Shaima Al Awadi, a Hate Crime? CNN Makes the Case.

In recent news, a media debate centering around the murder (or unfortunate death as some people put it) of Trayvon Martin in Florida has been circulating. People have been asking, “Is it a hate crime or not?”

Meanwhile, another brutal murder has taken place on the opposite side of the country that is not gaining as much media attention, but is also being questioned over whether or not it was a hate crime. This news article talks about the murder of an Iraqi woman, Shaima Al Awadi, in her home on March 21st. The authors mentions that Al Awadi will be flown home to Iraq for her burial, and then goes in depth about what happened.

The authors talk about what the police are doing, which from the way it is talked about, seems like a whole lot of nothing. They have the police investigators being quoted as saying the note found with her (telling her to go back to Iraq and calling her and her family “terrorists”) “threatening”. They then go on to point out that the police have note ruled this an official “hate crime” but that they have ruled it an “isolated incident”.

“Based on the content of the note, we are not ruling out the possibility that this may be a hate crime,” city Police Chief Jim Redman said Monday.

“Other evidence,” however, leads investigators to remain open to other possibilities, he said. “The possibility that this is a hate crime is just one aspect of what we are examining.”

I think that pointing this out about the police is the author’s way of trying to influence the reader (which I am completely influenced) to believe that this should be perceived as a hate crime and to be angry that it has yet to be. The way that the authors of this article present the investigator’s reports makes it seem as though there is little being done in order to figure out what has really happened to this woman in her own home. Redman does not say what the “other possibilities” are in this quote, and it sticks out because of all the evidence that the authors give about it being a hate crime. Without the evidence of the “other possibilities”, it just sounds like an excuse.

The authors use quotes by Shaima’s daughter:

“A week ago they left a letter saying, ‘This is our country, not yours, you terrorists,'” she said over the weekend. “So my mom ignored that, thinking (it was) kids playing around, pranking. And so the day they hurt her, they left it again and it said the same thing.”

The author chose to include this quote because it shows that this was a premeditated attack on a woman based on the fact that she was Iraqi. Other authors that were trying to convey the argument that this wasn’t a hate crime would probably have chosen to leave this part out, because this seems like pretty key evidence that it was in fact a hate crime. I think that the authors are trying to make the point that the evidence is so very obvious with this case that the police must not be doing their jobs very well.

What the article doesn’t talk about is the possibility of the  police’s own prejudice against this Iraqi family, and the possibility that this prejudice could be why they are hesitant to call this a hate crime. When looking at the comments sections, one person wrote that “it was the family who killed her, I’ve seen this happen many times”. This prejudice could very well be in the minds of the police, who may believe that this is just another case of an “honor killing” gone wrong.

Despite the amount of modern Muslim families that have lived in and moved to America, the stereotypes and prejudices that exist often see Muslim men as abusive towards their wives and daughters. This prejudice is furthered by all of the media surrounding isolated cases of honor killings of women in the United States. No one talks about all of the families who have moved here from their original countries that live completely normal “American” lives. People see the hijab and assume that the woman wearing it is a “servant of her husband”, rather than someone who chooses to wear it as a symbol of her faith (much like a kippah cap a Jewish Man might wear).

Globalization has brought the Muslim community to the United States, but it certainly has not explicitly helped broaden the minds of United States citizens about Muslim families and how they are no different than any other family (most of the time).

This article does not talk about the ways in which Muslim women in particular are also often targeted for hate crimes on the Muslim community because of the way in which it can be skewed to look like an “honor killing” committed by the family. Even given such explicitly obvious evidence as the note (which I admit, could have been fabricated and since I don’t know the whole story I should not say for sure that it is a legitimate piece of evidence) it seems as though this knowledge of honor killings in Muslim families could very well be what the police called “other possibilities”.

At the end of the article, the authors even liken the murder of Shaima Al Awadi to the murder of Trayvon Martin, likening Shaima’s hijab to Trayvon’s hoodie. By doing this, the authors are able to give their opinion that both cases were in fact hate crimes.

