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ACTION FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE Issue 91 / Winter 2012 ISSN 1649-7368

Harvesting hope after war in the fields of northern Uganda DFID - UK Department for International Development

INSIDE Action – Support a Debt Audit for Zimbabwe! / Women, Social Media and the Arab Spring / Land Grabs in Liberia / The Largest Free Trade Agreement Ever: EU-India / Rebuilding Communities in Uganda / “Honour Crimes” - Local and Global Violence Against Women /

{ Welcome } Credits & Contact details Focus magazine, established in 1978, now published three times a year, is Ireland’s leading magazine on global development issues. It is published by Comhlámh, Development Workers in Global Solidarity, Ireland, which works to promote global development through education and action. The views expressed in individual articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comhlámh, Irish Aid or our other funders. We have tried to contact all relevant photographers to seek their permission to use photographs. We apologise to those we have been unable to trace. The publication of Focus Action is grant aided by the Development Education unit of Irish Aid. Honorary Patron, Mary Robinson. © Copyright Comhlámh 2012. Correspondence Comhlámh, 2nd Floor, Ballast House Aston Quay, Dublin 2 Ph 01 4783490 E-mail:

We Need You –FocusGet Involved is produced by an editorial

Editorial team Editorial Team: Fleachta Phelan, Lisa Wilson, Doireann Cooney, Hannah Hamilton, Mark Furlong, Jamie Gorman, Póilín Brennan, Izzy Fox, Kara Connolly, Anita McKay, Caroline Connolly, Conor Grogan, Katie Latchford. Photography: Jamie Gorman, Javed Iqbal ( Cover Image: Javed Iqbal ( Residents from Ambhujwadi, a slum in the suburbs of Malad in Mumbai, protest against a demolition drive of their homes on the 29th of May, 2012. They were successful on that day, even though their slum has been repeatedly demolished over three times in the past eight years as the state deems them ‘encroachers. Design/illustration: Alice Fitzgerald (

collective of volunteers, with the support of the Comhlámh office. New volunteers are always welcome. Please contact Comhlámh if you are interested in any aspect of the production of this magazine. No prior experience is necessary.

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{ Focus Action }


Call for Zimbabwe Debt Audit With fresh elections due next year, debt campaigners in Zimbabwe want a line drawn under their unjust debts. Zimbabwe’s lenders are discussing the future of the country’s crippling $7 billion debt right now. Some international financiers want the debt problem swept under the carpet. They think it’s enough to ‘forgive and forget’. But Zimbabwean activists fear the mistakes of the past could happen all over again. They want the role of lending and debt in Zimbabwe’s economic crisis to be examined. Much of Zimbabwe’s debt is questionable. For example Zimbabwe’s debt is made up of: - “ Bailout” loans with conditions that increased unemployment and poverty in the 1990s -D  odgy World Bank projects which were ill-conceived and brought no benefits -L  oans from the UK to enable Mugabe’s police force to buy British-made Land Rovers But Zimbabweans simply don’t know the origins of all of the $7 billion of debt, nor who benefited from the loans in the first place. That’s why they’re demanding a full audit of the debt.

Ask the Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello to support our call. Call on him to: • Signal that the Irish government supports a democratic debt audit in Zimbabwe • Make a request to the World Bank and IMF to cooperate with a public debt audit for Zimbabwe and release relevant contractual and evaluation documents requested through an audit process • Make a request to Mr. Donald Kaberuka, the President of the African Development Bank, who is leading the discussions among Zimbabwe’s creditors, to signal his support for a debt audit and release any contractual and evaluation documents requested through an audit process Email: or write to: Minister of State for Trade and Development Irish Aid Department of Foreign Affairs Riverstone House, 23 - 27 Henry Street, Limerick

Sound familiar? Indebted people must stand together in solidarity everywhere.

Bloom is:

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{ Action }


Call for Zimbabwe Debt Audit How did Zimbabwe’s debt come about?

What is happening now?

For the last decade the Zimbabwean government has been in default on most of its international debt, currently estimated to be around $7 billion. This debt dates primarily from loans made in the 1980s and 1990s by private lenders such as banks, foreign governments such as France, Germany and the UK, and multilateral institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Loans, debt and the economic conditions attached to them have played a key role in impoverishing Zimbabwe. For example, a 2001 study by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development shows that government expenditure towards payments on total debt reached a peak of 40 times the amount of expenditure on social welfare between 1996 and 2001. A recently published report revealed for the first time the origin of much of Zimbabwe’s $7 billion debt. It shows that at least $750 million of debt comes directly from structural adjustment loans from the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank. Some of these loans include:

Zimbabwe stopped paying most of its debts in 2000 and has continued to face economic chaos and social upheaval. Zimbabwe’s creditors are a discussing the future of the country’s crippling $7 billion debt. Negotiations have begun on Zimbabwe entering the IMF and World Bank run debt relief process for poor countries called the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. However the conditions involved in qualifying for this debt relief mechanism are so demanding that it is quite possible that entering into it could trap Zimbabwe into further cycles of debt while keeping the questionable details of previous loans out of the public eye. To prevent the same past mistakes being repeated, Zimbabwean debt campaigners are calling for a debt audit.

