Attacks by White Extremists are growing. So are connections.

– Full report with statistics and charts at https://nyti.ms/2WM6sfY
– By WEIYI CAI and SIMONE LANDON

– NYT (03.04.2019) – https://nyti.ms/2WM6sfY – New York Times examined attacks perpetrated by anti-immigrant extremists, anti-Muslim extremists, neo-Nazi extremists, right-wing extremists, anti-Semitic extremists, neo-fascists, white extremists, anti-Arab extremists, the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Sikh extremists and extremists. They also examined attacks on migrants and refugees, places of worship and religious figures, and attacks on black people, Hispanic people and Hindus.

The analysis by The New York Times of recent terrorist attacks found that at least a third of white extremist killers since 2011 were inspired by others who perpetrated similar attacks, professed a reverence for them or showed an interest in their tactics.

Targeting Muslims

About a quarter of white extremist attacks in Europe targeted Muslims and mosques. These attacks increased significantly starting in 2015 along with a wave of xenophobic violence reacting to the migrant crisis.

Attacks in North America Are More DeadlyIn North America, the ideologies of older white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan have mixed with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment and the fresh-faced fascism of the “alt right” to give rise to a more lethal terror.

Attacks on Places of Worship

There were at least 38 attacks that targeted places of worship, like churches, synagogues and mosques across North America.

Until last year, the deadliest of these attacks in the United States were a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and a shooting at a black church in South Carolina in 2015.

Online Radicalization

An attacker who voiced his hatred of women and people of color in a manifesto before killing six people in California in 2014 signaled a new type of terrorist. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, called the attacker the “first alt-right killer.” Several more attackers who fit this profile killed over the next few years.

Rising Violence

Then in 2017, attacks jumped in a tense post-election political environment. Nine of these proved deadly.

Preliminary 2018 data for the United States shows five additional deadly white extremist attacks, including mass shootings at high schools in Florida and Texas and at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Full report can be read on the following link; https://nyti.ms/2WM6sfY 

In a manifesto posted online before his attack, the gunman who killed 50 last month in a rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he drew inspiration from white extremist terrorism attacks in Norway, the United States, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

His references to those attacks placed him in an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.

An analysis by The New York Times of recent terrorism attacks found that at least a third of white extremist killers since 2011 were inspired by others who perpetrated similar attacks, professed a reverence for them or showed an interest in their tactics.

The connections between the killers span continents and highlight how the internet and social media have facilitated the spread of white extremist ideology and violence.

In one instance, a school shooter in New Mexico corresponded with a gunman who attacked a mall in Munich. Altogether, they killed 11 people.

One object of fascination for the Christchurch killer and at least four other white extremists was Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who killed 77 in a bombing and mass shooting in Norway in 2011.

Mr. Breivik’s lengthy manifesto offered a litany of grievances about immigration and Islam – and the attacks became a model for future ones.

“I think that Breivik was a turning point, because he was sort of a proof of concept as to how much an individual actor could accomplish,” said J.M. Berger, author of the book “Extremism” and a research fellow with VOX-Pol, a European academic initiative to study online extremism.

“He killed so many people at one time operating by himself, it really set a new bar for what one person can do.”

Shortly after the Norway massacre, a prominent American white supremacist named Frazier Glenn Miller wrote on a white supremacist forum that Mr. Breivik had “inspired young Aryan men to action.” Mr. Miller opened fire on a Jewish retirement home and community center in Kansas a few years later, killing three.

Mr. Breivik was not the only mass killer to inspire copycats. The Christchurch shooter also paid tribute to a Canadian man who opened fire inside a Quebec City mosque in 2017, writing his name on one of the guns used in his attack.

That Canadian gunman read extensively about Dylann Roof, the American who killed nine worshipers at a black church in South Carolina in 2015.

At least four white extremist killers made statements online praising Elliot Rodger, a racist and misogynist who targeted women in a 2014 spree, before carrying out their own attacks.

All these attacks occurred amid a surge of white supremacist and xenophobic terrorism in the West that has frequently targeted Muslims, immigrants and other minority groups, the Times analysis found.

The analysis was based on data from the Global Terrorism Database and identified nearly 350 white extremist terrorism attacks in Europe, North America and Australia from 2011 through 2017, the latest year of available data. We also examined preliminary data on attacks in the United States in 2018.

