The Forgotten Victims of Gender-Based Violence

The Forgotten Victims of Gender-Based Violence
Source: Tasnim News Agency

The Rohingya Crisis continues to make headlines, as more and more evidence of shocking human rights violations comes to light. Gender-based violence has been prevalent throughout the crisis. ActionAid’s country director in Bangladesh spoke recently about her experience visiting refugee camps in the country, ‘to speak to the women and girls who have borne the brunt of the crisis in many ways.’

Many Rohingya women arrive in the refugee camps alone, or are now the heads of their families. In fact, it is now estimated that 70% of Rohingya refugees are women and girls. Reading the accounts of these women, who have experienced and witnessed such unimaginable horrors which no-one should ever have to endure, a nagging question slowly begins to emerge: if most Rohingya refugees are women, where are all the Rohingya men? Reading further into survivors’ accounts provides an answer…

‘Two weeks ago, the military arrived in our village. They entered every house and rounded up all of the young men.’

‘Soldiers killed my brothers in front of me and raped me. They shot my father.’

‘Marium, 60, recounted how the security forces rounded up all the men in her village and took them away. She never saw them again.’

‘We saw them slit throats and bellies, shoot our men, and rape our women. They killed the older men, and then the men my age.’

‘The soldiers separated the men from the women. The villagers pleaded for their lives and dropped to their knees, hugging the soldiers’ boots. The soldiers kicked them off and methodically killed all the men, said Rajuma and several other survivors from Tula Toli…

…many of them are dead.

It is becoming increasingly clear that thousands of Rohingya are being systematically slaughtered, not only because they are Muslims, but also because they are men.

The history of gendercide

Sadly, the systematic targeting of male civilians for execution during conflict is nothing new. The 2005 Human Security Report states that ‘There is…compelling evidence that non-combatant males ‘have been and continue to be the most frequent targets of mass killing and genocidal slaughter as well as a host of lesser atrocities and abuses’.’ Even from just the past 50 years, examples abound of gender-based mass killings perpetrated against male civilians – so much so that they begin to look less like isolated incidents, and more like a common feature of modern conflict:

  • The 1971 genocide in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) during which an estimated 2.4 million out of 3 million Bengalis killed were adult men.
  • The 1988 Anfal Campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan, the principal purpose of which was the extermination of all adult males of military service age.
    Memorial to the Rwandan Genocide
  • The 1994 Rwandan Genocide, during which, according to the Rwandan government, over one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, the overwhelming majority of whom were men and boys.
  • The 1998-1999 Kosovo War, during which ‘an overriding tactic was evident in Serb military strategy: the gender-selective detention and mass killing of ethnic-Albanian men, especially those of “battle age.”’
  • And many other examples which are too numerous to list here.

Defining gender-based violence

Definitions of gender-based violence are highly varied, but most are variations on the theme of ‘violence targeted to a person because of their gender, or that affects them because of their special roles or responsibilities in the society.’ Going by this, the examples listed above would very closely match the definition of gender-based violence. A common theme is the deliberate targeting of males based on their gender; many accounts describe men being purposefully separated from the women within a community before being killed. It also seems highly likely that men as a group – particularly men of military age – were chosen as targets of violence because of their traditional gender roles as fighters and protectors. As outlined by the Human Security Centre in their explanation of the targeted killings of civilian men during the Kosovo War: ‘The explanation? Part revenge and part bleak strategic logic: killing battle-age males minimises future threats to the victors.’

‘It’s what a man’s got to do’ – US Selective Service leaflets.

Using this definition, combat deaths could also be classed as gender-based violence against men. It has long been understood that men constitute the overwhelming majority of combat fatalities – and, after all, these men are only put in the firing line as a result of their traditional gender roles; be that through cultural pressure to volunteer, or through forcible conscription by their government or occupying force. For example, even today the United States only requires men to register for the military selective service.

However, despite the gender neutrality of the term ‘gender-based violence’, and the relevance of the term with regard to the experiences of men listed in the section above, many organisations simply see it as synonymous with the term ‘violence against women’. For example, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) writes on its website: ‘The terms are used interchangeably throughout this website and EIGE’s work, as it is always understood that gender-based violence means violence against women…’ This serves to deny the lived experience of the untold number of men across the world who have suffered violence as a direct result of their gender.

