10 Facts About Violence in the Northern Triangle
The Northern Triangle is a region in Central America comprised of three countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The title originally described a series of trade agreements but the area is now one of the world’s most violent regions. Listed below are 10 facts about violence in the Northern Triangle.

10 Facts About Violence in the Northern Triangle

1. Asylum Seekers – In 2015, the number of asylum seekers fleeing from the Northern Triangle region reached 110,000, an increase of five times higher than reports from 2012.

2. High Homicide Rates – All three countries have homicide rates which have consistently ranked as some of the highest globally, even given that each has witnessed a recent decline in their respective rates. In 2018, InSight Crime reported that El Salvador’s homicide rate was 51 per 100,000 individuals, a drop from 81.2 in 2017; the report estimated Honduras’ rate at 40, a drop from 42.8; Guatemala’s was 22.4, a drop from 26.1. These high rates of homicide translate to the Northern Triangle’s low rankings on the 2019 Global Peace Index (GPI), which measures nations based on levels of peacefulness, where El Salvador ranked 113th, Guatemala 114th and Honduras 123rd out of 163 countries.

3. Domestic Violence – Many asylum seekers fleeing the region are women and children. This can be credited to female homicide rates that are some of the highest in the world. In Guatemala, only two percent of the over 50,000 cases of violence against women in 2013 saw the perpetrator convicted. The majority of these cases, and those elsewhere in Honduras and El Salvador, involved domestic abuse.

4. Gang Violence – Those living in the region are under a constant threat of violence from gangs, the largest being Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Eighteenth Street Gang (M-18). The combined membership for both gangs is an estimated 85,000.

5. Drug Trafficking – The Northern Triangle region of Central America has become a major shipping route for illicit drugs coming into the U.S. In 2015, an estimated 90 percent of cocaine seized in the U.S. was of Columbian origin and had traveled through routes in Central America. Despite this high rate of cocaine shipments into the U.S., the region has much lower numbers of other illicit drugs traveling along the same routes, such as heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl.

6. Extortion – In 2015, estimates indicated that Salvadorans paid $390 million, Hondurans paid $200 million and Guatemalans paid $61 million in extortion fees. The primary victims of these extortionists were public transportation operators, small businesses and residents of poor neighborhoods.

7. Corruption – High levels of corruption at the state level have hindered progress in the region. According to a 2016 index of corruption perceptions by Transparency International, all three countries ranked on the bottom half of the scale.

8. Unemployment – There is a remarkably high number of young people in the region who are out of school and without a job, over one million in total. In El Salvador, this correlates to 24 percent of the youth population, 25.1 percent of Guatemalan youth and 27.5 percent of Honduran youth. This is another factor of economic in-opportunity which leads many to flee or become involved with local gangs.

9. Poverty – Poverty in the Northern Triangle and the lack of economic opportunity play a large role in the proliferation of violence and mass migration. An estimated 60 percent of people who live in rural areas in the region are living in poverty.

10. High Impunity Rates – For all of the recorded violence and homicide covered in these 10 facts about violence in the Northern Triangle, the rate of impunity for crimes is 95 percent or higher. This acts as an incentive to criminals and a further deterrent to public confidence in law enforcement.

While these 10 facts about violence in the Northern Triangle continue to paint an alarming picture of living conditions in the region, it is important to recognize the small steps toward improvement. The Borgen Project is currently working to gain support for the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (H.R.2615), which aims to address the root causes of the migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

– Alexandra Schulman
Photo: Flickr

Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is home to around 4.8 million people. Due to its civil unrest, this country also has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and is in a state of crisis. Here are the top 10 facts about the life expectancy in the Central African Republic that reflect the current quality of life, as well as the steps set for future improvement.

Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in the Central African Republic

1. As of 2018, the average life expectancy in the Central African Republic is 53 years, which gives it a ranking of 217 out of 224 countries. The average male life expectancy is 51.7 years, while the average female life expectancy female is slightly higher at 54.4 years.

2. After winning independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic suffered decades of political instability. In early 2018, more than 18,000 citizens of the Central African Republic fled fighting in their homeland to take refuge in neighboring Chad. The violence and displacement of these people are some of the main causes of the low life expectancy. As of 2016, more than half of the population was in need of food and the violence had killed thousands. The fighting also forced Muslims to flee their homes in the Christian-majority country.

