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.
“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)
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.
“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)
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)
Gender pay parity law comes into effect in Iceland
- Companies and public agencies with at least 25 employees will be required to obtain government certification of equal-pay practices or face fines.
- Iceland became the first country to mandate pay equality by legislation in 2017, with the law now in effect with the arrival of the new year.
- Since 2006, Iceland has closed 10% of its pay gap—one of the fastest improvement rates in the world—and pledged to eradicate it by 2020.
“In Iceland, it’s now illegal to pay men more than women” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)
“Iceland first nation to make pay equality a legal requirement” (The New Zealand Herald | January 2018)
“Iceland set to tackle gender pay gap with world’s toughest law” (BBC News | March 2017)
The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 (World Economic Forum)
Zimbabwe looks to reverse Mugabe-era land reform policies amidst economic instability
Source: CGTN America via YouTube
- Since independence, the land ownership reform and redistribution of farmland from the white settler minority to the indigenous black majority has been central to Zimbabwean politics, with most viable land having been legally restricted to white owners and large—largely white-owned—corporations in the colonial era.
- The government began allowing for the seizure of white-owned farms without compensation after a period of voluntary land sales, and some militant groups and security forces occupied farms and drove out their owners.
- Following the effective coup that brought about the end of President Robert Mugabe’s nearly three decades of rule, the new government, led by former Vice President Emmerson Mnangawa, has begun returning expropriated land to white farmers in an attempt to stabilize the fragile economy.
“Ululations, tears as white Zimbabwean farmer returns to seized land” (Reuters | December 2017)
“White Zimbabwean farmer get back land seized under Robert Mugabe rule” (Sky News | December 2017)
“Why Zimbabwe has failed to sate the yearning for land and to fix rural hunger” (The Conversation | December 2016)
“Robert Mugabe admits Zimbabwe’s land reform flaws” (BBC News | February 2015)
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
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.
“Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)
“The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)
(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)
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.
“‘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)
The Mutual Tensions of Chinese-Senegalese Relations in Senegal
At 2,000-strong, the population of Chinese immigrants in Senegal has become a visible presence in major urban areas like Dakar, though immigrants remain largely cloistered within enclaves. With commercial potential driving immigration into the country, Chinese people in Senegal have depended on an uneasy relationship with native Senegalese, a microcosm of a broader burgeoning relationship between China and African countries built on uncertain economic hopes. The New York Times profiles the Chinese community in Dakar and the state of Chinese-Senegalese relations in the country.
“Chinese Merchants Thrive in Senegal, Where People ‘Needed Stuff’” (The New York Times | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)
The Enduring Exploitation of Italy’s Grape Harvesters
Two years after the plight of its grape harvesters crashed into the global consciousness, Italy continues to struggle to uproot the labor practices that have been called “modern-day slavery” by human rights and labor rights advocates. Recent legislation has prioritized the eradication of exploitation, but underground organizations continue to take advantage of the dire conditions of Italy’s most vulnerable. Overworked, underpaid, and subject to extortion by recruiting and transportation agencies, the migrants and poor Italian women enduring the strenuous work of picking and cleaning grapes continue to struggle with difficult choices between precarious work, personal health, and acquiescence in a system designed for their failure.
“A Woman’s Death Sorting Grapes Exposes Italy’s ‘Slavery’” (The New York Times | April 2017)
“Fire kills two in Italy migrant farm workers’ ‘ghetto’” (Reuters | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Nadia Shira Cohen/The New York Times)
Tanzania president seizes passports of Indian workers for project delays
- President John Magufuli ordered the seizure of the passports of employees of Overseas Infrastructure Alliance until the water project they are overseeing is complete.
- The project, based in the southern town of Lindi, was originally set to be completed by March 2015.
- The seizure comes as the president has aggressively pursued measures to cut wasteful spending and target corruption while courting foreign businesses.