The database is a project of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. It relies on news reports and other records to capture episodes that meet its definition of terrorism: the use of violence by a non-state actor to attain a political or social goal.

Over this period, white extremism – an umbrella term encompassing white nationalist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, xenophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic ideologies – accounted for about 8 percent of all attacks in these regions and about a third of those in the United States.

Erin Miller, who manages the database, said the increase in white extremist terrorism parallels a rise in hate crimes and bias episodes in the West and that deadly attacks are occurring more often.

“There’s a common framing of far-right terrorism or domestic terrorism as being ‘terrorism lite’ and not as serious,” she said. “It’s an interesting question given that far-right attacks can be quite devastating.”

The Global Reach of White Extremism

There were five white extremist attacks in Australia from 2011 through 2017, all of which were attacks on mosques and Islamic centers. There were no such attacks in New Zealand during that same period.

Then the massacre of worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 – the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history – helped put the global nature of white extremism into relief.

Experts say the same broad motives are at play whether the target is a mosque in Perth or an asylum seekers’ shelter in Dresden or a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Attackers who identify as white, Christian and culturally European see an attack on their privileged position in the West by immigrants, Muslims and other religious and racial minorities.

The difference now is that it is easier than ever for extremists to connect both domestically and across continents, according to Mr. Berger, the “Extremism” author. The entry point for radicalization is less narrow than it was during earlier waves of white supremacist action, when finding ideological fellow travelers typically required meeting in person.

In recent years, Europe has seen a surge in far-right and xenophobic violence amid an influx of migrants and refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

“This is a particularly strong wave,” Mr. Berger said, “and I think it’s being fueled by a lot of political developments and also by the sort of connective tissue that you get from the Internet that wasn’t there before that’s really making it easier for groups to be influenced and to coordinate, or not necessarily coordinate but synchronize over large geographical distances.”

Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said that given these international connections, it’s important to reconsider the nature of the threat. “We conceive of this problem as being a domestic one,” she said. “But that’s not the case.”

The challenge for law enforcement will be to buck a sometimes myopic focus on Islamic extremism as the only driver of international terrorism.

It may also require rethinking the legal framework for what constitutes terrorism: from violence that arises from a command and control structure to a looser definition that can account for a wider range of violent actors who share a common ideology.

“They don’t see themselves as Americans or Canadians, very much like the Christchurch killer didn’t see himself as an Australian; he saw himself as part of a white collective,” Dr. Beirich said.

“It has never been the case that these people didn’t think in a global way. They may have acted in ways that looked domestic but the thinking was always about building an international white movement.”




NORTH KOREA/POLAND/NETHERLANDS: Dutch shipbuilder in dock over North Korean’s Polish slave claims

A North Korean man is suing a Dutch shipbuilder he accuses of profiting from slave labor when he was employed in a Polish shipyard. The first case of its kind, his lawyers hope it will open up more such cases.

 

By Jo Harper

 

Deutsche Welle (14.02.2019) – https://bit.ly/2X0tW1T – The first case in the Netherlands of worker exploitation involving a Dutch company for alleged crimes committed outside the country could be nearing an end in the coming weeks, lawyers said, and if successful may open the door to more such cases.

 

Barbara van Straaten, the lawyer representing a North Korean worker, said Dutch law criminalizes the act of profiting from exploitation. The name of the Dutch shipping company sued by the worker couldn’t be disclosed for safety reasons, she added. Under the country’s anti-trafficking law, offenders can be jailed for up to 18 years and face fines of €83,000 ($95,000).

 

The plaintiff claims he was sent to Poland by the Pyongyang regime and forced to work 12-hour days for low wages in awful conditions. The lawyer did not say when this happened. Van Straaten’s Amsterdam-based law firm, Prakken d’Oliveira, said the North Korean worked for the Polish company Crist. Crist received financial assistance from the European Regional Development Fund, a loan of €37 million in 2009.

 

Not a great precedent

 

The company first came under the spotlight in 2014, when a North Korean worker hired through a temporary Polish work agency called Armex died in an incident at the Crist shipyard.

 

The welder died when his clothes caught fire and was burned alive. Polish labor standards officials concluded he had been wearing flammable clothing provided by Armex, but were unable to prosecute as the man’s documentation described him as self-employed and therefore outside Polish jurisdiction.

