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Justice minister confident feds will meet tight deadline to change assisted dying regime


OTTAWA —
The federal government is confident Parliament will have enough time to fully consider a series of proposed changes to Canada’s medically assisted dying regime, despite having just over two months to debate, study, and possibly amend the legislation.

On Monday Justice Minister David Lametti reintroduced the federal government’s proposed changes to the medically assisted dying legislation, in the face of a pressing court deadline to see the bill—on what remains a controversial, complex, and deeply personal topic— pass through the House of Commons and Senate.

After the last version died on the order paper when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament this summer, Lametti said the revived bill will pick up on conversations already underway as the text has not changed.

“We’re going to build on our consultations… we felt at that time and we still feel it is the case now that that this bill is the product very much of a consensus that Canadians are ready for, and therefore that should be reflected across both sides of the aisle,” Lametti said. “We’re pretty confident. We’ll do everything we can, in terms of trying to build consensus with our parliamentary partners in both houses, to make sure that the bill gets heard, and discussed ,and debated properly. But we are confident that this can move expeditiously.”

Bill C-7—coincidentally also the name of the same bill during the last session—seeks to allow those eligible to pursue a medically assisted death whether or not their death is reasonably foreseeable, and makes other proposed amendments to the regime to comply with a Quebec Superior Court ruling.

Last fall, that court ruled that sections of the federal and Quebec laws on medically-assisted dying were invalid, finding that they were unconstitutional because they were too restrictive.

The court specifically took issue with the Criminal Code requirement that a natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” in order for a person to be eligible for assisted death. This gave the federal and provincial governments six months to review the ruling and revise their laws, with the court’s ruling set to come into effect on March 11, 2020, unless an extension was granted.

The Liberals were granted that as well as a second extension, citing the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including to the regular parliamentary schedule.

Now, the federal government has until Dec. 18 to pass the bill.

Medically assisted dying under certain parameters has been legal in Canada since June 2016, and according to federal officials since then there have been over 13,000 reported medically-assisted deaths in Canada.

The federal law as it stands states that Canadians 18 years of age or older who are considered mentally competent can access an assisted death, under a series of eligibility criteria. It also puts in place protections for medical professionals who would play a role in administering the assisted death. Not included in the law—but called for by some at the time— was the ability for patients to give advance directives, or for mature minors to have the ability to seek an assisted death.

CHANGES PROPOSED

The new federal legislation aims to make it easier for patients who are near death and have requested an assisted death, but are worried about losing their ability to consent as their illness progresses, to still qualify by removing the requirement for them to consent immediately before the procedure.

Given the intent to repeal the reasonable foreseeability of natural death criteria, the legislation would now specifically state that in order to be eligible, mental illness is not considered a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability.”

The 15-page bill also proposes to ease certain safeguards while creating other protections for Canadians whose natural death is not imminent, and expands the monitoring system for medical practitioners and pharmacists to reflect updates to assessment requirements.

To provide for assisted deaths in cases where a natural death is not considered to be reasonably foreseeable, the federal government is proposing to require two independent practitioners to confirm that all eligibility criteria are met, and one of the two must have expertise in the condition that is causing the patient’s suffering.

In these situations the person has to be informed of, and offered consultations on all counselling, mental health, and disability supports, as well as the community services and palliative care available to them. As well, the two practitioners have to agree that the person requesting an assisted death has “appropriately considered” the options they have for alleviating their suffering.

In addition to responding to the ruling, the federal government is proposing to make some other slight adjustments to the law to address issues that “received considerable attention during our consultations with Canadian practitioners, experts, and stakeholders,” as Lametti put it.

The legislative process to pass this bill in the last Parliament was at times tense and emotional, with the government taking the approach of a joint House and Senate committee to study the bill given the time crunch legislators were also under at the time.

Since the Liberals passed the initial regime, they have faced questions about changing the law. Even before it passed, the legislation generated considerable parliamentary debate, with a handful of Liberal MPs voting against it, saying that as it was drafted it would be unconstitutional. Among them was now-minister Lametti.

On Monday he said this bill should be seen as a “first step” based on the social consensus about changes needed to the now four-year-old regime, but that he hoped a further conversation could be had in the months ahead, reviewing more deeply the law as it stands.

