February 28, 2008
Short Film: Lusaka Sunrise
"In Africa, soccer is religion," commentator Dennis Liewewe declares. With millions of fans and thousands of youth aspiring to be soccer stars, soccer effortlessly catalyzes community. When Silas Hagerty took a trip to Zambia in the summer of 2006, he witnessed the power of soccer as an organizing principle and its potential to raise awareness about AIDS prevention. Here is what he saw....
August 13, 2007
Addressing the Physical and Mental Health of Women Trafficked in Europe
The following is the second in a series of informal reports from Piotr M. Pawlak, a colleague in Washington DC. Piotr is the Human Rights and International Relations Specialist for Amnesty International USA, and Government Relations Fellow, Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia. He actively participates in international forums on issues related to gender-based violence, gender equality and reproductive health.
On June 28 in Washington, DC, I participated in a presentation entitled "Addressing the Physical and Mental Health of Women Trafficked in Europe." The event was sponsored by the Gender-Based Violence Task Force of the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG).
The speaker was Professor Charlotte Watts, co-author of the report, "Stolen Smiles: A Summary Report on the Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Women and Adolescents Trafficked in Europe." She discussed the health consequences of trafficking and what could be done to help women recover.
Dr. Watts holds the Sigrid Rausing Chair in Gender Violence and Health and is head of the newly established Multidisciplinary Centre on Gender, Violence and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK.
Dr. Watts summarized her report and concluded that women who have been subjected to trafficking and forced into service, including sex work, are more likely to suffer multiple physical and mental health problems than the general female population, according to a recent study. However, once released from such situations, women can show vast improvement after only a month of professional care.
The study "Stolen Smiles" included 207 women from 14 countries who had been recently released from a trafficking situation. The researchers interviewed trafficked women from four "spheres of marginalization and vulnerability," including:
- Migrant women
- Exploited laborers
- Sex workers
- Torture victims
According to the report:
- Sixty percent of the women interviewed were physically or sexually abused before being trafficked. This figure rose to 95 percent of the women during their trafficking situation.
- Many women suffered severe physical health problems: within the first two weeks upon release, 57 percent of women reported between 12 and 23 symptoms, with the most common symptoms being headaches, fatigue, dizzy spells, back pain, stomach/abdominal pain, and memory problems.
- After three to eight weeks of treatment, the incidence decreased significantly to 7 percent.
- Trafficked women are at high risk for psychological problems. Upon their entry into a care facility, 56 percent of women reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 95 percent reported feeling depressed.
- These problems appear to be more persistent, as most women did not show improvement until they received medical care for at least 90 days.
In her final statement Dr. Watts recognized that trafficked women suffer significant and dramatic health problems and consequences, and recommended the following:
- Recognition of the physical and mental condition of women who enter the legal system once they are released from the trafficking situation. Dr. Watts cautioned that a trafficking victim "might be treated as a criminal instead of someone who has faced horrendous physical and mental abuse."
- Giving women the time, support, and health care they are likely to need before conducting in-depth interviews/interrogations to collect criminal evidence and before asking them to make considered decisions.
- Creation of legislation that would provide trafficked women with a full range of health care services, regardless of their legal status in a country. She stated that once the women are released from the trafficking situation, a 90-day period of reflection is necessary for the women to receive treatment and recover to a point where they are able to make decisions about cooperating with authorities or returning home.
- Raising awareness in the legal system by conducting sensitization training and distributing pamphlets on how to appropriately deal with women who have been trafficked. Some of the practical tips include being aware of the women's state of health; providing essential medical care before interrogation; establishing trust by making male or female officials available, whichever the trafficked women would prefer; and using a credible interpreter who would not compromise the victim or manipulate the answers.
I hope this helps. Thank you,
Piotr M. Pawlak, M.A.
Human Rights and International Relations Specialist
Amnesty International USA, Government Relations Fellow
Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia
19 T. Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA
August 06, 2007
Gender Norms and Reproductive Health
The following is an informal report from Piotr M. Pawlak, a colleague in Washington DC. Piotr is the Human Rights and International Relations Specialist for Amnesty International USA, and Government Relations Fellow, Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia. He actively participates in international forums on issues related to gender-based violence, gender equality and reproductive health. We will publish these reports regularly as Piotr updates us on his meetings and activities.
On Thursday, August 2, 2007, I participated in a panel presentation: "Are Gender Norms A 'Gateway Factor' To Reproductive Health Behaviors? The reliability and validity of a behavioral index for predicting multiple FP/RH and HIV/AIDS behaviors" - Preliminary Results from a Study with Ethiopian Married Men.