What is a debt audit?

• Loans from the World Bank for tree plantations to create fuel supplies despite the fact that there was plenty of wood available, and there was no economic return on the plantations

Debt audits are comprehensive public examinations of debt, which examine whether and under what terms repayment should be made. A debt audit would benefit Zimbabwe in learning lessons from the past, promote understanding of where the debts came from, and help bring about increased openness in Zimbabwean financial affairs and influence policies over future borrowing.

• Loans from the Spanish government for the Zimbabwe government to buy Spanish military aircraft

What are Zimbabwean campaigners calling for?

• UK unspecified “aid” loans, which were tied to buying exports from British companies

Did the debt help the Zimbabwean people? Tim Jones, Policy Officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign and the report’s author said, “Debt has played a key role in the tragedies that many Zimbabweans have suffered over the last twenty years. Dodgy projects, debt repayments and failed economic policies contributed to economic decline. Lenders should help increase transparency and democracy by coming clear on where Zimbabwe’s debts come from.” The structural adjustment programme of “free market” economy reforms imposed on Zimbabwe in the 1990s caused unemployment to double. During this period the proportion of Zimbabweans living below the poverty line increased from 40% in 1990 to 75% in 1999. Economic growth fell from averaging 4.5% in the 1980s to 2.9% between 1991 and 1997.

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Debt campaigners are calling for the Zimbabwean Parliament to establish a Public Debt Commission and conduct an official debt audit in order to investigate the origins of Zimbabwean debt and examine whether the loans genuinely benefited the Zimbabwean people. A “debt audit” for Zimbabwe would mean a full public examination of its debt, an examination determining whether or not debts should be repaid and what should the terms be for the repayment. A debt audit forms a vital step for Zimbabweans to take back control in learning from and finding new ways to address the debt crisis. The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development is already starting to build support for an audit, but they need your help to build further support worldwide. For more information see news/2012/06/12/act-now-debt-justice-for-zimbabwe/

{ Women and Social Media }

Social Media and the Sisters’ Spring Tunisia


Lebanon Israel Gaza & West Bank

Syria Iraq Jordan


Kuwait Libya


Saudi Arabia

Bahrain Qatar

United Arab Emirates Oman


Izzy Fox looks at the role women played in the Arab Spring and wonders what next for the women’s movement.


e use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world”, said one protester during the January 25th uprising in Egypt in 2011. Social media didn’t cause the Arab Spring, nor did it cause the London riots. The use of these social networking sites facilitated the organisation of protests, the build up of momentum and the rise of the citizen journalist. Women activists played a significant role in the Arab Spring and in its aftermath, often using social media to highlight injustices or organise protests. From Manal al-Sharif’s campaign to remove the stigma, persecution and prosecution of women drivers in Saudi Arabia, to women protesting in Cairo in December 2011 against a young woman being stripped of her abaya and beaten in Tahrir Square by the military police, women have been seen and heard. However, at times, the lack of a visible presence of women protesters on the street was noticeable. There are many reasons for this, and one which cannot be underestimated is the fear, based on previous experiences, of the sexual harassment of women during protests where they are significantly out-numbered by men. The humiliation of the “Blue Bra Girl” by the Egyptian military police resulted in the largest demonstration of women in that country since 1919. Can social media provide the platform from which to launch a Sisters’ Spring in the Arab World? Why not? The video footage of the police’s treatment of the “Blue Bra Girl” has become a forceful symbol of the threat posed to women in the post-Mubarak military

“Transnational feminism... nurtured a sisterhood of solidarity and support between all women, irrespective of nationality, colour, creed or class.” regime. Those who filmed and posted this video were savvy enough to realise the impact such an image could have, both inside and outside of Egypt. Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, another Egyptian activist, highlighted the polarity of opinion on this subject in Egypt when she posted naked photos of herself on her blog. This was not an act done lightly, as she labelled the photos of herself “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. These women have become synonymous with the struggle for women’s rights in the post-Arab Spring era. The fight for gender equality could be the next phase of the Arab Spring. In the aftermath of the euphoria and hope offered by the revolution, the neglect of women’s rights in the region has been exposed. Women are now calling on the new democracies to legislate for their rights and to have a political system which is representative of women. The situation of the women’s movement in the Arab world postArab Spring varies from country to country. In Syria and Bahrain the brutal crackdown on citizens by the government doesn’t offer

