The Dirty Little Secret of Abuse of Old People

grandma got screwed, photo by ashley hill3

grandma got screwed, photo by ashley hill3

On Monday, June 15, nations around the world commemorated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEEAD). Elder Abuse continues to be a significant issue in many societies as reports of mistreatment against older people is increasing.

The thought of harming an older person suggests severe dysfunction in the perpetrator, and with the plethora of local and international cases of abuse receiving public attention, governments are starting to create policies designed to institute safeguards against this type of abuse.

However, elder abuse cases remain, and with global recognition of the gravity and ubiquity of this crime, the healthcare establishment, in particular geriatric and psychology professionals have redoubled their efforts to analyze the root cause of this type of abuse while simultaneously working with law enforcement agencies and legislators to develop strategies to protect the rights of older people.

According to HelpAge International, an organization that “helps older people demand their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty,” older people’s right to be free from violence is not protected under international law. This problem is especially prevalent in East Africa where much of HelpAge's work on elder abuse is focused on, and there are a significant number of cases.

One case involves a 67-year-old woman from Kenya who was abused by a relative, an attack that resulted in the death of her 90-year-old mother. The details of the attack are very disturbing as the woman narrated the incident:

“The man slashed me on my head and I immediately fainted. I still don't know what the reason was for that kind of brutality. I am very scared. I don't sleep well. When I hear any noise I am alarmed. In my dreams I see that person following me."

The unfortunate part is that her attacker was arrested but later released on bail. While the facts about bail are unknown, this calls into question the laws of protection in the region. Relatives are known to be one of the main perpetrators of elder abuse especially as the abuse by caregivers is a worldwide and complex issue. Stresses, caregiver burden, criminal history and substance abuse among other issues are risk factors that can lead to elder mistreatment, which in turn leads to poor health. Governments can improve their law enforcement agencies as well as the quality of life of caregivers and older people.

It is encouraging to know that governments will attend the Open-ended Working Group on Aging this July and support a United Nations (UN) convention to protect older people's rights. The purpose of the working group is to strengthen the protection of older people’s human rights around the world. Hopefully, this objective will achieve great strides as inadequate research into elder abuse makes the problem difficult to tackle. This is because elder abuse is largely a hidden problem.

According to Bridget Sleap, Senior Rights Policy Advisor at HelpAge International, “elder abuse is the least studied of the different types of violence in low-income countries as stated by the Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014”. This report, produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN agencies, stated that of the 133 countries studied, two thirds do not have adult protective services to support older people.

Governments can do more to stop elder abuse and protect the rights of older people. It is vital that societies raise awareness, challenge and recognize that elder abuse and discrimination against older people are issues that deserve attention.

Contributing Journalist:  @SophieSokolo

LGBT Progress Overshadowed by Abuses

United Nations general assembly hall

United Nations general assembly hall

NEW YORK - The second report ever released by the United Nations on protecting LGBT rights was published today by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report outlines steps for governments to take in stopping LGBT discrimination.

There are 80 countries in the world today that criminalize consensual same-sex relations. The punishments vary, including prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty.

The report represents the gradual progress being made by governments in protecting LGBT people around the world. Since the first report released in 2011, 14 countries have adopted or strengthened laws that protect LGBT rights. These changes often extended protection of sexual orientation, gender identity and introduced legal protections for intersex persons.

But it is clear that the progress is overshadowed by abuse. The report states that “since 2011, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more injured in brutal, violent attacks” because of their LGBT identity.

This violence is in part fueled by anti-LGBT rhetoric issued by regional, national, and international leaders.

In May the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at a rally said that he would “slit the throats of gay men” in the West African nation. In 2014, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, said that gay people were “disgusting” after being asked if he personally disliked homosexuals in a BBC interview.

Even in 2012, the Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, defended the current law that criminalizes homosexual acts by saying, “We like ourselves just the way we are.”

Although these leaders have not changed their opinion on supporting legislation that criminalizes LGBT persons, the UN report published today is meant to outline international obligations that leaders like these have in protecting their LGBT citizens.