 

“We are not confident the Polish authorities would take this case as seriously as the Dutch one,” van Straaten told DW. She said Polish labor authorities had failed in a previous case to prosecute a company where a North Korean worker had died in an accident at work, referring to the 2014 incident.

 

In 2007, Polish businesswoman Cecylia Kowalska set up Armex in Gdansk supplying electrical and welding services to local shipping and construction industries, and told reporters in November that when asked if she could manage 10 North Korean welders, her company took on the job.

 

She later began supplying North Korean welders to two other shipyards, run by Crist and Nauta, both companies that make war vessels for NATO members. A Polish labor inspection in February 2016 found 19 North Koreans working in a shipyard owned by Nauta, located next to the Crist shipyard.

 

Poland’s online court register shows that Armex went into liquidation last year.

 

Crist denies culpability

 

Crist spokesman Tomasz Wrzask told DW he was not aware of the case or if Crist was involved. He told reporters in November that the shipyard previously worked with Armex, but ended collaboration in the summer of 2016.

 

“Armex had all the necessary permissions to operate in the EU and Poland and was under the supervision of Poland’s National Labor Inspectorate. We had no reason for suspicion,” Wrzask said then, adding it was an “outrage” that Crist’s name had been made public while the Dutch shipbuilder was not identified.

 

Van Straaten noted that North Korea was not party to the dispute which was directed at the Dutch shipbuilder. “This opens the possibility to hold those companies accountable which are not direct perpetrators in the labor exploitation, but which nonetheless knowingly profit from this exploitation, gaining high profits in the West at the expense of workers from developing countries,” she said.

 

The law firm now hopes that the Dutch authorities have requested a European Investigation Order. An admission of guilt and a fine are among the outcomes the North Korean hopes for from this case, his lawyer said.

 

Damning evidence

 

Crist’s involvement with North Korean laborers as well as conditions faced by North Korean laborers in Poland and Europe were detailed in a report published by the Leiden Asia Centre by Remco Breuker and Imke van Gardingen. Law firm Prakken d’Oliveira cited the research conducted in the “Slaves to the System” report as central to the case.

 

A Global Slavery Index published in July estimated that 40.3 million people globally were subjected to modern slavery in 2016. North Korea’s Kaesong industrial complex is frequently criticized for keeping workers under slave-like conditions

 

The researchers identified three North Korean firms as providing laborers that were assigned by two Polish companies, Alson and Armex, to pass on to firms that needed cheap labor.

 

An earlier report by the Leiden Asia Centre found that as many as 800 forced laborers are in Poland working in the shipbuilding and construction sectors.

 

The 2016 report titled “North Korean Forced Labor in the EU, the Polish Case,” showed that Armex had hired workers supplied by a North Korean company called Korea Rungrado Trading Corporation, which was run by a committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. The company was sanctioned by the US in 2016 and accused of funding the department that oversees the country’s nuclear weapons program.

 

A global problem

 

The Walk Free Foundation said that one in 10 people lived under such conditions in North Korea, the highest concentration in the world.

 

Tens of thousands of workers worldwide send foreign currency back to Pyongyang, which is used to offset the economic impact of UN sanctions that were imposed over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The UN estimates that North Korea earns as much as $2 billion a year from the workers it sends overseas.

 

Many North Koreans work in Polish shipyards, construction sites and farms,  sending up to 90 percent of their salaries back to Pyongyang, according to the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK).

 

HRWF Comment

See our statements on this issue at the OSCE/ODIHR Human Rights Implementation Meeting in Warsaw in 2018, 2017 and 2016:

 

 

 

 

 

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GERMANY: Anti-Semitism: Germany sees ‘10% jump in offences’ in 2018

The German government has revealed a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic offences recorded last year.

 

BBC (13.02.2019) – https://bbc.in/2IetSIe – Crime data, detailed in German media on Wednesday, says 1,646 crimes were linked to a hatred of Jews in 2018 – showing a yearly increase of 10%.

 

It comes just a day after French politicians spoke out about a sharp rise of incidents in their own country.

 

French Interior minister, Christophe Castaner, has warned that anti-Semitism is “spreading like poison”.