By: Dr. Susan Middlestadt, Indiana University
Dr. Julie Pulerwitz, Horizons Program
Dr. Karabi Acharya, Geeta Nanda, Bridget Lombardo, AED
Currently, the Health Communications Partnership (HCP), in collaboration with the Horizons Program (HP), is implementing research focused on gender norms and a range of health behaviors (e.g. condom use, practice of abstinence, modern contraceptive use).
Panelists agreed that gender norms are social expectations about how men and women should behave due to the fact they are men ad women; and since these expectations influence many behaviours, gender norms might operate as a gateway factor.
Panelists presented findings on a new behavioral index on gender norms as a factor that affects multiple health behaviors of interest to FP/RH/HIV programs. The index sheds light on how support for (in)equitable gender norms is associated with or predicts an array of behaviors (a Behaviour Index is a composite measure that captures the performance of a number of behaviours; beyond 2 or 3 key behaviours). Presenters shared new research data on the reliability and validity of the GEM ("Gender Equitable Men") Scale across several country settings (India, Ethiopia, Brazil).
Presenters agreed that GEM Scale is related to Index of Intimate Partner Behaviours and is related to 10 individual intimate partner behaviours (I have a detailed list of such correlations available). However, GEM Scale is not related to several individual behaviours, particularly violence behaviours:
- hit or slap your wife
- yell at your wife when a meal is late
- brag with other men how many women you had sex with
- speak up in public against hitting women
- have sex with someone when they did not want to
- help around the house with cooking or cleaning
- tell your wife you were unhappy or afraid.
Although, the study focused on men to measure their gender norms change, some attendees asked how to use the same approach to female gender norms change about men. According to the panelists, that is a next step in the HCP/HP research, but there are no preliminary results
Final study implications for other programs was to invest more resources in intervention to improve gender norms, and include explicit discussion of gender norms in Behaviour Change Communication.
I hope this of some interest and help.
In addition, just a few days ago I found this very interesting publication prepared by Margaret Greene for the Interagency Gender Working Group. It lays out many of the key resources for working with men and provides a framework for distinguishing among varied programs, illustrating the range with strong examples. I thought you may be interested.
Piotr M. Pawlak, M.A.
Human Rights and International Relations Specialist
Amnesty International USA, Government Relations Fellow
Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia
19 T. Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA
July 12, 2007
Young Men's Health and Behavior Research Guide
Guide for Conducting Research on the Formulation of Sexual and Health-Related Behaviour among Young Men
This instruction manual on conducting research on the gender- and sexuality-related perceptions of teenage boys and young men describes how to conduct studies of reproductive health behaviors using "social and sexual scripting": organizing and linking together what people think, what they do, and how they are affected by the sociocultural context in which they live, through accumulated responses to a multiplicity of socio-cultural cues. It includes sections on training of interviewers and facilitators, guides for focus group discussions and interviews, data analysis through key themes and thematic analysis, and resources. For more information on this resource or to download a full PDF of the report, click the link:
June 14, 2007
Safety and Security: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators of Violence
by Rachael Diprose
Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), and The Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security, and Ethnicity (CRISE)
University of Oxford, May 2007
Available online as PDF file [64p] at: http://www.ophi.org.uk/pubs/DiproseSafety.pdf
"...One of the greatest impediments to human security in the post-Cold War era is not inter-state wars resulting in mass destruction fought by the armed forces of nation states, but violence, perpetrated by individuals, groups, and state actors within the internal borders of nations (Hegre et al, 2001).
Violence, resulting from everyday crime, large scale communal conflicts, insurgencies, or through state repression can and does undo the development gains achieved in education, health, employment, capital generation and infrastructure provision. Violence is a public health problem, a human rights problem, a community problem, and a problem for the state and the international community.
It impedes human freedom to live safely and securely and can sustain poverty traps in many communities. However, violence is not always an inevitable part of human interaction. Many multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and poor peoples manage human interaction and channel conflict and the propensity for violence in peaceful ways...."
Table of Contents
2 Violence: safety and security as a dimension of poverty
2.1 What is violence?.
2.2 Types of violence: bridging conflict and crime analyses
2.3 Why consider this dimension? Violence and its impacts
2.4 Correlations between poverty, conflict and crime-related violence
3 Data collection: what are available and what are the issues?
3.1 Data on violence and threats to security in the form of crime
3.2 Data on conflict and related forms of violence
3.3 Why use household surveys?
4.1 Part 1: Indicators of incidents of threats to physical safety and security: against property
4.1.1 Sub-forms of property related crime and violence
4.1.2 Questions asked for six-sub forms of property related crime and violence.
4.2 Part 2: Indicators of incidents of threats to physical safety and security: against person 1
4.3 Part 3: Domestic violence.
4.4 Part 4: Perceptions of safety and violence
6 Appendix 1: Summary of Questionnaires, Indicators, and Recommendations
7 Appendix 2: Indicators of violence, physical safety, and security: comprehensive module
8 Appendix 3: Questions on physical safety and security from internationally comparable surveys
* * * *
January 16, 2007
World Health Org to focus on Women and Africa
Women and Africa, Paramount for New Female Director-General of WHO
Margaret Chan, the newly-elected Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), recently announced an agenda for her term centered around women’s health. Dr. Chan is focused on achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, which include the promotion of gender equality and female empowerment, as well as improving maternal health.