The report outlined five standards and obligations that every state has in protecting the human rights of LGBT persons.

The report calls on countries to protect LGBT individuals from violence, torture and ill-treatment. This includes condemning “conversion” therapy for LGBT persons, forced and otherwise involuntary sterilization and treatment performed on intersex children.

The report also demands states to “decriminalize homosexuality and to repeal other laws used to punish individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

States also have the “obligation to address discrimination against children and young persons who identify or are perceived as LGBT or intersex.” This means that states are obligated to protect children in schools from harassment, bullying, and in addition to protecting all LGBT people from lack of access to health information and services.

The report also outlined the obligation that countries have to “protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and to take part in the conduct of public affairs.” This means that states must protect the rights of LGBT persons and LGBT allies to assemble and advocate for their rights.

In much of the world these standards and obligations are not followed and support for LGBT rights is often cited as a western construct meant to destroy autonomy and “traditional cultural values” that exist in sovereign nations.

However the United Nations has made it clear once again that this view is not acceptable.

The report states that “All human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protection of international human rights law.”

Contributing Editor: @AustinBryan
LinkedIn: Austin Drake Bryan

Capitalism vs. Water Rights in Detroit City

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:45 p.m. DST, 26 June 2014

Hotel Granwood, Detroit, Michigan, Photo by  无忌 王伟

DETROIT, Michigan -- Despite numerous plans initiated by Detroit to encourage its residents to remain in the city, the once great Midwestern city of Detroit has done an about face.

In an otherwise tragic situation, some might say that rapacious forces now endeavor to further disenfranchise the hardscrabble, poorest of the poor who have toughed out the deteriorating living conditions in what was once known as Motor City.

In recent months the City of Detroit has gradually cut off public water access to its most impoverished and vulnerable residents. Since the water was shut off, "sick people have been left without running water and working toilets, and people recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages, nor can parents prepare food for their children to eat."

Water rights groups are calling the move calculated and designed to enable the city to shed its books of impoverished consumers who are unable and likely for the foreseeable future, remain unable to pay their water bills.

Technically, the Detroit Water Department is within its legal right to disconnect service for non-payment, but many of the people who have been impacted were not given notice of their impending water disconnection. The net effect was that thousands of people have lost access to public water.

In May and June when the disconnections began and water dried up around the city, a collective of human rights and water rights activists began to protest for Detroit to open up water pipelines, calling the move an attack on basic human rights. Multiple organizations in the community appealed to the United Nations to condemn these practices and bring international attention to the plight of these citizens.

Their efforts bore fruit, when news reports announced today that the U.N. has condemned the city of obstructing water rights which is a human rights violation. This is a clear cut case of blocking fair access to water rights by the poor, and puts America on par with other countries that have chosen to 'commoditize' water thus making it cost prohibitive and unaffordable for its poorest citizen.

Examples include, Bolivia, India, and Tanzania among others as detailed in an article by Anup Shahin, titled Water and Development. The statistics on this global problem of inadequate access to water and corporate greed is one that will only worsen.

Clearly, water termination disrupts basic health and wellness at a fundamental level. That an American city is subjecting its citizenry to these horrendous conditions is at odds with the perception that is promoted about the United States, both internationally and domestically. One which promulgates an image of equality for rich and poor, and that this country is free from many of the ills which plague developing nations.

This paradoxical move to cut water when the city is engaged in a campaign to encourage inbound migration, gentrification, and renovation of the iconic city only highlights the fact that its interests lies not with the populace but with the privileged. The infusion of millions of dollars into the city coffers from corporate developers as the city seeks to move out of bankruptcy, makes Detroit's squabbling over a few unpaid months of water bills all the more ludicrous.