 

Over the weekend there were a series of anti-Semitic incidents reported in central Paris – including Swastika vandalism on post-boxes featuring a holocaust survivor’s portrait.

 

The latest data from Germany was released after a request from a member of the far-left Die Linke party. That information was then shared with German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel.

 

The government have said the final totals may still increase – but the latest collation of data revealed a total jump in anti-Semitic offences of about 10%.

 

It also revealed a 60% rise in physical attacks – with 62 violent incidents recorded, up from 37 in 2017.

 

Josef Shcuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the news shows that government action is “urgently needed”.

 

“The latest numbers are not yet official, but at least they reflect a tendency – and that’s scary,” he said in a statement to the BBC.

 

“What had already solidified as a subjective impression among Jews is now confirmed in the statistics.

 

“Considering that acts below the threshold for criminal liability are not covered, the picture becomes even darker.”

 

Jewish groups have warned about the rise of far-right groups in fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities throughout Europe.

 

Last year, a survey of thousands of European Jews revealed that many were increasingly worried about anti-Semitism.

 

Since 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) have been country’s main opposition party.

 

AfD are openly against immigration, but deny holding anti-Semitic views.

 

However, a number of comments from their politicians, including about the Holocaust, have drawn scorn from Jewish groups and other politicians.

 

Last year the German government announced that a specialist team would be sent into German schools to try and combat anti-Semitism.

 

There have also been calls for special classes about anti-Semitism to be provided for some immigrants.

 

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the classes were needed after a large increased in immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

 

It came after a video went viral showing a man, shouting in Arabic, attacking two Jewish men in Berlin.

 

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it was the responsibility of everyone to have a “zero tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia.

 

“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated,” Merkel during a video address to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

 

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KENYA: Schoolgirls to face compulsory tests for pregnancy and FGM

Girls in Narok County will be made to reveal identities of babies’ fathers and tell police about female genital mutilation

 

By Rebecca Ratcliffe

 

The Guardian (04.01.2019) – https://bit.ly/2saO2YU– Plans to subject schoolgirls in Kenya to mandatory tests for female genital mutilation and pregnancy are a violation of victims’ privacy, campaigners have warned.

 

All girls returning to school this week in Narok, Kenya, will be examined at local health facilities as part of a countywide crackdown.

 

Girls found to have undergone FGM, which is illegal, will be required to give a police statement. Those who are pregnant will be asked to identify the man involved, according to George Natembeya, the Narok County commissioner.

 

Narok County has the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Kenya, while FGM is prevalent among the Maasai community. But campaigners say the tests are humiliating for girls, do not tackle the root causes of teenage pregnancy, and are unlikely to improve prosecution rates for FGM.

 

“One of the biggest gaps in the prosecution of FGM cases is lack of evidence. It’s not [a lack of] evidence of girls being cut, but evidence of the actual act,” said Felister Gitonga, programme officer of an Equality Now team devoted to ending harmful practices.

 

Gitonga said that the county’s efforts to tackle FGM were welcome, but added: “We need a different strategy ensuring we respect the girls’ right to privacy and also that we have a clear plan of what we do with the information.

 

“When we find out that a girl has gone through FGM, what will be the consequences? Will there be psycho-social support? Or does this mean that she will be denied permission to go to school?”

 

Mandatory examinations risked further victimising girls who have experienced abuse, warned Gitonga.

 

All forms of FGM were criminalised in Kenya in 2011, as was discrimination against of women who have not undergone the procedure. Failing to report a case to the authorities was also made unlawful, together with aiding the performance of FGM or taking a Kenyan woman abroad to perform the procedure.

 

The practice is becoming less prevalent across the country, where one in five women and girls aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM.

 

Campaigners say tackling FGM is crucial to stopping teenage pregnancies and child marriage. “For girls who have undergone FGM, the community believes that those girls become a woman. Therefore every other violation that happens at that point happens [after] the FGM,” said Gitonga. “If they are having sex even with older men the community does not recognise it as defilement.”

 

In Narok, four in 10 girls become pregnant as teenagers, according to Kenya’s most recent demographic and health survey, produced in 2014.

 

Efforts to reduce teen pregnancies will fail unless gender-based violence and poverty are addressed, added Gitonga.

 

“For girls living in informal settlements, it is very hard; there is a risk of sexual violence. Sometimes they have to do sex work to help with educating their siblings. So you need to understand their situation,” she said. “You can’t just punish people for getting pregnant.”