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{ Women and Social Media }

Denmark Female population: 2,813,026 Life expectancy at birth (women): 81.14 years Literacy rate among females: 99 % Seats in parliament held by women: 70/179 Women in the labour force: 47 % Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: Yes

Statistics on



Gaza & West Bank

Female population: 16, 236, 185 Life expectancy at birth (women): 79.11 years Literacy rate among females: 39.6% Seats in parliament held by women: 67/395 Women in the labour force: 56.6% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 3,222,361 Life expectancy at birth (women): 80.08 years Literacy rate among females: 72% Seats in parliament held by women: 33/200 Women in the labour force: 22% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 2,073,146 Life expectancy at birth (women): 75.68 years Literacy rate among females: 88 % Seats in parliament held by women: 5/132 Women in the labour force: 19% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No




Female population: 17,375,148 Life expectancy at birth (women): 76.31 years Literacy rate among females: 60.1% Seats in parliament held by women: 146/462 Women in the labour force: 39% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: Yes

Female population: 40,497,120 Life expectancy at birth (women): 75.38 years Literacy rate among females: 59.4% Seats in parliament held by women: 10 / 508 Women in the labour force: 23% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 2,111, 470 Life expectancy at birth (women): 76.62 years Literacy rate among females: 82.2% Seats in parliament held by women: 4 Women in the labour force: 21.7% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No




Female population: 3,726,047 Life expectancy at birth (women): 83.24 years Literacy rate among females: 95.9% Seats in parliament held by women: 23/120 Women in the labour force: 50% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: Yes

Female population: 11,075,772 Life expectancy at birth (women): 77.21 years Literacy rate among females: 73.6% Seats in parliament held by women: 30/250 Women in the labour force: 19% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 5,326,769 Life expectancy at birth (women): 77.17 Literacy rate among females: 78% Seats in parliament held by women: 58/217 Women in the labour force: 52% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: Yes

much hope for civil liberties of any kind for dissidents, be they men or women. Conversely, in Tunisia, women’s rights have become central to the new government’s policy. In Egypt, the hope of a year ago hasn’t waned, but the realisation has set in that the struggle for women’s rights in that country has not been made any easier by the end of Mubarak’s reign. The military regime in Egypt allegedly subjected women protesters to beatings and forced virginity tests, among other acts of abuse aimed at humiliating and intimidating them into silence and inaction. Dr Nihad Abu al-Komsan acted as Chairperson of the Council for Women for two months in the post-Mubarak government. The representation of women in parliament was less than it was during Mubarak’s time. As a result of this al-Komsan stated that “we have regressed by decades if not by centuries”, in terms of women’s liberation since the Arab Spring. Amanda Riggs, a Western woman who worked in Egypt for years, agreed and stated that her initial optimism “was crushed” as Egypt had already “rescinded the hard-fought quota for female representation in its parliament.” Since coming to power President Mohamed Morsi has also been criticised by women’s groups for reneging on his promise to be more inclusive and representative, as there are just two women in his government. Riggs’ wish now is for women to “fight for a new

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“Women activists played a significant role in the Arab Spring and in its aftermath, often using social media to highlight injustices or organise protests.” women’s movement” across the Middle East. What can social media offer to the women’s movement in the region? This is a question that is being addressed at a grassroots as well as at a political level. The inaugural Change Your World! Cairo 2012 summit, acknowledged, discussed and assessed how social media is being used by women activists across the Middle East and North Africa to affect positive social change. One of the issues examined was how women activists could “use technology and media platforms to support virtual communication without borders”. One success of the Arab Spring was how it seemed to pay little respect to national borders. Transnational feminism is a movement that seeks to emulate this and nurture a sisterhood of solidarity and support between all women, irrespective of nationality, colour, creed or class.

{ Women and Social Media }

n women’s rights Jordan

Saudi Arabia

United Arab Emirates

Female population: 3,196,683 Life expectancy at birth (women): 81.45 Literacy rate among females: 84.7 % Seats in parliament held by women: 13/120 Women in the labour force: 21% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 11, 807, 804 Life expectancy at birth (women): 76.16 years Literacy rate among females: 70.8 % Seats in parliament held by women: n/a Women in the labour force: 5% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 1,611 335 Life expectancy at birth (women): 79.22 years Literacy rate among females: 81.7 % Seats in parliament held by women: 7/40 Women in the labour force: 40% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No




Female population: 15,004,424 Life expectancy at birth (women): 72.02 years Literacy rate among females: 64.2 % Seats in parliament held by women: 82/325 Women in the labour force: 17 % Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 478.357 Life expectancy at birth (women): 80.33 years Literacy rate among females: 83.6 % Seats in parliament held by women: 3/40 Women in the labour force: 21% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 1 362 552 Life expectancy at birth (women): 76.16 years Literacy rate among females: 73.5% Seats in parliament held by women: 1/84 Women in the labour force: 20% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No




