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Don’t shut your doors to refugees

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية
The author on the day of his graduation from the Master of Writing Studies program at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia in 2008. © Jenny Spinner

I walked among dead bodies of people blown up by bombs. I ducked and covered from bullets falling around my feet, and I was almost choked to death by an angry mourner. One of millions of Iraqis, I was trying to survive a brutal reality that never seemed to end.

I still cannot escape these images. I still smell the dead. I had to go to where death lay due to my job as a reporter. That job left many journalists, including one of my former colleagues at the Washington Post, dead.

As rewarding as it was, that job cost me my country. I had to seek refuge. Armed groups had taken every chance to attack journalists and their families, especially those who worked for American media. They kidnapped them, tortured them, and asked for ransoms to spare their lives. I did not want this to happen to my family.

#Music4Dev guest Rahim Alhaj: We have a responsibility to end the refugee crisis

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية

He learned to play the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, at an early age in his hometown of Baghdad. He grew up writing protest songs against the dictator who ruled his country with an iron fist for three decades. He was imprisoned, tortured, and eventually forced to leave his beloved Iraq in 1991. He later found refuge in the United States.

A new strategy to address gender inequality

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français | 中文
The evidence is clear: When countries value girls and women as much as boys and men; when they invest in their health, education, and skills training; when they give women greater opportunities to participate in the economy, manage incomes, own and run businesses—the benefits extend far beyond individual girls and women to their children and families, to their communities, to societies and economies at large.

Brain resilience can be key to healthy aging

Dorota Chapko's picture
A man holds his 11-month-old granddaughter. Photo: Allison Kwesell / World Bank


In our previous blog post, we wrote about how getting a good head start in brain development builds the foundation of our cognitive abilities. It puts us in a path towards socio-economic success and makes us more resilient to aging and mid-life adversities. In this post, we’ll discuss how early-life experiences influence the development of socio-emotional abilities and of a more resilient brain, and how this new evidence can help development professionals design cost-effective policies that take into account a person’s human development during his/her lifetime.
 
Optimal brain development can in turn make healthy aging possible. As Jack Shonkoff and colleagues have put it: “Many adult diseases are, in fact, developmental disorders that begin early in life.”

Missed our #16Days campaign against gender-based violence? Here’s your chance to catch up

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

The global #16Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign started on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ended on International Human Rights Day, which was celebrated on December 10.
 
Throughout those #16Days, the World Bank’s message was clear:  Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a global pandemic that has or will affect 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Violence is not only a personal struggle for the victims, but also has severe consequences on social and economic outcomes.
 

Finding the missing millions can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
Students in Bangladesh. © Scott Wallace/World Bank


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, approved in September, takes a holistic approach to development and presents no fewer than 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In committing to the goals and associated targets, the international community has agreed to a more ambitious development compact — that of ending poverty, protecting the planet while "leaving no one behind".

Despite this ambition, we may not know who precisely is being left out of our development programs or how to more effectively target our intended beneficiaries.

Migrant or refugee: What’s in a name?

Xavier Devictor's picture
What is the difference between an economic migrant and a refugee? In principle, the response is clear: economic migrants are essentially people in search of opportunities for economic betterment, while refugees are fleeing a peril for their lives and their specific status is defined under the 1951 Geneva Convention.In the face of such despair, traditional mechanisms for managing economic migration simply do not work, while refugee law does not apply.

Experts, communities convene to develop evidence-based approaches to prevent intimate partner violence in Honduras

Amber L. Hill's picture
The communities of Choloma, La Ceiba and el Progreso in Honduras all had one question in common:  "When can we get started?"

"We want solutions that work and we want them now," said a community leader from La Ceiba during a meeting with national and international experts on the adaptation of an evidence-based intervention to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Honduras. La Ceiba is one of the cities most affected by violence in Honduras, which has the highest homicide rate in the world at 90.4 deaths/100,000 people. More specifically, rates of violence targeted towards women and girls are also alarmingly high:
  • A total of 27% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15; some regions have rates up to 40%.
  • Similarly to other countries around the world, the vast majority of the perpetrators are intimate partners or ex-partners.
These statistics clearly demonstrate the need for interventions that seek to affect the root causes that underlie gender-based violence in Honduras.
 

