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Global study of urban poor links childhood adversity to adolescent violence and depression

46% of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38% suffered emotional neglect and 29% experienced physical neglect. But boys were more likely to report physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence victimization. Also, for both boys and girls, the more adversity they experienced, the more likely they were to engage in violent behaviors, such as bullying, threatening or hitting someone.

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In poor urban areas around the world, exposure to adverse events as children–including physical and emotional neglect, violence, and sexual abuse–is strongly associated with both adolescent depression and violence perpetrated by young people, with the data suggesting that boys are suffering even more than girls. This is according to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence with terrible, life-long consequences,” said Dr. Robert Blum, lead researcher for the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) that is based in multiple countries across five continents. “And while we found young girls often suffer significantly, contrary to common belief, boys reported even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return.”

The study catalogued the ACEs suffered by 1,284 adolescents aged 10 to 14 in 14 “low-income urban settings” around the world. It found remarkably common experiences with trauma–and very similar impacts–regardless of where the children lived, which included Vietnam, China, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Kenya, UK and the US. The report is the first to include an assessment of how adversity impacts young children in multiple low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of the 1.8 billion 10- to 24-year-olds worldwide live–about a quarter of the global population.

Overall, the study found that 46% of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38% suffered emotional neglect and 29% experienced physical neglect. But boys stood out in several categories. They were more likely to report physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence victimization. Also, for both boys and girls, the more adversity they experienced, the more likely they were to engage in violent behaviors, such as bullying, threatening or hitting someone. But the effect of the adversity was more pronounced for boys than girls, with boys 11 times more likely to be engaged in violence, and girls four times more likely to be violent.

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Also, the study found that, in general, the cumulative effect of their traumas tended to produce higher levels of depressive symptoms among girls than boys, while boys tended to show more external aggression than girls.

Study Supports New Assessment from Global Coalition of Adolescent Health Experts

The study is part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, a major collaboration of the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to understand more about the development of gender stereotypes in early adolescence and their impact on adolescent health around the world. And it buttresses a key conclusion from a major new report to be released next week at Women Deliver in Vancouver based on a global coalition of adolescent health experts: that the world will never achieve gender equality “by focusing on girls and women alone and excluding boys and men.”

That report, from the Bellagio Working Group on Gender Equality, reflects the assessment of 22 experts from 15 countries. Their analysis, Achieving Gender Equality by 2030: Putting Adolescents at the Center, finds that boys have as equal a part to play as girls in achieving the fifth of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5), which seeks to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. The report notes that the current indicators for SDG5 ignore boys and men. But it warns that “we cannot achieve a gender equitable world by ignoring half of its occupants.”

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In a commentary summarizing the Bellagio report for the Journal of Adolescent Health, working group members from the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia and Great Britain point to the growing amount of data that refute a “prevailing myth that girls alone are disadvantaged by gender norms.” They note that evidence from the GEAS work shows that in the many settings around the world, “boys experience as much disadvantage as girls” and are “more likely to smoke, drink and suffer both unintentional and intentional injury and death in the second decade of life than their female counterparts.”

They conclude that the key to achieving gender equality by 2030 involves addressing conditions and stereotypes that are harmful to both girls and boys–and to intervene much earlier, in early adolescence, at least by age 10, rather than at age 15 which is now the norm. Early adolescence is critical, the Bellagio group asserts, because “gender norms, attitudes and beliefs appear to solidify by age 15 or 16.”

Their report calls a broader set of indicators for tracking progress on achieving SDG 5 that would include:

  • Tracking the percentage of both boys and girls who at the community level feel that they can ask for help when needed since there appears to be a strong relationship between voice and empowerment
  • Tracking the percentage of boys and girls who feel safe in their neighborhood, as safety and security is a critical factor in the healthy development of both boys and girls; for example, the new study on adverse childhood experiences found a third of children reported a persistent fear of physical harm
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Gender Equality Critical to Economic Growth in Africa, South Asia

The Bellagio Working Group also finds gender equality is a critical component of efforts in the developing world to achieve what economists call a “demographic dividend.” It refers to harnessing the vigor of a surging youth population to generate a period of sustained economic growth. A demographic dividend was a major factor behind in the rise of the economic “tigers” of East Asia and even in Ireland’s economic boom of the 1990s.