The Quebec government has already announced it would comply with the court decision, dropping the sections the court took issue with, but would be not making any additional amendments to the provincial law.



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Obama urges George Floyd protesters to push for change, ‘make people in power uncomfortable’


Former President Barack Obama, in a virtual town hall hosted by his foundation Wednesday, called on demonstrators to channel their anger over George Floyd’s death into an opportunity to make leaders “uncomfortable” and pressure them into making real policy changes.

The town hall was hosted by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which supports young men of color. During the event, Obama said he rejected a debate that emerged in “a little bit of chatter on the internet” about “voting versus protests, politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”

“This is not an either-or. This is a both,” he said. “And to bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”

ANGELA STANTON-KING SAYS OBAMA, BIDEN SHOULD HAVE DONE ‘MUCH MORE’ TO COMBAT RACISM

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother's Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Obama also urged “every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies” with their communities and “commit to report on planned reforms” before prioritizing their implementation. During a virtual roundtable discussion, he compared current protests to the unrest of the 1960s and said polls show a majority of Americans support the current demonstrations taking place nationwide, despite some “having been marred by the actions of a tiny minority that engaged in violence.”

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Last week, Obama said the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25 after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes, “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.” He laid out plans for change in a post on Medium and countered the argument made by some protesters that demonstrations will facilitate more societal change than voting.

“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

While the former president said that the current protests stem from a “legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices,” he condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Prisons And Jails Change Policies To Address Coronavirus Threat Behind Bars : NPR


A picture of a cell at the state prison in Florence, Ariz., where attorneys for the Prison Law Office and ACLU found what they called “squalid” and “filthy” conditions on a recent tour.

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As the Coronavirus spreads across the nation, it has exposed potentially dire health care conditions in some prisons and jails. That’s forced many to change the way they operate.

Arizona and Minnesota prison officials waived copays charged to inmates for medical visits and waived fees for personal hygiene supplies. Some are changing visitation policies. At county jails, there are calls to release inmates early so they can reduce overcrowding.

Health and prison officials have been sounding the alarm about the risks posed behind bars. With so many people bunched together in the small spaces, jails and prisons are considered perfect incubators for the coronavirus to potentially take hold.

“There are over 42,000 people incarcerated in Arizona and the environment of prisons are fertile for an outbreak – closed quarters, lack of resources, and a significant population who have a higher risk of contraction,” said Becca Fealk, from the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona. The group advocates for prison reform.

County jails are also taking steps to minimize the risk. Alameda County plans to release nearly 250 inmates from its county jail after sentencing modifications, according to the county’s sheriff’s office. Additionally, 67 people were released by courts on their own recognizance. In Los Angeles, the county has also begun releasing inmates early and is encouraging fewer arrests, using citations when possible.

At least one U.S. senator is advocating for a nationwide plan to release inmates early who meet certain criteria.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted that she is pushing the Bureau of Prisons to release “all low-risk inmates, including those who are in pretrial detention because they can’t afford to make bail.” She noted that people “in detention are especially vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus.”

State prisons share that vulnerability, but some administrators have been slow to respond to the threat.

Arizona prisons, like many others around the country, limit access to some hygiene products out of safety concerns. Prison officials say hand sanitizer, for example, could be misused because of its high alcohol content.

There also is the question of fees. Arizona prisons force men and women to pay for their own personal hygiene supplies like soap and toothpaste. If they need medical attention, such as being seen by a nurse, it’s a $4 copay.

But some people can’t always afford to pay, leaving them vulnerable. Attorneys from the Prison Law Office and the ACLU asked a federal judge to intervene, alleging unsafe conditions given the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

An Arizona federal judge pressured the Arizona Department of Corrections to change state prison health and hygiene policies. The department announced it is now waiving copays for inmates with cold and flu symptoms, and making soap available for free.

“The health and safety of our staff and inmates at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry is our paramount concern,” David Shinn, director of ADCRR, said in a statement. “In managing this situation, our two top priorities are safety and public health as we work to mitigate the potential spread of COVID‐19 within our prisons.”

Copays and soap

Prison Law Office attorney Corene Kendrick said Arizona is one of 40 state prison systems in the U.S. that charges incarcerated people a copay every time they seek health care.

