Jun
14
2011

Afghanistan Among Worst Countries for Women

India in Top Five

Afghanistan Among Worst Countries for Women

A recent global survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked the worst countries in which to be a woman. Afghanistan topped the list, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan, India and Somalia. The real surprise, though, was India -- "a country rapidly developing into an economic super-power" -- which rated high on the level of female infanticide and sex trafficking.

Findings were based on responses from over 200 professionals and specialists in gender issues. Each country was ranked in terms of six risk factors: health, discrimination and lack of access to resources, cultural and religious practices, sexual violence, human trafficking and conflict-related violence.

The survey was launched in conjunction with the Thomson Reuters Foundation's website, TrustLaw Woman, which links up local NGOs and social entrepreneurs with established law firms willing to offer women pro-bono legal advice.

Afghanistan was scored the worst place for its health, economic/discrimination and non-sexual violence. "Continuing conflict, NATO airstrikes and cultural practices combine to make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women," said Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world.

The Congo is cited as the country where rape and sexual violence is most pervasive. A recent US study claimed that more than 400,000 women are raped there each year. The UN referred to the Congo as "the rape capital of the world".

Pakistan made the list for its tribal and cultural rituals including "acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse." According to Pakistan's human rights commission, around 1,000 women and girls die every year because of honour killings.

India is said to have some 3 million prostitutes, 40% of which are children. "Up to 50 million girls are thought to be 'missing' over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide," said the UN population fund.

Somalia has high levels of maternal mortality, rape, female genital mutilation. Apparently the most dangerous thing a Somali woman can do is fall pregnant. Her life expectancy is immediately halved, because there is no healthcare. Add to that, rape, female genital mutilation, ongoing famine, drought, and conflict, and it's not hard to see why Somalia made the top five.

Monique Villa, chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, claimed lack of education and healthcare are as dangerous to women as violent crimes. "In Afghanistan, for instance, women have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth. In the top five countries, basic human rights are systematically denied to women."

The silver lining: More than 450 law firms are already involved in TrustLaw Woman, helping women everywhere in the long, uphill battle to equality.

Image Credit: http://www.trust.org

"
Jun
14
2011

Samuel L Jackson Narrates Go the F**k to Sleep

Bedtime Story Gone Viral

Samuel L Jackson Narrates Go the F**k to Sleep

What started as a pithy Facebook update has turned Adam Mansbach into a book world wonder. Unless you've been hiding under a very large rock, you've probably heard by now of his book, Go the F**k to Sleep. Thirty-four-year-old Mansbach, who is based in San Francisco, wrote the book last summer after umpteen bedtime battles with his busy, then-two-year-old daughter, Vivien.

“It began with me cracking a joke about ‘Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the F**k to Sleep,’” said Mansbach “I’m no social media wizard. It’s not like I used Facebook in any particularly sophisticated way. The response was positive enough that it encouraged me to keep making the joke for the next couple of weeks in real life.”

The book reads like an ironic lullaby, with four-line stanzas, the first two lines of which are soft and lilting, working up to the hilarious, expletive-laden pleas:

All the kids from day care are in dreamland.
The froggie has made his last leap.
Hell, no, you can’t go to the bathroom.
You know where you can go?

Take a wild guess... Needless to say, the story resonates with any number of exasperated parents.

Mansbach taps into the realities of modern parenthood by striking the funny bone where it is most sensitive. “There’s this culture of preciousness and perfection around parenting," he said, "So people are a little bit reluctant to admit to some of the frustrations because you’re supposed to be a super parent and not complain."

300,000 copies have been printed so far, and Go the F**k to Sleep is about to go into its fifth print run. There was even talk of a movie deal, before the book was even released. (After an online leak by a bookseller, which Mansbach inisists wasn't a marketing ploy, Go the F**k to Sleep went viral.)

In spite of the leak, the book is being touted as the "ultimate ironic baby-shower gift".

For Mansbach, things just keep getting better. Pulp Fiction actor, Samuel L. Jackson, can be heard by clicking this link.

"
Jun
14
2011

Pint-Sized Art Prodigies

Move Over Monet

Pint-Sized Art Prodigies

Four-year-old Aelita Andre already has her own exhibit at a Manhattan gallery this month. Her parents are both artists, so it makes you wonder whether Aelita has inherited their gifts or is it merely wishful thinking on their part that their daughter should follow in their footsteps.

"I used to paint and I had prepared a canvas on the floor," her father, Michael Andre, told NBC. "She was nine months old and she crawled onto the canvas and she just took to it. Her hands moved around the canvas."

So, he and his wife, Nikka Kalashnikova, bought Aelita large canvases, acrylic paints and other materials.

"She works with the paints individually and layers the paint and creates texture. It's amazing that she has an innate ability to do it," the father proud told NBC.

But Angela Di Bello, director of the Agora Gallery in New York City where Aelita's exhibition, "The Prodigy of Color," is being shown, was flabbergasted by the prodigy's work.

"I saw great colors, great movement, great composition and very playful and I thought this is fantastic." Then she discovered the artist was just four years old.

Di Bello claimed to see elements of abstract expressionism and surrealism and a style and consistency that set Aelita's work apart.

If you think your child's refrigerator masterpieces show equal promise, then consider this: some of Aelita's paintings go for up to $9,000. She may only be four, but she's a veteran, having held her first exhibition in Melbourne when she was two years old.

During a family trip to New York to visit the Museum of Modern Art, Aelita was noticeably miffed not to find her work showcased along those of Chagall and Picasso.

"Where are my paintings?" she reportedly asked.  The scary part is: they could well be there soon.

She isn't the only artist prodigy making the headlines. Seven-year-old Leilah Poulain has a painting of a penguin hanging in the exclusive Saatchi Gallery, and all because of a technical glitch. Her mother claimed to have 'accidentally' entered her daughter's penguin in a national art competition instead of downloading it to a private folder on her computer.

Two years later, Poulain won the competition. Now her penguin painting can be found hanging alongside works by Damien Hirst.

"Apparently there were 1,700 entries," Poulain's mother told the London Sun. "It seems it happened because I'm an idiot."

"Does this mean I'm famous?" she asked the Sun reporter. Like her American contemporary, the 7-year-old Brit would do well not to let all that talent go to her young head.

Image Credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk

"