most absurd human rights violations

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

prison rape

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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

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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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causes of poverty, economics, governance, poverty

The Causes of Poverty (44): Bad Institutions

botswana-map

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Botswana is a largely tropical, land-locked country with insignificant agriculture in a geo-politically precarious location. When the British granted independence, they left 12 km of roads and a poor educational system. Making headlines for its devastatingly high HIV rate, Botswana suffers from high inequality and unemployment. Officially a democracy, it has yet to have a functioning opposition party. 40% of Botswana’s output is from the diamond industry, a condition that in other countries casts the resource-curse.

Zimbabwe and Botswana GDP per capita

Zimbabwe and Botswana GDP per capita

Still, Botswana is a growth miracle. Between 1965 and 1998, it had an average annual growth rate of 7.7%, and in 1998 it had an average per capita income four times the African average. Rule of law, property rights, and enforcement of contracts work; the government is efficient, small, and relatively free from corruption. Indigenous institutions, persisting through colonization, encourage broad-based participation, placing constraints on elites. Institutional quality and good policies are responsible for success against the odds. (source)

Of course, high GDP growth rates don’t always imply low poverty rates, but often they do. About a third of the population still lives in poverty, but this rate has been declining sharply, from 59% in 1985 and 47% in 1992 (source).

(image source)

More posts in this series are here.

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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)

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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

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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

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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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