Female population: 1,067,936 Life expectancy at birth (women): 78.3 years Literacy rate among females: 95% Seats in parliament held by women: 0/65 Women in the labour force: 44% Right to demand divorce: No Right to abortion: No

Female population: 284,792 Life expectancy at birth (women): 77.53 years Literacy rate among females: 88.6% Seats in parliament held by women: 0/35 Women in the labour force: 29% Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

Female population: 11,883,499 Life expectancy at birth (women): 65.87 years Literacy rate among females: 30% Seats in parliament held by women: 1/301 Women in the labour force: 26 % Right to demand divorce: Yes Right to abortion: No

There are of course hindrances to the women’s movement within post-Arab Spring countries. Firstly, they face huge resistance from many of their compatriots, particularly from conservative religious groups but also from apparent allies. Elmahdy asks, in response to one of the prominent groups within the Egyptian revolution distancing themselves from her because she’s an atheist, where is the democracy and liberalism they preach to the world? There are other more practical obstacles to social media facilitating a women’s revolution in the region. Literacy rates are lower for women, particularly in rural areas and amongst older women, which of course inhibits widespread engagement with social media. Only around 17% of people in Tunisia had access to social media at the time of the initial uprising there, which seems to justify a cautionary reaction to the enthusiasm demonstrated by some champions of social media’s potential. This is a valid point, but the effect that a well organised and motivated online minority can have on the population at large in terms of orchestrating protests should not be underestimated. Social media is a powerful weapon against oppression as it is effective not only in these logistical terms but also in grabbing the attention of the international community with a Facebook campaign, a YouTube clip or Twitter debate. Even though several images and campaigns concerning gender equality have

gone viral, since the Arab Spring there has not been a sustained and united women’s revolution in the Arab world yet. The Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded last year to three women activists from the Global South. One of them, Tawakkol Karman, a journalist and human rights activist, received the accolade for inspiring the uprising in Yemen. In her acceptance speech, another of the three women, the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s issued a rallying call to women “My sisters, my daughters, my friends: find your voices”. It will be interesting to see if social media can provide the megaphone to the Sisters’ Spring of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. For more information check out the following links: • E  llen Johnson Sirleaf’s Nobel lecture: http://www.nobelprize. org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2011/johnson_sirleaf-lecture_ en.html

• M  anal al-Sharif’s Saudi women drivers Facebook page: http:// • T  he New Woman Research Centre in Egypt: en/

Focus { 7 }

{ Land Grab }

Land Grabs: Liberia’s Titanic Problem

The new scramble for Africa targets the most marginalised communities and is facilitated by the EU’s trade policies, writes Jamie Gorman.


s I sat in the rural Liberian village of Small Bong Mines about to eat a meal at the house of one of my colleagues at the Sustainable Development Institute -Friends of the Earth (FoE) Liberia, the voice of Celine Dion unexpectedly floated across the dead heat of the midday sun. ‘Near, far, where ever you are,’ she cried, ‘my heart will go on’. The radio station was commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a terrible tragedy that cost the lives of 1,500 people in icy Atlantic waters. The parallels between that ‘unsinkable’ liner and this West African republic may seem distant at first. Yet as I sat, stomach grumbling in anticipation of our meal, it became clear that there are some important similarities. As an intern, I spent much of my time living with and meeting communities who, without their consent, now find themselves living on an 110,000 hectare palm oil plantation as a result of a land grab that has given a total of 220,000 hectares to Malaysian based multinational company Sime Darby. FoE Liberia has been active in a number of these communities and held public meetings to raise awareness about what is happening. Its work has focused on engaging those isolated communities who have not yet received much information and have been excluded from the decision making process which led to their land being taken away. Like the Titanic, the sheer scale of this land grab is unbelievable. The Liberian government has signed a 63 year contract with Sime Darby (in a country where the average life expectancy is 46, this is hard to fathom), after which the lands will revert to government ownership and never return to the communities that have customarily held them for generations. The contract gives the company the power to displace and resettle communities. Moreover, by taking most of the land from which

{ 8 } Focus

“If we agree to this we will be enslaving ourselves on our own land. We will have to migrate or we will die!” communities derive their livelihoods and leaving them only token space to farm, Sime Darby negates any responsibility for what they are doing to the affected communities. The company is forcing a silent exodus from the area as families find they can no longer sustain themselves with the plantation swallowing their land and livelihoods. As the Titanic slipped underwater on the night of 15 April 1912, the lifeboats were deployed to save the wealthiest and second class passengers first. The majority of third class passengers- many of whom had been forced to emigrate to escape from poverty in Britain and Ireland- and the working class crew remained on the ship as it sank. They drowned inside the flooding compartments or froze in the water under the starry Atlantic sky. Their social class marginalisation resulted in their lives being divested of value, and in this situation of life or death they were not afforded the right to choose. Their right to respect and dignity was not considered important compared to that of the wealthy passengers. In Liberia, the communities suffering this land grab will be removed from their land, displaced from their homes and denied their culture. Much like rural Ireland, where newcomers to a community remain ‘blow-ins’ decades after they originally arrive, displaced communities will be strangers wherever they go for generations to come. Generations will suffer from the violence of this injustice as the