“The state’s decision to temporarily suspend the $4 copay — the equivalent of a week’s worth of work at the prisoner minimum wage of 10 cents an hour — for people reporting cold and flu-like symptoms is a step in the right direction,” Kendrick said, “but it exposes how counterproductive it is to have such a barrier to seeking care.”

Kendrick and her team interviewed more than 500 inmates at the state prison in Florence, Ariz., and she says many expressed concern over lack of basic necessities.

“Unfortunately, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, we regularly heard from incarcerated people that there were shortages of hygiene supplies such as toilet paper and menstrual products,” Kendrick said.

She said most Arizona prison bathrooms are not equipped with soap or hand sanitizer.

According to a 2019 department policy, even the poorest inmates have to pay for personal hygiene products: “All indigent inmates shall be charged for indigent supplies. Charges shall remain as a debt on the inmates’ (sic) account until the balance is paid in full or partially paid. After one calendar year, the debt balance will be retired.”

Nishi Kumar, a staff attorney for The Promise of Justice Initiative, said a similar system for indigent inmates is in place at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

“There is a ‘prison soap’ that people can get if they are indigent,” Kumar said. “If you have debt on your books from being indigent, half of any future money that you get goes to paying off your debt.”

So far, the prison has not waived the fee.

Burden falls on families

The burden of paying for hygiene products often falls on the families of incarcerated families. One woman, whose daughter is incarcerated at the Perryville women’s prison in Arizona, estimated she spends about $500 each month on commissary items just to keep her daughter fed and healthy.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said her daughter was worried that the virus was already in the women’s prison, noting that many inmates were displaying symptoms. “She was up all night listening to the entire bay cough,” the woman said.

As of Wednesday, Arizona prison officials say there are no confirmed cases.

Carmen Hreniuc, whose son is incarcerated at the state prison in Eyman, Ariz., said the costs of supporting her son are steep.

“We learned that we are all being sentenced as the financial impact on the family is outrageous,” Hreiuc said. “Weekly purchase of additional food, hygiene, and personal items cost around $350 monthly.”

Hreniuc said while they may get relief with the recent temporary fee waiver, she is worried about the families that are not able to afford this additional expense.

“It’s a weekly struggle to manage the food and other expenses,” she said. “What’s going to happen now with everyone’s work schedule being cut or nonexistent? Indirectly, this will create more hardship on the inmates, resulting in less food, less communication, and less personal hygiene items.”

Calls for more action

The Vera Institute of Justice has issued guidance for better hygiene in prisons and jails, recommending facilities “provide free hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap to all people in custody and replenish several times a week.”

Becca Fealk, program coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, said it is unfortunate that it took a viral pandemic to force the Department of Corrections to provide basic hygiene and medical care.

“Here in Arizona and across the U.S. we have built a system of punishment that is traumatic, and this is only increased with the coronavirus,” Fealk said. “ADC must do more than just provide soap to reduce the chance of an outbreak. They need to release people, including older/aging adults who can be cared for by their loved ones.”

Fealk said her group is recommending the Department of Corrections stop admissions “until this situation is under control.”

While temporary fee waivers and other changes are a positive step, “it’s really just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” says David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project.

Prisons are extremely high risk environments, he says, because there are large numbers of older and medically fragile people living in close quarters.

“The only effective response is to reduce the population density by releasing people,” Fathi says, “starting with those who are most at risk of severe injury or death if they were to contract the virus.”



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Change is happening now in Europe – VoxEurop (English)


Key climate hazards are already affecting Europe and will increasingly do so, a series of maps published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) reveals.

Impacts, calculated through different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and climate models, can only be reduced by keeping the global temperature increase well below 2°C as the Paris Agreement requires.

“Climate change is happening now and will get more serious in the future, even if global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions prove effective,” the EEA says. “However, the impacts will be much less severe if efforts to reduce emissions are successful […] Any higher emissions scenario would lead to considerably greater climate change.”

In particular, the EEA maps show scenarios based on escalating droughts, food insecurity, heavy rain, flash floods, forest fires and sea level rise – all interconnected.

Most of Europe experienced more droughts, both meteorological and hydrological, over the 21st century. The largest future increase is projected for southern Europe, “where competition between water users such as agriculture, industry, tourism and households will increase” and cause significant farm losses.

