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HAITI: Lifetime ban for football chief

Players demand end to sexual abuse in sport.

 

HRW (24.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/37kfGqH – Football’s lifetime ban for Haitian soccer federation president Yves Jean-Bart is an important step forward to protect children and young women athletes in sport from sexual abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA) decision should be followed by swift action to sanction other abusers and their accomplices, criminal prosecutions in Haiti and other jurisdictions, and ongoing therapeutic support for survivors.

 

After reports by The Guardian and Human Rights Watch and pressure from Haitian rights groups Kay Fanm, Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA), the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), and others, over the past seven months, FIFA investigated serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Jean Bart, also known as “Dadou.” FIFA’s Ethics Committee handed him the maximum punishment in football on Friday, November 20, 2020.

 

“FIFA’s decision is a vindication for all the courageous survivors of abuse and witnesses who came forward to report sexual abuse,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “As Human Rights Watch has documented, they faced personal threats and stigma in society. FIFA’s punishment is an important signal that if you are an abuser in football, your days are numbered.”

 

Jean-Bart had been president of the Haitian Football Federation (Fédération Haïtienne De Football, FHF) since 2000. Following their investigation into evidence of systematic sexual abuse of female players, FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Jean-Bart guilty of “having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors.” He is now banned from the sport for life in Haiti and internationally, and fined 1 million Swiss francs (approximately US$1.1 million). He can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and has said he will.

 

Survivors of sexual abuse in Haiti told Human Rights Watch that they want justice for abuses by the president but also football sanctions for all officials who aided and knew about abuses in the national football academy.

 

“Playing for Haiti, I gave my heart,” one women’s national team player told Human Rights Watch. “Without us players, you don’t have a game. I am so happy Dadou can’t abuse his power and stop us from achieving our dreams anymore.”

 

Since May, Human Rights Watch has worked together with the international football players’ union FIFPro, who provided lawyers and support for athletes, helped to interview witnesses, and collected evidence of systemic human rights abuses in Haitian football, including confiscation of players’ passports, labor rights abuses, grooming child athletes for sexual exploitation, and threats to kill witnesses and survivors.

 

Jean-Bart has been Haiti’s football federation president since 2000 and was re-elected to a sixth term in February. Jean-Bart has publicly denied all allegations and successfully sought to have a judge in Haiti purportedly “clear” him of all charges and exonerate him. That a judge made this pronouncement the day before Jean-Bart’s lifetime ban is testament to the power he wields in Haiti and the challenge survivors face in taking on Jean-Bart and his allies. In August, Human Rights Watch documented threats and attacks on witnesses and whistleblowers, which could prevent them from coming forward with evidence of abuses.

 

FIFA’s statement signals other sanctions against abusers and officials who knew about or facilitated abuses in the Haiti federation could come soon:

 

“The aforementioned ethics proceedings are part of an extensive investigation concerning Mr Jean-Bart, as well as other officials within the FHF, who were identified as having allegedly been involved (as principals, accomplices or instigators) in acts of systematic sexual abuse against female football players between 2014 and 2020. The proceedings are still pending with respect to other FHF officials.”

 

It is essential for FIFA to discipline others who took part in sexual abuse and to remove them from football, Human Rights Watch said. FIFA needs to ensure ongoing therapeutic and logistical support for players, and enforcement of any bans and fines.

 

“In addition to protecting survivors and witnesses, FIFA should exercise its authority to ban and sanction all officials implicated in sexual abuse or threatening or menacing witnesses during its investigation,” Worden said. “In its best form, football is fun, empowering, and healthy for young people and FIFA should do its part to ensure player safety.”

Photo: Am 14. Mai 2020 halten Frauen vor dem Gerichtshof im haitianischen Croix-des-Bouquets Schilder hoch und fordern Gerechtigkeit während der Anhörung von Yves Jean-Bart, dem Präsidenten des haitianischen Fußballverbands. Wie der Guardian berichtet, haben Betroffene und ihre Familien Jean-Bart des sexuellen Missbrauchs von jungen Spielerinnen im Centre Technique National beschuldigt. © 2020 Associated Press (Dieu Nalio Chery).