What do you think about Shaima Al Awadi’s murder? Do you think it should be seen as a cut and dry hate crime, the way these CNN author’s do? Do you think that globalization and America’s view of Muslim women have anything to do with the way the police are acting in being reluctant to call this a hate crime? And can we compare Hijabs to Hoodies ( Shaima to Trayvon) or are they cases that should be looked at as very different cases?

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A Coalition Following War: The European Union

World War II was probably one of the most devastating wars that the world has ever seen.  Millions of deaths, millions more displaced, cities in shambles, and the great uncertainty that came with it were some of the outcomes of the war.  While World War II was bloody and awful in almost every way possible, there was still light at the end of the tunnel: a coalition amongst European nations.

The formation of the European Union came from the great uncertainties Europe faced after the war and from a fear of nationalism.  After seeing what a crazy nationalist leader, Adolf Hitler, could do with a country that was desperate for a change, most European states wanted to stay as far away from that as possible.

No one wanted another evil lunatic like Hitler.

The European Union is an international organization that is now comprised of 27 European nations that have similar governing policies.  While members of the European Union are countries from all over Europe, it was originally made up of Western European nations and formed after World War II.

World War II was a result of the problems that were left over from World War I. Germany especially had many economic instabilities and a lot of resentment from the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles.  This allowed extreme nationalists like Adolf Hitler to gain public support and recruit members to The Nationalist Socialist Party (NAZI).   In 1934, Hitler became supreme leader and started spreading his idea of the “pure” race; he considered himself an “Aryan” and thought that members of the pure race should expand.

Hitler allied with Japan and Italy against the Soviet Union.  This later led to the occupation of Austria and the invasion of Poland in 1939 which begun the Second World War.  From the south, Italy under Stalin’s rule decided to invade the Baltic States.

The Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) gained support from other European nations.  Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria joined the Axis powers which lead to the ideology of the “pure” race to be spread around and enforced throughout Europe.

Hitler was against the Jewish race and thought that they “ruined” the pure “Aryan” race.  Throughout World War II, there were raids, captures, and killings that happened towards anyone that identified as Jewish.  There were camps set up to hold all the people that the Nazi’s captured and within these camps people were split up from their families and forced to work in severe conditions.  They were continuously killed through gas chambers or other cruel methods because a pure race was considered to be the ideal society.

People that were considered to be Jewish were not the only ones that were killed.  Nazi Germany exterminated anyone with disabilities (both mental and physical) and the Gypsies.   Their goal for the “pure” race was used to reason all of the murders that they were committing within and outside of these camps.

There were many deaths in Europe as well as around the world at the time.  The Axis powers tried to spread their rule over different countries while the Allied powers tried to stop what the opposition was doing.  The Allied forces fought back greatly throughout World War II and the war was officially over in 1945. 

Following the war, Europe had a great amount of instability.  Germany was separated into occupation zones that were controlled by the United States, The Soviet Union, Britain, and France.  There were 35 million to 60 million deaths that occurred throughout the war which caused there to be a huge impact in the way things were being run worldwide.  There were major losses and the states of many people’s lives were heavily changed after the war.

At the end of World War II six nations, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg and West Germany, signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951 to establish stronger social, political and economic ties with each other.  None of the countries was in favor of any kind of nationalism at the time because of what they saw with World War II.  Nationalism led to extreme measures that resulted in millions of deaths around the world.  No one really wanted that to happen again and Europe thought that it was because of nationalism that it happened.  So instead of only looking after their own national agenda’s, they believed that forming alliances with countries that felt the same way would be a good idea to help their own country without extreme nationalism.

This idea of building an alliance amongst the countries officially took effect in 1952 when the European Coal and Steel Community was created which allowed free trade when it came to economic and military resources amongst these countries.  In result these countries thought that there should be a committee to overlook what was going on within these nations which ultimately led to positions that oversaw just that.  This is considered to be the official start of the early stages of the European Union.