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Indeed, among others, this issue is linked to changes in the agriculture sector. While food security is not currently at risk, “cascading impacts of climate change from outside Europe may further affect agricultural income and price levels in Europe through changes in trade patterns,” explains the EEA. As farmer’s incomes are further influenced by the policies in place, they can protect themselves, for instance, adapting crop varieties, changing sowing dates and improving irrigation.

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On the other hand, a higher intensity of rain in most parts of Europe would, in turn, increase the risk of floods. Central and eastern Europe may see increases in heavy rain of up to 35%, followed by Southern Europe at 25%.

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As for forest fires, unprecedented in several European countries, the danger coincided with record droughts and heatwaves in 2017 and 2018. The projected increase in Southern Europe is about 30-40% even for a low emissions scenario, but improved prevention and effective fire suppression can help.

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Finally, all coastal regions in Europe have experienced an increase in absolute sea level and most regions have experienced one in sea level relative to land. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the ocean and cryosphere projected a rise in sea level between 0.29m and 1.10m over the 21st century. Areas in danger include the coasts of Belgium, Netherlands, north-west Germany, Denmark, southern Sweden, southern and western France and north-east Italy with Venice.

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All in all, global warming is leading to adverse impacts on all aspects of the European society. That’s why tailored adaptation measures have to be prioritised. “Minimising the risks from global climate change requires targeted actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change, in addition to actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,”  the EEA suggests.



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Haiti’s Cry for Help as Climate Change is Compared to an Act of Violence against the Island Nation — Global Issues


Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe says that “climate change is a very big terror in Haiti”, and without funds the Caribbean island nation is unable to adapt and mitigate against it. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
  • by Desmond Brown (madrid)
  • Friday, December 13, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

“Climate change is a very big terror in Haiti. It’s very hard for us to deal with climate change,” Jouthe told IPS on the margins of the United Nations climate summit, the 25th Conference Of The Parties (COP25), in Madrid, Spain.

“Haiti is not responsible for what’s going on with climate change but we are suffering from it. We want better treatment from the international community.”

Jouthe said Haiti remains committed to strengthening its resilience to climate shocks and to contributing to the global effort to mitigate the phenomenon.

Haiti is pursuing a four-fold objective in relation to climate change:

  • promoting, at the level of all sectors and other ministries, a climate-smart national development;
  • creating a coherent response framework for country directions and actions to address the impacts of climate change;
  • promoting education on the environment and climate change as a real strategic lever to promote the emergence of environmental and climatic citizenship; and
  • putting in place a reliable measurement, reporting and verification system that can feed into the iterative planning processes of national climate change initiatives.

But Jouthe said the country simply cannot achieve these targets without financial help.

“In Haiti all the indicators are red. We have many projects but as you may know CARICOM doesn’t have enough funding to build projects,” he said.

Patrice Cineus, a young Haitian living in Quebec, said access to funding has been a perennial problem for Haiti.

But he believes Haiti is partly to blame for the seeming lack of inability to quickly receive financial help.

“Haiti, my country needs to build evidence-based policies, and this will make it easier to attract help from the international community,” Cineus told IPS.

“If we don’t have strong policies, it’s not possible. We need research within the country. We need innovative programmes within the country and then we can look for financial support and technical support.

“We cannot have access to funding because the projects we are submitting are not well done. We don’t use scientific data to build them. They are not done professionally,” Cineus added.

Cineus’ theory appears to be substantiated by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which helps CARICOM member states address the issue of adaptation and climate change.

The centre’s Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie said since 2016, under an Italian programme, it is required to develop projects that would help countries adapt to different areas of climate change.

“One of the areas that we have been considering, and we spoke with Haiti, is to build resilience in terms of schools and shelters that can be used in the case of a disaster.

“Funds have been approved but, unfortunately, unlike the other member states where we have already implemented at least one, and some cases two, projects, we have not been able to get the projects in Haiti off the ground,” Leslie told IPS.

“Each time they have identified an area, when we go there the site is not a suitable site and then we have to start the process again.”

While Haiti waits for funding, Dr. Kénel Délusca, current head of mission of a technical assistance project, AP3C, of the Ministry of Environment and Environment and the European Union, said the country remains one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.