Although, around 5,000 Detroiter's water has been cut off already, the city has plans to cut water access to 30,000 more households this year. Like so many cases in American politics and economics, the people at the top are quick to look down on the people at the bottom and assign blame and inflict upon them an untenable burden.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

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Qatar's Strategy for Post-Oil Economy | FIFA World Cup 2022

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Vinita Tiwari, Middle East CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:50 p.m. DST, 12 June 2014

Qatar Airways, Photo by Erick Espinosa

DOHA -- Qatar will be the hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022. The event is huge and the results expected out of it are anticipated to be equally impressive. Let us unfold the significance of the event for Qatar and how it can improve the fortunes for all the emirates.

United Nations' Study on the Correlation between Sport Events & Economy

There are certain facts that never lose its authenticity and keep on backing the instances even for years. Sports events produce an incredible number of economic and social benefits for the country in which a globally followed and prestigious event such as the World Cup.

Research conducted by the United Nations, which was later published in a number of known papers on this economic, strongly supports the correlation between sport events and the capacity for a country to leverage revenue to effect social change.

In the case of Qatar, it is looking toward a post-oil boom economy to other revenue streams. Though, a sporting event and the revenue generated cannot compare to that generated by oil sales, it does indicate a trend toward seizing opportunities that provide the initial entree into alternate streams of income.

Below are some of the facts shared in the study

An important wing of the United Nations Organization and one of the top contributors in the research, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), mentioned that:

  1. Sport and physical education can effectively contribute to economic and  social growth;
  2. That hosting World Sports events contribute towards promoting good will which facilitates the development of substantive dialogue;
  3. Sporting events transcend the barriers of religion, culture, and nationalism, thus giving rise to an equitable society and thereby a more prosperous nation.

The study asserts its position based upon historical evidence of past cross-cultural promotional efforts and the positive benefits that were the result of these interactions. In fact, recognized organizations and personalities from known sport teams like Italian National Workers Compensation Authority (INAIL), veterans associated with Brazilian soccer team, World Sports Alliance, to name few, agreed with the premise that sports events engender participation and joie de vivre.

FIFA World Cup: Why Qatar?

Since most emirates in the Gulf region are brimming with economic success, some may question why the World Sports Alliances chose Doha, a city in Qatar to host the FIFA 2022? Here are some of the reasons that made Qatar the ‘hot’ choice:

  • Huge Cost Incurred in ‘Green’ Efforts: According to Zawya, Qatar has proposed to spend a whopping $50 billion on infrastructure;
  •  Use of Solar Power: The proposal is loaded with other positive points; one of them is that the air-cooled stadiums will be powered by solar power and there will be inputs to make use of renewable energies to host the game in a safe environment;
  •  The Efforts Met the Fate: The efforts brought in a lot of applaud from the spectators who were keeping a strict watch on the countries that were a part of the race. Qatar left behind economically strong countries like the United States of America and earned 14 plus votes.

Consequently, according to the United Nations research revealed above, Qatar will receive a good boost to the already flourishing economy.

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

The Foreseen Economic Benefits

Any event happening within a country assures a lot of fiscal benefits as well as encouraging foreign investments and visitors to explore a region of the world that they might otherwise choose. The investments received would be directed towards upgrading the infrastructure and hospitality domain. The economy and the job market share inter-dependencies that require that each grows in portion to the other to balance out the macro benefits.

  1. A Bright Example

South Africa is a prime example of this phenomenon. 2010 proved to be a fortunate year for the country when it hosted the World Cup games, which helped the country to realize an increase in foreign trade, investments as well as boost the tourism market sector. Per the hard data, the total awareness factor of South Africa as a leisure destination increased by an estimated 9% after the event. Though the return on investment was not as high, the event still gave rise to a lot of employment opportunities pertaining to the tourism and hospitality jobs.

  1. Qatari Economy: Expected Good Things!

Already riding high with high expat rate, enviable per capita income figures, and a free economy; Qatar is one of the richest and leading oil exporters. Apart from this, the employment market is picking up the pace and is even more ‘hotter’ in the recent times.