The case is often made that gender-based violence primarily – or uniquely – affects women and girls ‘as a result of unequal distribution of power in society between women and men.’ It is beyond doubt that women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence during conflict, and that this is rooted in dynamics of gender and power. But it must equally be recognised that the selection of men as targets of mass killings also stems from the unequal distribution of power in society between women and men. The societal power which men traditionally hold ironically makes them more vulnerable to being intentionally killed during conflict, as they are seen as inherently more threatening and capable of resistance than their female counterparts. This is particularly true in low-intensity conflict and counter-insurgency operations.

The power of words

The exclusion of men from the definition of gender-based violence is not merely of academic importance; it has a profound impact on the allocation of funding by international organisations. For instance, the United Nations has a whole host of programmes, and even an international day, dedicated to the elimination of violence against women. Yet no equivalent programme exists for the elimination of violence against men.

‘Leave no one behind’: logo for the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On the ground, it can lead to men being excluded from efforts to protect civilians during conflict, as they are not considered sufficiently vulnerable. Take the below example given by a UNHCR Official in 2002:

Officially refugees were not allowed to cross the Afghani border into Pakistan last year, only ‘vulnerable’ groups, only women and children. But in fact the men were perhaps the most vulnerable and the women themselves were most concerned about the men who had the risk of being conscripted to the Taliban at this time.

It also has implications within the realm of international law. The International Labour Organization’s Forced Labour Convention of 1930 – which is still in force today – absolutely prohibits the use of forced labour if its victims are women and children, yet under some circumstances permits the use of men aged 18 to 45. Furthermore, military conscription and prison labour (which overwhelmingly affect men) are excluded from forced labour regulations. If forced labour and military conscription, which together have directly led to the deaths of millions of men throughout history, were more widely recognised as forms of gender-based violence, there would be a strong case to challenge this discriminatory legislation.

Cultural blindness to male victims of violence

The tendency in some international organisations to view gender-based violence as a phenomenon solely affecting women and girls reflects a recurring attitude throughout Western culture (and many other cultures for that matter) which views maleness as antithetical to vulnerability. Although this attitude is better suited to the Age of Chivalry than to the 21st century, it is still highly prevalent, even in countries where much work has been done to combat harmful gender stereotypes.

It can be seen in the media response to Boko Haram’s attacks on schoolchildren, with the eruption of global outrage and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign when 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped, yet barely a ripple when news emerged, both before and after this incident, of the murder of hundreds of school-age boys and the kidnap of thousands.

Daily Mail (left) and Daily Express (right) coverage of the arrival of male Syrian child refugees in the UK

It can be seen in the response to the arrival in the UK of the first wave of Syrian child refugees, who were lambasted as undeserving in the reactionary press because they were predominantly male and looked too ‘adult’. So, despite having fled a conflict where 75% of civilian casualties have been adult men, they were deemed not vulnerable enough to deserve sympathy or sanctuary.

Although many rightly recoil in disgust at the attitude of the likes of the Daily Mail towards male refugees, we perpetuate the same outdated gender stereotypes when we exclude male victims from definitions of gender-based violence. Lots of important work has been done in order to better understand the role which gender plays in violence against women during conflict, so that we can better understand and eradicate that blight upon the world, yet the role of gender in violence against men has been largely ignored.

There are thousands upon thousands of men who would still be alive today if they had been born female. For their sake if nothing else, we can’t afford to ignore it any longer.


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Syria is a shining example of a greater cooperative need for a responsibility to protect

Syria is a shining example of a greater cooperative need for a responsibility to protect

The civil war in Syria is a clear example of the world witnessing unprecedented displacement. It has produced over 6.6 million internally displaced persons due to violence, over 4.8 million people have already fled the country and over 13.5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance according to OCHA, amounting to over half of the population of Syria.

The conflict in Syria is stretched across the political and military landscape, yet responses have been primarily humanitarian by the international community. The crisis we see is part of a much larger complexity of issues related to how the international community collectively responds to war and humanitarian crises’.