Scientists say extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts will become worse as the planet warms, and Island nations like Haiti are expected to be among the hardest hit by those and other impacts of a changing climate, like shoreline erosion.

“The marine environment is extremely important to the Haitian people. There are more than 8 million people living in coastal communities in Haiti,” Délusca told IPS.

“There are more or less 50,000 families whose activities are based on these specific ecosystems. In other words, this is a very important ecosystem for Haiti and different levels – at the economic level, at the cultural level, at the social level.”

Haiti is divided into 10 départements, and Délusca said nine of them are coastal. Additionally, he said the big cities of Haiti are all located within the coastal zone.

“These ecosystems are very strategic to the development of Haiti. The Haitians have a lot of activities that are based on the marine resources. We also develop some cultural and social activities that are based on these environments,” Délusca said.

For poor island countries like Haiti, studies show, the economic costs, infrastructural damage and loss of human life as a result of climate change is already overwhelming. And scientists expect it will only get worse.

Though Haiti’s greenhouse gas emissions amount cumulatively to less than 0.03 per cent of global carbon emissions, it is a full participant in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by five percent by 2030.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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  • AUDIO: If We Are to Achieve Zero-leprosy by 2030, This Is the Best Time and Opportunity Friday, December 13, 2019
  • Haiti’s Cry for Help as Climate Change is Compared to an Act of Violence against the Island Nation Friday, December 13, 2019
  • How Climate Change is Fuelling the Insurgency of Nigeria’s Armed Group Boko Haram Friday, December 13, 2019
  • Mainstreaming Leprosy-affected People a Big Challenge in Bangladesh Thursday, December 12, 2019
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  • Coordinated Global Action Is the Best Way to Control the Fall Armyworm Pest Wednesday, December 11, 2019
  • Taking Bangladesh to Zero-Leprosy, One New Case at a Time Wednesday, December 11, 2019



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Climate Change One of the Factors — Global Issues


Roughly 82 percent of Afghan girls drop out of school before the sixth grade, partly due to early child marriages. Credit: Najibullah Musafer/Killid
  • by Nayema Nusrat (united nations)
  • Monday, December 09, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

Although her father, Antonio (50) felt that she was still too young to marry, it was very difficult for him to pass up what was offered in exchange for his daughter: 2000 Mozambican Metical (31.2 USD) and a promise to let Filomena continue her education after marriage.

Antonio had been in the fishing business since 1985; profit from his business started to decline dramatically as climate changes started to become more apparent.

In a report published by The Guardian he said ” We see that it’s too hot. We talk about that and we all agree that it’s difficult to catch enough fish because of these high temperatures.” “In the areas where we used to go, the sea level is rising, and the waves are much stronger”.

Besides Filomena, Antonio has five other kids to take care of and she firmly believes that her father would not agree on her early marriage if his fishing business was running well.

Child marriage is a global phenomenon happening for many socioeconomic reasons, but in this particular case it is evident that the already existing global trend of child marriage is further exacerbated because of climate change.

Climate change leads to rising temperature, shifting precipitation patterns and increasing extreme events; people whose livelihoods are intrinsically connected specially to natural resources, livestock, fisheries and agriculture suffer without attention to adaptation.

In Zimbabwe for example, extreme drought is one of the most common phenomena inflicted by climate change; “drought left Emmanuel struggling to feed his family. He agreed to a dowry of a few goats for his 15-year-old daughter.

It meant one less mouth to feed, and food and livestock for the family” – stated in a report by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) , which explored different ways that climate change endangers the lives and futures of our children and how we must integrate climate risks into various policies and services.

Similarly, in Kenya, a dramatic rise in child marriage is seen due to severe droughts, diminishing the number of cattle at an alarming rate and child marriage is enforced in exchange of goats.

Roughly 82 percent of Afghan girls drop out of school before the sixth grade, partly due to early child marriages. Credit: Najibullah Musafer/Killid

Workers from AMREF Health Africa (African Medical and Research Foundation), the largest Africa based healthcare non-profit organization aim to convince parents to stop child marriages and send them to secondary school -“when she is done with schooling, she will get a job and she will be able to buy you more than four goats”.

Meanwhile in poverty-stricken South Sudan, the majority of parents are marrying their daughters off in exchange for livestock using the bidding process, “Whoever bids with the highest number of cows will take the girl” said Dorcas Acen, a gender protection expert at CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere).

