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.
5/27/2015 California Passes Reproductive FACT Act - The California State Assembly passed the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act yesterday.
AB 775, or the FACT Act, passed 48-25 in a vote, and requires that unlicensed facilities in California that provide pregnancy-related services disclose that they are not licensed medical providers. . . .
5/26/2015 Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage - Over the weekend, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to pass a national referendum legalizing same-sex marriage.
Ireland became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality through popular vote on Friday. . . .