Western and EU nations, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Gulf states have all meddled in the conflict for strategic reasons. For example, the Obama administration has been financing, training and voicing its support for a rebel opposition to the Syrian Assad regime while bringing together a coalition to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist faction known as ‘Islamic State’ or ISIS in Syria and its neighbouring countries.

The UK has provided intelligence and airstrikes for the coalition forces. France has also joined the coalition and rejected the Assad regime and joined the fight against ISIS. Neighbouring Turkey has been assisting the rebel opposition in an attempt to “push” the Assad regime out of power, whilst refusing to commit a military force, which Saudi Arabia and Qatar continually ask for.

Arian Zwegers / Creative Commons License
Arian Zwegers / Creative Commons License

Where as neighbouring country Iran, and Russia have been supporting the Assad regime, whilst differing on ISIS, with Iran holding an argued murky relationshipwith ISIS and largely abstaining, while Russia have been active in their attempts to eliminate ISIS and rebel controlled areas, both labeled as terrorists’ themselves by Russia and the Assad regime.

Direct intervention in Syria through the application of R2P (Responsibility To Protect) was blocked by Russia and China, who are permanent partners at the UN Security Council table, with only a diluted action plan being agreed upon by the UN to the crisis in Syria.

Syria has become a global political power game of chess. Thus, how is it possible that being lead actors in a supposedly domestic conflict, nations can deny a safe haven to those who have been the casualties of world politics?

Germany bellowed for between 300,000 to 500,000 people a year. However, Chancellor merkel retreated on these claims after apprehension from citizens inside the German borders. It is a similar story across Europe particularly after the President of the European Commission called for its members to take an additional 120,000 Syrian refugees in the EU-wide quota commitment, which only represents 0.11% of the total EU population. This hardly responds to the scope of the crisis.

Wojtek Ogrodowczyk / Creative Commons License
Wojtek Ogrodowczyk / Creative Commons License

However, Poland still signaled a complete retreat on the EU-wide quota commitment, similarly in Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic with other nations set to follow or water down their commitment.

Faced with Europe’s biggest refugee crisis… EU governments can only agree to push responsibility to countries outside the Union“, put up fences and close borders, rather than a policy consensus to help the safety of the Syrian people.

Currently, smaller neighbouring countries’, with modest infrastructure, stretched resources and growing national discourse are being swamped with people seeking sanctuary, and here in lies the reason many are risking their lives to attempt to reach European shores.

According to Amnesty International, over 4 million or 95% of the Syrian refugees are in just 5 countries; in Lebanon they amount to around 20% of the total population, in Jordan they amount to around 10%, and Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million to date, Iraq and Egypt have also taken in large numbers of Syrian Refugees.

EU leaders have followed a similar route to Arab and Gulf states pledging money for humanitarian assistance. However, the overall funding to Syria this year still falls desperately short of the need, with only 19.9% (as of May 30th 2016) of total requirements met in line with the Syrian Humanitarian Response Plan.

The International community has a responsibility to protect the people of Syria, which has largely been ignored or devalued, in favor of political debates arguing who’s responsibility it is whilst passing on blame and accountability.

In today’s globalized world we need to promote more comprehensive and inclusive policies that value difference in our society not divide, for which the recent spate of terror attacks in Europe and around the world intend to do. To eliminate such issues we must devise new and all-encompassing strategies to counter hatred and not simply roll out the same failed reactionary tactics that have only worsened cultural tensions and international relations.

 


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Crisis in the Central African Republic – The regional impact

Crisis in the Central African Republic – The regional impact

In this article Ben Jackson discusses the regional impact of the Central African Republic crisis.

The Central African Republic (CAR), a landlocked state in the middle of the African continent, has been in crisis since 2012. Formerly a French colony, CAR gained independence in 1960, immediately becoming a one party state. A series of coups followed, culminating in the 2012 Seleka group claiming power. Ideologically Muslim, once in power Seleka targeted Christians, who responded by setting up the anti-balaka movement. Religious violence become commonplace and the crisis engulfed the entire country, with many civilians caught in the crossfire. As of now, CAR has just held relatively peaceful elections in February, and there is genuine hope that new president Faustin-Archange Touadera will be able to ensure religious violence becomes a thing of the past. Yet its geographical position, at the heart of the continent, means that countries bordering CAR have felt the effects of the crisis.