In South Asian countries, families who face financial difficulties from the likelihood of natural disasters like floods, droughts, river erosion, and storms resort to marry off their daughters.

Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch (HRW) told IPS that climate change is one of the reasons that is pushing girls in South Asian countries into getting married before the age of 18.

Barr shares her view about climate change and unpredictable natural disasters seen in Bangladesh and their linkage to early marriage, “Drawing a link between natural disasters and climate change is complex, of course, but we know that Bangladesh—and other countries in South Asia—are among those most affected by climate change. This is qualitative research, not quantitative, but the links were striking”.

HRW interviewed families who had been affected by three types of disasters— flooding, cyclones, and river erosion. Many of the families they interviewed had been barely surviving dealing with inadequate nutrition even before the disaster strikes; and one coping mechanism is that when a disaster pushed them from barely surviving to at risk of not surviving, they reduced their family size by arranging marriages for young daughters.

Barr says, “We saw this link most clearly in the families dealing with river erosion, and it seemed to be the combination of river erosion being both predictable and cataclysmic that created that link” adding, “Flooding was predictable and devastating but not cataclysmic”.

The families HRW interviewed were very accustomed to having to replant their crops. “Cyclones were cataclysmic but not predictable”—so families had to respond afterwards but had very little ability to plan beforehand.

“With river erosion, however, families would see the fields and homes of their neighbors closer to the river be washed away and those families permanently displaced, and they would know that within two or three or five years the river was coming for them. One of the ways they coped with the fact that they knew they would be displaced was by trying to find a marriage for their daughter that they hoped would ensure her safety and that would reduce their family size”.

Recent UNICEF data shows that 59% of girls in Bangladesh are married by 18 and 22% are married by 15. This is one of the highest rates in the world, and the highest in Asia. Globally a girl is married almost every 2 seconds, among which 21% of girls marry before 18 and 5% before 15.

However, the UNICEF report also shows that the custom of child marriage has decreased globally in the past decade. The most progress has been observed in South Asia where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped from approximately 50% to 30%. The practice is more common among girls than boys, 4% of boys in Bangladesh marry before age 18.

Child marriage is still widespread across the globe where the total number of girls married in their childhood accounts for 12 million per year. One of the targets set in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5.3) is to end child marriage by 2030, but without increasing the rate of progress “more than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030”.

Barr told IPS that child marriage issue in regards to climate change and natural disaster should be addressed by governments by ensuring the agencies responsible for addressing climate change and natural disasters participate in developing and implementing the national action plan to end child marriage by 2030.

And the plan plays specific attention to how climate change and natural disasters (and other disasters such as conflict, displacement) can increase the risk of child marriage and includes steps to mitigate that risk; she also asks for the governments to “Integrate child marriage prevention into all government planning in relation to disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation”.

“Taking baby steps like boosting the sense of awareness among the individuals and community to exercise the common best practices to preserve the environment might dramatically increase the progress of the bigger change we want to see at the global level.”

An inspiring story from UNICEF is about a Bangladeshi young woman Smriti (19) from Barisal district, who is working with YouthNet for Climate Justice, a UNICEF-supported network, spreading awareness about global warming to her community discusses about climate change and its connection to the increased rates of child marriage.

Smriti says “It is hard to gather people to talk about this, but so often, I’ll stop in a tea shop, or stop a group of people, and engage them that way”.

While talking to IPS about child bride issue from a broad perspective regardless of the effect of climate change, Barr stressed that in terms of every other country where child marriage continues, one of the most fundamental driver of child marriage is gender inequality and valuing girls less than boys.

Research shows, secondary education for girls must continue to be encouraged; it opens up doors for their future careers with vocational advancement, making them highly likely to achieve economic empowerment; and as a result they are able to pull themselves and their family out of poverty, as well as act as an encouragement for their next generation to continue to narrow the gender inequality gap which in turn will create fewer child brides.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Where next?