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LEBANON: Broken promises on women’s rights

UN review should focus on increased protection against violence, bias.

 

HRW (04.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/3nfm7BH – Lebanese authorities are falling short of their international legal obligations to protect women and girls from violence and end discrimination against them, Human Rights Watch said today.

 

Human Rights Watch has submitted a report to the United Nations Committee reviewing Lebanon’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is tentatively scheduled for June 2021. The country has not made progress to carry out a number of recommendations from its previous review in 2015, including not creating a unified personal status code that would guarantee equal treatment for all citizens and amending the discriminatory nationality law to ensure that Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese men can pass on their citizenship to their children.

 

“Another five years have passed, and Lebanon has done little to end discrimination against women and girls under its international obligations,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Lebanon’s authorities should show that they are serious about women’s rights by coming through on long-overdue reforms before they have to answer to the United Nations again for their failures.”

 

Lebanon has not taken any steps to issue an optional civil code or to reform its 15 religion-based personal status laws and the religious courts that apply them. These courts discriminate against women across the religious spectrum and do not guarantee their basic rights, especially in matters such as divorce, property rights, and responsibility for children after divorce.

 

The authorities have also not reformed the nationality law, which prohibits Lebanese women married to foreigners from passing citizenship to their spouses and children, while men who marry foreign nationals can pass on their citizenship. This prohibition affects almost every aspect of the children’s and spouses’ lives, including legal residency and access to work, education, social services, and health care. It leaves some children at risk of statelessness.

 

Legal protections from domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment remain inadequate. In August 2017, Lebanon repealed article 522 of the penal code, which allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims, but left a loophole with regard to offenses relating to sex with children aged 15 to 17, and sex with virgin girls, with promises of marriage.

 

The current domestic violence law defines domestic violence narrowly and fails to specifically criminalize marital rape. Members of parliament have introduced multiple draft laws since 2017 on sexual harassment, but parliament has yet to take any action. A lack of coordination in the government’s response to sex trafficking continues to put women and girls – especially Syrians living in Lebanon – at risk.

 

Human Rights Watch has documented how women and girls, especially trans women, sex workers, refugees, and asylum seekers, have experienced systemic violence from Lebanese authorities, particularly in detention centers. Trans women have described being placed in men’s cells, being denied food and water, and being coerced to confess. Allegations of sexual violence, including rape, against women in custody are common. As an example, Layal al-Kayaje was arrested on September 21, 2015 for “harming the military’s reputation” after she alleged being raped and tortured by two soldiers in military custody in 2013.

 

Lebanon has consistently failed to properly investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for torture. In 2016, parliament passed legislation creating a national body, the National Preventive Mechanism Against Torture, to monitor and investigate the use of torture, and in 2017 it adopted a new anti-torture law. The body’s five members were named on March 7, 2019, but the government has still not allocated its funding.

 

Lebanon’s economic crisis, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic and the port explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020, has made life worse for marginalized populations, not least for migrant domestic workers, the majority of them women from African and Asian countries. Many have reported increased incidents of abuse by their employers during the lockdown, and at least seven have taken their own lives since March. Migrant domestic workers remain excluded from Lebanon’s labor law protections provided to other workers, and their legal status remains tied to their employer under the kafala (visa sponsorship) system.

 

On October 14, 2020, Lebanon’s State Shura Council, the country’s top administrative court, delivered a sharp blow to migrant domestic workers’ rights when it struck down a new standard unified contract adopted by the Labor Ministry on September 4. The new contract introduced new protections for migrant domestic workers, including vital safeguards against forced labor, and would have been an important first step towards abolishing the abusive kafala system.

 

“For the past year, women from all walks of life have taken to the streets to demand equality and an end to all forms of discrimination,” Majzoub said. “While the authorities have taken some steps, they need to heed calls for systemic change for equality.”