3. Although the average life expectancy seems despairingly low, the Central African Republic has made improvements in its overall health over the past few years. After the persistent military crisis, the country’s overall life expectancy dropped to a low of 43 years in 2007. Luckily, after President Francois Bozize signed peace pacts with two rebel groups, the Central African Republic was able to tackle more of its own political, economic and social conditions, contributing to a dramatic rise in life expectancy.

4. The leading causes of death in the Central African Republic include HIV/AIDS, influenza, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS deaths in the Central African Republic account for 13 percent of total deaths in the country. Influenza and pneumonia deaths make up 11 percent of deaths while diarrheal diseases account for around eight percent of deaths.

5. The life expectancy does not account for the fact that an estimated 14.4 percent of the average life is spent in poor health. While diseases account for a high proportion of deaths, poor nutrition is one of the main causes of early decline. Years of conflict have reduced the mobility of populations, which in turn has hindered people’s ability to grow crops, buy food and access health care. “Most of the people live on less than $1 a day. There is little food. Even cassava, the most basic foodstuff in the local diet, is often scarce”, said Dr. Deus Bazira from the World Health Organization. Pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable individuals and are most susceptible to malnutrition.

6. Throughout the country, there is currently an extreme water and hygiene crisis. Sixty-eight percent of the rural population lacks access to clean and safe water, which increases the risk of diarrheal diseases and otherwise preventable water-borne diseases.

7. Areas outside of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, have limited health care. Much of the population faces poorly equipped and understaffed clinics in the countryside. Bangui itself has only one major hospital, which is limited in care. The distribution of medicine is also difficult due to the lack of transportation.

8. Since 2016, the country is working to improve its overall health with a new trajectory under the leadership of the government. The Central African Republic plans to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups, such as those with disabilities, children, pregnant women and malnourished patients. “This new commitment to improving the health and nutrition of the poorest and most vulnerable will help ease the poverty that stymies the Central African Republic’s growth and unlock its economic potential,” said Mariam Claeson, Director of the Global Financing Facility.

9. On January 7, 2019, the U.N. worked with the Central African Republic to launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan. This operation requested around $430 million to provide humanitarian assistance to 1.7 million people this year, a major step in improving health conditions throughout the country.

10. Although providing humanitarian aid is difficult due to security and logistical constraints, international operations and organizations are assisting the Central African Republic through its current crisis. The International Rescue Committee and The European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) are examples of major strides to offer medical care, water and sanitation services and protection for people in high-risk areas.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in the Central African Republic provide insight into the progress made and steps needed to improve the quality of life in the country. Although the state of health remains unstable, with relief agencies working to assist conflict-affected populations, the Central African Republic will hopefully continue to increase its life expectancy over the next few years.

– Malini Nayak
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about violence in honduras
In Honduras, the homicide rate is currently 43.6 per 100,000, meaning for every 100,000 of Honduras’ inhabitants, about 44 people will be murdered every year. With this statistic alone, it is easy to see Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. However, by evaluating the implemented solutions working to combat violence, homicides in Honduras appear to be dropping; raising the possibility of losing its position as the murder capital of the world. Here are 10 facts about violence in Honduras.

