most absurd human rights violations

The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (117): Segregation of HIV-Positive Prisoners

prison rape

(source)

South-Carolina is now the only US State where HIV-positive prisoners are segregated in separate housing units with unequal program opportunities, inferior mental health care and fewer work options.

There’s absolutely no reason to do that, unless you want to maintain the reign of sexual terror that is still widespread in US prisons. AIDS is almost exclusively transmitted by way of sexual intercourse and needles. Segregating HIV-positive prisoners makes it easier for prison rapists to pursue their hobby. If you don’t know who’s positive and who’s not, you’ll think twice about raping someone. In the “HIV wards”, since they contain only HIV-positive prisoners, there’s also no more reason to refrain from rape.

Things like this make it hard to believe that legislators and prison authorities are not intent on making prison as horrible as possible.

More absurd human rights violations.

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most absurd human rights violations

The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (112): The Tagging of Prisoners With HIV

Jew in Paris, wearing the star

Jew in Paris, wearing the star

(source)

You can’t tell by looking at someone whether he or she is living with HIV. That is, unless you catch a glimpse of a man who’s living with HIV in the state of Alabama’s prison system.

There are over 200 male prisoners living with HIV in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Corrections requires each of them to wear a white armband at all times, making their health status obvious to other inmates, prison staff, and visitors. The practice is a huge affront to prisoners’ privacy and confidentiality. (source)

Let’s list some of the other things that are wrong with this:

  • Why on earth would anyone want to protect prison rapists? Or is it true that the modern day prison system is merely a sanitized front for the perpetuation of medieval punishment?
  • Measures such as these nourish the stigma of HIV patients.
  • They promote false beliefs about HIV transmission.
  • Etc.

More absurd human rights violations.

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aid, economics, education, health, human rights maps, poverty

Human Rights Maps (86): Interactive Maps of the Millennium Development Goals

millennium development goals icons

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

(source)

There’s a really good collection of maps on the Millennium Development Goals here. This is a screenshot:

mdg map

If you don’t know a lot about the MDGs, check out this page first. More human rights maps here.

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economic human rights, health, poverty, statistics, war

Economic Human Rights (30): Life Expectancy Throughout History

How is life expectancy relevant for human rights? High levels of life expectancy can mean a long life of oppression and cruelty, but it’s fair to say that a long life is generally beneficial for human rights, and that low average life expectancy rates are indicators of human rights violations. The longer people life, on average, the more they can do with their lives, and the more they can enjoy their freedom. If people’s lives are shorter, on average, it’s likely that this is because of human rights violations. For example, because:

So it’s useful to note that life expectancy, over the course of human history, has risen sharply, especially during modern times:

life expectancy through the ages

life expectancy through the ages

(source, click on the image to enlarge)

Life expectancy during much of pre-modern history averaged just below 30 years. Part of the reason for such a low figure is that many children died at a very young age, pulling down the average life expectancy. Those who didn’t die young had a good chance of surviving to what we now call “middle age”.

After the Industrial Revolution many more children survived into adulthood and by the beginning of the 20th century average life expectancy in the developed world was close to 50, whereas for the world as a whole it was only around 40 years. The figures now are 78 and 67 respectively. This graph shows the rapid and sudden improvement after centuries of stagnation:

Life Expectancy throughout history, long trend

Life Expectancy throughout history, long trend

(source)

The reason for this sudden improvement during and after the industrial revolution is a combination of improved medical technology and higher wealth. Not surprisingly, life expectancy is highly correlated with income levels – more wealth means higher investment in healthcare, less war etc. – but not in a linear fashion: the U.S. has very high GDP per capita but not higher life expectancy than some countries/regions with somewhat lower income levels (some blame the healthcare system, others the life-style choices of many Americans). And, compared to Africa, India has higher life expectancy with similar income levels (the HIV/AIDS epidemic is part of the explanation).

demographic-change_income-vs-life-expectancy

(source)

There’s a map comparing life expectancy in the world here. And there are some more statistics on life expectancy here.

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gender discrimination, health, statistics

Gender Discrimination (16): Sexual Violence in South Africa

stop-rape-chalk

(source)

Shocking numbers from The Guardian:

One in four men in South Africa have admitted to rape, according to a study that exposes the country’s endemic culture of sexual violence. … Almost half who said they had carried out a rape admitted they had done so more than once. … South Africa is notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction. … Only 7% of reported rapes are estimated to lead to a conviction.

The study … also found that men who are physically violent towards women are twice as likely to be HIV-positive. … Any woman raped by a man over the age of 25 has a one in four chance of her attacker being HIV-positive.

More on rape, and on violence against women in general.

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aid, books, health, human rights quote, poverty

Human Rights Quote (74): Should We Stop Giving Aid to Africa?

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

(source)

In this previous post on the same subject, I quoted Paul Collier’s criticism of Dambisa Moyo’s hugely overhyped but enjoyable book on development aid.

Here’s another critical quote:

Surely, Moyo should recognize the difference between aid provided to oppressive kleptocrats and aid given to faith-based organizations distributing AIDS drugs. Michael Gerson (source)

Dambisa Moyo’s reply:

I’m not going to sit here and say the fact that 2 million Africans are on HIV drugs is a bad thing. Of course that’s a good thing. But whose responsibility is it to provide those HIV drugs? American society does not operate by sitting around and waiting for handouts. Why should we as Africans? (source)

Matthew Yglesias’s reply to Moyo’s reply:

For one thing, in the developed world we clearly do offer financial assistance (“handouts”) to indigent people suffering from illness. Even in the United States there’s Medicaid and people get treated at emergency rooms regardless of their ability to pay. Meanwhile, in terms of HIV drugs obviously the reason Africans find themselves needing to rely on handouts is that the continent is so full of poor people. Ultimately, obviously, the ideal solution would be for Africans to get richer. But the per capita GDP of Africa isn’t going to magically reach American (or even Mexican or even Chinese) levels overnight even if Africa does start seeing strong growth. Meanwhile, people with HIV will die really soon unless someone gives them medicine. And even better, the marginal cost of producing extra HIV medication is really low. There’s just no getting around the fact that giving poor people medicine is a useful and important way of making the world a better place. (source)

I understand Moyo’s point about paternalism, about the need for Africans to take matters into their own hands, and about the debilitating effects of aid. But I suspect her of exaggerating her point in order to stir up some controversy and get into the limelight. And if that is really her strategy, she has obviously succeeded. But at the same time she has succeeded in discrediting all kinds of aid, good and bad. However, she can be credited with having started a necessary debate.

Some statistics on development aid are here.

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