Hdptcar / Creative Commons License
Hdptcar / Creative Commons License

Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are three of CAR’s neighbours. All three countries have experienced conflict themselves over the last decade or so, creating a flow of refugees fleeing into CAR. Violence in the DRC and Sudan was taking place before 2012, meaning that CAR already had a substantial amount of refugees prior to the current crisis. Therefore the effect of the crisis in CAR on Sudan and the DRC was that those fleeing conflicts in these countries were running straight into another conflict. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Furthermore, the violence created an estimated 900,000 internally displaced civilians, with estimates that over 450,000 people have fled CAR as refugees, heading to neighbouring countries. This melting pot of refugees in central Africa creates issues for neighbouring countries in how they deal with these people, as well as making sure the violence doesn’t follow them across the border.

Many refugees have fled CAR and moved into Cameroon or Chad. For Cameroon this may well exacerbate current issues, as refugees enter into the northern section of the country. Northern Cameroon is currently experiencing a spill over of violence from neighbouring Nigeria’s efforts to combat Boko-Haram, with the extremist group targeting Cameroon as a result of its loses in Nigeria. CAR refugees in an area of instability in Cameroon is hardly ideal, and may well cause further problems as the fight against Boko-Haram continues. Communities in northern Cameroon have increased in size with the influx of those fleeing CAR, meaning that provisions have become scarcer as these communities have to share what they have. Cameroon hosts the most refugees from the crisis, as well as some from Nigeria. Therefore the conflict puts the biggest strain on Cameroons resources as opposed to other neighbouring states. Aid has been sent to help Cameroon deal with the issues, yet a 2015 EU report claimed that there were still gaps which needed addressing.

 

United Nations Photo / Creative Commons License
United Nations Photo / Creative Commons License

Chad, CAR’s northern neighbour, has also taken in refugees from the crisis. Many Chadians lived and worked in CAR, so for some it was just returning to their homeland. For many though it was leaving their own land or origin behind. The influx of refugees to Chad has created a shortage of important resources, with refugees and local inhabitants competing for the limited resources on offer. Many of the refugees from CAR were farmers, who brought their cattle with them across the border. Man and beast require food and water, something which is in scarce supply in Chad for the locals anyway, let alone for the thousands of refugees who need humanitarian assistance. Competition over resources could potentially lead to conflict between those who inhabit the region and those coming in search of safety, which would mean violence spreading from CAR into Chad. Additionally, in 2012 Chad itself experienced a crisis in the Sahel region, with a drought leaving millions in need of emergency aid. Coupled with the crisis in CAR, Chad has witnessed a significant strain on its resources, having to turn to external partners in order to provide what is needed.

It is obvious to see that the crisis in CAR put a strain on neighbouring Cameroon and Chad, while it also has impacted upon the instability in the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan. Hopefully the recent elections will bring an end to violence in CAR, allowing refugees to return home to a peaceful environment, thus lessening the strain on its neighbours.

 

 

 


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The fate of child soldiers

The fate of child soldiers

Recent news has demonstrated that Aegis, a British security firm, has been hiring child soldiers. Here, Vanessa Cameron discusses new research that asks what can be done to support child soldiers, once conflicts have stopped.

Few feature films have focused so explicitly on the case of children being recruited as soldiers as 2015’s ‘Beasts of No Nation’, which starred Idris Elba as the commandant of a rebel unit in an unnamed and war torn African country. The film brutally portrays the lives of child soldiers, and at times is difficult to watch – centering on 9 year old Agu who is recruited by the commandant and forced to partake in unspeakable violence, which will no doubt go on to shape the way he views and engages with the world.

While this story in itself isn’t true, it draws many parallels to the reality in which children are recruited to be soldiers – an estimated 250,000 currently – and leaves you to wonder what kind of support there is in place for child soldiers when they are no longer involved in conflict and must return to some semblance of normality.

This was brought in to focus most recently with the disturbing revelation that former child soldiers involved in the civil war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002 were now working as mercenaries in Iraq, guarding bases.

