Category Archives: Class + Socioeconomics

Malawi News | Sex Workers

Sex workers protest social restrictions and police violence in Malawi capital

  • The Female Sex Worker Association (FSWA) took to the streets of Lilongwe, petitioning the government to address police brutality and the economic effects of new COVID prevention measures.
  • Protesters claim police have targeted sex workers in the wake of new restrictions on nightlife and socializing, showing up at their homes and physically assaulting them.
  • As COVID cases and deaths in the country have spiked in the new year, the FSWA has argued that the unequal treatment of social activities has endangered their already fragile livelihoods and access to critical health resources.

Read

Sex workers in protest march in Lilongwe: ‘We provide essential services’” (Nyasa Times | January 2021)

Malawi sex workers protest at ‘targeted police brutality’ after Covid-19 curfew” (The Guardian | January 2021)

Malawi sex workers to hold demos” (Malawi24 | January 2021)

India News | Farmers

Internet blockages and hunger strike mark continuing conflict between Indian farmers and government

  • Tensions between farmers and the government have continued as encampments of tens of thousands, tractor parades, clashes with police, and a recently organized hunger strike have unfolded across the country, from New Delhi to Ghazipur.
  • The interior ministry announced that internet services on the outskirts of New Delhi had been temporarily suspended as protesting farmers continued to flock to the capital from around the country.
  • After a Sikh protester unfurled a religious flag during Republic Day clashes, pro-government media seized on the spectacle to deride the protests, and anti-Sikh sentiment has begun to disrupt—at least in part—popular support for the protesters.
  • Since November, the farmers’ movement has been protesting economic reforms that they argue benefit large agribusiness firms and private buyers over smaller producers, endangering their already precarious livelihoods.

Read

Farmers protest: Here are the top developments of the day” (The Indian Express | January 2021)

Indian farmers begin hunger strike amid fury against Modi” (The Associated Press | January 2021)

In Delhi, public support for protesting farmers is giving way to anti-Sikh prejudice” (Scroll.in | January 2021)

Farm bills: Are India’s new reforms a ‘death warrant’ for farmers?” (BBC News | September 2020)

Study

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)

Libya Feature | Black African Migrants

The Entrenchment of Neo-Slavery in Libya

One year after video showing black migrants and asylum-seekers being auctioned off in Libya shocked the Global North, the trafficking of sub-Saharan African migrants in the country continues unabated. Smugglers shepherding groups through the dangerous trans-Sahara journey extort and abuse migrants before selling those without the means to pay to rural farmers, urban industrialists, and even the official detention centers run by Libya’s Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration.

The country’s fractured territory, across which militias and rival governments vie for power, has inhibited efforts to end human rights violations. Compounding the problem have been aggressive European efforts to end the flow of arrivals across the Mediterranean, with countries like Italy and Malta now refusing to accept ships containing rescued migrants. Evaporating public interest globally and the exhaustion of political will threaten to exacerbate the problem as the crisis disappears from the European and American public eye.

Read

Inside The Country Where You Can Buy A Black Man For $400” (BuzzFeed News | December 2018)

Executions, torture and slave markets persist in Libya: U.N.” (Reuters | March 2018)

Migrants Captured In Libya Say They End Up Sold As Slaves” (NPR | March 2018)

Study

Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights | December 2018)

Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion: Abuses against Europe-bound Refugees and Migrants (Amnesty International | December 2017)

Lebanon News | African Migrant Workers

African migrant workers violently attacked, one deported in Lebanon
  • A crowd of people beat and dragged two migrant workers in Bourj Hammoud, a suburb of Beirut.
  • The police arrested the two women along with two of the attackers, and one of the women was reportedly deported back to Kenya on an alleged visa violation.
  • Progressive advocates condemned the treatment of the women by both the mob and the justice system, arguing it reflects broader abuse of the some 200,000 migrant workers in Lebanon including wage withholding and limited access to justice.
Read

Lebanese activists angry after assaulted Kenyan is deported” (The Guardian | July 2018)

Kenyan woman beaten in viral video deported” (The Daily Star | July 2018)

Assaulted, imprisoned, deported: Shamila’s story – an all-too-familiar violent narrative facing migrant women in Lebanon” (The Anti-Racism Movementcommentary | July 2018)

Denmark News | Low-income Muslim Immigrants

Denmark approves new classification and requirements for low-income immigrant neighborhoods
  • The Danish government plans to classify low-income, predominantly Muslim immigrant neighborhoods as “ghettos,” triggering a set of household requirements for the receipt of welfare benefits.
  • Starting at one year of age, children will be separated from their families for 25 hours a week for education in “Danish values” (including Christian religious traditions), while other Danish children typically do not begin school until age six.
  • The policy comes as anti-immigrant sentiment has increased in the country, with political figures (including the Prime Minister) denigrating immigrant enclaves and demanding assimilation.
Read