Chan is also focused on fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, as it has begun to affect more women and children. According to WHO, in sub-Saharan Africa, women make up almost 60 percent of those infected with HIV and the infection rates among adolescent girls and young women are much higher than those of young males. Chan's goals reach beyond physical health and aim to empower women to "leverage their resources and their creativity and become change agents" because she believes that women who are empowered "can make changes, not only to themselves but also to their families and their communities."
Chan previously held the position of director of Health of Hong Kong, where she managed outbreaks of avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Her first job in her 30 years of public health service involved taking care of children and pregnant women. In November 2006, she was elected to replace Dr. Lee Jong-wook (who passed away suddenly last year) and will serve until 2012.
Media Resources: WHO 1/4/07; New York Times 1/5/07; UN News Service 11/10/06
September 14, 2006
Education = Safer Sex, Less HIV for Girls in Africa
Via: Feminist Daily News Wire
September 6, 2006
More Education Leads to Safer Sex and Less HIV for Girls in Africa
A recent report by Action Aid International finds that girls who are better educated begin having sex later, are more likely to use condoms, and have a decreased chance of contracting HIV. The report, "Girl Power: The Impact of Girls' Education on HIV and Sexual Behavior," finds that girls who have completed secondary school have less risky behavior than those who have only completed primary school. The report also finds that better educated boys are more likely to have safer sex and protect themselves against HIV than less educated boys.
The authors of the report stress the special need of girls to be educated, as "Young women receiving higher levels of education are likely to wait longer before having sex for the first time, and are less likely to be coerced into sex." Women are hurt by the structure of the education systems in most African countries, which charge fees for schooling that increase with grade level, leaving many girls without the opportunity to finish primary school, let alone secondary school.
The report recommends that schools stop charging students for primary school to increase education rates for both girls and boys. It also recommends that comprehensive sexual education be taught in primary school, with condom use heavily promoted, according to Population Action International.
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Media Resources: Girl Power: The Impact of Girls' Education on HIV and Sexual Behavior, Action Aid International 8/06, Population Action International 9/5/2006
September 13, 2006
Connecting Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS
This is one of the items from the September eNewsletter distributed by Global Violence Prevention Advocacy. The blurb below introduces a comprehensive and compelling report substanitating the link between violence against women and children and the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is incredibly thorough and well documented. To downoad a copy of the report, click here.
A Report on Violence Against Women and Children and HIV AIDs
Global Aids Alliance, a group based in Washington, D.C., has spearheaded a report on the link between the transmission of HIV and violence against women and children. The report calls for attention and a comprehensive response to violence against women. If societies do not prevent violence, the rates of infection will not decrease and many millions more will suffer.
More than twenty million women and children worldwide have the HIV virus. Women who experience violence may be nearly three times more likely to acquire it. Sub Saharan Africa has an acute crisis of infection and violence against women and children. The complete report compels us to care and to act. Share this report widely.
May 10, 2006
Male Impotence on College Campuses
It is new information to me that erectile dysfunction is increasing in college-aged males. It is even newer "information" that some are explaining this away as the result of feminisim. Here's the logic: women have become more sexually assertive; the "sexual allure" of the chase is minimized or gone; men aren't turned on. This obviously is yet more mis-guided feminist backlash as well as demeaning to men (i.e. the idea that men can only be sexual with someone that they can't have - they are incapable of intimacy and the sexual feelings that result). In the post below, Hugo Schwyzer offers some good thinking on all of this:
via Hugo Schwyzer - Thanking God for Impotence: A Reflection on Erectile Dysfunction
April 27, 2006
Men's Sex Life at 50
Finally, a scientific study that does not "reveal" the obvious. In fact it breaks an apparent myth. Here is all you need to know: Men in their 50s are more satisfied with their sex lives than men in their 30s, a new study shows. If you want more details, go to the link below.
via Web MD - Men's Sex Life Better at 50 Than 30
April 12, 2006
Irritable Male Syndrome
Irritable Male Syndrome? I had not heard of this until I read the piece below. It is, apparently, similar to PMS - men suffering from mood swings and depression due to hormone changes. There is even a book about it: The Irritable Male Syndrome by Jed Diamond. What do you think?
via Blog Critics - Irritable Male Syndrome: A Male Version of PMS
March 22, 2006
Men Are More Prone To Injury When Mad
A study finds that men are more prone to being injured when they are angry (another study that confirms the obvious):
If men described themselves as being hostile, angry or mad at themselves, their risk of injury doubled. Vinson estimated that at least 10 percent of emergency room cases could be avoided if people did not take action when they were angry.