10 Facts About Violence in Honduras

  1. Murder – In 2011 Honduras experienced a peak in murder rates making Honduras the holder of the highest homicide rate in the world. Between 2011 and 2015, the murder rate in Honduras decreased by 30 percent. Homicides went down from 88.5 per 100,000 residents to 60.0 per 100,000 and have remained constant or decreased slowly depending on the year. However, in Honduras, only 4 percent of reported homicide cases result in arrest showing there is still lots of room for improvement.
  2. Lack of Trust – Police and judicial systems in Honduras suffer from corruption, lack of training and a list of cases so long that even honest, well-equipped officials struggle to keep up. As a result, members of the most vulnerable Honduran communities often do not trust the police, public prosecutors or judges to do their jobs. Fearing retaliation from violent perpetrators, they often refuse to provide witness testimony necessary to bring about a conviction. This causes Honduran judicial officials to lose trust in victims. This lack of trust and support fuels a vicious cycle of violence and impunity that has contributed to Honduras’ status as one of the most violent countries in the world. The Special Commission to Purge and Reform the Honduran Police is working to rid the force of corrupt leaders, strengthen public and police relations and reorganize their internal and external goals. Today, the Special Commission to Purge and Reform the Honduran Police has put in nearly 15 months of work and suspended or removed 5,000 police from the force.
  3. Poverty – Poverty and violence are directly related, and they work together to generate difficult living conditions in Honduras. As of 2017, 64 percent of Honduras’ population lives in poverty. Further, Honduras has the second smallest middle class in Latin America, at only 10.9 percent of the population. A larger middle class would result in stronger public institutions, stronger economic growth and greater societal stability. Therefore, Honduras would see lower levels of violence because of stronger societal relations. Working to stem both violence and increase economic opportunities is the key to sustainable development.
  4. Illegal Drug Trade – Central America serves as a transit point for at least 80 percent of all cocaine shipments between the Andean region and North America. Criminal groups in Honduras are very aware of this and profit primarily from drug trade and extortion as well as kidnapping for ransom and human trafficking. In February 2019, authorities in Honduras arrested four Colombian citizens caught in an attempt to smuggle over 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United States through a remote region of the country’s eastern coast. This is one example of thousands.
  5. Gangs – Gang presence in Honduras is common in poor urban areas and where territory is controlled by members of rival gangs, the most powerful being the Mara Salvatrucha and the Barrio 18. The most common age for Honduran gang members is between 12 and 30. Gangs constitute a real but often misunderstood feature of these 10 facts about violence in Honduras. While there is little doubt that they are involved in significant levels of violence, gangs are highly diverse and linked more to localized insecurity rather than the transnational danger ascribed to them by the media and certain policymakers. It is understood that 40 percent of gang members claim to be involved in gangs to ‘hang out,’ 21 percent because they had gang member friends and 21 percent to evade family problems. There is also a correlation between youth unemployment and gang membership: only 17 percent of gang members were employed and 66 percent actively characterized themselves as unemployed.
  6. Domestic Violence – One woman is murdered every 16 hours in Honduras, and the country has the highest femicide rate in the world. Shocking numbers of rape, assault and domestic violence cases are reported. However, 95 percent of cases of sexual violence and femicide in Honduras were never investigated in the year 2014. As mentioned above, widespread underreporting is likely to be linked to the lack of trust in governmental figures such as police and judicial systems. Rape is widespread and is employed to discipline girls, women and their family members for failure to comply with demands. In Honduras, there is a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes and the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women is the norm rather than the exception.
  7. Honduras Youth – The expansion of gangs and the increase in violence is linked to the lack of opportunities for the youth of the country. Many young Hondurans turn to gangs for their welfare protection and identity construction because they see no other way. Gangs emerge in this context as an option that is often desired for the marginal youth as it provides a form of transition from adolescence to adulthood. About 2 percent of females go completely uneducated, compared to 3 percent of males. Likewise, secondary school lasts between two to three years between the ages of 13 and 16, and 38 percent of females drop out compared to 33 percent of males.
  8. The Public and Prevention – In areas with low levels of violence, residents have taken incidents of crime and made an effort to minimize conditions that might allow violence to thrive. Kindernotheilfe has partnered with the community-formed group Sociedad más Justa (ASJ). They are dedicated to improving the living conditions of children and young people in Tegucigalpa and protecting them from violent abuse. Since 2004, parents, children, young people, teachers, churches, justice officials, city administrations and other NGOs have gotten involved. Some of their help include psychological and legal counseling, neighborhood patrolling and organized children’s clubs and activities.
  9. USAID and Honduras Citizen Security – On Sept. 30, 2016, the U.S. Agency for International Development programs for Honduras invested in a $34.17 million project lasting until Feb. 13, 2021. They are working to support the Government of Honduras’ efforts to improve the service delivery of justice institutions; increase the capacity of police to work with targeted communities; and incorporate respect for human rights to help reduce violence, decrease impunity and implement human rights standards within government institutions. During the third quarter of year one, they achieved key targets, including launching five city events, holding an international conference, instituting a Supreme Court Innovation Committee, connecting with the LGBTQI committee and collaborating with other donor programs.
  10. The Peace and Justice Project – The Peace and Justice Project provides investigative, legal and psychological support for people with few resources who have been victims of violent crimes and push for structural change in Honduras’ security and justice systems. The project has a 95 percent conviction rate, almost 24 times the national average. This has reduced the impunity rate in key communities from 4 percent convictions to 60 percent convictions for violent crimes, while also reducing the overall homicide rate drastically. Over the last 10 years, 600 lives have been saved through interventions in these violent communities.