There is now hope for something similar to propel the economies of sub-Saharan Africa, home to the fastest growing–and youngest–population in the world. Youth populations also are ascendant in South Asia and across much of the Middle East.

The Bellagio Working Group concludes that if these regions want to experience a demographic dividend, they need to “address gender inequalities and rigid gender expectations that limit the future of many of the world’s young people.”

“We must actively engage girls and boys at the onset of adolescence to increase total social inclusion and produce generational change,” the report states.

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‘Promotion of inclusive human rights just as important in the digital age’ – BC

Michael David Tan said that “there is a disconnect between what’s online and what’s happening on the ground. And this stresses one thing: The need to not solely rely on making it big digitally, but also go beyond the so-called ‘keyboard activism’.”

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“True development in the digital age can only happen if it’s truly inclusive.”

So said Michael David C. Tan, executive director of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and concurrent editor in chief of Outrage Magazine, during a conference on human rights and the Internet organized by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA).

“While the United Nations (UN) now considers Internet access as a human right, it doesn’t automatically mean it is already accessible to all,” Tan said. “The goal, therefore, particularly of service providers, is to ensure that access to Internet becomes widespread and even becomes normal. Only then will it be truly become inclusive.”

Themed “Between the Web We Have and the We We Want: Recollection, Renewal, Reboot”, the conference was in line with this year’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Internet. The conference gathered more than 75 participants from the CHR and civil society organizations representing different sectors and advocacies, media organizations and the academe.

According to Commissioner Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit of CHR, “We are faced with a population that is totally dependent on the internet already. (But) although the Internet has been seen as an effective platform to promote human rights, violations against the rights and freedoms of users have grown exponentially. The Internet as a fast evolving platform demands some regulations to ensure that rights to expression and privacy of individuals are protected.”

Gomez-Dumpit added: “Personally, I believe that we cannot have an untrampled access to all these technologies without any form of regulation… We need to have safeguards in order to address several issues concerning human rights like gender-based violence, child pornography, and proliferation of fake news, among others. Thus, we need to revisit how we better protect our rights online.”

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The Philippines had 69.6 million internet users in 2017; with the figure expected to grow to 93.7 million by 2023 (Statista).

This is obviously “good and bad,” said Tan.

In the case of the LGBTQIA community for example (and in particular), “we now know of Pride events, even if many of them are really just big commercial, for-profit parties/gatherings. We also know of LGBTQIA couples, such as Ice Seguerra and Liza Dino.”

But Tan said that “there is a catch. For example, we may have heard that Ricky Reyes was sued by a former employee for HIV-related discrimination. But not many know that Renato Nocos, the PLHIV involved, was kicked out of his house, disowned by family members before finding his footing again.” Similarly, “we may know of Jennifer Laude; but not of the other hate crimes committed against LGBTQIA Filipinos. Many of these were gruesome murders.”

Tan said that “there is a disconnect between what’s online and what’s happening on the ground. And this stresses one thing: The need to not solely rely on making it big digitally, but also go beyond the so-called ‘keyboard activism’.”

There is also a need to “go back to basics,” Tan said. In Outrage Magazine’s dealings with members of the GBTQIA community in non-metropolitan areas, for instance, “we’ve been repeatedly told ‘We don’t even have electricity yet, and you expect us to have Internet connection?’”

For Tan, this means that “technology just isn’t available for everyone… yet.”

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For Lisa Garcia, FMA executive director: “We (also) need to put human rights at the core of technology. It’s what we call human rights by design. Technology is there to make things better for us. It should not be used to work against us, or to harass us. Human beings designed technology, and as such, it is possible to design the kind of technology that is responsible to our needs. And it is possible for us to shape the kind of Internet that we want.”

