Israel’s hailed COVID–19 vaccination campaign continues to exclude Palestinians
- While the Israeli government has received significant praise for having vaccinated nearly a quarter of citizens, millions of Palestinians have been excluded from its vaccination campaign.
- Israeli and Palestinian officials have pointed to different international agreements that render one or the other responsible for public health, but regardless of responsibility, the starkly unequal global distribution of vaccines has significantly inhibited Palestinian authorities’ access to vaccine doses (as Israel is significantly richer and more influential).
- The Palestinian Authority is expected to receive vaccines in the coming months through COVAX, a WHO-coordinated humanitarian program.
“At UN, PA slams Israel for not giving COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians” (The Times of Israel | January 2021)
“‘Vaccination apartheid’: Gaza struggling with Covid-19 infections while Israel rolls out jab” (Middle East Eye | January 2021)
“‘Vaccine apartheid’: Palestinians left behind as Israel sprints ahead with COVID vaccinations” (euronews | January 2021)
“Vaccination rates highlight stark differences between Israelis and Palestinians — amid row over responsibility” (CNN | January 2021)
Bolsonaro referred to Hague tribunal for ecocide and crimes against humanity
- A Paris-based lawyer submitted a request for a preliminary tribunal on behalf of two prominent Indigenous leaders in Brazil, alleging environmental crimes and anti-Indigenous actions.
- Under Bolsonaro, the Indigenous affairs agency has been stripped of land-oversight powers, incursions and raids on reserved land have more than doubled in the last two years, and poor COVID–19 response has left Indigenous people, already disproportionately affected by the disease, especially vulnerable.
- On the environmental front, deforestation has accelerated to levels not seen in more than a decade, key environmental protections have been rolled back, and fines for environmental crimes have decreased by nearly 50%.
“Brazil’s Indigenous Leaders Sue President Jair Bolsonaro For Crimes Against Humanity” (The Huffington Post | January 2021)
“Jair Bolsonaro could face charges in The Hague over Amazon rainforest” (The Guardian | January 2021)
“Brazil’s collapsing health service, new COVID variant, raise Indigenous risk” (Mongabay | January 2021)
“Pushing the whole lot through”: The second year of environmental havoc under Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro (Observatório do Clima | January 2021)
People of African descent in Guangzhou face heightened discrimination amid COVID crisis
- Afro-descendant residents of Guangzhou, home to one of the largest Black populations in China, have reportedly been evicted and rendered homeless, had businesses targeted, been profiled by police, and subject to other discriminatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As the country has reported an overall decline in COVID-19 transmission, anti-Black discrimination has been tied to increased fears about the reintroduction of the virus from foreigners driven by misinformation.
- The situation has ignited a diplomatic firestorm, with African political leaders expressing outrage on social media and the U.S. Consulate General cautioning Black Americans against travel to Guangzhou.
“Africans in Guangzhou are on edge, after many are left homeless amid rising xenophobia as China fights a second wave of coronavirus” (CNN | April 2020)
“How foreigners, especially black people, became unwelcome in parts of China amid COVID crisis” (ABC News | April 2020)
“China fails to stop racism against Africans over Covid-19” (The Guardian | April 2020)
Brazilian president strips indigenous affairs agency of land reservation capability
- President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree shifting the ability to create and define the boundaries of indigenous land reservations from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) to the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Bolsonaro previously announced intentions to loosen environmental and indigenous protections, even as farming and mining groups carry out armed attacks against indigenous communities.
- The order was the first of Bolsonaro’s presidency, issued only hours after taking office.
“Bolsonaro strips agency of right to decide native land in Brazil” (Agence-France Presse, via Yahoo! News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro rolls back Indigenous tribe protections” (The Associated Press/Reuters, via ABC News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s FUNAI Calls Army to Help Protect Isolated Indigenous Tribes” (The Rio Times | December 2018)
Israel denies Palestinians with cancer access to treatment as medication dwindles
- The Israeli government has indicated that six Gazan women suffering from cancer can travel to the West Bank (despite its lack of treatment capability) or abroad for treatment.
- The women had previously been denied exit from the Gaza Strip because they are related to members of Hamas—a common punishment disproportionately burdening women—and continue to be denied permit to travel to East Jerusalem, where Palestinian hospitals are located.
- The Gaza Health Ministry also announced the termination of its chemotherapy treatments in Gaza hospitals due to depletion of medical supplies, which cannot be replenished due to the recent tightening of the Israeli military blockade.
“Israel Proposes Gaza Cancer Patients Be Treated in West Bank, Where Treatment Is Unavailable” (Haaretz | August 2018)
“Roundup: Gaza suffers escalating medicine, humanitarian goods shortage by Israeli blockade” (Xinhua News Agency | August 2018)
“Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment” (The New Yorker | June 2018)
Medical university in Tokyo found to have altered women candidates’ scores on entrance exam
- A probe found that Tokyo Medical University, one of Japan’s most prestigious medical schools, systematically boosted male applicants’ scores while cutting female applicants’ in an effort to reduce women’s admission to the school.
- Investigators discovered that scores on the exam had been affected for at least a decade, driven by admissions officers’ belief that parental obligations would interfere with women’s commitment to the profession.
- The discovery was found amidst a broader investigation into corruption involving the alleged admission of a government official’s child in exchange for subsidies.