These 10 facts about violence in Honduras prove that while strides have been made, violence in Honduras is still a major global concern. Communities and citizens of Honduras should continue to make a difference by demanding higher standards and continuing prevention actions. Furthermore, other nations should continue to support by becoming involved in helping strengthen institutional, governmental and police and judicial systems to see long term change.

Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

Venezuela
What began as an economic recession in Venezuela has quickly escalated into a humanitarian crisis where one must fight to survive. Venezuela is steadily becoming the most violent country in the world. At least 28,479 deaths of a violent nature occurred in 2016, and the nation currently holds a homicide rate of 91.8 for every 100,000 people. The hunger crisis and the fact that 82 percent of its population is living in poverty could be linked with the growing rate of crime and violence in Venezuela.

Conditions Leading Up to the Violence

In 2014, Venezuela was struck by an economic recession caused by the decline in oil prices – Venezuela’s primary export. Its biggest shortfall came with the collapse of Venezuela’s currency when the price of imported goods swelled and the country was forced to limit the number of goods brought in. Staples like toilet paper or rice were often impossible to find, and when one did locate them, such essential products were often too expensive to buy. A shortage in even basic medicines and medical supplies began causing serious concerns.

The Borgen Project was fortunate enough to interview Venezuelan national and Ph.D. student, Maria Alemán. She described the scene, “Picture a supermarket or a grocery store when there is a snow storm in one of the southern states. You go in and everything is empty. There is nothing. That’s how it is there 24/7.” This lack of imported goods has created panic and a hunger crisis in Venezuela. With the widespread panic, Venezuela was faced with having to put strict regulations on many goods available for purchase. “If you get to the store and they are regulating an item, let’s say you want to buy two gallons of milk because you have a big family. Well no, if they are only allowing you to buy a gallon, then that is all you get,” Maria explains.

Lack of Jobs and Resources is Creating Chaos

The collapse of Venezuela’s economy affected the job market. Many businesses’ closed or took their business out of the country, leaving families to struggle with the cost of rising food prices with no source of income or not nearly enough income. “People are starving because the price of food is too expensive, even with a monthly salary,” Maria defends. As conditions grew dire and many were met with the challenge of feeding themselves and their families, crime in Venezuela rose at an epidemic rate. The Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (VOV) reported a 14 percent increase in violent crimes from 2012 to 2013. In 2015, 17,778 people were murdered in Venezuela; however, the VOV revealed that those numbers were as high as 27,875.

Maria recalls a shift in the nature of the crimes as desperation fueled robberies with the threat of violence. “Thieves started to go find knives and guns because there was no other way people were going to go and give them their stuff. People got so upset that they had no choice but to start killing people to actually feel threatened. It’s even worse now because people are having to kill to survive.” With no other resources available, the population turned to violence, either in an effort to attain resources or to protect oneself from others trying to take resources.

If things couldn’t seem any worse, the increase in crime and violence running rampant in the streets of Venezuela was a catalyst for the formation of several crime organizations who have taken to exploiting the hunger of young people to get them to participate in criminal activities, which is only adding to the rising crime rate.

Efforts to Decrease Crime and Violence in Venezuela

While Venezuela has implemented a subsidized food program that benefits 87 percent of Venezuelans, it hasn’t done much to slow the hunger-induced crime sprees. Maria says, “people receive boxes from the government with some food products like rice, flour, etc., but not everyone gets the same products in their boxes. The contents of a single box aren’t enough for a family of four.” Clearly, the government needs to find other solutions than providing a small amount of food per family.

Other attempts to alleviate the situation were raising the minimum wage to 34 times the previous amount and minting a new currency (the “sovereign bolivar”) to replace the “strong bolivar.” Unfortunately, new currency or no, businesses cannot afford to pay the new minimum wage set by the government and are laying off employees or, in the worst case scenario, closing down. There have been attempts by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to act as a mediator between the people and the government amidst the protesting, but no demands have been met. Although the situation is bleak, the hopes for successful negotiation may be the only way to end the crisis in Venezuela.

