Program Note: Don't miss Anderson's conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
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In response to ongoing abuses of women's rights in the name of fundamentalist Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her supporters established the AHA Foundation in 2007 to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam.
Through education, outreach and the dissemination of knowledge, the Foundation aims to combat several types of crimes against women, including female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honor violence, and honor killings.
The Foundation is opposed to the adoption of dual legal systems to adjudicate family disputes in religious families and supports the separation of all religions and the State.
Special to CNN
Although I have already highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran on several occasions in writing and in person, I deem it necessary to once again draw the attention of Your Honor and the distinguished members of the UNHRC to the following issues as you prepare to review the Islamic Republic of Iran's human rights record, on February 15, 2010.
My compatriots have endured a difficult period. Their peaceful protests were responded with bullets and imprisonment. Many photographs and witnesses corroborate the government's violence, not to mention instances when sufficient facts and evidence were presented to the authorities and public that revealed the identity of the killers.
Sadly, however, the Judiciary and other state officials have not taken any steps to arrest the killers or even reduce the level of violence.
Editor's note: Peter Bregman is chief executive of Bregman Partners Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of "Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change." He writes a weekly column, How We Work, for The Harvard Business Review.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/07/art.jean.jpg caption="Jean Montrevil and the youngest of his four children, Jamya."]
Special to AC360°
When 11 Christian clergy get arrested in New York City for a non violent protest, it may be worth, at the very least, raising an eyebrow. But when 1,300 petitioners and 50 organizations, including the New Sanctuary Movement and Families for Freedom, join in supporting their cause, well, it deserves more attention than an eyebrow. What is it that’s making all these peaceful people and organizations so upset?
To understand that, you need to meet Jean Montrevil, a green card holding resident of the U.S. since 1986. Only you can’t meet him. He’s being detained for deportation to Haiti.
Ah, you may be thinking, good. Maybe that’ll help protect our country from terrorism. After all, look at Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab the Nigerian citizen who was charged with trying to blow up a transcontinental airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. Perhaps we should be glad that immigration officials are finally being a little more on top of things.
Only they’re not. Because Jean, like many others deported recently, is the wrong person. I’ve met Jean a few times and he’s a good guy. He’s married to a U.S. citizen and they have four children who are U.S. citizens. He runs a small business which employs others. He pays his taxes, supports his family, and is active in his church, Judson Memorial Church, which my wife also attends.
So why are they bothering with him? Because more than 20 years ago Jean was convicted on a drug charge in Virginia.
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In light of the botched Christmas Day airliner bombing aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, the Transportation Security Administration has announced new enhanced "guidelines" requiring airline passengers traveling from (and through) 14 different countries to undergo especially rigorous security screening before being able to fly into the United States.
Under these new TSA guidelines, security screeners will conduct "full pat-down body checks" and extensive carry-on luggage checks for all passengers traveling from a country which the U.S. considers to be a "security risk."
These 14 countries are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Additionally, passengers traveling from any other foreign country may also be checked at 'random' as well.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/01/03/brennan.plane.terror/smlvid.us.airline.suspect.cnn.jpg caption="YOUR CAPTION BETWEEN QUOTES" width=300 height=169]
Special to CNN
In the wake of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day, security experts, political commentators and the media have been asking one question: How can the United States prevent terrorists from smuggling homemade bombs through security?
The most frequent answer has been full body scanners, a developing technology used in a handful of airports around the world. Although these scanners may be effective, they are at best the right answer to the wrong question.
The question that law enforcement and security professionals must ask is how to prevent the terrorists themselves from getting on the airplane.
Once we focus our attention on individual terrorists rather than their potential weapons, one fact is immediately clear: We must completely change the way we go about airport security and counterterrorism in general.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/08/clinton.europe.russia/art.clinton.gi.jpg caption="With U.S. attention focused on Pakistan's security issues, will Hillary Clinton be able to press Islamabad's rulers to address a controversy involving rural poverty and modern-day slavery?"]
