“America’s gender pay gap is at a record low, but hold the celebration”
By: Heidi Hartmann
Summary: In this September 22 commentary published on Fortune.com, Heidi Hartmann the president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research critiques a recent U.S. Census Bureau report regarding the “gender pay gap”. Explaining that the recent findings are “not statistically significant” she offers a variety of measures that can be taken to decrease the pay disparity between men and women and result in the boost of the overall economy, as well as, reduce the number of families that live at or below the current poverty threshold in the United States.
Last week, Lauren Wolfe of Women Under Siege wrote about the rape and violence of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This violence is tearing families apart. Men, women, and children are caught in the horrors of war and the men are fighting for a sense of control. Husbands of women who have been raped often choose to leave their wives because these women have “lost their value.” 43% of men surveyed thought men whose wives had been raped should leave. Those women whose husbands choose to stay are often beaten or raped again. More than half of these men reported perpetuating some form of violence against their wives. Rape among civilians has increased 17-fold and violence, trauma, hunger, and poverty are rampant and studies have found that men are dealing with the trauma by inflicting more violence, usually on their wives and children. Researchers state that “Family has become the battlefield where men try to regain control and power that is lost elsewhere in life.” Lindsay Cortwright
Living Peace is an organization that is trying to promote community support for families that have experienced trauma because of the war and giving hope to these scarred communities. You can read the full article here.
This article offers a new twist on insight into the problem with rampant maternal/infant mortality rates in Kenya, Africa. While disease and lack of access to proper medical care contributes to these problems, the issue of access to clean water is often overlooked. The article cites that out of 160 hospitals in the country, around 120 do not have proper plumbing and safe water supplies for their patients. So while the few women who can even afford to enter a hospital to give birth under what they would assume are safer conditions may have doctors to care for her and her baby, she may be unintentionally exposing herself and her child to even more risk of disease from drinking unsafe water while in the hospital. Is access to clean water a basic human right? I say yes. Lenna Jones
Girls who leave their families are being promised a paying job as a domestic worker or as a babysitter, but they end up being used as cybersex chat girls in the Philippines. The Philippines is an established sex trade country, because of high levels of poverty and because the population can generally speak basic English. In the Philippines, internet sex is such as pornography is illegal, but the National Bureau of Investigation has a hard time enforcing the law. First, the places where girls are living in and talking on the cybersex chat rooms are hard to find. Second, informants are the best way to find where the girls are being kept, but usually the informants are girls who have escaped. The girls who work in the cybersex industry are underage, which in the Philippines is 18 years old. Law enforcement officials say that the population does not understand how much sex trade is hurting their country, and they say that the laws on enforcing illegal acts are out date so much that it makes it hard to fight against the industry.
Girls who desire to finish their schooling usually have to live far away from their villages and families in cheap huts called ghettos. The ghettos are buildings without electricity, water, and security for the girls living in them. This has made the girls a prime target for men who want to rape them. It is believed that the 20% drop out rates of girls between 13 and 17 years old is mainly caused by pregnancies from being raped. Usually the ghettos are too far from authorities to stop men from raping the girls, and when girls scream for help no one comes to help them. The girls in the ghettos live in fear that makes it hard for them to sleep and study for their classes. Aid Organizations are working to build dormitories, but there is an understanding that the culture needs to be changed in order to protect women from rape. In one case two men were caught for raping girls in the ghetto, but they were never convicted.
There are an estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan because of war that ends up killing their husbands. Women are also widowed because of low life expectancy and early marriage that leave women widowed in their 20s and 30s. When women in Afghanistan who become widows do not come out into public spaces, so a unit of military women has formed in order to help widows start businesses and get jobs. The female military unit has formed because the Afghan widows cannot talk to the male military soldiers. Communities have been suspicions of the motives of the female military units, but there have been some success; for example, a woman named Saragama is being trained to become a police officer that will give her more money than working as a cleaner. The military is hoping that by empowering women that Afghanistan will become a more stable country.
This video was filmed last fall by a Lebanese group in Alexandria, in support of Egypt. Without even understanding a word of Arabic, you can see women demonstrating unity of communities, discussing problems.