Although crime and violence in Venezuela have been commonplace in the past, current living conditions in Venezuela have escalated the crime to new heights, creating a harsh reality many are facing in order to survive. Without the basic means of survival such as a livable wage, job security and even access to basic resources, Venezuela will continue to see a steadily climbing crime and murder rate.

– Catherine Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Is there any Hope that Andrés Manuel López Obrador Can Stem the Violence in Mexico?
Statistics show that in May 2018, one person was killed in Mexico every 15 minutes. This number is record-breaking for the country, proving that 2018 will turn out to be even more violent than 2017, the year that saw the highest rates of violence in Mexico in the last two decades.

New President, New Hope

Mexico recently elected a new president, democratic socialist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as AMLO). He officially assumed office on December 1 and his victory has raised great hopes among the millions of poor and struggling citizens of the country.

Among other goals that he committed himself to, such as expanding health care, strengthening the education system and helping small-time farmers, AMLO plans to stem cartel violence in Mexico. When he was voted, AMLO told his gathered supporters: “This is a historic day. We represent the possibility of a real change, of a transformation.”

During his victory speech, AMLO made clear right away one crucial aspect of the transformation he was seeking. “The failed crime and violence strategy will change.”

AMLO inherited the presidential office from Enrique Peña Nieto and a bloody war on drug cartels that has lasted over a decade and taken more than 150,000 lives.

But unlike his predecessor, AMLO does not favor using a military strategy to target the cartels. In May conference, he stated that his opponents think everything can be resolved by force.

So, what’s the new President’s alternative? His strategies of stemming the cartel violence in Mexico are presented below.

Look at the Root of the Problem

AMLO said that he wants to tackle the social problems that cause people to become involved in organized crime and drug cartels in the first place. “More than through the use of force, we will tend to the causes that give rise to insecurity and violence,” he promises.

While on the campaign trail, AMLO used slogans like “Abrazos, no balazos” (hugs, not gunshots) and “Becarios sí, sicarios no” (scholars yes, killers no), to highlight his pacifist platform.

AMLO plans to contact human rights groups, religious leaders and the United Nations to start drafting a new plan for combatting the drug war.

He plans to invest in education and eradicate the poverty in the country that is the root of the problem.

Decriminalization

AMLO has a long-term goal of re-writing drug laws to decriminalize recreational use of marijuana. He is considering making it legal to using opium for medicinal reasons.

Former Supreme Court Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero, who is AMLO’S proposed interior minister, said that poppy production could be legalized to supply the national pharmaceutical company.

All of this could take away the main sources of income for Mexico’s cartels, whose profits come almost mostly from trafficking illegal drugs.

Transitional Justice

The new president is also interested in substituting transitional justice for punitive sentencing and imprisonment. The United Nations defines transitional justice as the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.

Transitional justice has been used in Rwanda, for example, as of way of rebuilding from the 1994 genocide. Now, AMLO’s administration is looking to transitional justice for guidance in creating peace in Mexico.

Some aspects of transitional justice that AMLO wants to employ are truth commissions and giving reparations to victims’ family members. Reparations could come in the form of money, work or education.

One of AMLO’s most controversial ideas is giving partial amnesty to those involved in drug gangs. This amnesty would, however, only apply to non-violent offenders.

Instead of sending them to prison, he sees social work and public service as viable alternatives that could be more effective long-term because this would remove the primary motivations that young people have for joining the drug gangs.

The members of drug cartels eligible for amnesty plans are primarily those whose jobs were planting drugs, serving as lookouts or working as drug mules.

He is not proposing to grant amnesty to those directly involved in the more than 150,000 killings that threaten to destabilize the country entirely.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to stem cartel violence in Mexico. He espouses the lofty goal of eradicating violence by the middle of his first 6-year term in office.

His approach is so different and innovative than those of his predecessors that it might just work. The people of Mexico and the whole world will soon find out if this will actually work.

– Evann Orleck-Jetter

Photo: Flickr

Recent Genocides
Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Recent genocides have occurred in Sudan against 
Darfur’s ethnic Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa peoples and in Myanmar against its Rohingya minority.

Tensions Continue as a Result of Sudanese Genocides

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, Sudan has struggled to find peace between its Muslim northern regions and its animist and Christian southern regions. Continuous conflict led to the creation of an autonomous South Sudan, but tensions persist. Civil wars in the region have taken an estimated 2.5 million lives and displaced approximately four million people.

