rights Day card.  You can give the card to a friend or member of your family.  Or you can make multiple cards to decorate your house.   My eight year old daughter (that’s her self-portrait in the background) made this card for all the children of the world.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:  You’re on your way to a great Human Rights Day!  If you are a classroom teacher or homeschooling your kids (or if you just want to dig deeper), you can find tons more ideas through the following resources:

United Nations Cyber Schoolbus – human rights activities and information about the United Nations’ work

ABC – Teaching Human Rights – practical activities in English, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Advocates for Human Rights’ Discover Human Rights Institute – human rights education lesson plans and curriculum

Human Rights Here and Now  – human rights lesson plans and resources

Raising Children With Roots, Rights and Responsibilities – activities for preschool and young elementary children

UNRIC’s Human Rights Education website –  great source for multimedia on human rights!
Do you plan to mark Human Rights Day with your kids?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer prestholdt.
 

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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WORLD VOICE: Child Labor in Morocco, “Les Petites Bonnes”

WORLD VOICE: Child Labor in Morocco, “Les Petites Bonnes”

morocflag copy 2

Photo by Jennifer Prestholdt

Hidden Child Labor

While millions of tourists visit Morocco every year, very few are aware of  a hidden human rights abuse that is occurring behind closed doors in Morocco’s cities.   Morocco has one of the worst child domestic labor problems in North Africa.  The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that between 66,000 and 88,000 children between the ages of 7 and 15 – 70% of whom are under age 12 –  are working as domestic servants in Morocco.

These children work long hours for little pay and often suffer physical and other forms of abuse. Because domestic work is “women’s work” in Morocco,  virtually all of these child domestic workers are girls. In Morocco (a country with a French colonial history), these child domestic workers are called petites bonnes or “little maids”.

I had the opportunity to learn more about the petites bonnes issue during a recent trip to Morocco.  The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs describes the problem like this:

Young girls are sent to work as live-in domestic servants, often before they reach age 10. Parents sell their daughters or receive payment of wages in exchange for their daughters’ service. These petites bonnes (little maids) often face conditions of involuntary servitude, including long hours without breaks; physical, verbal and sexual abuse; withheld wages and even restrictions on their movement. Frequently, they are sent from rural villages to more urban areas, and find it difficult to make their way home. Most petites bonnes are denied an education, and illiteracy rates are high among this population.

The Difficult Life of a Petite Bonne

The situation of petites bonnes in Morocco results from a combination of poverty, gender inequality, and lack of access to education.   Girls – some as young as my own  8-year-old daughter – are sent to work as petites bonnes to generate income to support their families.  They come from poor rural areas to work in cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Tangiers, Agadir, and Fes.  Intermediaries generally broker the arrangement, receiving a fee from the employer. Petites bonnes interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that their employers frequently beat and verbally abused them, denied them the chance to go to school, and sometimes even refused to provide them with adequate food and sleeping facilities. 

In a strange city, separated from their families and often speaking a Berber language instead of the Arabic spoken by a majority of Moroccans, many petites bonnes are extremely isolated and vulnerable.  The isolation, along with the privacy of the homes, increases the chance of sexual abuse by male members of their employers’ household.  In fact, several studies have found that many unwed young mothers in shelters in Morocco were petites bonnes when they became pregnant.

The difficult life of a petite bonne sometimes ends tragically.  The widely reported story of little Khadija, an 11-year-old petite bonnewho was beaten to death by her employer in July 2011, raised calls for the government to take action on the issue.  In January 2013, a 17 year old petite bonne in Casablanca attempted suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of her employers’ home.  Amateur video of the suicide attempt that was circulated on the internet shocked Moroccans.  Most recently, on March 24, 2013, a young domestic worker was taken to the hospital in Agadir with third degree burns on multiple parts of her body.  Only 14 years old, she died from the injuries allegedly inflicted by her employers, prompting a UN representative in Morocco to decry child domestic labor by girls as “one of the worst forms of child exploitation” and call on the government to take action.  Yet, thousands of petites bonnes in Morocco continue to suffer in silence.

