Despite recent international attention to the problem, United Nations peacekeepers are still sexually exploiting and abusing women in the countries in which they serve, according to a report released yesterday by Refugees International. The report, "Must Boys Be Boys?," was prepared by Sarah Martin, who visited peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Liberia.
As Martin writes in her executive summary, “Since the bulk of personnel in peacekeeping missions are men, a hyper-masculine culture that encourages sexual exploitation and abuse and a tradition of silence have evolved within them.” The majority of complaints heard by Refugees International were about expatriate men, both UN employees and others, carrying on “inappropriate relationships” (such as paying for sex) with local women. In a press briefing Tuesday, reported by the New York Times, Martin said that rapes were often considered merely an outcome of prostitution.
The report’s recommendations include increasing female representation among the UN troops and in senior management positions, setting up an independent watchdog organization and mandatory training programs on gender issues, improving access to the UN complaint process, and conducting programs to empower local women in post-combat areas.
Earlier this year, Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein, Jordan’s ambassador to the UN, reported that UN peacekeepers in the Congo were having sex with women and girls in exchange for food and money, and in some cases committing rape. At the Tuesday briefing, he said that influential member states of the United Nations had greeted his report with "utter silence," the Times reports.
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defundÂ Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).Â Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell asÂ out of order.
Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of twoÂ heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .
7/24/2015 Katherine Spillar Urges Cleveland to Dramatically Increase Hiring of Women Police to Mitigate Police Violence - In a well-received speech at the City Club of Cleveland today, Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation urged Cleveland city officials to dramatically increase the hiring of women police officers as a way to decrease police brutality incidents.
Following a number of high profile police killings in Cleveland of African Americans, and an eight-month investigation by the US Attorney's office of the Northern District of Ohio, the City of Cleveland has now entered into a Consent Decree that requires numerous reforms in how the city oversees and investigates police operations, including training in use of force.
"Among the most important reforms mandated by the consent decree - and the most easily overlooked - are the changes the Cleveland Division of Police must make in its recruitment and hiring practices,
said Spillar. . . .