It is interesting that this isn't the case for women. Why the difference? The study did not delve into that. I suspect that it's because women are more likely to talk through their anger with someone, while men are more likely to bottle it up or expend their anger through action.
via Missouri University News - Men More Prone To Maladies When Mad
March 07, 2006
Male Infertility and Testicular Cancer
Often male infertility is discovered when a couple is trying to get pregnant. Then, the cause of the infertility will sometimes be ignored and the focus will fall on how to get pregnant (usually through sperm injection or in vitro fertilization). It is important to pursue the cause of the infertility because there is a chance that it is linked to testicular cancer or a blockage in the vas defrens that can be corrected.
via Web MD - Male Infertility and Testicular Cancer
December 16, 2005
Gender and Mortality
Today I am turning over the weblog to Michael Kimmel (sociologist and author who is highly respected for his work on men and masculinity). He has given me permission to re-print some comments on an article focusing on patriarchy and men's mortality rates:
This is a fascinating study of gender and mortality rates. On the one hand, it makes clear that, contrary to men's rights arguments, it is not feminist gains that are the source of the difference in mortality rates, but quite the contrary: it is male supremacy that leads to higher mortality for males.
On the other hand, it also suggests that the argument that gender equality is also in men's interests is not simply self-serving pabulum. While of course the ethical imperative alone should lead men to support gender equality, it's also nice to know that they'll live longer in countries that do.
And it also supports the claim that supporting gender equality is not simply a life-style issue, but a national one. It is not argued that individual men who support gender equality live longer, just that more gender equal nations have closed the mortality gap considerably. (Oh, and one more thing: there is no evidence that the closing gap is because women have "caught up" to men in stress related diseases etc. It's that BOTH women and men live longer.)
via JECH online - Is Patriarchy The Source of Men's Higher Mortality?
November 16, 2005
Job Stress and Young Men's Arteries
The link between stress and heart disease, especially amongst men is not news. But this latest study is showing that younger men are affected by job stress - not just older men. Also there seems to be a gender-link in that women were also studied along with men. Women develop heart disease at a slower rate than men - according to this study.
via msnbc - Job Stress May Be Bad For Young Men's Arteries
October 11, 2005
Immunizing Boys to Protect Girls
There is new drug called Gardasil which, given as a vaccine, will help guard against cervical cancer. The drug is to be given to young women before they become sexually active (the HPV virus, which the vaccine works against, is transmitted sexually and is the cause of cervical cancer). This is great news.
There are several concerns with the administration of this drug (one from the conservative-front about the use of the vaccine encouraging promiscuity), but also about the potential for the vaccine to be given to young boys before they become sexually active. There is a great overview and discussion in the comments-section of Hugo Schwyzer's blog.
Here is the quote from the LA Times that Hugo references:
If approved, the vaccine would probably be administered to children 12 or younger, before they become sexually active — including boys, who can be carriers of the virus.
Here are two quotes from Hugo on the implications of this:
But as a man interested in pro-feminist work with young men, I'm thrilled by the prospect of the vaccine being given to young men and boys. One of the most important things we in the pro-feminist movement try to do is teach young men to take an interest in, and to some degree, a responsibility for, the health of their current or future sexual partners.
Without dis-empowering girls, we do well to teach boys that there are some tangible and practical ways in which they can take care of the young women in their lives.
Right on! My only concern with this train of thought is - who is going to make clear the connection to young men that by taking this vaccine they are taking responsibility for their future sexual partners? Given that we seem to have taken some steps backwards in recent years in regards to responsible sexuality, I don't see how this would be clearly communicated. It would likely become just another of a series of vaccines that children get, often without much real information about the importance of receiving them.
If you want to read more about this and the stimulating conversation in the comment section - check out Hugo's post here.
September 22, 2005
Fewer Biopsies For Prostate Cancer
Over 1 million men a year have biopsies of the prostate gland after a cancer-screening test reveals elevated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. But, only one-in-four of these men are diagnosed with cancer. Now, by performing some simple mathematical/statistical calculations, doctors will be able to better predict the chances of prostate cancer - and reduce the need for unnecessary biopsies.
via Aetna Intelihealth - Researchers Find Better Predictor Of Prostate Cancer Risk
September 12, 2005
Five Ailments That Affect Young Men
The link below is to an article about the five common ailments that affect young men. I thought it would be important to post some men's health-realted items on this site. The information seems accurate. But its important to note the following: "young" according to this site is 18-35 y.o.; I am pretty sure this site is connected to the publication Men's Health, which I would not recommend; and in speaking about passing kidney stones, the doctor refers to one's ureter and urethra as "man tubes". You be the judge.