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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

How the Department of Defense is using big data to combat sex trafficking

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) shows its humanitarian side.
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A girl (R) is taken away by an Attorney General's office staffer after having been rescued from a house where she was held captive by a network of human traffickers and labour exploitation, in Guatemala City, on Sept. 10, 2014. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on technology that could help stop millions of men, women and children from being abused, exploited and sold into slavery. (JOHAN ORDONEZ /AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — It’s estimated that somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 people are trafficked annually in the United States, and millions of people around the world are victims of the global exchange of humans for money.


Women’s safety a key issue at this year’s Trust Women conference

The conversation around keeping women safe in public needs to focus on changing perspectives, panelists say.
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Indian protesters belonging to the Bangalore Bus Passengers Forum hold placards against the sexual harassment of women passengers,at a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus stand on Oct. 7, 2013. According to a survey by the forum conducted from 2012-13, two out of three women who travel in BMTC buses face regular violence from co-passengers, drivers and conductors with 1803 cases booked against them. (MANJUNATH KIRAN /AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — After the brutal rape and murder of a woman on a bus in Delhi two years ago, the debate about safety in public places has continued to rage unabated. In Detroit, a man shot a woman to death on the street for rejecting his advances and refusing to give him her number. Another man in Queens, New York slashed a woman’s throat when she refused to engage with him. And more recently, a viral video showed the world what it was like to simply be a woman and walk the streets of New York.

Women’s safety in public transit — an under-researched area — is becoming a rallying point for women, and was the subject of two panels at the Trust Women conference in London this week. Just a quick look at the hashtag #EverydaySexism, a repository that documents the near-constant verbal and physical assault of women in public places, shows that the issue is a huge and systemic global problem.


How land rights for women could help fight climate change

Opinion: Evidence suggests that women’s economic empowerment is critical to mitigating climate change. But we have yet to integrate this thinking into our climate change efforts.
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Editor's note: The GroundTruth Project is an editorial partner for the Trust Women Conference, which takes place Nov. 18-19 in London. The annual conference, organized by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women's rights to take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women.

Climate change is not gender-neutral.


Even with social media boost, big challenges ahead for Rohingya advocates

Other pressing issues threaten to overtake the fight to return citizenship to the beleaguered Muslim minority.
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US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Myanmar president Thein Sein at the end of their bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on Nov. 13, 2014. The United States called for Myanmar to allow stateless Rohingya Muslims to become citizens, after President Barack Obama said he was 'deeply concerned' about the marginalized group. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A social media campaign to bring awareness to a heavily persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma, has borne some fruit: In his official visit to the country last week, President Obama took a cue from the hashtag #JustSayTheirName and did exactly that.

“Discrimination toward the Rohingya or any other religious minority does not express the kind of country, over the long term, that Burma wants to be,” Obama said at a Thursday news conference in Yangon, where he met with Myanmar opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.


Slavery in the supply chain: 'Who is behind the clothes we wear?'

Opinion: Over the past decade, along with cheap clothes we have also been sold a myth: that buying a t-shirt at two dollars is a democratic right of our times.
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Editor's note: The GroundTruth Project is an editorial partner for the upcoming Trust Women Conference, which takes place Nov. 18-19 in London. The annual conference, organized by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women's rights to take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women.


Why the US-China agreement is a big deal for climate change

Q&A: Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund explains what the countries’ pledges mean for the climate fight.
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US President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama paid a state visit to China after attending the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. (Feng Li /Getty Images)

It’s the deal that has everybody talking: The United States and China have agreed on a climate change strategy that aims to significantly lower each country’s carbon emissions.

The agreement was announced in Beijing Wednesday at a press conference that closed this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The deal involves China pledging to cap its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and increasing its use of renewable energy to 20 percent. At the same time, the US would cut its emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

We spoke with Nathaniel Keohane, vice president for international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit collaboration of scientists, attorneys, economists and other professionals, to find out what this deal means to the fight for global sustainability and to economic progress. 