Denmark to school ‘ghetto’ kids in democracy and Christmas” (Reuters | May 2018)

In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’” (The New York Times | July 2018)

‘No ghettos in 2030’: Denmark’s controversial plan to get rid of immigrant neighborhoods” (Vox | July 2018)

India News | Dalit

Dalit community protests following violence in Indian state of Maharashtra
  • The violence arose during celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, where low-caste Dalits sided with the British colonial army to defeat the upper-caste rulers of the region.
  • The rally was allegedly attacked by a right-wing Hindu nationalists, leading to the death of a 28-year-old man and protests throughout Maharashtra calling for justice for Dalits.
  • Demonstrations in Mumbai blocked highways and train stations, leading to mass arrests and violent clashes with police.
Read

Dalit protests: How Mumbai was shut down” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)

Bhima-Koregaon violence: 3,000 Dalit youths detained, no action against right-wing leaders, alleges Ambedkar” (Hindustan Times | January 2018)

Caste violence erupts in India over 200-year-old faultline” (CNN | January 2018)

Perspectives

Indian Dalit recalls protest that paralysed Mumbai” (BBC News | January 2018)

U.S. Feature | Poor & Low-income Women

The Haunting of U.S. Housing by Sexual Exploitation


Source: WBAL-TV/YouTube (October 2015)

Each year, hundreds of lawsuits against agencies and individuals associated with housing management in the U.S. are filed, the tip of the iceberg of rampant sexual misconduct and abuse disrupting housing security for poor and low-income women. Landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security officers, and housing program managers have demanded sexual favors from tenant women in exchange for continued residence or program coverage, including qualification for Section 8 housing. A combination of an affordable housing crunch, long wait times for housing program intake, the threat of homelessness via retaliation, and the consequences of eviction on future housing access have left many women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and many men engaging in coercion with impunity.

While the lack of robust national studies and uneven state reporting practices on sexual harassment in housing have long obscured the problem, legislators have introduced House and Senate versions of a bill to amend the Fair Housing Act with explicit anti-harassment language and federal agencies have announced steps to target exploitation, including piloting an initiative to identify reporting barriers. Similarly, advocates have begun building consciousness amidst the burgeoning national conversation on gender-based sexual misconduct driven by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Read

A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home” (BBC News | January 2018)

HUD charges Wichita landlord with housing discrimination after alleged sexual harassment” (KWCH-TV | November 2017)

Justice Department Announces Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing” (U.S. Department of Justice | October 2017)

Watch

Complaints of Sexual Harassment in Public Housing Go Ignored” (The Real News Network | September 2017)

Justice Department sues KCK Housing Authority for sexual harassment” (KSHB-TV | October 2015)

Study

Fair Housing Act

Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing Act (Proposed Senate bill)

Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing Act (Proposed House bill)

Sexual Harassment and Fair Housing Toolkit (Equal Rights Center)

Memo: Questions and Answers on Sexual Harassment under the Fair Housing Act (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development)

Connect

National Fair Housing Alliance

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development: Fair Housing

Report

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (fairhousing@usdoj.gov1-844-380-6178)

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (1-800-669-9777)

 

South Africa News | Poor & Working Class

South African president announces free higher education for poor and working-class students
  • The change affects students from households making up to 350,000 South African rand (~USD26,715) enrolled in the country’s TVET (Technical Vocational Educational and Training) colleges.
  • President Jacob Zuma has pledged to implement the shift from loan- to grant-based subsidies in a “fiscally responsible manner,” with aid to higher education institutions set to increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
  • Critics continued to question the financing for such a sweeping initiative, with the finance minister indicating details will be deferred to the 2018 budget unveiling in February.
Read

Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students” (News24 | December 2017)

Gigaba: How government will fund free education to be clarified at 2018 budget” (The Mail & Guardian | December 2017)

Zuma says South Africa’s free higher education to be done in a fiscally sustainable manner” (Reuters | December 2017)

South Africa Feature | Black Youth

The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education

Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.

Read

Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)

Additional

The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)

(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

South Africa Feature | Low-Income & Working-Class Black

The Entrenched Legacy of Housing Segregation in Cape Town

Like many global metropolises, Cape Town faces conflicts over how to secure housing rights for low- and middle-income households inflected by histories of racist social engineering. Cape Town’s situation is complicated by the legacy of housing apartheid in South Africa, which continues to render historically white-only neighborhoods financially inaccessible for many black households and threatens to uproot others as the high tide of gentrification approaches. A number of media outlets have recently examined the persistence of housing segregation in the city and political and guerrilla efforts to promote inclusive urban planning and secure affordable housing rights for black Capetonians.