“Tokyo Medical University admits subtracting points from repeat male applicants’ scores and boosting others to secure donations” (The Japan Times | August 2018)
“‘Makes me shake with rage’ – Japan probe shows university cut women’s test scores” (Reuters | August 2018)
“‘Betrayed’: victims of Tokyo medical school scandal speak out” (The Guardian | August 2018)
Irish voters elect to overturn abortion ban
- Voters overwhelmingly chose to end the country’s constitutional ban on abortion, which had no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.
- The #RepealThe8th campaign challenged the constitutional amendment endowing the unborn with legal rights (ratified following a 1983 referendum), arguing that abortion has already been a reality in Ireland given its proximity to the U.K. and that access to safe treatment is a public health issue.
- Lawmakers will now introduce a bill to legalize the repeal officially, which is expected to be passed in the fall.
“Abortion referendum count: ‘quiet revolution’ as Yes set for landslide win” (The Irish Times | May 2018)
“Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal” (BBC News | May 2018)
“Ireland ends abortion ban as ‘quiet revolution’ transforms country” (Reuters | May 2018)
Afro-Brazilian Women’s Mobilization Moment
The current global push for the redress of epidemic violence against women—from #NiUnaMenos to #MeToo—has long been of national concern in Brazil, with women sharing stories of sexual assault via #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarassment) and demonstrations for reproductive rights having sought to counter entrenched conservative religious interests. For Afro-Brazilian women, this is part of decades of mobilization that has attempted to draw attention to both material and ideological disparities threatening their security. High homicide and sexual violence rates, reproductive healthcare limitations, anti-black beauty standards, and lack of positive cultural representation have led activists to demand attention to institutions and cultural practices that they argue have marginalized their welfare. From mass demonstrations to digital organizing, black women have taken the lead in movements for both racial and gender justice, challenging Brazil’s deeply embedded ideology of colorblindness and calling instead for more research into and accountability for persistent economic and cultural disparities.
“Beyond #MeToo, Brazilian women rise up against racism and sexism” (The Conversation, via Salon | January 2018)
“Afro-Brazilian Feminists and the Fight for Racial and Gender Inclusion” (Black Perspectives | February 2017)
“Black Women March Against Violence in Brazil” (teleSUR | November 2015)
“Interview with Djamila Ribeiro: Fighting Racism and Sexism in Post-Coup Brazil” (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs | December 2017)
“Black Brazilian Feminists Say: ‘Autonomy is the Only Way.’” (For Harriet | July 2015)
“Brazil: Report Exposes High Rates of Rape Among Women, Girls” (teleSUR | January 2018)
“The campaigners challenging misogyny and sexism in Brazil” (The Guardian | December 2015)
Geledés Black Woman Institute
Black Women of Brazil
The Invasive “Virginity Tests” of Afghanistan
Despite its condemnation by international medical experts as scientifically unsound and official promises to ban the procedure, healthcare and judicial systems in Afghanistan have continued to rely on abusive assessments of sexual activity in women accused or suspected of extramarital sex. The potential social catastrophe that could result from a positive result has led to the development of a black market of so-called hymen reconstruction, which has led to further health insecurity for women who undergo the procedure. Even the administration of the test can bring social shame to those subjected to it, leading to poor outcomes in education and employment as well as a contracting social network. Afghanistan is far from the only country in which the tests continues, and globalized efforts to end the gender-discriminatory practice have encountered mixed success in changing deeply rooted cultural norms.
“The shame of Afghanistan’s virginity tests” (BBC News | December 2017)
“Despite Ban, Invasive Virginity Tests Remain Prevalent in Afghanistan” (The New York Times | January 2017)
“Here’s Everything You Need To Know About ‘Virginity Tests’” (BuzzFeed News | November 2017)
Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
- With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
- Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
- President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
“Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)
“‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)
“Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)
(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)
Designation of two new national monuments works to protect integrity of Native American lands
- President Obama designated two new national monuments, placing more than 1.6 million acres of land under federal stewardship and protecting the areas from development and looting.
- The Bears Ears National Monument comprises 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah, which includes more than 100,000 Native American cultural and archaeological sites and will be jointly managed by federal and indigenous leaders.
- The Gold Butte National Monument, located in southern Nevada, encompasses 300,000 acres that include sites of Native petroglyphs and critical habitats.
“Two New National Monuments Created in Utah and Nevada” (Scientific American | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (The New York Times | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (EcoWatch | December 2016)
(Image Credit: UIG/Getty Images, via Scientific American)
Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.
Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube
The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.
VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.
“Punished Twice” (VICE News)
“Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
“Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)
Budget cuts and proposed land rights and environmental rollbacks threaten indigenous communities in Brazil
- Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous communities, faces large budget cuts under President Michel Temer’s government that advocates say could increase the insecurity of indigenous groups, particularly of the more than 100 uncontacted groups in the country.
- A draft decree seeks to increase the level of scrutiny applied in the demarcation of indigenous land reservations, annulling certain previously secured land rights and making the recognition of new claims considerably more difficult.
- A proposed bill seeks to overhaul environmental licensing protocol, shifting from federally managed licensing procedures to flexible, state-based determinations of licensing necessity for agricultural and land-use projects.
“Temer government set to overthrow Brazil’s environmental agenda” (Mongabay)
“Brazil’s plan to roll back environment laws draws fire: ‘The danger is real’” (The Guardian)
“Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/The Guardian)
Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
- The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
- The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
- Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.
“Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
“Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)
(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)