Beside the warring north and south of Sudan, recent genocides have occurred in a western part of the nation known as Darfur. In February 2003, rebel groups led by predominantly by non-Arab Muslim sedentary tribes, including the Fur and Zaghawa, rose up against the Khartoum government due to unequal treatment and economic marginalization. In response, the government sent militias known as Janjaweed, which translates to “evil men on horseback,” whose duties were to carry out attacks on villages. The Janjaweed used slash and burn methods to decimate communities as well as injuring and murdering civilians and poisoning wells.

The Darfurian genocide was the first genocide of the 21st century and its unrest and violence have not yet ceased. As of 2016, more than 480,000 people have been murdered and more than 2.8 million people have been displaced. Many refugees have fled Sudan and some have been living in camps for more than 10 years.

Recent Genocides in Myanmar Draw Global Attention

Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, lived under the governance of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The government is now under civilian control, but the military continues to wield extensive power and commit human rights abuses. Its population is mostly Buddhist with large Christian and Muslim minorities.

Two-thirds of Myanmar’s people identify as Burmese or Bamar, but there are 135 ethnic minorities residing in the country. The Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced long-standing systemic violence and oppression from the Buddhist government. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes in the decades of conflict and as recently as 2010 the government was still burning, shelling and abusively sweeping Karen villages.

The Rohingya Muslims have also had a long-standing history of genocide and statelessness. In 1982, the Burmese military stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were Bengali despite their having lived in Burma’s Rakhine State for generations. This led to a mass migration of over 250,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, but they were met with deportation once in Bangladesh and were forced to return to Burma.

The recent genocides of the Rohingya in Myanmar began in 2012 when political party officials, senior Buddhist monks and state security forces committed mass killings of men, women and children. The cleansing left 150,000 Rohingya homeless and more than 100,000 fled the country.

Even more recently, in August 2017, a small rebellion of Rohingya militants led to military retaliation against any and all Rohingya people. These attacks caused the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. More than 675,000 Rohingya fled the country within three months to seek safety in Bangladesh. As of January 2018, more than one million Rohingya refugees have been registered in Bangladesh.

Fulfilling the Promise to End Genocide Worldwide

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not acts of the past. Religious and cultural minorities continue to face persecution and attempts at forced extinction. However, this does not mean that individuals elsewhere must simply be bystanders to such atrocities. Raising awareness about the genocides occurring in the world and donating time or money to organizations that work to end genocide can make an impact and ensure that the world does not turn a blind eye to those in danger.

The organization United to End Genocide states that one of the best ways for individuals to help prevent and stop genocide is to vote for representatives who support foreign aid and acknowledge global atrocities. Support representatives who make the end of genocide a priority.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Global Prevalence of FemicideFemicide is defined as the killing of women. It has also been called gendercide and it is the most severe form of violence against women. The global prevalence of femicide is evident within all regions and cultures.

The Current Situation

Four of the five regions with the highest levels of femicide also have the highest rates of overall homicides, but in Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation, femicide rates are disproportionately high in respect to general homicide rates. In India, 8,093 cases of dowry femicide were reported in 2007. In China, female children are twice as likely to die in their first year of life compared to male children and the risk of death is three times higher for second born female children than first born.

Furthermore, in Guatemala, two women are murdered on average every single day. In Mexico, an estimated seven women were murdered every day in 2016. In South Africa, the rate of femicide for 2015 was 9.6 per 100,000 women, 4 times more than the global average that same year.

Cultures facilitate femicide through the normalization of violence against women. Dowry femicide, the murder of a woman by her in-laws over dowry-related conflicts, and honor killings, the murder of a woman by a member of her family for a behavioral transgression, can be considered “traditions” in the Middle East and South Asia. Intimate partner femicide is relabeled as a “crime of passion” in Latin America.

The pressure to desire male children for their dominant advantages over female children is a major cause of femicide in many nations. In societies such as China and India, girls are seen as burdens due to their inability to help support their families financially. The expense of dowries makes female infanticide a viable option for families seeking a more lucrative future.

Combatting the Global Prevalence of Femicide

Governments have a responsibility to protect women’s rights to life and liberty. By creating and enforcing laws that protect women from violence and discrimination, a precedent can be set and the complacency shown to the oppression of women can cease.