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SOUTH KOREA: Imprisoned for their faith

Jehova`s Witnesses (30.11.2018) – https://bit.ly/2PHJrqw – On November 30, 2018, authorities in South Korea released nearly all of Jehovah’s Witnesses still imprisoned as conscientious objectors. With this historic event, the government has taken a monumental step toward ending its policy of prosecuting and imprisoning Jehovah’s Witnesses for conscientious objection.

 

Since the end of the Korean War, South Korea has criminalized conscientious objectors and sentenced them to prison. However, the government has begun to alter its handling of these cases based on two landmark court decisions rendered earlier this year.

 

On June 28, 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that a portion of the Military Service Act (MSA) is unconstitutional because it fails to provide for alternative service for conscientious objectors. Then, just two months later, the Supreme Court heard the case of a young Witness convicted by lower courts for refusing military service. On November 1, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 9 to 4 in his favor, concluding that conscientious objection is not a crime.

 

Based on these rulings, lower courts in South Korea now have the legal basis to reconsider over 900 pending cases concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been prosecuted for refusing military service. With this legal groundwork in place, young Witness men hope that these courts will render “not guilty” verdicts in their cases.

A Growing Resolve to Reform the MSA

Prior to the June ruling, the Constitutional Court had ruled twice before, in 2004 and in 2011, that the MSA does not violate the constitution, even though the MSA does not recognize the right to conscientious objection. Yet, regardless of those rulings, some lower court judges still believed they were violating the constitution when they sentenced conscientious objectors to prison. Some courageously declared these young men innocent, recognizing they refused to join the military because of their sincere religious beliefs. In time, more judges adopted this view.

 

Since 2015, judges have declared 157 Witness conscientious objectors “not guilty” of committing a crime for refusing military service, and 15 of these decisions were rendered by appellate courts. As more judges saw the need to reform the MSA, they suspended hearings in many cases, preferring to wait on the decisions by the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court rather than render an unjust verdict.

Landmark Ruling From the Constitutional Court

Beginning in 2012, lower courts referred six cases to the Constitutional Court, asking it to rule again on whether the MSA is constitutional. On July 9, 2015, the Constitutional Court held a hearing to examine the matter for the third time.

 

After deliberating for almost three years, on June 28, 2018, the Constitutional Court acknowledged the right to conscientious objection. The Court ruled that failure to provide alternative service for conscientious objectors is unconstitutional and that the government must change the MSA. Although the present law will remain in force for now, the government must amend it by December 31, 2019, and provide alternative service for conscientious objectors.

 

The Ministry of National Defense has stated that it will respect the Court’s ruling. However, to abide by international standards, acceptable alternative service must not be punitive, it must be truly civilian in nature, and it must not be under military control or supervision. The government has yet to unveil specific plans for implementing alternative service, but Jehovah’s Witnesses hope that the new program will be acceptable for all conscientious objectors.

 

The Court also ruled on whether it was constitutional to penalize conscientious objectors under the MSA. It determined that criminal courts have the right to imprison those who evade military service. However, it also determined that, depending on the circumstances of each case, a conscientious objector could be found “not guilty” of evading military service based on the provision in the law of “justifiable grounds.

Milestone Decision From the Supreme Court

On November 1, 2018, the Supreme Court recognized the right to conscientious objection for the first time in the country’s history. In its ruling, the Court quashed the earlier guilty verdict rendered by the Changwon District Court in June 2016 against a Witness who objected to military service. The Supreme Court stated that the original court had not fully examined whether the defendant had acted on a genuinely held religious conviction, and it returned the case back to the Changwon court for further review.

 

According to the new ruling, courts may accept conscientious objection based on genuinely held religious beliefs as “justifiable grounds” for refusing military service. In its majority opinion, the Court stated: “Forcing a military duty with criminal punishment or other punitive measures is an excessive restraint of freedom of conscience.”

 

The Supreme Court not only recognized conscientious objection as a lawful right but also vindicated the neutral stance of Witnesses who had been imprisoned in the past. Additionally, the Court stated that “the existence of alternative service is not a prerequisite for the recognition of conscientious objection as a ‘justifiable ground.’” Rather, according to the Court, if someone objects to military service because of deep, firm, genuinely held beliefs, this should be recognized as “justifiable grounds.