The firm at the centre of the allegations: Aegis, is a UK based security firm, which has claimed it has been pressured to cut costs and due to high unemployment rates in Sierra Leone, many recruits were hired without any checking of their background. Africans, it was admitted, by the former director of Aegis Defence Services, were the cheapest labour and little thought was put in to the background of these guards, hired to protect western bases. The story broke alongside a film released in Denmark directed by Mads Ellesoe, called “The Child Soldiers New Job.

Hdptcar / Creative Commons License
Hdptcar / Creative Commons License

Former Aegis Director of Defence Services, James Ellery suggests that ‘it would be quite wrong to ask recruits if they had been child soldiers, penalising them for something they had no choice in.’ But such a justification for this action rings hollow when the wage for a Sierra Leonian security guard working for Aegis is just £11 a day, raising the question on whether their background is not being checked because Aegis are concerned about unfairly penalising former child soldiers, (unlikely) or because they’d rather not bother and thus blithely continue to employ those who may suffer from post-traumatic stress, at an extremely low cost.

And while you may not wish to penalise child soldiers for something they had no fault in, giving them work as security guards seems a somewhat irresponsible action. Surely putting someone who at such young age has experienced and perpetrated gratuitous violence, should not then be responsible for acting as a security guard. A security guard needs to be able to act on a certain degree of judgement about danger, using it only when it is completely necessary to protect what they are paid to secure. The issue of hiring child soldiers is also inextricably linked to the privatisation of war in which American and British forces subcontract military operations to private companies, where the emphasis is on making a profit and there are far less stringent checks on who is being employed.

Control Arms / Creative Commons License
Control Arms / Creative Commons License

Researcher Theresa Betancourt’s longitudinal study of child soldiers in Sierra Leona paints a picture of the sort of horrors they might have faced: 63% had witnessed violent death and 77% saw stabbings, chopping, and shooting close-up. Betancourt, directs the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at Harvard University and her research brings to light the extent of the issues and what might work in addressing them. Her studies although ongoing and not yet conclusive suggest that an effective way to improve the wellbeing of former child soldiers is to ensure the stigma that might surround them when they return to their communities is addressed so that they feel welcome and safe where they once lived. But it is obviously not a simple process and in a country where there is just one psychiatrist, any support systems that are in place for former child soldiers are likely to face many challenges.

Ultimately while not wanting to deem all former child soldiers as being unfit as security guards, it appears hugely unethical to play on their trauma through offering work of an often violent nature, whether it is intentionally exploiting their past experience or not. When the reality is that research into the effects of a child soldier’s experience on their mental health is limited, it surely should not be the case that any job will do.

 

 


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Partitioning: A tool for Greater Stability in Syria and Iraq

Partitioning: A tool for Greater Stability in Syria and Iraq

Is the current strategy used by the international community preventing conflict between Syria and Iraq? Jordan Creed suggests the potential of partitioning as a more effective strategy in the Middle-East in order to ensure greater stability.

Partition has only even been utilised reluctantly by the international community as a means of conflict resolution. The extent of this reluctance is demonstrated by the fact that it is only just being considered as a plan B option by the US foreign secretary John Kerry after five years of conflict in Syria. However partition could provide a means of not only ending the conflict in Syria and Iraq it could also potentially help establish long term stability.

The reason for this is that it the current borders of Syria and Iraq are now impractical and undesirable obstructions to peace and stability. This is because the strengthening of the ethnic identities in an environment of insecurity and distrust has discredited the notion of a shared Iraq and Syria identity.

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq currently appear to reflect Barry Posen’s contention that ethnic conflict is a result of a security dilemma that emerges from the anarchy of state collapse.

Quapan / Creative Commons License
Quapan / Creative Commons License

The anarchy that emerges from state collapse means that ethnic groups must provide their own security. Posen claims that groups will assess whether other groups are a threat on the basis of how they have treated them historically.

This assessment by groups will also often be a worst case analysis because of the costs of judging wrongly. The combination of this insecurity and group’s negative assessment of each other’s intentions can make offensive action an extremely rational option. The reason for this is because it is able to remove the perceived security threat completely i.e. the other groups.

