A weekly roundup of the human rights news items that I’m following that I think deserve some more attention.
NEPAL could become the first Asian country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples if the government accepts the recommendations of a committee that studied the issue. Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled in December 2007 that the country’s new government must provide legal protections to LGBT Nepalese citizens and amend laws that discriminated against them. In 2008, the same court ordered the creation committee to study the possibility of same-sex marriage in the Asian country. It may be a while before Nepal’s government is able to take action (they have been trying to adopt a new constitution for more than six years) but most see this as a promising step and credit it to the advocacy efforts of the Blue Diamond Society organization.
A new UNITED Nations human rights report analyzing the problem of attacks against girls trying to access education found that schools in at least 70 different countries were attacked in between 2009 and 2014, with many attacks specifically targeting girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education. “The educational rights of girls and women are often targeted due to the fact that they represent a challenge to existing gender and age-based systems of oppression.”
MENG LIM took the bench as superior court judge for the Tallapoosa judicial circuit, becoming the first Asian American elected as superior court judge in GEORGIA, UNITED STATES. Lim escaped atrocities in his homeland of CAMBODIA as a child and overcame challenges of being refugee in rural Georgia to become a successful lawyer and judge.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrated WORLD RADIO DAY on February 13 to highlight the main role this media plays in the whole American hemisphere as a vehicle for freedom of expression and information, and as a source of information for the peoples and the communities.
In the UNITED STATES, February is Black History Month. While I believe that Black History IS American History, this annual observance of the contributions of African-Americans to our nation always provides an opportunity for me to learn more about people and events in our past. Here are some of the things I have learned so far this month:
On June 30, 1974, ALBERTA WILLIAMS KING was was shot and killed while she was playing the organ at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so the story of her assassination has been overshadowed by her son’s legacy. Read more about Alberta Williams King here.
ELLA FITZGERALD, one of our nation’s greatest jazz icons, was confined as an orphaned teenager for more than a year in a reformatory called the New York State Training School for Girls. She and the other girls were treated harshly; “she had been held in the basement of one of the cottages once and all but tortured”. While there was an excellent music program and choir at the institution, Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to sing in it – the choir was all white. Read more about this chapter of Ella Fitzgerald’s life here and here.
MIKKI KENDALL started a new crowdsourced project to prove that people of color are part of history. She created the hashtag #HistoricPOC and turned to social media. “I encouraged fellow users to post pictures of people of color (POC) throughout history. Whether they posted family photos or links to famous images, I wanted there to be an easily accessible visual historic record.” People began posting family photos, photos of heroes, photos of events – the resulting tapestry of personal narratives is both beautiful and inspirational. #HistoricPOC shows the interconnected reality of our history that everyone needs to see. I hope it endures well beyond this February! Read more about #HistoricPOC here and here.