In Central America, femicide has been criminalized and prosecutors have been trained to take cases to trial. In Pakistan, sweeping new legislation has been passed to prevent the use of acid on attacks on women. Meanwhile, in Palestine, the first national strategy to combat violence against women in the Middle East was adopted with survivors of violence taking part in the legislation’s drafting. These are important positive steps toward legal recourse and representation in instances of femicide and violence against women.

Improving Female Representation in Government

As of June 2016, only 22.8 percent of all national parliamentarians were women, and as of June 2017, only two countries have 50 percent or more women in parliament. Room for women is slowly growing. 11 countries in Latin America and 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have applied for some form of gender quotas to open more space for women in governmental positions of power and influence.

Evidence has shown and continues to show that women’s leadership and inclusion in political decision-making processes improves governments. Female empowerment in government creates room for a discussion of many issues connected to gender equality and puts people with deep personal connections to these issues in positions with the power to fight the global prevalence of femicide.

The Causes of Femicide

Two of the largest risk factors for femicide and sexual violence are a lack of education and poverty which, in many cases, are intertwined afflictions. Education is a two-way street when seeking to end violence against women. It has been found that both men and women with higher levels of education are less likely to commit or experience violence.

By making education available to women, they have more opportunity for economic independence, are less likely to be forced into early marriage and learn skills that make them valuable members of society. In conjunction with educating women, educating men on the human rights of women can stunt the normalization of violence against women in the minds of young men and boys.

A perfect example of such an education can be seen in Nairobi, Kenya, where the nonprofit organization No Means No Worldwide implemented a program to prevent sexual assault on girls and women. The curriculum for males aimed to shift attitudes that lead to the acceptance of assault and rape of their female peers. Those male students in the experimental group who received the aforementioned curriculum were twice as likely as those in the control group to successfully halt instances of verbal harassment and physical or sexual violence against women.

Female empowerment and the re-education of both men and women to the equal rights of women and in culture and society are the keys to ending the abhorrent levels of violence against women and the global prevalence of femicide. Nina Simone once said, “I’ll tell you what freedom means to me. No fear.” Equal power and equal space are a route out from under the oppression of eternal fear, and released from that fear, women can find freedom.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Children
A 2016 survey conducted by UNICEF and the Philippine government found that eight out of 10 children suffer some form of physical or psychological abuse. More than 60 percent of the cases of physical violence happen at home, with slightly more victims among boys than girls. Also during this time, UNICEF and the Philippine Council for the Welfare of Children found in their first nationwide survey of children and youth aged 13-24 that one in five respondents had been sexually violated. Less than one percent of victims of child abuse report these cases to authorities.

The Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence against Children

Since these findings, the Philippines have acted to combat violence against children and have made great strides. The Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence against Children (PPAEVAC) of the Republic of the Philippines (2017-2022), formulated by the government’s Council for the Welfare of Children and UNICEF, seeks to “break the cycle” of violence by guaranteeing access to services, building the capacity of children to protect themselves, improving legislation, and serving as a guide for policymakers and donors.

The PPAEVAC responds to Filipino children’s need for protection, care and development. The act is a multi-sectoral road map designed for the progressive reduction of violence against children and a part of the government’s general commitment to building an enabling environment that respects, protects and fulfills the rights of all children.

Furthermore, the effort also reflects the government’s recognition of children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation, and their right to attain their full potential, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It serves as an effective blueprint addressing the proliferation of various types of violence against children, including sexual abuse and exploitation.

Eight Key Strategies

As the Philippines acts to combat violence against children, eight key strategies in the PPAEVAC aim to address areas necessary to break the cycle of violence and achieve the vision of its complete termination. These strategies include:

  1. Promotion of evidence-based parenting program and life skills and personal safety lessons
  2. Capability building
  3. Comprehensive Communication for Behavior Change (C4BC) strategy
  4. Children and adolescent participation/mobilization
  5. Direct service delivery
  6. Monitoring, evaluation and research
  7. Policy advocacy
  8. Institution building

It’s already difficult to track abuses by relatives and acquaintances against children, but one of the biggest challenges ahead for the plan is the Duterte government itself. Its murderous “war on drugs” has brought untold misery to the families of mostly poor urban dwellers.