“Tanzania’s Magufuli orders seizure of expatriate construction workers’ passports” (Reuters | March 2017)
The Growing Workforce Inclusion of the U.S. Autism Community
Companies like EY, Microsoft, and HP Enterprises have begun launching new neurodiversity initiatives at their firms, with a particular focus on recruiting people on the autism spectrum. The new outreach is welcome by advocates for the autism community, which faces a 58% unemployment rate despite having skills in high demand by employers in the knowledge economy. The Atlantic features an overview of industry efforts at inclusion, including innovation in recruiting, training, and management processes to ensure the successful identification and integration of people on the spectrum into organizations.
“Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum” (The Atlantic | December 2016)
“Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom” (Spectrum | July 2016)
“Changing Employers’ Perceptions, One Autistic Worker at a Time” (Inc. | May 2015)
(Image Credit: via The Atlantic)
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.
“A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)
(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)
The Ambivalent Xenophobia in Chinese-Malagasy Relations
Source: AFP YouTube
The history of Chinese immigration in Madagascar is a complex tale that begins during the era of 19th-century French colonialism and continues into the contemporary era of globalization. Now entrepreneurs and investors rather than imported labor, the new generation of Chinese immigrants has concerned itself less with integration than with taking advantage of trade and investment opportunities in the island nation, at times to the detriment of the environment and local economic practices. Currently, more than 800 businesses have expanded the Chinese-national population to nearly 100,000, alarming many Malagasy and prompting accusations of politicians “selling off” the country. Over the last few years, international media have begun to examine the complicated relationship between xenophobia, economic exploitation, and fears of imperialism fueled by colonialism anxieties in a politically precarious country still wracked by poverty.
“A Madagascar, la forte présence chinoise passe de plus en plus mal” (AFP, in French)
“Madagascar protests halt activity at Chinese gold mine” (News24, October 2016)
“Madagascar’s Chinese Vanilla” (Al Jazeera, April 2015)
“Who Knew? Madagascar Has Africa’s Third Largest Chinese Population” (ChinaFile, March 2015)
“China’s rosewood craving cuts deep into Madagascar rainforests” (The Guardian, February 2015)
“Influx of Chinese transforms the landscape of Madagascar” (The South China Morning Post, August 2013)
Chinese people in Madagascar (Wikipedia)
The Uncertain Twilight of Singapore’s Pioneer Generation
Singapore’s “Pioneer Generation,” those born early enough to witness the birth of the nation, has begun to advance a so-called “silver tsunami” that has challenged a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state renowned for the relatively high standard of living of its citizens. “Re-employment” policies have pushed seniors to remain in the workforce past retirement age, but their concentration in low-wage work has at times created conflict between health, financial, and labor imperatives. As healthcare costs grow while wages remain low, seniors, less educated relative to younger generations, face difficult options in a society that prides itself on individual responsibility and contributions to the nation’s economic progress. The Guardian examines the plight of Singaporean seniors and the evolving challenges they face upon approaching and surpassing retirement age.
“Singapore’s ‘silver tsunami’: how the city-state depends on its elderly workforce” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
Raising the Voices of the Visually Impaired in Armenia
As the Internet has created new channels for the inclusion of marginalized communities, people with disabilities in particular have looked to the technology as a chance to discover and create new, accessible labor and creative opportunities. In Armenia, government agencies and international NGOs have worked together to promote information literacy and use among blind and visually impaired Armenians. One new program, Radio MENQ, has bridged the technical with the creative, offering blind and visually impaired people the chance to work as presenters and sound technicians for an internet radio station focused on issues and interests of relevance to the visually impaired community. Global Voices sat down with two of the project’s leaders to discuss the history and future of Radio MENQ and how opportunities like the station help combat pervasive unemployment and marginalization in the community.
“How is Online Radio Helping to Empower Visually Impaired People in Armenia?” (Global Voices)
(Image Credit: via Global Voices)