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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Over One Third of All Women Have Suffered Physical or Sexual Violence

The World Health Organization (WHO) released what it called the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women and its health impact. It revealed a darker picture than previously known. 35.6% of women worldwide suffered abuse, and an average of 30% were attacked by an intimate partner. The percentages vary from region to region, but the numbers remain shockingly high across the board: 45.6% of women in Africa are likely to suffer violence at some point in their lives and even in high-income countries, the likelihood that a woman will be abused is 32.7%. Calling it a “global health problem of epidemic proportions,” the WHO attributed the high abuse rates to failings in medical and justice systems as well as norms that mean men and women may see violence as acceptable.

Russia and China Criticized for Track Records on Human Trafficking

A U.S. State Department report that ranks countries according to their efforts to fight human trafficking downgraded Russia and China to Tier 3, dropping them into the same category as North Korea and Iran. It accused China of condoning or ignoring numerous incidents of forced labor and allowing women to be trafficked for domestic servitude, forced marriage and prostitution. The latter has been greatly exacerbated by China’s “one child” policy. It also alleged that China’s government itself participates in forced labor as part of its “re-education” programs. In Russia, labor trafficking remained the biggest problem, with over 1 million people subject to abuse. The report cited Russia as “a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.” Both countries vehemently rejected these claims. The release of the report may throw a wrench into negotiations with Russia on the Syrian civil war.

Destruction and Floods in India “Unprecedented”

Over 4,000 people remained trapped by landslides days after a monsoon caused flooding across the country. Rescue efforts have been hindered by rain and poor visibility. The army has succeeded in rescuing 33,100 people, but another 50,400 remain stranded. Authorities say that the death toll could exceed 1,000. The state of Uttarakhand was the hardest hit, with the most fatalities and much of the rescue efforts have focused on the town of Kedarnath, one of the worst-affected. Situated 2.5 miles from the Chorabari glacier, Kedarnath was decimated by a two-story high wave of ice, mud and water after a section of the glacier collapsed due to the monsoon. In the monsoon’s aftermath, survivors from Kedarnath said they were trapped without food or water for 36 hours. Monsoon rains usually cover all of India by mid-July; this year, they did so by June 16th.

Air Quality Reaches Hazardous Levels in Singapore and Malaysia

Smog caused by raging Indonesian fires caused authorities in Singapore to urge people to stay inside and closed 200 schools in Malaysia. The Pollutant Standards Index today surged to an unprecedented 371 (any level above 300 is classified as “hazardous”; 200-299 is “very unhealthy”). The previous high was 226. By evening, the PSI had decreased to 253, which is still deemed “very unhealthy.” The severity of the pollution has strained diplomatic ties between Indonesia and Singapore. Singaporean officials say the government Jakarta must do more to halt the fires, which are caused by farmers and plantation owners using slash-and-burn methods to clear land quickly.

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