Latest News Headlines

Read the latest news stories:

  • Children Risk Early Marriage: Climate Change One of the Factors Monday, December 09, 2019
  • Building a Leprosy Free Bangladesh Monday, December 09, 2019
  • Saved Seeds are Seeds of Resilience Monday, December 09, 2019
  • The Economic & Humanitarian Catastrophe Threatening Pacific Island Communities Monday, December 09, 2019
  • The Changing Distribution of World Population Friday, December 06, 2019
  • Gains and Losses of Irregular Migration Friday, December 06, 2019
  • Forced to Flee. Displaced with a Dream. Time for Action. Friday, December 06, 2019
  • African Politicians Asked to Develop Legal Instruments to Fight Climate Change Friday, December 06, 2019
  • India’s Electric Mobility Needs Enabling Infrastructure to Pick up Speed Friday, December 06, 2019
  • The Adaptive Age: No Institution or Individual can Stand on the Sidelines in the Fight Against Climate Change Thursday, December 05, 2019



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Sacking Marco Silva won’t change anything at Everton



It’s unlikely a manager of Simeone’s calibre would be tempted by a move to a mid-table Premier League side regardless but swinging wildly from possession-focused managers like Martinez and Koeman to the more pragmatic Allardyce, Moyes or uber-defensive Simeone is the kind of thing a director of football is supposed to prevent from happening. 

If Everton are after a young, talented, ambitious, multilingual coach with experience of winning competitions, there are few in Europe with a better CV than the 42-year-old, league-winning Silva, who the club’s director of football, Marcel Brands, is said to be extremely reluctant to relieve of his duties. 

The biggest issue is Everton’s player recruitment. Brands is trying to steer the club towards an envisioned destination, signing players who fit a particular profile (under 23 years old, high potential, resale value), but has enjoyed mixed success. It takes time to build a team and Everton are only two years in to Brands’ project.





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Threats and Abuse Change How Female Candidates Campaign in U.K. Election


LEEDS, EnglandThe campaign office is deliberately inconspicuous — tucked above a salon through an unmarked doorway in a 1970s-era shopping center. There are no campaign posters in the windows. Two cameras are trained on the entrance. The door frame was recently reinforced.

They are necessary precautions, said Rachel Reeves, the Labour candidate who has represented this area of Leeds in Parliament since 2010 and uses the space as both her constituency office and now as her campaign headquarters.

The death threats, abuse on social media and graffiti calling for “traitor” lawmakers to be hanged have changed her approach ahead of Britain’s upcoming general election. This is the new reality, she and other lawmakers say, in a campaign environment that has become remarkably nasty, particularly for women, who face a torrent of abuse and threats often laced with misogyny. And it is happening across the political spectrum.

“I do think it’s a very different atmosphere and environment now compared to the first two times I stood,” Ms. Reeves said. “People are a lot angrier and there’s a lot more polarization, particularly around the Brexit issue.”

In the dwindling days before Britain heads to the polls, candidates, particularly women, are finding themselves campaigning in a climate where they say abuse, threats and a culture of intimidation have become the norm. With the Labour and Conservative parties hurling blame and allegations of racism and wrongdoing at each other, and anger and exhaustion over the still unresolved issue of Brexit, the country is divided like never before.

Where once candidates might have tried to be as visible as possible, many are now proceeding with caution, heeding warnings from the police. The abuse is not directed entirely at women. Men have come in for their share as well.

But a study conducted during the most recent election showed that female lawmakers received disproportionately more abuse on social media, with women of color receiving an even larger share.

She believes Brexit divisions and language used by leaders in Parliament have fueled the anger.

Six weeks ago, her staff arrived at their office on Morley’s main street to find graffiti scrawled in the entryway: “Andrea just kill yourself pls.”

The decision to hold an election in December, when daylight is in short supply across Britain, has also forced many candidates to rethink their strategies, with some, including Ms. Jenkyns, swearing off knocking on doors in the dark because of safety concerns.

Before previous elections, much of Ms. Reeves’s canvassing would take place after the workday ended. Now, it’s dark by 4:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, she set out at 4 p.m., knocking on doors with a small team of volunteers who put leaflets through mail slots in the Fairfield Estate, a mixture of public housing projects and privately owned homes spread out over a steep hillside.

The streetlights came on as she made her way along the densely packed terraced houses, her red Labour candidate badge visible in the darkness. Few answered the door.

But those who happened to be home were mostly positive, mixed with a few curt responses from those not supporting Labour.