Garcia also emphasized that there is a need for “all of us to be involved, so that all our voices can be heard. As more and more Filipinos go online, we have to make people aware that our rights remain the same. The Internet is just a medium, it is just a space. But that is the only thing that has changed, and our rights remain.”

The CHR and FMA event was supported by the Governance in Justice for Human Rights or GOJUST Human Rights Project of the European Union (EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation’s (AECID).

In the end, Tan stressed, “always think of inclusivity when looking at the digital world. Otherwise, we end up mimicking online the flaws of everything offline.”

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Understanding of LGBT realities ‘non-existent’ in most countries – UN expert

More data should be collected to better understand the root causes of violence directed towards LGBT people in the world, says Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on SOGI.

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More data ought to be collected to better understand the root causes of violence directed towards LGBT people in the world. This is the call made by Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ahead of his presentation to the Human Rights Council.

Madrigal-Borloz noted that policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, left only with personal preconceptions and prejudices. Clear information about the realities as lived by most LGBT people are, at best, little understood, “incomplete and fragmented”, he said, adding that “in most countries, it is simply non-existent” and that “maintaining such a level of ignorance without seeking appropriate evidence is tantamount to criminal negligence.”

For Madrigal-Borloz: “States must adequately address this scourge through public policy, access to justice, law reform or administrative actions.”

There are numerous barriers still faced by LGBT people in various parts of the world, created by criminalization, pathologization, demonization and stigmatization.

Data collection efforts are already underway in some parts of the world and have supported assessments of the situation of LGBT persons in various areas of life, including their relative safety, well-being, health, education and employment. But “many other areas still lack data and remain unexplored, for example, the concerns of aging LGBT people and intersections with disability, racism and xenophobia.”

The rapporteur called on States to “design and implement comprehensive data collection procedures to assess the type, prevalence, trends and patters of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons. When doing so, States should always respect the overriding ‘do no harm’ principle and follow a human rights-based approach to prevent the misuse of collected data.”

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‘Religion never an excuse to hate’ – Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

“Religion is never an excuse to hate, put down or act indifferent to the suffering of others. I believe God is love, and I will treat everyone – no matter who they are, to best of my ability, with love,” said Catriona Gray via Instagram, in a promo of an alcoholic drink.

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Screencap of Catriona Gray's Instagram account

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray highlighted her support for the LGBTQIA community via a response to those who criticize her for being a Christian who, at the same time, supports the LGBTQIA community.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByuoMBPAlRk/

On an Instagram account, Gray shared a photo that showed her support for the LGBTQIA community this #Pride2019.

But one of the comments she received questioned her “testimony about your Christianity”, telling her to “please do not compromise.”

Gray replied to the netizen, saying: “My belief as a Christian does not limit me from fighting for the rights of others.” She added that she loves God the way she loves her fellow “fellow brothers and sisters.”

“Religion is never an excuse to hate, put down or act indifferent to the suffering of others. I believe God is love, and I will treat everyone – no matter who they are, to best of my ability, with love,” Gray added.

While the outspokenness is – in itself – commendable, it is worth noting that Gray’s post was also because of her endorsement of @sanmiglightph (San Miguel Light), an alcoholic drink.

San Miguel Light is a product of San Miguel Brewery Inc. (a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation), the Philippines’ largest brewery with a market share of over 95% as of 2008, with earnings reaching P10.042 billion. The company is not known to have efforts to help deal with alcoholism in the country.

Though still not widely discussed particularly in the Philippines, members of the LGBTQIA community are at higher risk for alcoholism (and polysubstance abuse, in general).

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Incidentally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, LGBT individuals are more likely to: use alcohol and drugs; have higher rates of substance abuse; not withhold from alcohol and drug use; and continue heavy drinking into later life.” Up to 25% of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol, compared to 5% to 10% of the general population.

The CDC added that “alcohol and illegal drug use… also contribute to a higher chance of getting HIV and other STDs. Persons using drugs or alcohol may also raise their chances of getting HIV or giving it to others by getting involved in more risky sexual practices and behaviors or through sharing needles or other injection equipment.”