Gaps in Legal Protection

According to NGOs working to help petites bonnes in Morocco, part of the problem relates to gaps in and difficulties with implementation of Moroccan laws.   While Moroccan law prohibits employment of children under the age of 15,  Morocco’s Labor Code does not apply to domestic work.  Therefore, the Labor Codes’ protections for workers regarding hours worked (44 hours per week) and pay (2,333 dirhams or approximately $261 per month) do not apply. Human Rights Watch has documented that petites bonnes work long hours, often seven days a week.  They earn an average of 545 dirhams (approximately $61) per month, but some earn as little as 100 dirhans (approximately $11).

In addition, Morocco ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1993 and the ILO Convention No 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.  Both international treaties prohibit economic exploitation and employment of children in work that is likely to be hazardous, interfere with their education, or harm their health, safety or development.  Unfortunately, neither have been implemented in a way that provides adequate protection to the petites bonnes.

Some Progress in Protecting Children 

There is some indication that things are starting to change in Morocco.  The government and international human rights organizations report that the number of girls working as petites bonnes is declining.  This is due in part to the fact that public awareness about the problems faced by petites bonnes has been raised because of increased media attention to the issue and public education campaigns undertaken by the Moroccan government, NGOs, and United Nations agencies.   The Moroccan government has also taken steps to increase school enrollment and this has helped reduce the number of children engaged in child labor.

Yet still more needs to be done.  Since 2006, the government has been working on a draft law on domestic work that would for the first time establish a legal framework to better protect petites bonnes, secure rights such as a weekly day of rest and annual leave, and impose sanctions on employers.  The Moroccan government has said that the draft Law on Domestic Workers is one of its priorities, but the bill has not yet been considered and passed by Parliament.

Take Action on June 12 – World Day Against Child Labour!

labour laws dayThe problem of child domestic workers is not unique to Morocco.  In fact, there are an estimated 15.5 million child domestic workers worldwide.  The widespread use of children as domestic servants is one of the most hidden forms of child labor.

The exploitation of children, particularly girl domestic workers like petites bonnes, is a serious violation of children’s rights.  It perpetuates inequality and inter-generational poverty, and deprives girls of their right to education, health, participation and protection.  It also prevents children from acquiring the life skills and education necessary to improve their future.

To draw attention to the issue of child labor, the United Nations has recognized June 12 as the World Day Against Child Labour.  In 2013, the focus is on child domestic workers like the petites bonnes of Morocco.  On the 2013 World Day Against Child Labour, the international community is calling for legislative and policy reforms to ensure the elimination of child labor in domestic work and the provision of decent work conditions and appropriate protection to young workers in domestic work who have reached the legal working age.  In Morocco, the government should:

•    Strictly enforce the minimum age of 15 for all employment (including domestic work) and ensure that all children (particularly girls) enjoy the right to free and compulsory basic education;

•    Adopt a domestic worker law that ensures compliance with the 2011 ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers

•    Create an effective system for identifying, removing and rehabilitating child domestic workers from illegal or abusive employment.

•    Criminally prosecute individuals responsible for violence or other criminal offenses against child domestic workers.

In addition, the World Day Against Child Labour provides the opportunity for all of us to take action to build the worldwide movement against child labor.

Take Action to end child labor.  Learn what you can do to inform yourself and raise awareness in your community.  The ILO’sSCREAM (Supporting Children’s Rights through Education, the Arts and Media) programme has factsheets, presentations, postcards, poems, and more. The SCREAM education pack is available in multiple languages.

Join the 12to12 to End Child Labour community.  Learn more about the issue and join the 12to12 Community Portal, which provides a common platform for experience and knowledge sharing on research, activities and events  related to the World Day Against Child Labour.

Find out what kids and teens can do to help.  The ILO’s Youth in Action against Child Labour campaign has ideas, information,  videos and other resources to help young people take action to end child labor.

Make a pinwheel with your kids.  The pinwheel has become the symbol of the international fight against child labor.  The pinwheel campaign to raise awareness about child labor began in Brazil in 2004. The five blades of the pinwheel represent the different continents of the world and the wind that makes the pinwheel spin is the will to act and to pass on the message until all countries take adequate measures to end child labor. Download a kit to make a pinwheel to keep the movement going!

This is an original World Moms Blog post written by Jennifer Prestholdt.

Were you aware of the international child labor issue? Does it exist in the country in which you live?

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

More Posts