“I think we are certainly a little more vigilant,” Ms. Reeves said, describing a few confrontations. “We would never have someone go door-knocking by themselves.”

Ms. Cox’s younger sister, Kim Leadbetter, believes that the conversation around Brexit has grown increasingly vitriolic in the years since her sister’s death. She worries it could prove damaging to the democratic process and discourage young people, particularly women, from politics.

“When Jo was murdered, there was a short period of time when politicians said all the right things about how politics needed to take a step back,” she said.

But it didn’t last. Instead, she said, anger, frustration, and violent language seem to dominate the conversation. Ms. Leadbetter, an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation, a nonpartisan, community-building charity that was created after her sister’s death, said that while her sister was an advocate of robust debate, “we have to be able to disagree agreeably.”

While there is undoubtedly an issue with threats of violence on social media — due in part to the anonymity the platforms can provide — Ms. Leadbetter warned against dismissing them as just an online problem.

“It only takes one individual who cannot see the difference between violent, aggressive and abusive language and an act of violence that can change people’s lives forever,” she said.



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Leaders debate climate change on Channel 4 but Boris and Farage give it a miss – The Sun


BORIS RUMBLE AS CORBYN FUMBLES

ALL eyes will be on Boris Johnson today after the Tories’ explosive row with Channel 4.

The PM and Nigel Farage were replaced by ice sculptures in last night’s climate debate.

The Conservatives called that a “provocative, partisan stunt” and accused the broadcaster of bias in an official complaint to the watchdog Ofcom.

Senior Tory Michael Gove offered to stand in for the leader and was filmed arriving at the studio only to be turned away.

Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon refused to let him join them in what was billed as a leaders’ debate.

During the discussion, LibDem leader Jo Swinson was forced to defend her air travel to and from her constituency in Scotland – blaming “Victorian trains”.

And Mr Corbyn was challenged about his party’s failure to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Earlier yesterday the Labour leader appeared to forget where he was, saying how much he loved Dorset during a speech in Hampshire.

He also stumbled over the number of trees he pledged to plant as PM, and forgot the name of protest group Extinction Rebellion – calling them “the climate extinction people”.

He has no campaign stops planned today and will also swerve the BBC’s seven-way Question Time debate – which Mr Johnson will also shun.





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China: Border tax will damage global climate change efforts | News


Proposals by the European Union to establish a “carbon border tax” will damage the global community’s willingness to take joint action against climate change, China said on Wednesday.

The EU’s new climate commissioner Frans Timmermans said in October that research would begin on the new tax, which is aimed at protecting European firms from unfair competition by raising the cost of products from countries that fail to take adequate action against climate change.

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At a briefing on Wednesday, Zhao Yingmin, China’s vice environment minister, warned Europe’s proposals, together with the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, would seriously harm international efforts to tackle global warming.

“We need to send a strong political signal to uphold multilateralism,” he said. “We need to prevent unilateralism and protectionism from hurting global growth expectations and the will of countries to combat climate change together.”

Any border tax would probably increase the price of Chinese goods in the European market, and Beijing believes it would violate a core principle of the Paris agreement on climate change, which says richer countries should bear the greater responsibility for cutting emissions.

Carbon trading platform

As part of its national commitments to the fight against global warming, China – the world’s largest emitter of climate warming greenhouse gas – has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak by “around 2030”.

China - Climate

As part of its national commitments to the fight against global warming, China has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak by ‘around 2030’ [Ng Han Guan/AP]

It has also cut levels of carbon intensity – the amount produced per unit of economic growth – by 48.5 percent from 2005 to 2018, two years ahead of schedule, Zhao said.




Landmark UN climate report warns time quickly running out

But the United States says the Paris accord is unfair to US firms because it does not do enough to tackle emissions from competitors in China and India.

China’s total annual emissions stood at around 14 gigatonnes in 2018, according to a study published by the United Nations this week, more than twice the US level. China’s per capita emissions are around the same as Japan and the European Union.

China was also making progress on its long-awaited efforts to build a nationwide carbon trading platform, Li Gao, head of the climate change office at the environment ministry, told the briefing, although he did not give a timeframe.

China pledged to launch the platform in 2017 as part of its Paris commitments, but it has faced a series of technical difficulties.


SOURCE:
Reuters news agency





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