Tending to the graves of WWI dead, Gazan gardener weathers modern conflict

As a Palestinian gardener cares for the headstones of fallen soldiers in a World War I cemetery, he also works to protect his family from Hamas-Israel violence.
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At the Deir El-Balah Commonwealth Cemetery in Gaza, Palestinian Khalil al-Wajar washes the headstone of Australian Trooper Henry Albert Franklin Price, who served during WWl in the Australian Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron. Khalil's father Mohammed, the cemetery's official gardener, has raised his family not only in the shadow of World War l but the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (Heidi Levine/The GroundTruth Project/GlobalPost)

Editor’s note: This post is part of a Special Report called “The Eleventh Hour: Unlearned lessons of World War I” launching in full this week, nearly a century after the Armistice Day of Nov. 11, 1918 that ended the war.

DEIR AL BALAH, Gaza — For decades Palestinian Mohammed al-Wajar has raised his family in the shadow of World War I, while trying to protect them from the violence of the Israel-Palestine conflict.


US just starting down the path toward net neutrality

Analysis: President Obama's statement supporting a free internet is the start of a larger, global process.
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Network cables are plugged in a server room on Nov. 10, 2014 in New York City. US President Barack Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to implement a strict policy of net neutrality and to oppose content providers in restricting bandwidth to customers. (Michael Bocchieri /Getty Images)

In a move that pleasantly surprised many free speech and open internet advocates Monday, Barack Obama announced his support for the concept of net neutrality — the idea that all content on the internet is equal, and that internet service providers (ISPs) should be kept from elevating certain content for a premium price.

The United Nations considers access to the free and open web a human right, and the American government’s lack of support in recent years has resulted in the US slipping in global freedom rankings, such as in the annual Freedom on the Net report [PDF].

But now it looks as if the president is ready to do battle with the cable giants over a looming decision by independent agency the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and bring the US in line with human rights treaties and international standards.


In denying Haiti cholera deaths, UN risks violating its core purpose

Evidence shows that troops from Nepal were infected with cholera when they arrived in Haiti in 2010.
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Attorneys Beatrice Lindstrom (2nd L) Marioa Joseph (2nd R) and other attorneys exit the federal courthouse in New York on Oct. 23, 2014 in New York. Cholera has killed more than 8,500 people and infected more than 700,000 in Haiti since 2010, when the plaintiffs allege it was introduced by UN peacekeepers, dispatched in the wake of a devastating earthquake. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

CAMBRIDGE, England — Late last month, attorneys argued before the US Federal District Court in Manhattan that the United Nations is not immune from liability for the spread of cholera throughout Haiti. The medical science is clear on this point, and none but the UN itself disputes this conclusion.

Yet in denying its role in the Haitian cholera epidemic that has killed more than 8,500 and sickened hundreds of thousands more, the UN jeopardizes its own future.


Could Brazil be the worst place in the world to be gay?

Despite an absence of explicit anti-gay laws, the South American country has a disturbing record of deaths related to gender violence.
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People take part in the 2nd Gay Parade Against Homophobia in Brasilia in support of gays, lesbians and transgender persons in on May 18, 2011. Despite such movements, an anti-LGBT culture continues to persist throughout the country. (EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Every member of Mães pela Igualdade ("Mothers for Equality") – an association of parents of homosexuals in Brazil – has a story to tell. Eleonora Pereira's is one of the most heart-breaking: On Oct. 14, 2010 her 24-year-old son, José Ricardo, went missing. Two days later he reappeared, severely beaten, at the intensive care unit of a local hospital. He died from his wounds soon after.

José Ricardo's death is suspected to be a revenge killing – a month before he died, Pereira, a human rights activist, helped convict a death squad accused of murdering the partner of a local police officer. But vengeance wasn’t the only reason why José Ricardo was murdered, investigators found. Of Pereira’s three children, he was the only homosexual.