Read

‘End spatial apartheid’: why housing activists are occupying Cape Town” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Profile: How gentrification is creating a new apartheid in South Africa” (The National | May 2017)

We must end Cape Town’s housing ‘apartheid’ – think-tank” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp, via The Guardian)

Pakistan Feature | Women & Girls

The Endless Labors of Pakistan’s Debt-Bound Women

A form of indentured servitude persists in the vast fields of Pakistan’s poorest regions, where families labor on lands to pay off debts whose balance never seems to decrease. But while men may find their “payments” limited to hard labor, women and girls find themselves vulnerable not only to physical labor, but to domestic, sexual, and even marital labor forced under conditions of extreme duress.  Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls trafficked as a result of these debts, sold off to predatory landowners and forced to convert to Islam. The Associated Press examines the conditions faced by the more than 2 million Pakistanis living in what human rights organizations have called modern-day slavery and the particular indignities to which women and girls are subjected.

Read:
A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)

(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)

India News | Women

Indian state strengthens property rights for slum-dwelling women
  • Women living in slums in the state of Maharashtra will now hold ownership rights equal to men thanks to a new land title plan.
  • The plan comes as the government seeks to regularize slums in the state, giving families land titles with joint ownership between marital partners.
  • Though the development has been lauded, advocates warn that women continue to struggle to exercise equal rights once gained, with lack of education and intimidation perpetuating gender-based legal inequalities.

Read more:
India’s Maharashtra state to give women slum dwellers joint ownership rights” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Image Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Iran News | Class

Executive pay leaks stir outrage in Iran
  • Leaks of executive compensation at state-owned firms led to controversy when local media revealed some business leaders were receiving dozens of times the amount of pay the average Iranian household received.
  • Iranian law dictates that the top government salary should not exceed seven times the amount of the lowest paid, but bonuses and additional incentives have at times been used to skirt that requirement.
  • Four public bank chiefs have been fired in the wake of the revelations as Iranians continue to wait for the economic benefits of the lifting of international sanctions in 2015.

Read more:
Executive pay stirs outrage, becomes political issue in Iran” (Reuters)
Iran sacks bank chiefs amid uproar over high salaries” (BBC)
Four Iranian Bank Chiefs Fired Over Salaries Scandal” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

U.S. Feature | Homeless Seniors

The Changing Face of American Homelessness

A bulge of homeless baby-boomers has been making its way through the nation’s aging pipeline, with more than 300,000 homeless people in the U.S. now over the age of 50. From the recessions and zero-tolerance drug policies of the ’70s and ’80s to contemporary wage stagnation and affordable housing shortages exacerbated by unchecked urban gentrification, many who came of age during the social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s have struggled to maintain their footing in the nation’s rapidly evolving cities. For many, chronic illness and disability have led to homelessness or struck as a result of it, prematurely introducing aging issues into an already vulnerable population. As a result, homeless seniors have found themselves at the center of an epidemic that is increasingly understood to intersect with other national problems, including weak safety nets for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

As national conversations framed through the lens of personal responsibility, urban threat, and moral failings compound the shame many experience in precarious situations, the aging homeless community has found itself not only marginalized on the streets, but within the discourse of homelessness in general, framed as it too often is in terms of workforce reintegration and social re-engagement. With the elderly homeless population expected to more than double by 2050, The New York Times recently examined the structural problems facing the aging homeless population and challenges affecting the development of effective long-term solutions.

Read:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless” (The New York Times)

Additional coverage:
Fast-aging homeless population may lead to public health crisis” (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2016)
Solving The Growing Health Needs Of America’s Elderly Homeless” (ThinkProgress, February 2016)
‘We Shouldn’t Have To Live Like This’” (NPR, March 2013)

Reports:
Aging and Housing Instability: Homelessness among Older and Elderly Adults (National HCH Council, September 2013)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless, September 2009)

Connect:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council

(Image Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

France News | Workers & Police

Massive protests against French labor reform bring about violence, arrests, strikes
  • Demonstrations have been ongoing since March, when labor and student unions organized against government proposals perceived as decreasing job security and negotiating power for workers.
  • More than 1,000 have been arrested during clashes with police in cities like Paris and Nantes that have seen more than 300 officers injured as protesters have alleged instances of police brutality, with police unions organizing counter-protests against anti-police violence.
  • After President François Hollande’s government survived a no-confidence vote, union leaders planned rolling strikes and continuing demonstrations across the country.

Read more:
Une semaine de grèves et manifestations pour relancer le mouvement contre la loi travail” (Le Monde, in French)
French police hit back at ‘anti-cop hatred’ after protest violence” (The Guardian)
French government shrugs off no-confidence vote, faces new strikes” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)