Posen’s assessment of ethnic conflict appears to be very applicable the conflicts currently going on in Syria and Iraq. As both are experiencing state collapse and the breakdown of order as a consequence of it. Syria and Iraq also both have legacies of ethnic tension as groups have committed atrocities and discriminated against each other. Therefore the levels of distrust between the ethnic groups is likely to be high.

Moreover, stories about the atrocities will be retold in various fictional, historical, documentary forms. This will mean they are likely to fundamentally discredit the notion of a shared Syrian or Iraqi identity between the ethnic groups. The atrocities are likely to do this because they will shape the ethnic identities in Syria and Iraq. The result of this will be to create a sense of separate historical experience between the ethnicities in Syria and Iraq.

Center for American Progress Action Fund / Creative Commons License
Center for American Progress Action Fund / Creative Commons License

The consequence of this hardening of identities in a highly insecure climate is that elections are likely to reflect the ‘ethnic census’. What is meant by this is that parties and politicians that are elected in this environment will be ones that will take a hard-line stance on their ethnic groups’ interests. It is likely that these politicians and parties will be reluctant to compromise with other ethnic groups’ representatives. As compromise is likely to be viewed as betraying their own group’s interests.

This has the potential to lead to a state that is mired in gridlock where even the most basic issues cannot be resolved. Bosnia provides a telling example of this as there little compromise between ethnic groups representatives. The deadlock resulting from this in Bosnia has impeded important economic and institutional reform.

Partition can reduce the chances of such situations arising in post war Syria and Iraq because it can reduce the perception of insecurity among the majority group.  The reason it can decrease the insecurity felt among the majority group is because unlike other post-conflict reconstructions, it significantly reduces the population size of minority groups.

By doing this partition creates conditions for concessions to be made by the majority group, as this decreases the perceived level of insecurity felt by the majority group. Partition therefore creates an environment where the majority group will be more likely to be willing to compromise with other groups, as the potential security risks for doing so will have lessened significantly.

Admittedly, an unfortunate part of any effort to partition multi-ethnic states is that it involves population transfers. While, undesirable populations transfers are already a reality in much of Syria and Iraq as members of minority groups have been fleeing to areas where they are majority.

Finally, by accepting the reality that Syria and Iraq as we know them gone, the international community could create a means of achieving peace in Syria and Iraq. As the prospect of a Sunni-state would give Sunnis an attractive alternative to the Islamic state. This would in turn severely undermine IS ability to present itself as the only viable alternative for Sunni Muslims. In contrast the international current adherence to Syria and Iraq’s current borders. Implies to Sunnis that their reward for rising up against the Islamic state will be to put them back under Assad rule or the Shia dominated government in Baghdad.



















 


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Syria: where do we go from here?

As the UN’s stalemate remains in place, with no official intervention, former DiA volunteer Lydia Greenaway explores the differing attitudes towards intervening and what the key issues are

syria refugees
More than one million Syrians have been displaced since the civil war started

The Syrian civil war is showing no sign of slowing down. Last month was said to be the deadliest so far, with an estimated 6,000 deaths in just 30 days. According to Christian Aid, more than 1 million civilians have already fled the country due to the mounting violence and there is a strong likelihood that many more are yet to follow. The pressure on aid agencies to get urgent, life-saving support to vulnerable refugees is only intensifying.

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Human Rights Watch Film Festival: The Patience Stone

In the first of a series of reviews from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2013, blog editor Emily Wight finds a moving account of one woman’s story in Afghanistan.

About a month ago Shinkai Karokhil, a member of parliament in Afghanistan, claimed: “The woman of Afghanistan today is absolutely different from the woman of Afghanistan from yesterday.”

Women in Afghanistan have faced turbulent times for decades. Photo: isafmedia
Women in Afghanistan have faced turbulent times for decades. Photo: isafmedia

It is this conviction, that women in Afghanistan are on the cusp of a new dawn, which influences Atiq Rahimi’s film The Patience Stone, based on his novel of the same name. Our protagonist is an unnamed woman – the significance of which is ambivalent: it indicates a lack of identity but also, conversely, a blank canvas on which she can start her life afresh – in an unnamed country where the sound of gunfire and the sight of tanks on residential streets are routine.