Photo: Lebanese women have long been leaders in the country’s protest movements. Here, women shout slogans and wave the Lebanese flag during a demonstration in down town Beirut on October 19, 2019. © Marwan Naamani/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.





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WORLD: ‘Toxic’: Online abuse drives women, girls from social media

New study finds nearly 60 percent of women and girls using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have suffered abuse.

 

Al Jazeera (05.10.2020) – https://bit.ly/34vvZPL – Online abuse is driving girls to quit social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with nearly 60 percent experiencing harassment, according to a new global study.

 

One in five girls and young women has abandoned or cut down her use of a social media platform after being targeted, with some saying harassment started when they were as young as eight years old, the survey by girls’ equality group Plan International showed.

 

“Girls are being silenced by a toxic level of harassment,” the organisation’s chief executive, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, said on Sunday.

 

Attacks were most common on Facebook, where 39 percent of girls polled said they had been harassed, followed by Instagram (23 percent), WhatsApp (14 percent), Snapchat (10 percent), Twitter (9 percent) and TikTok (6 percent).

 

The charity, which will share the report with social media companies and legislators around the world, said the abuse was suppressing girls’ voices at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was increasing the importance of online communication.

 

It called on social media companies to take urgent action to address the issue and urged governments to pass laws to deal with online harassment.

 

The study found reporting tools were ineffective in stopping the abuse, which included explicit messages, pornographic photos and cyberstalking.

 

Nearly half of the girls targeted had been threatened with physical or sexual violence, according to the poll. Many said the abuse took a mental toll, and a quarter felt physically unsafe.

 

“It is time for this to stop. Girls should not have to put up with behaviour online which would be criminal on the streets,” the report said.

 

Facebook and Instagram said they used artificial intelligence to look for bullying content, constantly monitored users’ reports of abuse and always removed rape threats.

 

Twitter said it also used technology to catch abusive content and has launched tools to improve users’ control over their conversations.

 

The survey polled 14,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 25 in 22 countries including Brazil, India, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

 

Albrectsen said activists, including those campaigning for gender equality and on LGBT+ issues, were often targeted particularly viciously, and their lives and families threatened.

 

“Driving girls out of online spaces is hugely disempowering in an increasingly digital world, and damages their ability to be seen, heard and become leaders,” she added.

 

In an open letter to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, girls from around the world called on social media companies to create more effective ways to report abuse.

 

“We use [your platforms] not just to connect with friends, but to lead and create change. But they are not safe for us. We get harassed and abused on them. Every. Single. Day,” they wrote.

 

“As this global pandemic moves our lives online, we are more at risk than ever.”

 

Plan International also urged the companies to do more to hold to account those behind such abuse, and to collect data on the scale of the problem.





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USA: A century after women gained the right to vote, still a lot of work to do on gender equality

About three-in-ten men say women’s gains have come at the expense of men.

 

By Juliana Menasce Horowitz & Ruth Igielnik

 

Pew Research Center (07.07.2020) – https://pewrsr.ch/2ZNAumx – A hundred years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, about half of Americans say granting women the right to vote has been the most important milestone in advancing the position of women in the country. Still, a majority of U.S. adults say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men, even as a large share thinks there has been progress in the last decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

 

Among those who think the country still has work to do in achieving gender equality, 77% point to sexual harassment as a major obstacle to women having equal rights with men. Fewer, but still majorities, point to women not having the same legal rights as men (67%), different societal expectations for men and women (66%) and not enough women in positions of power (64%) as major obstacles to gender equality. Women are more likely than men to see each of these as a major obstacle.

 

Many of those who say it is important for men and women to have equal rights point to aspects of the workplace when asked about what gender equality would look like. Fully 45% volunteer that a society where women have equal rights with men would include equal pay. An additional 19% say there would be no discrimination in hiring, promotion or educational opportunities. About one-in-ten say women would be more equally represented in business or political leadership.