Join webcast this Dec. 7 -- Violence against Women and Girls: It’s Everybody’s Business

Claudia Gabarain's picture

As part of the World Bank's involvement in the #16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, we'll be holding a discussion  this Monday, December 7 at 9:30 a.m. EST (14:30 GMT) to look at how we can end violence against women and girls. Moderated by journalist Joanne Levine, it'll include gynecologist and Sakharov Prize winner Denis Mukwege, M.D.; pediatrician Nadia Hashimi; Imam Yahya Hendi from Georgetown University; the president of the Representation Project, Kristen Joiner; and World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Makhtar Diop.

Follow the live stream here and participate through the live blog hosted by experts in gender issues here at the Bank.
 

How Jordan is expanding its assistance to victims of gender-based violence

Paul Prettitore's picture
Grasping the full extent of violence against women is difficult everywhere.   In the Middle East, it can be both difficult and dangerous for women to report abuse given social attitudes toward the roles of women and men within the family. 

In Jordan, the violence against girls and women embodies the problem.  The Jordanian government’s Population and Family Health Survey captures only a portion of the scale of violence against women.  Social norms are at play; roughly 70% of Jordanian women think there are circumstances that justify a husband beating his wife.  Over one-third (34%) of Jordanian women report that they have experienced some form of physical violence since the age of 15.  One in three Jordanian women experienced some form of emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence from their spouse, and almost 1 in 10 experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. 

One of the major concerns resulting from the survey is that almost half (47%) the women reporting violence did not seek any type of help, with less than 5% taking steps to address sexual violence.  Very few women seek help from medical providers, police, lawyers or social service organizations. 

Over the past four years the World Bank Group has been collaborating with the Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA) -- a Jordanian civil society organization -- to pilot legal aid services for poor Jordanians as well as Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.  As is often the case, poverty status is a strong indicator of the likelihood of violence in Jordan.  Poorer women were more likely to report all types of violence, and higher frequency of such violence.  They are also more likely to believe such violence is justified. 

The legal aid program provides awareness/information, counseling and legal representation by a lawyer to aid the poor in addressing legal problems.  The majority of JCLA beneficiaries – just over 70% - are women.  And one of the ‘justice gaps’ identified by JCLA is in providing effective legal services to female victims of violence. 

Jordan adopted legislation to protect victims of domestic violence in 2008, giving victims, for the first time, access to protection orders – one of the most effective tools in addressing violence.  Victims can also receive direct compensation.  It also provided confidential proceedings and procedures to detain alleged abusers.  A specialized institution – the Family Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior – was established to implement the reform, providing access to multiple services, including complaints/investigation, medical care and social counseling.   
 
Yet the law left a number of gaps in place.  It applies only to perpetrators living with the victims, so ex-husbands, boyfriends and brothers may not be covered, and the survey shows they are often the ones committing the abuse. It also leaves in place a heavy focus on reconciliation, to the possible detriment of protecting the victims.   Lack of shelters for victims, along with the inability to link requests for child custody and child support with protection orders, may prevent many women from seeking help. 

To date, JCLA’s assistance has been focused primarily around awareness and information for victims.  This focus is now about to grow.  With the assistance of the World Bank Group, JCLA is launching an initiative to provide more comprehensive services to women victims of violence.  The plans include establishing a referral system in the Family Protection Department and placing a legal aid lawyer at each of the Department’s in-take centers.

What do we hope to achieve?  There are several opportunities.  The overarching goal is to ensure poor women can access services and achieve some level of justice to address the violence they suffer.  More specifically, the referral system should aid in providing victims the legal services they need to initiate and navigate criminal proceedings, including obtaining and enforcing protection orders.     Victims will also have assistance addressing legal problems commonly linked to domestic violence, such as divorce, child custody, child support and alimony. 

As a lawyer, I volunteer my time representing poor persons, including women seeking protection orders, at the Superior Court here in Washington, D.C.  I understand the importance of providing legal assistance to female victims of domestic violence, and am encouraged to see such an initiative launched in Jordan.  

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