E. Benjamin Skinner
As Hillary Clinton pays her first visit to Pakistan as Secretary of State, an unfolding hostage crisis will test the Obama Administration's rhetoric on human rights in the region. Officials at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad say at least three landlords have held as many as 170 bonded farmworkers at gunpoint on their estates in the country's southeast Sindh province since late September. With U.S. attention focused on getting Pakistan to deal with huge security issues to Washington's satisfaction, will Clinton be able to press Islamabad's rulers to address a controversy involving rural poverty and modern-day slavery?
The crisis began after the workers' advocates successfully petitioned three district courts to declare as illegal the debts that the landlords were using to compel the workers into indentured servitude. Those debts average around 1,000 Pakistani rupees — roughly $12. The hostages, a third of whom are children, some as young as 4 months old, are landless peasants, known as haari in Urdu. According to Ghulam Hyder, a spokesman for Pakistan's Green Rural Development Organization, the landlords have killed one hostage already and are threatening to kill the others unless they drop the cases and return to work. The landlords also abducted Amarchand Bheel, an advocate for the laborers, as he traveled to court to plead their cause.
A 2004 study by the International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that there are up to a million haari families in Sindh alone, the majority living in conditions of debt bondage, which the U.N. defines as modern-day slavery. Last fall, Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper quoted the labor minister of neighboring Punjab province as saying that landlords hold millions of forced laborers in "private prisons" across the country.
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E. Benjamin Skinner
For Bill Clinton, it was a characteristically unscripted moment during an uncharacteristically low-profile press conference.
On June 15, Clinton sat next to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and decried the plight of child domestic slaves in Haiti, a country to which the former president had just agreed to serve as UN Special Envoy.
Known as restavèks, a Creole euphemism meaning “stay-withs,” the children are lured from desperately impoverished rural parents with the promise of a better life. Instead, most endure unpaid household labor, compelled through unchecked violence. UN bureaucrats typically tiptoe around words like “slavery,” but Clinton didn’t hold back: “I’m sad to say we’ve even had examples of restavèk children that have been found in Haitian communities in the United States.”
Estimates for the total number of restavèks range around 300,000: a staggering demographic, but just a sliver of those forced to work under threat of violence worldwide. The global slave population may reach 27 million. The vast majority labor in some form of hereditary debt bondage on the Asian subcontinent; criminals traffic hundreds of thousands across international borders annually. The Justice Department estimates that, on average, a person becomes a slave on U.S. soil every half hour.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.haiti.street.jpg caption="A 2006 picture of poor housing conditions in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere."]
Four years ago, and less than five hours from the UN conference room where Clinton and Ban sat, I haggled with a trafficker to buy one of those slaves, a 12-year-old girl. In broad daylight on a street in Port-au-Prince, the trafficker leaned in: “This is a rather delicate question. Is this someone you want as just a worker? Or also someone who will be a ‘partner.’ You understand what I mean? Or is it someone you just really want to work?” The negotiated price for this domestic and sexual slave: $50.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for an exclusive AC360º dispatch to watch Anderson Cooper's full report on the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/08/11/congo.rape/art.congo2.sq.jpg" caption="The United Nations estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been raped in the Congo."]
from Oxfam International
The five-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which involved the armies of five other countries, officially ended in 2003 and democratic elections were held in 2006. However, fighting involving a plethora of armed groups continues, especially in the east of this mineral-rich country. Throughout all this conflict it is the civilians who continue to suffer the most.
The DRC has the world's largest peacekeeping force, totaling some 17,000 personnel. But they struggle to maintain security in a country the size of Western Europe with a population of 60 million.
Fighting was fuelled by the DRC’s tremendous mineral resources and by the flow of small arms into the country.
– Humanitarian crisis –
Since the war started in 1997, an estimated 4 million people have died from violence, hunger and disease as a result of the conflict, and 2.5 million have been made homeless – 1.5 million displaced within the DRC’s borders and one million forced to flee to neighboring countries.