The World Today for September 20, 2017

NEED TO KNOW

INDIA

Dispel the Darkness

Last week, thousands of Indians joined a Nobel-winning advocate of children’s rights for the first leg of what promises to be the world’s largest march against the trafficking and sexual abuse of children.

Led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, the month-long “India March” is expected to draw more than 10 million people from across the country, reflecting a growing sense of horror over a seemingly endless flow of reports of vicious rapes and assaults on children as young as three years old, Reuters reports.

Even as the march was getting underway, the local news was filled with reports of the arrest of a British volunteer teacher for allegedly sexually abusing three blind boys in their teens, the gruesome murder of a seven-year-old boy in a school bathroom after an alleged sexual assault, and new DNA evidence suggesting that a 10-year-old rape victim whom the court had denied an abortion was raped by a second man along with the uncle originally implicated in the crime.

Horrifying as that litany sounds, it was hardly an unusual week for the Indian press.

Due to its huge population, India is home to the largest number of sexually abused children globally, the BBC noted. But historically few cases have come to light due to a reluctance to talk about the problem – and the high percentage of cases in which the abusers are parents, relatives or other caregivers.

Government statistics indicate that about 43 children are sexually abused every day in India. But those numbers are actually significantly lower than comparable figures for the US, with its much lower population, suggesting that an even smaller percentage of such crimes are reported in India.

Activists say the country is finally waking up to the scope of the problem and making headway against the social stigma that discourages people from reporting abuse. But as Newsweek notes, poor standards of evidence collection and investigation mean that even those few cases that do get reported rarely go to trial and even less frequently result in convictions.

Perhaps that’s why World Vision India is focusing on prevention with a new campaign launched this May to end child sexual abuse by 2021, targeting 10 million children across 25 states. The program will work to educate children about “good” and “bad” touching, as well as to train parents and other caregivers to recognize the signs of abuse.

Nobel winner Satyarthi’s initiative has similar goals.

Satyarthi, whose charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) has rescued 80,000 enslaved children, told Reuters the ongoing march will form part of a three-year campaign to spread public awareness and push for stronger policies on child protection.

“The sun rises every morning. But today this morning is different and this sun is different,” Satyarthi said. “Today this sun rises to dispel the darkness of fear, hopelessness and shame faced by our children. Today we march to end this.”

[siteshare]Dispel the Darkness[/siteshare]

WANT TO KNOW

FRANCE

Shock to the System

French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled more of his plan to jumpstart the French economy Tuesday, announcing he would cut public spending in 2018 to its lowest levels since the start of the financial crisis and reduce taxes to lows seen almost a decade ago, Bloomberg reported.

Macron, a former banker who won election earlier this year on a platform filled with promises to reform the economy, is pressing ahead with changes that the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have been recommending for years.

On Friday, his proposals to reform the labor market by loosening restrictions on firing workers are set to take effect. Earlier this month, thousands of employees hit the streets in protest. Another protest is planned in the next few weeks.

The next challenge for Macron, analysts say, is to reduce the power of unions.

[siteshare]Shock to the System[/siteshare]

INDONESIA

Protests of Paranoia

Hundreds of anti-communist protesters took to the streets of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Tuesday, clashing with police in a melee that resulted in multiple injuries and arrests, Reuters reported.

Protesters rioted against President Joko Widodo’s attempt to open up a dark chapter of the country’s history: the 1965 anti-communist purge that killed as many as one million people, according to Human Rights Watch.

Begun in late 1965 after then-general Suharto and the military seized power following an aborted communist coup, the purge resulted in indiscriminate killings and mass graves.

Last year, Indonesian officials held a groundbreaking symposium on the massacre, ending a half-century of silence on this issue. Even so, communism is banned in Indonesia and any sympathizers are regarded with a deep suspicion and hostility, especially by nationalists and Islamists.

[siteshare]Anti-Communist Paranoia[/siteshare]

RUSSIA

Innovation and Infamy

To the sounds of Russian military folk music and Orthodox prayers, Russia unveiled a monument on Tuesday in honor of Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, who invented the world’s most notorious and widespread weapon, the AK-47.

Located in the heart of one of Moscow’s busiest thoroughfares, the monument depicts Kalashnikov donned in a bomber jacket and holding one of his rifles in his hand “like a violin,” the New York Times reported, quoting Russian state television.

The monument was promoted by the Russian Military-Historical Society, a nationalist organization under the watchful eye of Russia’s Ministry of Culture. Its unveiling coincided with Weapons Maker Day, a national holiday since 2011, and a feasting day celebrating the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Russia’s weapons industry.

Kalashnikov died in 2013 at the age of 94. He designed the rifle after being wounded in World War Two. While proud of his creation, he purportedly lamented the fact that his rifle was used by criminals and child soldiers in global conflicts.

Amid the pomp and circumstance of the unveiling, there was no mention of the millions who have died under the AK-47’s fire since its creation in 1947.

[siteshare]Innovation and Infamy[/siteshare]

DISCOVERIES

There’s an App for That

In the most remote areas of the world, new technology can save lives.

Take rural Guatemala, for example, where an app is helping traditional Mayan midwives to deliver babies more safely.

Mayan women are six times more likely to die in childbirth than women in the US, NBC News reports. Due to isolation and discrimination, they simply don’t have access to the crucial medical treatment that may be needed during a high-risk pregnancy.

But with a new apparatus linked to a smartphone app, traditional midwives in Guatemala are able to simply and effectively check a baby’s vital signs and send the information off to a team of specialists working with the non-profit Maya Health Alliance.

“This is bringing tools that can identify high-risk and complicated pregnancies and get them to the hospital on time to save the mother and the baby, all while leaving the women who are low risk to continue to deliver at home,” said Dr. Kirsten Austad of the non-profit.

A liaison from the non-profit will also accompany the expecting mother to the hospital in the case of an emergency to make her feel at ease.

Saving lives in rural Guatemala? There’s an app for that.

Click here to see the app in action.

[siteshare] There’s an App for That [/siteshare]

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