{ Human Trafficking }

Even promised road infrastructure from foreign direct investment seldom materialises, as this company collecting logging data on behalf of the government finds out in Liberia Photo: Jamie Gorman

respect they are refused today continues to deny them their dignity tomorrow. Like many of the working class victims of the Titanic disaster, the victims of this land grab are from marginalised and poor rural communities. They have not been considered important enough to be afforded the right to choose their own futures. Although the effects will not be as suddenly realised as those of the Titanic’s iceberg encounter, they will be just as devastating. “If we agree to this we will be enslaving ourselves on our own land. We will have to migrate or we will die!” noted one impassioned community leader. He suggested that the company had tried to give him money and that government officials had made efforts to coerce him into agreeing to the land grab. “They infringe on the rights of the common man [sic] so that they can get what they want,” he exclaimed, “these guys are making big money; they don’t want to respect our customary rights.” For this fragile democracy, barely ten years out of a terrible civil war, the potential for land grabbing and resource exploitation to plunge the country back into unrest is very real. There is a great need for civil society organisations to bolster democracy, accountability and governance- so that the government works for the people and not multinational corporations’ profits. Thus the work of Friends of the Earth Liberia is both timely and important. They are providing crucial information to communities that the company has failed to share. They are also working to support collective action in communities so their voices can be heard, and supporting them to engage in the discourse on climate change and natural resources from which such communities have been cut out because it has been controlled by global elites for their own benefit. Those in power do not behave as if these communities’ opinions matter, and of course their opinion doesn’t matter to the company’s profits. But if Liberian development is to continue full steam ahead,

“Current policies ensure an unfair competitive advantage for European companies while undercutting local business and preventing sustainable social, economic and environmental development”. and not sink as the Titanic did one hundred years ago, then local communities’ opinions must matter. If these rural communities are sacrificed for the benefit and profit of Liberia’s ‘first class passengers’ then the world will have failed to prevent a gross injustice and Liberia will be unable to reach its final destination, where all people are treated equally with the dignity and the respect they deserve. To support this work, acting in solidarity is extremely important. Here in Europe, our unequal global trade policy has been heavily shaped by the business lobby. It is clear that EU trade policy is contributing to the new scramble for Africa, which creates an environment where land grabs such as this can take place. Current policies ensure an unfair competitive advantage for European companies while undercutting local business and preventing sustainable social, economic and environmental development. We must engage our MEPs to ensure that the EU promotes equitable relationships with the Global South. If the EU takes a strong stand for equity and global justice it can challenge Northern multinationals’ practices of exploitation.

Focus { 9 }

{ EU Trade Policy }

Let Them Eat Bentleys: The EU-India Free Trade Agreement

Mark Furlong, a member of the Trade Justice Group who previously volunteered with social movements in India, looks at the potential negative impact of the EU–India Free Trade Agreement.


he largest trade and investment agreement ever is currently being negotiated between the EU and India. If signed it will directly affect the lives of over 1.7 billion people, 1 in 4 people alive today. The stated objective of this pact is to open up markets for ‘substantially all trade’ between India and the EU on a reciprocal basis. The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as it is known, will not only cover trade in goods and services but also rules on intellectual property, cross border investment and more. Civil Society Concerns “Research suggests that just about every aspect of the negotiations will destroy people’s livelihoods and undermine their rights.” - Civil society coalition against the FTA

60% on milk powder imports, the Indian dairy sector is essentially protected from the world market. The EU is demanding that this tariff be reduced to 0% which would open the Indian market up to heavily subsidised European milk products. Jamaica was similarly flooded by American milk products when it was forced by the World Bank to cut its import tariffs in the early 1990s. In Jamaica this crippled local milk production, and the size of the local industry reduced by nearly 60%. A recent report by a coalition of Indian and European civil society organisations suggests that the Indian dairy industry will suffer a comparable fate, devastating millions of rural livelihoods. Many sectors of Indian agriculture are similar in structure to the dairy industry and are likely to experience similar negative impacts.

The head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has stated that the FTA will create “new opportunities for both Indian and European companies” and be a “key driver for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation in India and Europe”. However, the FTA has been condemned by a broad coalition of Indian and European civil society groups including NGOs, unions, people’s movements and church groups, as well as parliamentarians and academics. Aspects of the FTA of particular concern for these groups include: • Trade deregulation that will massively increase access to Indian markets for EU goods • A highly stringent interpretation of intellectual property rights • A ban on export restrictions for Indian raw materials • Increased deregulation of Indian financial markets • Increased deregulation of foreign investment in India • Opening up of Indian government procurement markets to EU based companies If we examine in more detail just two of the above areas of concern, we will better understand why civil society groups have condemned the FTA.

India’s Resource Curse and the Displacement of Rural Poor “We were forced to sell our fertile farmlands for Vedanta’s refinery which later reduced our neighbourhood to a wasteland… When we protested we had to face false charges and rot in jail for months.” - A resident of Kenduguda village, Orrisa

Decimation of Rural Livelihoods “If this agreement comes in... control of the agriculture will go to the foreign companies and colonialism will come again, indirectly, in another form... We are poor farmers, without any education or privilege, without any negotiating power, we will not benefit from this agreement.” – Dairy Farmer, Andhra Pradesh

Who Loses Out? Those working in the unorganised sector, 92% of India‘s 457 million workforce, will be hit hardest by this agreement. This includes small and marginal farmers (80% of Indian farmers), the rural landless (15 million households), small traders (96% of the retail trade is comprised of small firms) and India’s 10 million street vendors. This section of Indian society has the weakest ability to absorb economic shocks, living an already precarious existence. Those who lose their work or livelihood often have few transferable skills and have no social security system to fall back on. They could easily fall into destitution, adding to India’s 224 million hungry and undernourished people.

Firstly, let’s look at trade deregulation, taking India’s dairy sector as an example. This sector is vital to rural livelihoods in India, accounting for a third of the gross income of rural households and nearly half for the rural landless population. With a current tariff of

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European companies such as Vedanta, which attempted to strip-mine the holy mountain of the Dongria Kondh tribal people in Orissa, have already been implicated in environmental and human rights abuses against indigenous people as a result of bauxite mining in India. Banning export restrictions for Indian raw materials is thus likely to contribute to bringing about an increasingly reckless exploitation of India’s mineral wealth by EU based companies, exacerbating mass displacement of local communities and further degradation of India’s environment, without material benefits accruing to Indian citizens. By banning export duties the FTA will also restrict India’s ability to nurture and develop raw material processing industries, thus increasing value-addition in country.

{ EU Trade Policy }

Migrant workers sleep on the roof tops of Mumbai Central Railway station, one of the busiest stations in the city of Mumbai. Photo: Javed Iqbal

Democratic Deficit Given that this hugely important FTA is being negotiated between democratic countries, it would seem reasonable to expect negotiation to be characterised by a high level of democratic oversight. Unfortunately this has not been the case. The negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors by a small group of technocrats at the European Commission and a few powerful cabinet members in India. Lobby groups such as the employer’s organisation Business Europe, numerous other European industry lobbies and Indian business associations such as Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry are regularly invited to exclusive meetings. According to a report by Corporate Europe Observatory and India FDI Watch, these corporate interests have effectively been allowed to shape the agenda of the negotiation. Conversely, elected representatives, trade unions and other civil society groups have generally been sidelined during the negotiations with their complaints and objections falling on deaf ears. Thus, many critics believe that the cumulative effects of these new trade rules pose serious threats to India’s economy, society and environment. The civil society coalition against the FTA has warned that: The proposed FTA will erode government policy space that is essential to manage trade and investment in the interest of pro-development, social and gender-just and environmentally sustainable outcomes.

What can You do? A coalition of 96 European and Indian civil society groups are calling for an immediate halt to negotiations until all existing negotiating positions are made public, meaningful broad consultations with the most affected groups in Europe and India take place and social justice principles are put at the core of the trade policy agenda. The full demands being made by this coalition can be found at the link below. You can help by learning more and contacting your local MEP to ask them to support these civil society demands. Further reading Call to halt EU-India FTA talks Trade Invaders Trade%20Invaders_0.pdf EU FTA with India - Traidcraft Briefing PDF/tx/policy_EU_India_briefing.pdf For a Fair, Free Trade Pact with Europe - Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam India-EU.htm

Focus { 11 }

{ Communities in Uganda }

Rebuilding Communities for Lasting Change in Uganda Kara Connolly met with Jonathan Odur, the director of FAPAD in Northern Uganda to find out about the work tthey do rebuilding sustainable communities and livelihoods.


ebuilding Communities for lasting change’ was the focus of Trócaire’s 2012 Lenten campaign. The Irish NGO teamed up with its partner, Ugandan NGO FAPAD (Facilitation for Peace and Development) to work towards restoring hope into the daily lives of local communities scarred by over twenty years of war and conflict. The theme of ‘community’ was chosen by Trócaire to reflect the rejuvenation of the concept in Irish society and its importance for societal development generally. Uganda is a small landlocked country in East Africa which faces issues such as poverty, war and a HIV/AIDS epidemic. Northern Uganda was the region worst affected by an insurgent war led by selfproclaimed religious leader Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group. Trócaire and FAPAD selected the village of Bar Kawach to highlight the problems and issues facing Ugandans in the aftermath of war. Although the violence has stopped, the last massacre in Bar Kawach was as recent as 2004. Jonathan Odur is from this region. Kara Connolly caught up with Jonathan to discuss his work in Uganda. What type of support does FAPAD give to the communities it works with? FAPAD’s original focus was to protect people from the LRA in Northern Uganda, but it has since taken on a more development-focused role. The main aim of these projects is to rebuild the communities of Northern Uganda which have been torn apart by the war. The North is the region worst affected, it is also the region that is least developed and most ignored by the government. More recently, FAPAD primarily provides livelihood and socioeconomic programmes. We focus on giving support to small farmers. This support comes in two forms: credit support and agricultural input. We work with small farmers in the areas of education and training. We supply livestock, agricultural instruments, seeds etc. This is the most important thing for Ugandans since it provides both food and income security. It allows for people that have been displaced for up to fifteen years to settle again and know that they are safe and can earn an income.

{ 12 } Focus

“The focus needs to be on rebuilding societies and on promoting growth and development.” What are the future aspirations of FAPAD? Political bargaining and power for small agricultural farmers is an aim of the organisation for the future, as is the overall protection of human rights in Uganda. But at the moment, the organisation of this project is too difficult because the community re-building process is not advanced enough to think about these sorts of things. Today, 80 per cent of Ugandans rely on agriculture, so the immediate concern is to ensure both food security and land for the Northern communities so they can envisage a normal society once again. There are too many problems at the moment to start to think about long term projects, but in the future once our more pressing goals are met we will look at this. The government provides small subsidies for medium sized farmers but not for small farmers. In fact it is small farmers who make up the majority of the population and on whom everybody relies to survive. This is why we focus on supporting small farmers because it is the crucial element of recovery and creating sustainable lifestyles. Uganda’s President Museveni does not care for such projects. The government focuses on issues like security and emergency responses. But without community-building projects, many societies still live in fear of violence and food shortages. Without such projects it is hard for civil society to advance. That is what we are trying to do - to create civil society once more. Why is the North of Uganda more neglected than the South? The North-South divide appears to be a huge problem in Ugandan politics generally. The North is geographically smaller and poorer. There are noticeable differences in infrastructure, education, literacy

{ Agriculture and Development }

Jonathan Odur, Director of FAPAD, Northern Uganda. Photo: Trócaire

rates and poverty rates between the North and South. Demographically, the divide is also apparent through culture and language. This is a cause for further division. The tribes in Southern Uganda are very different from the ones in the North. After Uganda gained independence, the first President was from the North. He was in power for five years. Since then Museveni, from the South, has been in power - for 27 years. There has often been conflict after elections because they are not free. However, the more elite Ugandans are generally from the South also, so they are happy for him to remain President. Who do you envisage for the Next President of Uganda? The speculation over the next President is focused on either Museveni’s wife or son. Museveni has backed his wife for the next President, presumably because this will enable him to de facto rule. Everything around Museveni seems to be a political tool used for political purposes, even family. His son is the most likely successor. What do you think of the upsurge in interest prompted by the Kony 2012 video by the NGO Invisible Children? The video is six years too late. Although it is good to spread awareness, the video highlights what happened in the past. For many people in Northern Uganda, this is not helpful in creating a new environment of peace and security. The focus needs to be on rebuilding societies and on promoting growth and development. The video does not help this goal of looking towards a new future. More attention needs to be paid to looking forward for the benefit of the community. Many of these villages do not like to be reminded

“There was still so much work to be done when the majority of the agencies left”. of events they have witnessed in the past, or lifestyles they had been forced to live. For example, the government has not provided any help or programmes for people that were conscripted in the LRA. These ex-soldiers find it very difficult to adjust themselves to normal life. To reintegrate themselves into society without help and support can lead to harmful and violent situations. This has to be avoided. These people need help and they are being ignored. As soon as the gunfire stopped, so did the aid. The importance of the timing of Trócaire’s arrival in Uganda cannot be underestimated. They are working in the opposite direction to all the other humanitarian assistance and international agencies. As soon as the violence stopped in 2006/2007, immediately all of the organisations left leaving a vacuum of people in dire situations with no support. We are working to relieve the desperateness of the living circumstances that these people have been left in. For example, there are hundreds of camps that people were moved into. They need to be helped to move back home and be free from starvation. There was still so much work to be done when the majority of the agencies left. This is reflective of the work that we do to build communities and trust in Northern Uganda, and to create sustainability for civil society to grow again.

Focus { 13 }

{ Violence Against Women }

Where is the Honour in Honour-Based Crime?

Anita McKay writes about violence against women - globally and locally.


n South America they are recognised as crimes of passion or provocation, but to you and me they are more commonly known as honour crimes - the acceptable, and sometimes overlooked, action of killing or inflicting violence on a woman who has transgressed social or cultural rules. Last year, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) found that almost 3,000 honour based crimes were reported across the UK in 2010, with another 500 failing to receive legitimate acknowledgment. Now, the organisation is bringing this sensitive issue into the mainstream media by calling on the British government to develop a national strategy to tackle “honour” crime. Statistics like these should be reason enough for governments to act on the issue. However, some states refuse to accept that honour crime requires national attention and instead dismiss it as an inescapable aspect of life. “Too many governments, and societies as a whole, consider the issue of ‘honour crime’ to be a social problem among migrant communities,” says Lisa Gormley, Amnesty International’s Legal Adviser on International Law and Women’s Rights. She argues that state institutions worldwide are failing victims due to perpetrators’ reliance on impunity for the act they commit, adding that culture is “…not an excuse for violence”. In January 2011, a Garda source was quoted in a British newspaper saying that they were investigating what could be Ireland’s first honour killing. A 32-year-old Pakistani man was stabbed to death by Shahzad Hussain in Drogheda in an attack that also left a 30-year-old woman seriously injured. After being charged with murder, Mr Hussain said that he didn’t want to kill his victim, but he felt “shameful” after seeing his wife in bed with another man. He then confessed that he flew into a rage because of a comment the now-deceased man made: “This is not Pakistan, it is Ireland. You can do what you want here”. The new Council of Europe Convention on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (April 2011), in reference to honour crime, states that “…culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called ‘honour’ shall not be regarded as justification for such acts”. The Middle East Quarterly’s “Worldwide Trends in Honour Killings” (Spring 2010) reports that 71 per cent of female victims in

{ 14 } Focus

“...even though Ireland is making new legislation in support of women’s rights, gender-based violence – including honour crime – will continue to rage on unless it gets the national attention it deserves.” Europe were targeted because they were deemed “too Western”, and that such crimes have accelerated significantly since 1989, possibly due to greater accuracy in reporting. Globally meanwhile, the report found that attacks are primarily committed against young people, with victims having an average age of 23. In a statement issued ahead of International Women’s Day in 2010, Navi Pillay, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that as many as one in three women have been abused during the course of her lifetime, with the most common source of violence being the family. The most extreme form of such violence is an honour killing. “In the name of preserving family ‘honour’, women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death with horrifying regularity” she noted. This is a statement that Amnesty International is quick to back up. “Often even suspicions or rumours about a woman or girl’s conduct is perceived as sufficient reason to kill her,” Ms Gormley says. Worryingly, she added that there is stigma attached to reporting these offences and “frequently they are not taken seriously by the police. Reporting [these crimes] to the police may make [the victim] more at risk of further violence. This is particularly the case when the victim and perpetrator are from a migrant population - taking a ‘private’ problem to the state is seen as a real betrayal.” Slowly, some governments are taking steps to improve investigation and prosecution, but is it too little too late? In an era where women’s rights have been at the forefront of many uprisings, there are still countries which uphold laws that are out of touch with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

{ Violence Against Women }

In Jordan, defendants benefit from a legal loophole that gives courts discretion to impose sentences of as little as three months imprisonment on those considered to have killed while in a “fit of rage caused by an unlawful or dangerous act on the part of the victim”. Proposed changes to the penal code backed by the King and the Senate have been successively rejected. In 2009, Syria amended a law regarding the jail term for men found guilty of an honour killing, raising it from a maximum of one year to a minimum of two. The then Justice Minister, Ahmad Hamoud Younis, said the change was due to a recent increase in “wife-killings... on the pretext of adultery”. Female activists in Syria, however, deemed it a small contribution to solving the problem since it still condones murderous actions with minimal consequences. Ms Gormley insists that the issue has not garnered enough global attention, and has called on governments, the media, religious and cultural organisations to “emphasise that there are no excuses for violence against women”.

In Ireland there is no official data available on honour based crime, but that is not to say that change isn’t happening. Last July, the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, introduced a Bill criminalising the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and noted that there are more than 3,000 women living in Ireland who have undergone FGM. The Bill brings Ireland into line with international best practice by making it an offence to remove a girl or woman from the state for the purpose of such mutilation. However, the issue of violence against women rages on: the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services Statistics Report 2012 recorded 12,612 incidents of domestic violence, of which 2,337 were acts of physical abuse and 477 were acts of sexual abuse, in 2011. These statistics show that, even though Ireland is making new legislation in support of women’s rights, gender-based violence – including honour crime – will continue to rage on unless it gets the national attention it deserves.

Focus { 15 }

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Focus Magazine, Issue 91 , Winter 2012  

Action - Support a Debt Audit for Zimbabwe ! / Women , Social Media and the Arab Spring / Land Grabs in Liberia / The Largest Free Trade Agr...

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