Far-Reaching Effects of the Supreme Court Decision

Since the Supreme Court decision, three trial courts and one appellate court have already handed down not-guilty verdicts for Witnesses who are conscientious objectors. Two of the Witnesses refused reservist training, and the other refused military service. The Supreme Court third division has also rendered 33 not-guilty decisions and referred those cases back to the appellate courts. In addition, the government is in the final stages of drafting its new alternative civilian service program.

 

As previously stated, on November 30, 2018, Korean authorities released on parole 57 Witness conscientious objectors. They had served at least one third of their 18-month sentence. The remaining eight Witnesses still in prison should be released once they have served at least six months of their sentence.

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses welcome this shift in the government’s policy. Over three generations, 19,350 Witnesses have been prosecuted and sentenced to a combined total of 36,824 years in prison for refusing to perform military service. Witnesses around the world rejoice at the prospect that South Korean conscientious objectors and their families may no longer have to endure unjust punishment for their sincere beliefs.

 

Paul Gillies, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated: “With these two decisions, South Korea has finally chosen to respect the rights of conscientious objectors, upholding its own constitution and international standards. Jehovah’s Witnesses hope that all of their fellow believers imprisoned in South Korea for conscientious objection will soon be released. They are optimistic that the judges in pending cases will accept the decision these young men make in adhering to their Bible-trained conscience as ‘justifiable grounds’ to find them ‘not guilty.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses also hope that the government will expunge the records of the 19,350 Witnesses who have been labeled as criminals for refusing military service based on their strongly held religious beliefs.”

 

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WORLD: Older women do double the unpaid work of men, says study

Study of 31 countries finds women over 60 undertake domestic and care work spanning up to to seven hours a day

 

By Karen McVeigh

 

The Guardian (16.11.2018) – https://bit.ly/2DQ60Yp– Older women spend twice as much time as older men on unpaid work, research has found.

 

A report by the Overseas Development Institute covering 31 countries shows that women over 60 spend an average of four hours a day on work that goes unrewarded and largely unrecognised.

 

Researchers who examined employment patterns across developed and developing countries found the disproportionate amount of unpaid domestic and care work performed by women persists into older age regardless of geography. In Ghana, older women spend just over two hours a day doing unpaid work, a figure that rose to almost four hours in British households. In Cape Verde, meanwhile, women spend seven hours a day on such tasks.

 

At the same time, and particularly in poorer countries, older women are juggling large amounts of mostly informal and highly precarious paid work too, according to the report.

 

Researchers found that there were risks for older women engaging in such work, including mental and physical health problems, and financial losses due to the demands of multiple activities. There was also a danger of women encountering violence and abuse during their work as a result of discrimination, the report found.

 

The study underlines the need to ensure income security for older women as their share of the global population increases. It is anticipated that, by 2050, the number of people aged over 65 will have risen almost threefold compared with figures recorded in 2010, reaching 1.5 billion – 16% of the world’s population.

 

Governments must refocus their social protection policies to support older women, warned the report’s authors.

 

“These findings reveal the full extent to which gender inequalities persist into older age,” said lead author Fiona Samuels, senior research fellow with the ODI’s gender equality and social inclusion programme.

 

“The social expectations on women to simply get on with unpaid domestic and care work are putting them under increasing strain and limiting their life choices.”

 

The researchers found that in Ethiopia, one of the countries where field research was conducted, household chores have a shaping influence on how older women structure their days.

 

Women interviewed for the project spoke of a relentless cycle of household tasks – cooking, cleaning, washing – as well as physically demanding duties such as collecting water and firewood. When they become too old to carry these items, many women simply resort to dragging them.

 

Inevitably, there is a limit to their powers of endurance. “How can I work?” reflected one 70-year-old interviewed for the study. “Can people work without their hands? My own clothes are even washed with someone else. I do not wash them. I also have asthma. I cannot breathe.”

 

The report made several recommendations for governments, including supporting social pensions for older women and reducing and redistributing unpaid care work, through better care provision, including childcare.

 

Age International, the organisation that commissioned the research, are calling on the UK government to do more to ensure the “invisible” contributions of older women are recognised and valued in its international development programmes, so that they have greater choice in their work.

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