The return on investment” is expected sky rocket and the job market will exponentially expand to accommodate the infrastructure, service, technology, and tourism sectors.  Some of the obvious economic benefits are:

  • The world cup will be viewed by millions of people and the wealth and economic stature of Qatar will be staged globally. This digital twist will definitely lure the investors from different countries to seek opportunities to partner in business ventures;
  •  The tourism domain will receive positivity as people will be attracted to be a part of the grand event and thus temporary migration is expected;
  •  In order to be the best host around, the construction domain will be more active as it initiates the building of roads, subway systems, and other infrastructure required to effectively host the event;
  1. “Where There is Good, There is Bad!”

The fact can’t be ignored that good things come with shades of darkness. Qatar is definitely going to benefit economically from the opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup 2022; but there are certain facts that we just can’t ignore. Here are some of the factors arranged as a series of events that can create minor issues for the host state:

  • Since Qatar houses rich citizens, the import of poor workers from foreign countries to build the roads, stadiums, and the subway system that will be necessary to host the World Cup may cause socioeconomic tensions because of the disparity of wealth and opportunity;

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 3 of 3)

  • The potential for large numbers of immigrants to remain in the country after the event, may cause an unanticipated drain on the economy as Qatar struggles to deal equitably with this immigrant population, a problem with which many other nations wrestle with. However, one strategy is to incentivize the laborers to return to their countries of origin through generous allotment of wages;
  •  The economic and job opportunities provided by this event can be leveraged by these temporary workers to improve their lives and perhaps provide them with skills that they might not otherwise have obtained in their own countries, but it may not be enough to encourage them to return to their homeland;
  •  Finally, the job opportunities for Qatar residents will increase since new jobs will be created to maintain and service all areas of infrastructure improvements or development once the event has concluded; but an equally great chance exists that Qataris may end up competing with skill immigrates for the same jobs in the future.

Whatever the challenges, Qatar is set to be the FIFA 2022 host and is leaving no stone unturned in making the event spectacular, enjoyable, and economically beneficial for all people.

Qatar Opening Up To a Green Perspective

The state of Qatar is known for its wealth-creating Oil reserves; however, with government initiatives to diversify the economy, the emirate is looking forward to engaging in non-Oil based private sector ventures which will initiate job creation. A little known fact is that Qatar has not forgotten its social responsibilities and is striving to provide Eco-friendly environment, and economy driven by companies that value and support employee satisfaction, and incentivizing workers by providing some of the best paying jobs in the region. Thus, Qatar has set forth the following goals and objectives;

  1. Companies based out in Qatar are implementing occupational safety policies designed to protect employees, and are urging the government bodies to legislate these improvements so that these improvements will also benefit post-FIFA World Cup 2022 workers;
  2. FIFA 2022 itself represents a great initiative for Solar Energy which will be used to power the stadiums and air-conditioning where the games will be held;
  3. Then, there are councils and operating bodies based in Qatar, such as IOSH, Qatar Branch, that focuses on business development and ensuring that companies who decide to do business in Qatar can be assured that their workers will be safe both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Verdict

The benefits of hosting a FIFA World Cup are indisputable, and certainly the economic drivers are crucial to the desire for a country to be awarded such an honor. However, it is not only about monetary gain, it is also about the reputation, profile, brand of any country. If the elements are targeted correctly then a lot of positive global attention can be focused on both the games and the country, thus encouraging people to hopefully dispel any preconceived notions and just have fun!

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Follow Vinita on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Middle East Correspondent: @vinita1204

The Central African Republic Crisis Rages On

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa Correspondent
Last Modified: 23:16 p.m. DST, 18 December 2013

CAR Rebel Exercising, Photo by hdptcarCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, Africa - I first wrote about the Central African Republic’s deplorable conditions in September, and the situation has worsened since. Luckily, the international community has recently made much larger efforts to step in, intervene, and restore stability but there is still immense and lofty work to be done.

From December 5th through 7th, UNICEF reported that within those 72 hours alone, 60,000 citizens were displaced and 394 were killed. At this point a week ago, the internally displaced persons count had risen to half a million people.

