Photograph by Robin Hammond
Some have suffered severe trauma which has led to illness. Others were born with mental disability. Either way, in countries where infrastructure has collapsed, where displacement has driven the mentally ill away from services, treatment is often the same: a life in chains.
I started documenting the lives of the mentally ill in African countries in crisis in an attempt to raise awareness of their plight. I travelled to war ravaged areas of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Uganda. I spent time with the displaced in refugee camps in Somalia and Kenya. In Nigeria I went to see the impacts of corruption on facilities for the mentally ill.
After 12 years of documenting human rights issues, I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. I want to see this work published so ignorance will no longer be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.
NEW DELHI, India — In India, the truth might set you free. Or it might land you behind bars. Or even dead.
Take the case of Naveen Sorinjee, a TV reporter jailed in Karnataka for exposing an assault on young couples by a far-right Hindu group. Sorinjee has inspired a hunger strike and a slew of editorials. But more than a two months after his arrest, he’s still in the slammer. And he’s not alone.
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Israel on Sunday admitted to giving Ethiopian Jews birth control, often without their full understanding or consent, said Haaretz, the first official confirmation of a December investigative report that sparked widespread uproar.
Over 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel over the past several decades. However, the community’s “Jewishness” has come under question in Israel, said The Independent. The birth control prescriptions are therefore believed to have been an attempt to curb the birth rates in a community deemed undesirable by some.
On January 9, 2013, the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17 years old.
Saudi Arabia is one of just three countries that executes people for crimes they committed as children. Rizana Nafeek is yet another victim of the deep flaws in Saudi Arabia’s judicial system.
Rizana was just a child herself at the time of the baby’s death, and she had no lawyer to defend her and no competent interpreter to translate her account.
In multiple European countries, women who recently gave birth are legally allowed to leave their newborns in warm, publically-accessible incubators.
The incubators are found at some hospitals and can be opened from the outside. The point of these incubators, often called baby boxes, is to allow mothers to abandon unwanted babies in a safe and anonymous way.
But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is now speaking out against the practice and asking the EU for a baby box ban, Jewish World Review reported.
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Buddhism has no particular dogma prohibiting same-sex unions, and on Saturday in the north of Taiwan, two women were married in a Buddhist ceremony, the first of its kind in the country.
No country in Asia has specifically legalized marriage equality, however, Taiwan is among those countries (along with Vietnam and Nepal) that have a progressive stance on the issue, and legislation supporting same-sex marriage has been pending since 2003, according to the International Business Times.
Known as “The Basic Human Rights Law,” the bill would be Asia’s first to legalize marriage equality if it ever passes.
The two women married in the weekend ceremony, Huang Mei-yu and Yu Ya-ting, have been together for seven years, and were happily joined by a female Buddhist master and activist, Shih Chao-hui, to little fanfare.
JERUSALEM, Israel — Jerusalem’s gay pride parade, which celebrated its tenth anniversary Wednesday, is known as the as the more sober sibling of Tel Aviv’s exuberant extravaganza.
This year, someone thought of brightening it up: In the middle of the night, they stealthily crept up to the WELCOME sign that greets all arrivals to the city entrance, a sculpture on the side of the highway leading into town, and painted it in rainbow colors.
Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, was not amused. The letters were repainted bright white by midday. As usual, Barkat did not partake of the festivities. But the cheerful die had been cast.
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Here’s a cheery thought while you’re baking Nestle’s Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough: those chocolate chips may have been produced by children working long hours with no pay, some of whom have been injured by machetes. Nestle, the company famous for its chocolates and other foods, is accused of not doing enough to stop the brutal child labor in the chocolate industry, BBC News reported.
Its long been known that child labor plays a major role in producing the world’s cocoa,GlobalPost reported, with about 600,000 children in Ivory Coast working on cocoa farms.
More from GlobalPost: When the BRICs crumble
Nestle, the world’s largest food company, has pledged to stop the practice. More recently, Nestle commissioned the Fair Labor Association to map its cocoa supply chain in the Ivory Coast, the BBC said.
While Nestle gets credit for being the first multinational chocolate company to allow its system to be completely assessed, the results of the investigation were nonetheless not good. “The investigation by FLA found that child labor persists despite industry efforts to discourage the employment of children,” the FLA said in a statement,according to Reuters.
Nestle accepted the findings of the report and said they hope to improve their labor practices: “The use of child labor in our cocoa supply goes against everything we stand for,” Jose Lopez, Nestle’s head of operations, said in a webcast following the news, Bloomberg News reported.
The FLA report recommends that the Ivory Coast government take its own regulatory steps to end child labor. It also suggests that Nestle and other chocolate companies set clearer labor standards to all parties in its supply chain, Bloomberg reported.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — For 13-year-old Hossam, the “ultimate pain” of his torture at the hands of the Syrian forces was when the “terrifying person” with the “huge body” wearing “black and black” drove a screwdriver up into his big toe nail before ripping it out with pliers.
“He was shouting at me, ‘You want freedom? You want to topple the regime?’ And he beat me. They asked me, ‘What is your name? What is your father’s name? Where are you from? Why did you join the protest?’ He showed me a video and said ‘Isn’t that you?’ I said no and he beat me. ‘Isn’t that you?’ No. He beat me. ‘Isn’t that you?’ Yes. He beat me more.”
During the brief happy period when she and her husband were in Kabul, Sakina had given birth to a daughter. The little girl died at birth. Sakina says she was sad at the time, but now, looking back, she is happy.“I should have killed her myself,” she sighed. “Afghanistan is no place for a girl.”
As violence against women in Afghanistan spikes to its highest levels since the fall of the Taliban government, the U.S. has become an investor in the country’s informal—tribal—justice system. In this Special Report, GlobalPost tells the painful stories of women who have been subjected to the tribal courts’ brand of ‘justice’: unfairly imprisoned, traded like property and often abused every step of the way.