Overtime the European Community, as it was called prior to 1991, introduced many changes in Europe.  This included the first European currency: the Euro, and trying to enforce gender equality.  While there are still many gaps amongst the sexes, the European Union claims that they are working towards a more equal society.  There are yearly reports that document exactly that and there are efforts that are being made to make sure that there’s a brighter future for all the countries that are now a part of the European Union.

 

 

Massacre at Kwangju: The suppression of democratization for economic gain

The South Korean city of Kwangju is home to the Kwangju Uprising of 1980, named after the city it took place in. Motivated by the outrage of the newly passed marital law and the general dissatisfaction of Chun Doo-hwan’s military dictatorship, student protesters took to the streets on May 18th. The protesting lasted until May 27th when the militarized forces gained enough power to cripple the demonstration indefinitely.

On the morning of May 18th about 200 students from the Chonnam University began demonstrating and by mid day more than 800 more people had joined them. With the approval of the United States, the military government released paratroopers to put an end to the demonstration. These paratroopers were trained for assault missions and behaved accordingly by brutally beating, and arresting the protesters.  Those of the students that had been forcibly arrested were then piled into various trucks where they continues to be beaten as they were taken away.  The next day, many more people joined the protesters that were still left (http://countrystudies .us/South-Korea/21.htm). Paratroopers once again resorted to brutality, even some policemen were against the incredible force being used against the protesters and when they tried to release captives, they too were bayoneted and beaten by the military forces. The paratroopers used lethal force and opened fire on the protesters with M-16s.

 


On May 20th, the newspaper Militants’ Bulletin was published for the first time, and reported on the actual events of the uprising. That night the march grew to over 200,000 people in a city with a population of roughly 700,000 (http://libcom.org/history1980-the-kwangju-uprising). With the continued failure of the media to report on the situation in Kwangju, thousands of the protesters took their frustration to the media buildings and set them on fire, along with the tax offices and 16 police cars. The following day, in an effort to fight back against the bullets being shot at them, protesters started seizing military vehicles from a local military contractor. They soon had 350 vehicles and started driving these expropriated vehicles around the city, rallying demonstrators together and going to neighboring towns and villages to spread the revolt. Soon the protesters raided police stations and National Guard armories for weapons. The estimated amount of those killed ranges from a few hundred to over 2,000 people killed during the nine day uprising (http://www.jstor.org.gate.lib. buffalo.edu). During the time of the uprising the media was so censored that nothing was being reported.  Not even any of the deaths; instead, the reports that came out were fabricated stories of vandalism and trivial police involvement (http://libcom.org/history/1980-the-kwangju-uprising).

Women were an integral part of the demonstration, at one point during the protesting seven busloads of women textile workers went to Naju, where they seized hundreds of rifles and ammunition and brought them back to Kwangju. The protesters tried to bring the uprising to Chunju and Seoul, but it was unsuccessful. The military’s control on travel and media was very strong and it prevented the spread of the uprising to the rest of the nation (http://global.factiva.com.gate). By the evening of the 20th the protesters had control of the city.

They kept that control for six days until May 27th when military forces engulfed the city and took power back.

The US supported Chun’s suppression of the Kwangju Uprising in order to impose a neoliberal economic regime. The involvement of the United States was motivated by their desire to advance their economic relationship with South Korea, resulting in a meeting in the White House on May 22 discussing what they should do about Korea.  The result of this meeting was an overall agreement that order had to be placed on Kwangju by suppressing the protesters uprising The U.S. government “decided to support the restoration of security and order in South Korea while deferring pressure for political liberalization” (institute_US-gwangju.ppt.mov.ppt).  The following day in Seoul, U.S. Ambassador William Gleysteen had a meeting with Korean Prime Minister Park Choong-hoon during this meeting Gleysteen acknowledged that “firm anti-riot measures were necessary.” President Carter told a CNN interviewer on May 31 that security interests must sometimes override human rights concerns (http://www.jstor.org.gate.lib. buffalo.edu).  Subsequently, during this time the U.S. decided to allow the president of the US Export-Import Bank, John Moore to go on his visit to Seoul so that he could arrange U.S. financing of large Korean contracts for US nuclear power plants (http://global.factiva.com.gate).

At this time the Senior American officer in Korea, General John Wickham “accepted and agreed to the request by the Korean government to allow the use of certain selected Korean armed forces under his operational control in operations to subdue the crowds” (http://global.factiva.com.gate).  Furthermore, the U.S. Ambassador Gleysteen wrote in a telegram to Washington “..less concerned over the democratic development, if military leadership can develop an apparently stable structure and invigorate the economy than U.S. business and banking circles will be prepared to go back to business as usual (with Korea)” (institute_US-gwangju.ppt.mov.ppt).

The U.S. was worried that large American corporations wouldn’t want to do business with Korea do to this instability, so the U.S. encouraged Chun to provide stability by ending the protesters uprising. To further the business relationship with Chun and American investors, on June 13 after the uprising in May the U.S. had Chun dine with leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, including the president of 3-M and representatives of Bank of America, Dow Chemical, and Gulf Oil. As well as in September, Chun visited to America where he met Davis Rockefeller; their photo was printed in The New York Times. Then, not but three days later, the Korean government announced new policies about relaxed foreign investments, plus 100% foreign ownership of companies, 100% repatriation of funds invested from abroad, and foreigners’ ownership of land (institute_US-gwangju.ppt.mov.ppt).

It’s important to question the reasoning for the U.S. involvement in Korea during this time. What are some of the rationalities you might come up with for why we became involved with suppression of the Kwangju uprising, do you think it was purely economic gain?

Globalization and World War II

            There hasn’t been any more deadly war than World War II. But has anyone thought about why and how this World War II started, besides the leaders what was the main push factor for it?? Why was Hitler so eager to take over the entire world? How did he have so much power to start a war?? And what kind of power did United States and United Kingdom possess that they were able to defeat Hitler and put an end to this World War II?? When we learn about war we tend to think and see the whole situation in general terms. We see in term of who was the villain with bad intentions that started the war, and who were the heroes that actually stopped the war. But there is more to that. Talking in terms of World War II, I see globalization as a main factor to support this whole war for such a long time. Globalization increases urbanization, industrialization, communication, creation of new technologies, mainly it increases power. And power increases the money, money which is used to achieve and accomplish all kinds of goals. We can see with globalization alot of developmental works are being produced at each step, but it is equally important to remember that globalization is very powerful matter itself. It has the capability of destruction too, and World War II is deadliest destructive example of globalization. Uncountable numbers of lives, properties, places, countries have been destroyed during World War II.

 

 First World War had created instability in Europe, which lead to another international conflict- World War II. Unstable Germany was rising to power economically and politically, where Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi Party) rearmed the nation. Hitler and Nazi Party signed strategic treaties with Italy and Japan to achieve his ambition of world domination. Hitler had long planned to invade Poland, and Poland had been guaranteed military support from Great Britain and France if it was attacked by Germany. When Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, France and Great Britain had declared war on Germany, and then onwards the World War II had officially begun. (http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii)

As I have made my point that globalization supported and extended this war for so long, here are some main events and wars fought during War World II where we can actually see the role and contributions of globalization for such massive destruction.

  • Battle of Britain (1940): British and German air forces fought the war over the skies of United Kingdom, locked in the largest bombing campaign. This was a turning point to World War II because the battle ended when Germany’s Luftwaffe failed to gain superiority over the Royal Air Force. It proved that British air power alone was enough to win the major battle. As we can see fighter planes, planes were eventually developed because of globalization. It was the globalization and the development that took the wars on the grounds to be fought in the air.
    (http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-britain)

  • Pearl Harbour (1941): As a shock, on December 7, 1941 hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour. Alot of American naval vessels, battleships and planes were destroyed. More than that 2,000 American soldiers and sailor died and 1000 were wounded in that attack. The day after that attack President Franklin D, Roosevelt declared war on Japan. Soon after three days the Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared a war on United States. After more than two years into conflict, American had finally joined World War II. As we can see globalization had form connections, support as well as enmity between different countries. It had created such powerful bombs to destroy millions of lives and property within few minutes of its dropping.

(http://www.history.com/topics/pearl-harbor)

  • Battle of Midway (1942): Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the United States had defeated Japan in the naval battles. A great role was played by the code breaking intelligence group who were able to acquire Japanese war plans. Here intelligence groups and code breaking is another contribution of globalization and its new technologies invention. The battle from the ground had now shifted to seas.

(http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-midway)

The above mentioned points reflect how globalization supported the destructive methods during the war time. But at the same time during the war, the roles of women were taking a new form.

“If you’ve used an electric mixer in your kitchen, you can learn to run a drill press”- American War Manpower Campaign

  • Women and World War II: The women were facing the shortage in domestic resources. Many worked outside their home boundaries; they worked in volunteer organization connected with war efforts. The marriage rates increased and the rate of babies born to unmarried women increased by 42%.

 

More married women, mothers and minority women had found jobs. They took the jobs that were previously reserved for men. They worked in position that supported military efforts. At every war there were some women spies and resistance fighters.  Many women nurses were used in the war zones. More than thousands of women were pilots and were associated with US air force. Women were affected in some specific and unconventional ways as the “comfort women” of China and Korea, the Holocaust and Jewish women. Prostitution rose dramatically.

(http://womenshistory.about.com/od/warwwii/a/overview.htm)

“Near many military bases, reputed “victory girls” could be found, willing to engage in sex with military men without charge”.

As a conclusion, we can see that World War II is one of the most powerful and destructive war in the history which has changed how the world is today. It worked as a great platform for women to realize and achieve their power. And some ways I feel the early feminist have surely been inspired and learned alot from the women who fought World War II. It still matters because it has created the difference and hatred for other races and culture which even after so many years has not been fully washed away. Many still tend to look, judge or hold grudge against other cultures and religions on the basis of what happened in the World War II.

Globalization as I have mentioned before can be a improving or a destructive matter, it just depends upon how and for what we use globalization. At the same time we have learned so much from and about globalization that it is now time that we make the best use of globalization creating beautiful world and not to destroy it. If we have invented globalization, we should be able to control globalization.

You could refer to these websites for more information:

World War 2 Timeline 1939-1945. (2006). Retrieved March 5, 2012, from WORLDWAR-2:
http://www.worldwar-2.net/

World War II. (2012). Retrieved March 5, 2012, from 20th Century History:
http://history1900s.about.com/od/worldwarii/World_War_II.htm

Partition, Gender, and Mass Violence: Globalization and the Bloody Road to Pakistan’s Independence

Most people have heard of the partitioning of Pakistan from India at some point in their lives. Those who went to high school at least in New York would have heard about it in global social studies in high school. Even if we did learn about it, how many of us remember any details?  What high schools don’t cover is the amount of violence that erupted out of dividing one nation into two.

Pakistan officially became it’s own independent nation on August 15th, 1947 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01.shtml). This came right after India had gained its independence from the British earlier the same year. The reasoning behind separating into two countries (and later more), was the areas around what became Pakistan had a Muslim majority, whereas the rest of India had a Hindu majority and many were worried about the amount of representation Muslims would get in the new parliament.

Pakistan’s independence is a byproduct of globalization. The British colonizing India is an example of globalization, and so it’s not a leap to say that India’s independence from England was a product of globalization. Their independence came right after WWII when a lot of countries were being given independence and breaking off from countries that they had been a part of for hundreds of years. Globalization is what caused the Muslims to want their own country after living among Hindus for all their lives together under British rule. This was their chance to govern their country the way that they thought would benefit Muslims best, and ensure that they were given a voice.

As you can see from this image, Pakistan wasn’t just given a single large mass of land, but two pieces of land that were separated from each other. This separation later caused the eastern part of Pakistan to become Bangladesh after 1971.

One of the biggest problems with the partition is that it caused many to leave their homes because they were of the wrong religion and to relocate to either India or Pakistan. While most of the people moving were Hindu or Muslim, many were also Sikh, Buddhists, or Christians. This migration is actually nicely depicted by this graphic:

As is the case with any massive amount of people forced out of their homes and forced to move to a completely new place, a large amount of violence exploded. This is the largest amount of mass migration of people in history (10 million people). The estimated amount of people killed during the riots that ensued range from 200,000 to 1 million, depending on the website or source used.

When reading about the partition, or Pakistan’s independence, it’s important to note that there is no “good side” or “bad side”. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs all used large amounts of violence towards each other after living peacefully together in the same communities for hundreds of years.

As is the case among many conflicts (whether they are wars or riots), women were specifically targeted for violence by both Muslim and Hindu men.  A great fictional novel that highlights the way in which women were brutalized differently than men during partition is Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa. While it is a fictionalized account of the partition (as in the characters aren’t actually real), the violence in the novel is completely real. One of the biggest and possibly most dramatic forms of violence that is seen in the novel is the migration trains.


This is the way these trains looked when everyone boarded the train. These trains actually existed and many of them ended up the way they do in Cracking India. These trains have earned the nickname “the death trains” in which by the time they got to their next stop everyone on board was completely slaughtered. . Here is an actual account by a man who witnessed one of these death trains. In this article is said

“Morning newspapers on September 25 reported 349 Hindus were slain on the train, with many more injured and maimed. “

This is just one way in which the violence erupted out of this move that was enacted out of globalization. Women were particularly brutalized throughout the riots on both sides. Women were raped, had their breasts cut off, kidnapped, and sold into prostitution.As Anne Hardgrove writes,

Communal rape, kidnapping and forced conversion was a major part of this upheaval and it occurred in many contexts, ranging from border crossings to events in a single neighbourhood or apartment house. One estimate suggests that 1.00,000 women had been raped on each side of the India/Pakistan border. India’s loss of land to Pakistan, combined with the sense that violated women represented the violation of religious and national communities, led to rescue missions and rescue operations. The same thing happened in Pakistan. Through the chronologies of kidnapping, rape and repatriation, women became symbolic markers of territory,communal identity and nationality.

I think that her point that women had been made symbolic markers of territory and nationality is one of the most interesting points that she makes in her article, “South Asian Women’s Communal Identities”, which would be great to read up on (find on JSTOR) if this subject interests you (information will be given at the end of this blog). Another place that would be good to look at if this subject interests you is a documentary called “The Day India Burned”, which you can actually view on YouTube right now.

The violence that came out of the partition of India is something that should never be forgotten, and certainly should not be skipped over in history classes. It should serve as an example of how separating a country can go horrifically wrong. Testimonies can be found on this really neat site, The 1947 Partition Archive. This site has videos of people who experienced or witnessed the mass migration and violence and also offers a library of sources that talk about the partition.

Further reading:

Hardgrove, Anne. “South Asian Women’s Communal Identities.” Economic and Political Weekly 30.39 (1995): 2427-430.

Pandey, Gyanendra. Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism, and History in India. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. Print.

The C word : The DRC’s conflict over Coltan

“Kids in Congo are being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America can kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms.” Oona King, British politician, Member of Parliament (1997 – 2005.)

How many people really know about what it takes to make our hi-tech gadgets work and what’s the price? Well, one mineral in particular that is essential to the functionally of your cell phone, laptop, or gaming device is Coltan.

Coltan along with other minerals is found and extracted from mines in the DRC; people are killed, enslaved, and women rapped to gain access and control over minerals (http://find.galegroup.com/coltanmining). The mining caves are controlled by different groups of armed forces that surround the mining areas and control the flow of people in and out of the mining caves. Through this control armed forces are able to tax the miners, and make a very lucrative profit. The closer you get to the center of the mining sites the more violence, rape and sexual abuse there is (http://find.galegroup.com/coltanmining).

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a nation filled with natural resources of enormous potential wealth. Conversely, it is county torn apart by civil war in the fight to control these internationally valued minerals. Civil conflict arose in the late 90’s surrounding control and power of these resources. During 1996-2002, Congo has had two wars in which armed groups took power over of eastern Congo and they still hold that control today (http://www.raisehopefor congo.org/content/armed-groups). The current civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has devastated the country. In 2003 there was the signing of the peace accords, one of the purposes of this treaty was to have all the separate armed forces come together to form one national army (the FARDC). However, these independent groups had developed a lot of power both economically and socially through the years of war. Of course, many did not want to relinquish this power to a military they didn’t know, as a result many groups stayed independent (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/DR+Congo). The most concentrated amount of fighting is in the east of the country where the sum of minerals is greater.

The eastern Congo is one of the most unsafe places for a woman to live, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is grave. Women are targeted and rape is used as a weapon of war. Every week in eastern Congo, north and south Kivu 160 women are raped. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has a report that 60% of rape victims in South Kivu were gang raped by armed men. During the last 15 years this conflict has been the cause of more than 5 million deaths and the rape of 300,000 women (http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org /content/sexual-violence). Many of these deaths are a result of the conditions of living produced by civil war. A large portion of these people died due to conditions of malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.
Coltan is so valued because it is a rare mineral mainly found in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (http://find.galegroup.com/coltanmining.) Coltan is highly sought after because of its use in just about every new electronic device. Uses for this mineral range from the already mentioned cell phones, laptops, and game consoles to spaceships, and jets (http://www.dominionpaper.com).

Many issues with the mining process in the DRC are the armed groups that control the miners. There are multiple independent military forces controlling the flow of people in and out of the mining caves, charging people a fee for crossing. This is a very lucrative business for the armed groups. After the minerals are extracted from the mines they are smuggled to nearby countries mainly Uganda and Rwanda (http://www.unwatchable. cc/the-true-story/what-is-happening-in-the-congo/). The armed forces control the smuggling routes out of the country. They tax or steal the goods from civilians and smuggle them out of the country illegally. This is another way in which the armed groups control and benefit from the sale of Coltan (http://www.unwatchable.cc/the-true-story/what-is-happening-in-the-congo/).
The Western World is buying Coltan, it’s sold internationally to many large tech corporations. By buying this mineral we are helping to finance the civil war in the DRC. This civil war doesn’t seem to have any inclination of ending soon and will continue as long as armed groups are able to finance themselves in combat by selling this mineral (http://www.sautiyawaku lima.net). There has been some effort to reform the issues of buying this war produced mineral, there is the Dodd – Frank Wall Street reform Act passed in the US in 2010, it obligates companies to report what country they have bought their minerals from, so that these companies will have to reveal conflict minerals in their supply chain. The difficulty with this is it can easily be manipulated. For example if the label says, “Australia-mined,” it could have been mined in the DRC then shipped to Australia (http://find.galegroup.com/coltanmining). International electronic companies are fueling this war by not taking responsibility of where their materials come from. Doing business with these armed groups and war lords is criminal; whether the involvement is direct or indirect the result of that business is still resulting in violations of human rights (http://www.unwatchable.cc/the-true-story/what-is-happening-in-the-congo/). There needs to be much more work done on this issue, governments and companies alike need to take an initiative. Internationally there needs to be a process in which Coltan is dealt with. “The long-term solution means global tracking of minerals” Jamie Keen of MiningWatch, Canada (http://find.galegroup.com/coltanmining).
Do you want to help? (http://www.dominionpaper.com)Want to stop indirectly fueling a war but can’t see life without your prized cell phone well how about you try to:
• Call your cell phone manufacturer and ask if their phones contain Congolese Coltan.
• Make sure any of your personal savings/pension money is not invested in companies doing business in the Congo.
• Support the Congolese people by raising awareness.
Sign a petition / Send a message:

Nike: Modern Day Slavery

Imagine having to work in an environment where you were treated as less than a human; had to deal with extremely harsh working conditions and were unable to speak out without the risk of losing the only job you were able to get to survive.

This is the reality that many factory workers have to face around the world.  These workers are exploited by the factories that they work for and the companies that own or run the factories don’t regulate working conditions for many workers in developing nations.  There are multiple companies that have factories that violate humane working conditions but one of the major culprits is Nike.

Nike is one of the many companies that produce many of their items abroad.  The outsourcing that takes place is beneficial for the company but very detrimental so the workers that work in the foreign factories.   While it does provide work to those that are in need of an income, they are also underpaid, overworked, and exploited under these companies.

In Nike’s case, they have sweatshops in many places including Vietnam and Pakistan where workers are not given fair rights or wages for the amount of work they are forced to do.  Workers are routinely physically abused, mentally abused, and sexually harassed in these factories. 

On top of these already terrible working conditions, workers are:

  • Not given proper training or having the necessary safety equipment.
  • Exposed to toxic glues and chemicals.
  • Paid an average of $1.60 a day when at least $3.00 a day is needed to survive.
  • Expected to work an average of 60 to 70 hours a week.

While Nike publicly says that the conditions that these workers are working in are constantly regulated, they are usually only monitored a few times a year. During those times, sweatshops are made to fit working conditions and the monitors almost never speak directly to the workers; instead they speak only to the owners of the sweatshops who are usually the ones that are perpetuating the violence towards the workers.

Nike does not offer these workers benefits but has agreed to pay for medical expenses only by reimbursing workers for medical bills that they have paid in full.  In most cases, the workers aren’t able to afford adequate medical attention and therefore don’t receive any compensation from Nike.

Workers are also often scared of those that run the sweatshops in fear that they will be abused for wanting to use the bathroom or even taking a break.  They are at time restricted from using the facilities since that would lessen the amount of items that were produced.  Women often wear multiple sanitary napkins or refrain from using as a result of this which leads to even more unsanitary conditions and medically dangerous conditions for the workers.

Nike does not only abuse adult sweatshop workers, they are also reported to frequently hire people under the age of 18 in these sweatshops and there are no initiatives taken to monitor this.  Nike signed a pledged to stop using workers in hazardous situations in 1998 after denying any abuse that these workers faced.  Since then, Nike has not followed through with this agreement and routinely turns a blind eye to these sweatshops.  This kind promise is something that should have been kept by a company that is sincerely trying to make sure that all of the labor that goes into their products is fair and just.  Instead Nike decided to not take this issue into concern and continues to allow the unfair treatment of these workers.

They constantly boast about how these factories offer jobs to those that live abroad and how this helps them afford a better life.  In reality it forces them to work like slaves without adequate compensation and forces them to work in environments that are constantly exposed to abuse and unjust treatment.

In addition to using sweatshops that perpetuate violence and offer workers inadequate conditions to work under, Nike has also bought good from manufacturers that use child labor.  In Pakistan areas like Sialkot are known to use child labor to mass produce sporting goods.

In 1996 Life magazine published an article about a 12-year-old boy in Pakistan that stitched soccer balls for Nike for about 60 cents a day.  This was not uncommon for Pakistan which allowed children to work for low wages.  But multi-million dollar companies using this to their advantage was something that was heavily looked down upon.

This information that was leaked to the public lead to massive protest against the company from people in the United States and worldwide.  Nike had purchased soccer balls from a subcontractor in Pakistan that year which showed either the lack of concern Nike had for its workers or the lack of information that the company had about what was going on.  It wasn’t the latter.

Nike continues to use sweatshops in countries primarily in Asia and still does not regulate these sweatshops.  Their “mission” of offering jobs to those in developing nations or nations that has higher poverty rates is just a façade for saving the company money.

It’s not only Nike that puts up illusion of wanting to help others.  Many companies like Nike are constantly allowing sweatshops to abuse their workers and does nothing to make sure that this injustice doesn’t occur.  Unlike what these companies want us to believe, they are doing nothing more than continuing repressive cycles which in result benefits them.

— Ifath N. Iftikhar

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