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UK policy in Sri Lanka: saying one thing, doing the other

Where next for Tamil deportees? Photo by trokilinochchi/Creative Commons

Three years after Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war ended, both sides are still feeling the repercussions. Nate Barker reports on the British government’s hypocrisy in its policy towards the country.

Recently, the media has been reporting that Sri Lankan deportees from the UK are at risk of arrest and torture by the authorities for alleged ‘terrorism’ links. While it’s no secret that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers) received support and funding from the Tamil diaspora during the long civil war, many Tamils deplored violence on both sides with equal measure. Now, the UK has been happy to resume deportations claiming that with the war’s end, the security situation is now improved. The UK used similar logic in 2005 regarding Iraqi citizens, claiming the removal of Saddam Hussein had made that country safer. Keep reading →


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Paralympic Power: Disability in Sierra Leone

As London celebrates a wealth of skill from disabled people around the world, Hannah Loryman considers the shifting attitudes towards disabled people in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has a high rate of disability because of the civil war. Photo by babasteve

This year’s Paralympics sees the second ever Sierra Leonean, Mohamed Kamara, compete. The first half of Kamara’s story is unfortunately a common one. He is one of thousands of Sierra Leoneans who suffered amputation at the hands of rebel forces during the war. Now 22, he was a small child when the rebels came into his village, killed his parents in front of him and then chopped off his hand. In addition Keep reading →


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A tribute to the Blue Berets (the DPKO)

Australian troops in East Timor. Photo by Australian Civil-Military Centre/Creative Commons

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Alistair Walker analyses the sacrifices made by the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations in Conflict. Alistair is studying an MA in Interactive Journalism at City University and has created the DiA blog’s first example of data journalism, so make sure you click on the links in the final paragraph to view his interactive graphs.

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Sri Lanka: The Killing Fields

Photo by Tom Barber Photography

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Bombs in no fire zones, executions with no evidence of combat, a corrupt regime that is still in power – what will it take for the international community to respond to the cries of the Sri Lankan victims? Indrani Balaratnam reviews the Channel 4 documentary The Killing Fields

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A Landmark Ceasefire

Karen children c. Benoit Mahe

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To follow Aditi Gupta‘s recent post concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in Burma, Alistair Walker examines the ceasefire between the Karen separatist movement and the Myanmar Government that took place last week. Alistair is studying an MA in Interactive Journalism at City University.

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South Sudan: another Biafra?

Six months ago South Sudan was born – yet fighting in the region continues. Rowan Emslie explores the path of the world’s youngest country, drawing links with the Nigerian-Biafran war of the 1960s. Rowan is an intern at Article 19. His blog is rowanemslieintern.wordpress.com

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Egypt: a second revolution?

Tahrir Square c.Ramy Raoof

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The events in Egypt of the past six days have not failed to shock the western world and have prolonged our fascination with the Arab Spring. As the country goes ahead with its election next week in the wake of national protests met with military violence, Sophie Nodzenski considers whether the recent uprisings signify a second revolution for Egypt – or merely a continuation of the first.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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United Nations Day: Genocide trials in Cambodia

Killing Fields (c. Associated Press)

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To mark United Nations Day tomorrow, Tom Goodenough assesses the UN’s involvement in the trials of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Tom is a freelance journalist currently studying MA Newspaper Journalism at City University.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Fall of a(nother) tyrant

In the aftermath of Muammar Gadaffi’s death, Josephine Forster considers a disturbing pre-occupation with the gory details of death. Josephine is a freelance journalist studying MA Newspaper Journalism at City University.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Give Your Voice

August 30th marks the International Day of the Disappeared, a commemoration of the thousands of people who have gone missing throughout the world in situations of violence, disaster and armed conflict. In order to raise awareness for this day, DiA committee member and British Red Cross intern Mike Perry highlights a new creative writing initiative.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Women in Egypt: ‘Why Not?’

In the second part of DiA’s exclusive coverage of International Women’s Day, Cardiff University Journalism students Sara Maranon and Sandhya Kannan investigate how the revolution in Egypt is transforming the role of women within society. They spoke with Aya Faissal Abdel Dayem and Islam Sharaf, both of whom work for the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, an NGO based in Cairo.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.