After this extremely deadly period of three days, France finally decided to send in troops to this area and militarily push to end the conflict.

Although international presence may help resolve this conflict in the main hotspots, the destruction and horrors are continuing across the country in small villages and areas isolated from help.

IDP camps are popping up across the country, and as they do, these displaced persons also lack access to adequate shelter, sanitation, food and water. These problems are thus mounting and exponentially piling on top of one another, so more must be done before the damage is irreversible and before more innocent people die.

This international intervention also follows the successful work by the UN and MONUSCO to shut down the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so this could hopefully be a precedent for how to end the rebellious conflict in the Central African Republic. If the UN and its diverse troops were able to tackle several conflicts such as these, this may set a much needed tone for African states that murderous rebels will not be tolerated.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

United States Takes Steps towards a Syrian Intervention

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 01:35 a.m. DST, 28 August 2013

Syrian Protester in front of White House, Photo by KSR FotoSYRIA - As was posted a few days ago, the situation in Syria has worsened as reports of larger and more deadly chemical weapon attacks emerge. The UN sent in investigators to inspect and report back on the damage and death toll, but they have faced issues as Syrian authorities restrict their access to war sites and have even fired bullets at the UN vehicles.

Because the Syrian government is clearly behaving like a government who has something to hide, global leaders are making more advanced steps towards action and a potential intervention. In the last 48 hours, President Obama has held urgent phone calls and meetings with President Hollande of France, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, and the United States National Security Council.

Furthermore, the United States government has taken steps to make it very clear to Syrian leaders that they have gone too far and are warranting an international response. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallim last week and warned him that without an immediate move towards transparency and access for outsiders, there would be consequences.

However, before the United States makes any serious strikes or actions, our nation's leaders must consult Congress and deliberate how best to handle the complicated situation. In the mean time, they have moved Navy destroyers and equipment closer to Syria in case an order is made. Based on this move and the feeling of increasing tension, some are saying that the US could strike as early as this Thursday. However, the choice of response by the international community will be based on information and intelligence that comes in within the next few days, hours and even minutes. Syria's actions are forcing countries and alliances who respect human rights to move towards the brink of military intervention, and this is unlikely to change unless Syria makes drastic changes immediately. Note: Be sure to check out Senator John Kerry's speech, where other statements by Senior Officials will be posted daily.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

The Latest Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 03:01 a.m. DST, 24 August 2013

Syrian Chemical Weapons, Photo by Jerusalem Prayer TeamGHOUTA REGION, Syria - President Assad's regime took violent attacks to a newly horrendous level as it has been reported that their latest chemical weapons attack killed over a thousand people.

It has been reported several times thus far that chemical weapons may have been used, and without serious enough sanctions or interventions, the Syrian government has chosen to move forward with their chemical weapon tactics.

These attacks reportedly took place in the Ghouta region which is east of Damascus, and mainly targeted women and children. Graphic pictures and videos continue to surface that display the atrocities and damage, but Syrian government representatives persistently release statements denying the accusations.

The disheartening reports coming out of the war-torn country have yet to subside and are unlikely to cease until the international community takes serious steps towards halting Assad's complete control over the country. Although Obama has threatened that a line would be crossed if Syria made use of chemical weapons and continued their widespread human rights violations, credible actions have yet to be taken.

In an effort to get more reliable information, the UN sent in chemical weapons investigators three days ago to investigate the situation and death tolls. Because none of the major global powers are looking to get involved unilaterally, they seem to be waiting on this investigation and its findings before taking serious action. Pending incriminating findings, members of the UN's Security Council are giving the impression that they would only intervene as a unit, instead of taking the risk on independently.

Regardless of the method the UN would potentially choose to stop the civil war in Syria, it is due time that it is halted. Time after time, bystanders say that they will never let genocide happen again, yet conflicts like the one in Syria rage on for months before anyone decides to step in. Chemical weapons are just one of the torturous instruments that Assad and his regime are employing, and the international community should be mindful of this before it can go any further.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols