Flushing Law Enforcement Cracks Down on Immigrant Sex Workers inside Fake Massage Parlors

June 11, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – Right next to the entrance to the Long Island Rail Road in the heart of downtown Flushing, is 40th Road, a 0.1-mile stretch of pavement, once known as “Restaurant Row.”  The tiny stretch features more than 20 restaurants and food courts, attracting foodies from all over New York City. But ever since the New York Times published an article last April on the death of Yang…

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Child Marriage is a Reality in the U.S.

June 6, 2019

BY TAMARA SAADE – Aliya was 20 when she was pregnant with her daughter and playing with her one-year-old son in her uncle’s basement, in Maryland.  She was trying to persuade her uncle to allow her out of the marriage she was forced into. “The only way you’re going to get out of this marriage is if you die, he told me,” Aliya said. In January of 2002, Aliya, who asked…

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Consumers Continue to Pay for Nail Service from Trafficked Technicians

May 14, 2019

BY MIRA SEYAL – Lien Glankler, born in Laos and raised in Vietnam, held a focus group of potential customers in the summer of 2017 to test her new business plan: a nail salon in Sacramento, California that would break with the increasing dependence on human trafficking to supply workers in the nail salon industry. The reaction to that plan was an unpleasant surprise. The potential customers didn’t find the…

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Egypt Remains Among the Middle East’s Worst Countries for a Woman to Seek Divorce

May 13, 2019

BY MIRNA ALSHARIF – Amina asked her husband of three years for a divorce in Cairo in 2012. He refused. What followed was a process Amina, 35, described as time-consuming, unfair, and humiliating. “My ex and I sat down with the patriarchs of our families and a ma’zun [religious notary] who tried to convince me not to go through with the divorce,” said Amina, who asked that her last name…

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MeToo: Global Movement or American Fantasy?

May 11, 2019

BY RONNIE LI – Japanese student Arika Matsu said the unwanted touching of her breasts at a business meeting two years ago led to her mission to empower women. Matsui has always dreamed of being a contestant a beauty pageant ever since she was young. A full-time student at Trinity College Dublin, Matsui competed in Japan for Miss Universe during her summer break. Always passionate about enhancing gender equality, Matsui…

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In Peru, a Community-Based Radio Program Brings Hope to Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

May 10, 2019

BY GIULIA MCDONNELL NIETO DEL RIO – Mujeres que no se dejan. Women who don’t give up. That’s the name of the community radio program that reaches an estimated 4 million people across Peru. First started in January of 2019 as a way to fight violence against women in the Villa El Salvador district of Lima, the capital, the radio program now reaches eight other districts in southern Peru. Every other Thursday, the radio hosts…

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Researcher Calls for a More Diverse Medical Curriculum in American Universities

May 9, 2019

BY JOY Y. T. CHANG – Khaoula Ben Haj Frej knows what being a minority is like. Ben Haj Frej is one of the only two Muslim students at her university. Born and raised in the United States, she said she had encountered classmates who often were not sensitive to her culture and identity. A neuroscience major and pre-med student who graduated in Trinity College-Hartford, Ben Haj Frej recalled fellow…

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Yemeni Women Push for Peace in Taiz, Despite Threats of Violence and Arrests

May 6, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – Muna Luqman, a Yemeni human rights activist, has been assisting local women since rebel Houthis took over her city, Taiz, in 2014. Years of advocacy work against war and violence have taught her how dangerous it is for women to take part in peace building. But that does not stop her. “Women are most affected by the war, so we take the most risks,” she said….

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SESTA-FOSTA: A Year Later

May 6, 2019

Both bills were controversial from their creation, but despite the huge effect that they had in the weeks following their passage, sex work advertisements seem to have bounced back online in recent months. They’re much more expensive, however, Robinson notes, and they’re not congregated on a single platform, as they used to be.

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Echoes of Cuban History Still Ring in the Ears of Long Time Cuban Refugees

April 10, 2019

BY JORDAN KISSANE – The walls of Gema Sanchez’ small home in Miami are decorated with crosses and Catholic rosaries, and on this day, Sanchez was thinking of another house in Cuba years ago when she spent Sunday mornings in church and Sunday afternoons cooking arroz con frijoles with her Abuela, or grandmother.        They always sang Celia Cruz songs, she said. “She was like today’s Beyoncè,” Sanchez laughed, remembering the…

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Refugees Resettled in Small Cities and Suburbs Face Transportation Challenges

April 8, 2019

BY LAUREN HARRIS – Salah Kamal, a 30-year old Syrian refugee, has a love-hate relationship with the public bus of his hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich. When he was resettled in 2016 in Grand Rapids, a mid-size Michigan city, the local bus system was his only connection to food, healthcare, work and important immigration appointments. Though riding the bus made such things possible, Kamal says, it didn’t necessarily make them easy….

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Refugees from Anti-LGBTQI Violence in Chechnya Warily Come Out of Hiding

April 5, 2019

  BY RAISA OSTAPENKO – K is one of a handful of refugees from Chechnya’s persecuted LGBTQI+ community who has been bold enough to talk publicly after fleeing the wave of persecution directed against the marginalized group. Some survivors detail abuses endured at the hands of authorities in the Caucasian republic, while others relate the struggles and joys of integrating into the new societies that have granted them asylum. K…

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Somali Refugee Family hides 16 Years in Nairobi Before Living Freely in Buffalo

April 4, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – The Ali family finally received news after 16 years of staying illegally in Nairobi that their resettlement applications had been approved. Refugees from Somalia, they faced more than seven months of intensive interviews that had paid off at last. They now had a flight to Buffalo, an American city that they had never heard of. Mustafa Ali, now 28 and the lead case manager of Buffalo’s…

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View from Bay Ridge: Syrian With Asylum Looks Toward Home

April 1, 2019

BY TAMARA SAADE – On a warm Friday evening in Damascus in early February 2019, the Al Nahlawi family celebrated a daughter’s engagement with a festive dinner with the fiancé’s family. Far away in New York, through a few family selfies and pictures shared on WhatsApp, Ahmad Al Nahlawi, the father of the soon-to-be bride, could almost pretend he was with them. Having obtained asylum in the U.S., the 55-year-old…

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Once Jailed in China, Human Rights Lawyer Still Fighting For Justice in NJ

March 31, 2019

BY RONNIE LI – Biao Teng, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was walking on a street near his home one day eight years ago when someone came up behind him suddenly, took off his shirt and covered his eyes with it, and then forced him into a car before he could make a sound. Teng was taken into custody and held for about 10 weeks in solitary confinement in retaliation…

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After 27 Years, Attempt at ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Still Haunts Bosnians

March 28, 2019

People gather at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in 2012 / Photo by Mikel Oibar is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0BY JOY Y. T. CHANG – Muamer Lihic was once close enough to hear the sound of an incoming grenade just as it was about to explode; it was the sound of death. “When a grenade is shot – you can hear it when they shoot it – the sound is faster…

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No Easy Path to Canadian Citizenship For Some Syrian Refugees

March 27, 2019

  BY YEJI LEE – Canada has received international attention for an innovative program that has brought 56,800 Syrian refugees into the country by pairing one refugee family with five volunteer Canadian sponsors for a year. Now, in early 2019, close to 25,000 of those refugees are eligible to apply for citizenship. For those refugees looking to become Canadians, however, more obstacles lie ahead. “I would say around 90 percent…

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Without a Country of Their Own, Stateless People Remain in Limbo

March 26, 2019

  BY MIRNA ALSHARIF – Karina Ambartsoumian Clough was just three years old when her parents started preparing her and her little sister for what was going to be a long trip. “I remember my mother putting multiple layers on us to minimize packing,” said 30-year-old Clough, a Philadelphia resident. “I also distinctly remember a train, a plane, and a boat. The train took us to Germany, where my dad…

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Victim of Political Violence in Bangladesh in 1990s Still Fears Going Home

April 16, 2018

BY MARIE CENTRIC — It’s been 26 years since Osman Chowdhury was almost killed by a gang in Bangladesh and fled to the United States. Chowdhury said he is still scared of being killed when he goes back to his native country. Chowdhury was 24 in 1991, when seven young men attacked him in Chittagong, in Southern Bangladesh, surprising him in second floor government office. They broke his nose and tried strangle him with his tie, he said. Chowdhury managed to escape, ran out to the streets and made it to a police station. “I had to save my life,” Chowdhury, now 52, said with a trembling voice. But the seven attackers pursued him inside the precinct, and officers were afraid of them and refused to press charges, Chowdhury said.

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Indian Women’s Long Wait For Justice in Gender Violence Cases

May 11, 2017

BY SHIBANI GOKHALE — Twenty-five years after Bhanwari Devi reported that five men raped her to deter her activism, she still awaits justice. Though the attack prompted nationwide protests in India and led to the enactment of a new legislation protecting women from sexual assault in the workplace, Devi’s attackers are yet to be punished.

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A Rebirth of Iranian Journalism

May 8, 2017

BY ALISON GONDOSCH — In 2016, several Iranian publications were either closed or suspended along with the imprisonment of eight Iranian journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Most of these journalists were charged with propaganda against the state.

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Zimbabwe: Child Brides

May 8, 2017

BY TANYA NYATHI — In Zimbabwe, 72 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day. Biting hunger, cash shortages, tight liquidity, and collective layoffs are common. According to International Labour Organization, over 80 percent of the population is unemployed. In many families, arranging a marriage for a daughter reduces the number of mouths to feed.

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Syrian Refugees with Disabilities and the Scramble to Accommodate Them

May 4, 2017

BY KYLEE TSURU — “When people are on the move, or really fleeing, they enter a new environment that is busy and different. It is especially hard for that individual and family to cope if a disability is involved,” said Mica Bevington of Handicap International, an organization that provides aid to people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations living in conflict and disaster zones.

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Not Welcomed Home: Pakistan’s Ahmadi Community

May 2, 2017

BY HANIYA JAVED — There are as many 5000 Ahmadi Muslims living in the tristate area of New York. Seventy percent of them are Pakistanis, according to Ahmadiyya Muslim Communtiy, USA. The highest numbers of asylum seekers are from Pakistan because of the anti Ahmadi laws and constitutional amendments introduced in 1974 that declared the community non Muslims and made it a criminal offence for them to pose as Muslims.

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From Kyrgyzstan to Google: A Gay Man Finds Asylum in New York

April 28, 2017

BY DANIEL BEREZOWSKY — In a country with an 80 percent Muslim population, homosexuality is considered by many to be dishonorable. But in 1990s, when Sayid was growing up, it was also a crime. As a newly independent state, Kyrgyzstan kept many of the laws of the Soviet Union, including the sodomy prohibition that penalized homosexual acts with up to two years of prison.

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African Refugees Fleeing Persecution, and Arriving at Yemen’s War

April 26, 2017

BY DAVID JEANS — Since 2013, smugglers and human traffickers have lured almost 300,000 Ethiopian and Somali refugees to cross the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with promises of security and economic opportunities. More than 400 people have died during the journey since 2013, according to the United Nations. But the inflow of refugees poses a complicated exigency for humanitarian efforts working to stabilize the country — as Yemeni’s flee their own country in the opposite direction toward the Horn of Africa.

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From Damascus to Germany: A Long Journey To Work

BY MARIA MARTINEZ — Samer woke early each morning to go to work, like most people. But each day, Samer feared that he might be killed on his way to his job at the Arab bank in the rebel-held section of Damascus. Each day, Samer was stopped at six government checkpoints. At each stop, the fear of death hung low over his head. It was a long journey to work.

April 26, 2017
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A Syrian Refugee’s Difficult Path to a New Home in US

April 25, 2017

BY SUMMER LIN — Mohamed, a former chef from Syria, can still remember the moment he received the call from the UN telling him that he and his family had been approved to move to the United States. “They said ready or not, you’re going to America tomorrow,” he said in Arabic, through a translator.

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Zimbabwe Activist Held on Treason Charges

April 25, 2017

BY TANYA NYATHI — Evan Mawarire remembers receiving a harrowing call in May of last year. The person on the other end of the phone spoke in Shona, a dominant dialect among Zimbabweans. “Do you know that that very flag that you have around your neck could strangle you to death?”

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Hearing Women’s Voices in Humanitarian Response

May 9, 2016

BY CAROLINE SPIVACK & ASWINI PERIYASAMY At the UN’s 2016 Commission on the Status of Women, Joyce Kilipo, Mary Jack and Yolette Etienne discuss the difficult reality of being women first responders during times of crisis. For more on women first responders go to Women As First Responders and Women As First Responders in Humanitarian Action. Music C/O Podington Bear

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Women as First Responders

May 9, 2016

BY ASWINI PERIYASAMY When asked why she became a first responder during Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, Brenda Brewer Moore said she drew her resolve from one of her country’s darkest times, “I lived the majority of my childhood years in Liberia during the civil war and saw the amount of death and destruction that the war caused. And as a child, one thing I promised myself was that one thing that I…

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Will Vietnam Legalize Prostitution?

May 4, 2016

Vietnam debates the issue — unthinkable a decade ago in a country dominated by Confucianism. By DIEN LUONG It was past midnight and Ngo Thi Mong Linh had already gone to sleep when her cellphone suddenly rang. Linh knew all too well what to anticipate from the other end. “A sex worker was urging me to come to rescue her,” Linh recalled in an interview. “Her client robbed her of…

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Zambia: The Vexing Problem of Violence Against Women

BY BRIAN FRESKOS Shadreck Banda wanted to punish his wife. The couple had gotten into an argument about dinner. Banda wanted nshima, a traditional Zambian porridge, with roasted pork; but his wife, Beatrice Zulu, had foregone the pork and cooked beans instead. After his wife had lain down, Banda erupted into a fit of vengeance, picked the piping pot of beans off the fire and poured it onto her. Zulu…

May 4, 2016
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Beyond the Podium: Women Compete Internationally for Gender Equality at Home

May 4, 2016

BY ANNIKA HAMMERSCHLAG When Moroccan-born Nawal el Moutawakel won the gold medal for the 400 meter hurdles at the 1984 Summer Olympics, she became the first woman from not only Morocco, but a Muslim majority country to win an Olympic gold medal. “It changed how people looked at a woman athlete from that culture,” said American Olympian Donna de Varona, who has won two gold medals in swimming and has…

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Women’s Vital Role in Collecting and Managing Water

BY SAHER KHAN In the Niger Delta, women, who have the primary responsibility for management of household water supply, are providing dirty water to their families, not because they want to, but because they have no choice. According to UNEP and an Amnesty International analysis, the history of oil exploration in the Niger Delta has contaminated fisheries and polluted groundwater pipes and boreholes that are sources of water in communities…

April 29, 2016
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Ghana: A Community Approach to Violence against Women

April 29, 2016

BY KATHRYN DAVIS Women and girls in Ghana have been victims of sexual assaults and other gender-based violence at some of the highest rates in the world, and Ghanaian officials say they have made little progress in stopping the violence. “We still experience high rates of gender-based violence in many societies globally, Ghana included, violence within families, culture and it defies all of our efforts,” Martha Ama Akaya, Ghana’s UN…

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Empowering Muslim Women through Storytelling

BY SAHER KHAN A petite woman, dressed in black save the white silk scarf wrapped around her head takes her place at the center of a stage. “Do you know what it’s like to represent a billion human beings everyday you walk out of your house?” she asks the audience. “To be looked at as a representation of an entire world religion? It’s exhausting…I’m tired,” she goes on. “I’m tired…

April 29, 2016
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Evaluating the United Nations with Gender

BY JIHYE LEE Critiquing yourself is hard. And imagine if the evaluation is of a decades long effort to fulfill the goals of fighting poverty, inequality and climate change. It’s made ieven tougher because the crucial data and feedback come from the countries whose records aren’t stellar on those issues In mid March, a number of organizations gathered at the United Nations to discuss methods of evaluating the process of…

April 29, 2016
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Arraigned in a Kenyan Court for Procuring an Abortion

April 29, 2016

BY SHANDUKANI OMPHULUSA MULAUDZI Ruth Mumbi was arrested by the police five years ago for what they said was a demonstration to incite violence in her community of Mathare, a slum in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Mumbi organized a group of women to protest the country’s high maternal mortality rate. More recently however, Mumbi has advocated for the rights of young women who have been arrested after they underwent unsafe abortions….

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Bahamas Leader in Fun, Sun and Sexual Assault

BY SCOTT SELMER The Bahamas is a favorite tourist destination—famous for its bright blue ocean, white sand beaches and crystal blue skies. However, there is a subculture of crime that may not be well known to tourists or outsiders. The Bahamas leads the Caribbean in the number of recorded rapes of women and girls and ranks among the worst countries in the world for gender-based violence (GBV). Private organizations and…

April 29, 2016
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Women as First Responders in Humanitarian Action

April 29, 2016

BY CAROLINE SPIVACK Before Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu in March 2015, Mary Jack helped neighbors on her home island of Tanna reinforce roofs with panaudu leaves and sandbags. But the cyclone turned out to be one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall with winds upwards of 150 miles an hour and left 70 percent of Vanuatu’s 277,000 population displaced. “For women, we were in confusion and overwhelmed by…

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Yazidi Woman Tells of Being an ISIS Sex Slave

April 29, 2016

BY AZADEH VALANEJAD Seven thousand Yazidi women and girls from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar were abducted on March 15, 2014 by the Islamic State and forced into sex slavery. Five thousand of their husbands, fathers, and brothers murdered in front of their eyes. Three thousand of those women and girls are still in ISIS’ captivity, according to the UN. Nadia Murad Basee Taha, 21, was one of those…

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