According to government data, the campaign against alleged drug dealers and users started in 2016, and has since contributed to the deaths of more than 12,000 people. Children have been among those killed by police and police-backed vigilantes. Many have been targeted, while others are what some government officials call “collateral damage,” or bystanders in police shootings.

Violence by state officials should not be a part of the large numbers on child violence. As the Philippines acts to combat violence against children, the PPAEVAC provides significant hope that violence against Filipino children has an end.

– Ashley Quigley
Photo: Flickr


On August 15-17, 2017, a workshop was held to prioritize citizen security and crime reduction throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region. The conference was a start in the process of reducing crime and violence in Barbados, one of the countries that participated in the workshop.

CariSECURE Project

The conference was organized through the Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean Project (CariSECURE). The essential goal of the project is to decrease the incidence of youth crime and violence through policy-making and programming throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to formulate the CariSECURE toolkit, funded fully by the USAID.

The USAID consulted with many regional stakeholders, including 10 delegates from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community Secretariat, in development of reducing crime and violence in Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

What does CariSECURE Do?

The CariSECURE project advances citizen security data management, analysis and monitoring for reduction of crime and violence in Caribbean countries. Through reporting on citizen security patterns, the project converts quantitative data into valuable qualitative information, which then enables public servants the ability to generate data-driven results.

The project relies on the ideas of intervention logic by focusing on problem prevention rather than addressing the problem after it occurs. Identifying the problem, recognizing the risk factors, developing preventive strategies and adopting the preventive strategies are the four essential steps of intervention logic.

Barbados National Task Force for the CariSECURE Project

To help implement the ideas of CariSECURE, Barbados developed a National Task Force to instill administration and coordination of the project to reduce crime and violence in Barbados.

Mr. Stephen O’Malley, Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the OECS described that“the National Task Force will be particularly helpful in driving the management and coordination of the Toolkit” in Barbados and the whole Caribbean.

The National Task Force was officially launched on February 21, 2018 in Bridgetown, Barbados by the Honourable Adriel D. Brathwaite, the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in Barbados. Law-enforcement officials assisted in the launching of the National Task Force, which is the official implementation of CariSECURE in Barbados.

The Barbados National Task Force is composed of senior staff members from various public institutions that deal with crime and violence, which include the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Probation Department, the Courts, the Department of Public Prosecution, Prisons, the Statistical Service, Government Industrial School and the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit.

A Step in the Right Direction

The Honourable Brathwaite described how “reliable data provides an invaluable resource for the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs which have the potential to reduce crime and violence among the youth population.” The CariSECURE project was implemented by the National Task Force to secure an effective means in reducing crime and violence in Barbados.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Flickr

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quotes about nonviolence
Although his main intent was to fight for the equality of African-Americans during the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quotes about nonviolence are still relevant today. As of 2017, Colombia, Yemen, El Salvador, Pakistan and Nigeria are the top five most dangerous countries in the world.

Colombia faces drug trafficking and frequent acts of terrorism. Pakistan is in the midst of a religious war in which innocent bystanders have become collateral damage. Nigeria is terrorized by two extremist groups, Boko Haram and ISIS of West Africa.

However, violence is not only a common trend in these countries but in a large percentage of the world. From the Caribbean to Africa and even parts of Asia, violence is an epidemic.

Violence is an ongoing cycle that is hard to break, and no one seems to have understood this more than Dr. King. He preached of the power and strength of nonviolent actions. He understood that peaceful protest and other nonviolent protests could strike real change.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Top Quotes about Nonviolence

  1. “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”
  2. “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”
  3. “Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”
  4. “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
  5. “Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”
  6. “World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.”
  7. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
  8. “I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.”
  9. “I am convinced that even violent temperaments can be channeled through nonviolent discipline, if they can act constructively and express through an effective channel their very legitimate anger.”
  10. “In the nonviolent army, there is room for everyone who wants to join up. There is no color distinction. There is no examination, no pledge, except that, as a soldier in the armies of violence is expected to inspect his carbine and keep it clean, nonviolent soldiers are called upon to examine their greatest weapons: their heart, their conscience, their courage and sense of justice.”

From Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s quotes about nonviolence, many have been and continue to be given the power to envision peace. If humans across the globe could comprehend Dr. King’s lesson, the world would finally be able to achieve peace.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Wikimedia Commons