 

In terms of the groups and institutions that have done the most to advance the rights of women in the U.S., 70% say the feminist movement has done at least a fair amount in this regard. The Democratic Party is viewed as having contributed more to the cause of women’s rights than the Republican Party: 59% say the Democratic Party has done at least a fair amount to advance women’s rights, while 37% say the same about the GOP. About three-in-ten (29%) say President Donald Trump has done at least a fair amount to advance women’s rights, while 69% say Trump has not done much or has done nothing at all. These views vary considerably by party, with Republicans and Republican leaners at least five times as likely as Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say the GOP and Trump have done at least a fair amount and Democrats far more likely than Republicans to say the same about the Democratic Party.

 

Views of the role the feminist movement has played in advancing gender equality are positive overall, though fewer than half of women say the movement has been beneficial to them personally. About four-in-ten (41%) say feminism has helped them at least a little, while half say it has neither helped nor hurt them. Relatively few (7%) say feminism has hurt them personally. Democratic women, those with a bachelor’s degree or more education and women younger than 50 are among the most likely to say they’ve benefitted personally from feminism.

 

Views about how much progress the country has made on gender equality differ widely along partisan lines. About three-quarters of Democrats (76%) say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men, while 19% say it’s been about right and 4% say the country has gone too far. Among Republicans, a third say the country hasn’t made enough progress, while 48% say it’s been about right and 17% say the country has gone too far in giving women equal rights with men.

 

There is also a gender gap in these views, with 64% of women – compared with 49% of men – saying the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving women equal rights with men. Democratic and Republican women are about ten percentage points more likely than their male counterparts to say this (82% of Democratic women vs. 70% of Democratic men and 38% of Republican women vs. 28% of Republican men).

 

The nationally representative survey of 3,143 U.S. adults was conducted online from March 18-April 1, 2020.1

 

Click here for other key findings and the full report.





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Saudi women are speaking up online

Male guardianship, sexual harassment amongst major concerns.

 

By Hiba Zayadin

 

HRW (14.04.2020) – https://bit.ly/2VvXnsp – Over the past two weeks, Saudi women have taken to Twitter, using pseudonyms, to share their experiences with sexual harassment, the reasons behind their hesitance to report these abuses to the authorities, and demands for the abolition of the discriminatory male guardianship system.

 

It is a remarkable show of courage at a time when Saudi authorities – under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – have maintained a sweeping campaign of repression that included dismantling and silencing the country’s women’s rights movement. Prominent women’s rights activists like Loujain al-Hathloul and Samar Badawi languish in prison nearly two years since their arrests, while other women since released face travel bans and outstanding trials.

 

At the same time, Saudi Arabia introduced reforms for which these women had long advocated. Today, Saudi women can drive; those over 21 years old can obtain passports and travel without permission from male guardians; and recently introduced laws are meant to protect them against sexual harassment and employment discrimination.

 

But, as some of the anonymous Saudi women have revealed on Twitter, the road to equality is long.

 

Using two Arabic language hashtags which translate to “why I didn’t report it” and “down with remnants of the guardianship system,” Saudi women pointed to persistent elements of the male guardianship system that continue to keep women trapped in abusive situations.

 

Saudi women complained that if they attempt to flee abuse, they can still be arrested and forcibly returned if their male family members bring a legal claim based on uquq (parental disobedience), inqiyad (submission to a guardian’s authority), or leaving the marital or guardian’s home. They also spoke of how when they report abuse, they are often referred to closed shelters, which they are typically not allowed to leave unless they reconcile with family members or accept an arranged marriage.

 

The world is being told that Saudi Arabia is modernizing on women’s rights. But the reality is that with no organized women’s rights movement or environment in which women can safely and openly demand their rights, there is little room for further advances. The international community should call for the release of all women’s rights activists, the safeguarding of women’s right to freedom of expression and association, and for the complete abolition of the male guardianship system.


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