2/21/08 Media Advisory: “United States Cited for Abuses to Women and Children in the U.S.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Alex Lee, Attorney at Law & Director, TGI Justice Project: 415/252-1444 (work)

Robin Levi, Human Rights Director, Justice Now: 415/377-5233 (cell)

GENEVA CONTACT:

Aleyamma Matthew, Program Director, WILD for Human Rights: + 41796153509 (cell)

UNITED STATES CITED FOR ABUSES TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE US

Bay Area Delegation Will Testify on a Global Stage on the Lack of Action to Improve Treatment of Pregnant Women in Prison, Economic Opportunities for Transgender Women of Color, and Health and Safety Protection for Child Farm Workers

San Francisco, CA February 21, 2008 – A recent report to the United Nations by three Bay Area human rights organizations documents rampant human rights abuses in California prisons, in the U.S. agricultural industry, and in the communities where transgender, gender variant and intersex people live. Representatives from the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), WILD for Human Rights, and Justice Now will travel to Geneva, Switzerland on February 21 and 22 to monitor the proceedings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) as the U.S. State Department and the Department of Justice defend the Bush Administration’s human rights record. The CERD committee will examine U.S. compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). As an international treaty ratified by the U.S., the ICERD has the force of law in the United States.

Human rights are not only for other countries. They are a fundamental issue that begins right here in the U.S. In this election year, it is critical that we become accountable global citizens and develop policies to enable each individual to live with dignity and respect,” said Miss Major, TGIJP’s Organizing Director who has been involved in the transgender community as an activist and advocate for over 35 years.

The TGI Justice Project, WILD for Human Rights and Justice Now researched and wrote Invisible Violations: Report on Human Rights Abuses on Women of Color in the United States, a shadow report charging the U.S. government with failing to fulfill with its obligations under the treaty.

Robin Levi, attorney and Human Rights Director at Justice Now, notes the importance of this report in that “We are using this report to ensure that the CERD committee hears the voices and stories of all women of color, especially the most marginalized. It is critical that the committee has the full picture of racial discrimination in the U.S.”

Aleyamma Mathew, Program Director at WILD for Human Rights added, “This report reveals that the United States government has shamefully left women and children of color behind through policy and legal loopholes that disproportionately impact women and children of color. The U.S. must launch a broad based comprehensive inquiry into these abuses and begin immediate steps to remedy their human rights record,”

Among the concerns identified in the report are the following:

  • Pregnant people in U.S. prisons face rampant violations. Doctor visits are infrequent and erratic and in some cases, prison medical staff ignored obvious warning signs of complications. In most states, women may still be shackled during labor and after delivery, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) specific opposition to the practice as dangerous to the well-being of the mother and the child.
  • Transgender women of color are often rendered invisible and marginalized by pervasive discrimination in U.S. society. They face obstacles to obtaining and retaining meaningful, lawful employment, and face a wide range of discrimination including sexual harassment, denial of promotions, and are subjected to insulting and invasive comments during the hiring process. Despite these problems, transgender and gender variant people are excluded from federal employment discrimination protections, as well as left out of proposed legislation that would protect lesbians and gay men (the Employment Non Discrimination Act of 2007-08.
  • Agricultural work is recognized as the most dangerous industry for children and yet, it is the least protected. About ¾ of all deaths to young workers under the age of 15 happened in agriculture and the risk of fatality (per hour worked) in an agricultural wage and salary job is over 4 times as great as the average risk for all working youth.
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To view a copy of Invisible Violations, the shadow report submitted to the UN CERD Committee, please visit: http://www.ourhumanrights.wordpress.com
For daily updates straight from our delegates in Geneva, and for additional information and resources, please visit our blog: www.ourhumanrights.wordpress.com.

_______________________________________________________________________

Justice Now works with people in women’s prisons and local communities to build safe, compassionate and world without prisons.

The Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project‘s (TGIJP) mission is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant/genderqueer and intersex (TGI) people in California prisons and beyond.

WILD for Human Rights seeks to advance human rights in the United States to protect the dignity of all people regardless of their identity. WILD aims to end identity based discrimination through training and education, advocacy and by partnering with communities and individuals on the implementation of human rights standards in the United States.

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