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Pride comeback in Bacolod on June 22

The City of Smiles is slated to host its first Pride parade in four years on June 22 (starting at 3PM), with the event congregating at the Fountain of Justice of the Old City Hall.

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Photo by tanvimalik from Pixabay.com

Rainbow pride returns to Bacolod City.

The City of Smiles is slated to host its first Pride parade in four years on June 22 (starting at 3PM), with the event congregating at the Fountain of Justice of the Old City Hall.

This is a “momentous comeback for Pride and the LGBTQIA presence not only in Bacolod City, but in the entire province of Negros Occidental,” said Girard Mariano Lopez, a Grade 11 student leader and activist from Bacolod City.

The event is helmed by HAPI, and Linghod and Negrosanon Youth Leaders Institute.

Despite not having a Pride-related event for four years, Bacolod City – surprisingly – has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), passed in 2013.Authored by Councilor Em Ang, the ordinance prohibits discrimination of a person because of gender, disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion, and carries a penalty for those who violate it P5,000.00 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year upon the discretion of the court.

For more information, head to Tribu Duag.

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Cebu City’s Pride parade slated on June 22

Cebu City is slated to hold its Pride parade this June 22 (starting 3PM) at Fuente Circle.

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Themed “Pabuhagay”, Cebu City is slated to hold its Pride parade this June 22 (starting 3PM) at Fuente Circle.

The parade, according to Cebu City Anti-discrimination Commission, “commemorates 50 years since the Stonewall Riot in New York in) 1969 – a vital point that marked the dawn of the LGBTQIA’s history of struggles and victories.” However, “the stains of inequality and injustice still linger today” and “as we celebrate Stonewall’s essential role in history, we reflect on its victories and continue to fight our struggles in our own setting – because since and still, Pride is a protest.”

Cebu City already passed the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in 2012, eventually leading to the formation of the Anti-discrimination Commission in 2017. And while “these have addressed certain demands of (LGBTQIA people)… program implementation specific to the sector remains indefinite.”

For instance, the SOGIE Equality Bill stalled in the Senate; and so this year’s Cebu City parade “calls for the passage of SOGIE Equality Bill in the 18th Congress and in the Cebu City Council.”

“Until every LGBTQIA person from across all sectors of society and among all walks of life gains genuine liberty and equality, the fight remains,” Cebu City Anti-discrimination Commission stated. “The protest continues.”

Head to Cebu City Anti-discrimination Commission for more information.

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Trans people ‘annihilate the concept of nature’, says Vatican

A Vatican position paper notes that the transgender experience is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”.

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The Vatican issued a statement rejecting transgender people, saying they “annihilate…the concept of nature”.

The position paper, titled ‘Male And Female He Created Them’ – issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican office responsible for overseeing education – notes that the transgender experience is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”.

The document was issued for “all who have a special interest in education, and to those whose work is touched by the question of gender theory.”

Ironically, the Vatican document wants to appear pro-LGBTQIA, stating that a “position held in common is the need to educate children and young people to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination based on their specific characteristics (such as special needs, race, religion, sexual tendencies, etc.).”

But the anti-LGBTQIA stance is apparent.

The document is critical of gender theory, by and large, stating: “ Gender theory (especially in its most radical forms) speaks of a gradual process of denaturalization, that is a move away from nature and towards an absolute option for the decision of the feelings of the human subject. In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual, as opposed to anything based on the truths of existence”.

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The 31-page document – signed by Italians Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi and Archbishop Angelo Zani, with Pope Francis not signing – also calls on doctors to “intervene” on intersex patients, even when parents do not agree.

It states: “In cases where a person’s sex is not clearly defined, it is medical professionals who can make a therapeutic intervention. In such situations, parents cannot make an arbitrary choice on the issue, let alone society. Instead, medical science should act with purely therapeutic ends, and intervene in the least invasive fashion, on the basis of objective parameters and with a view to establishing the person’s constitutive identity.”

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