‘Ill never have another child’: the mothers failed by Mexico’s hospitals

In among Mexicos poorest states, females from minority backgrounds are progressively at danger of violent treatment throughout pregnancy and giving birth

Nancy Martnez was 17 when she entered into labour. Her age implied she was thought about a high-risk pregnancy, she was left alone for numerous hours without tracking or discomfort medication.

Nurses informed Martnez to be peaceful and tolerated the discomfort, while physicians buffooned her mom, Nancy Ceron Diaz, rejecting her info about her child’s condition.

“My child was shouting, however it was just when her face turned green that she was moved to the maternity healthcare facility,” states Diaz, 41.

Martnez’s child kid, who suffered asphyxia as an outcome of being caught unaided in the cervix for hours, was entrusted irreversible mental retardation. Now 30 months old, he can not sit unaided or consume strong food, and will require full-time look after the rest of his life.

Martnez’s case, which goes back to January 2017, is amongst a growing number reported to Mexican human rights authorities in an effort to hold medical facilities to represent the violent treatment managed native and primarily bad women and females when they deliver.

Martnez is from Tlapa, the most significant town in the rural La Montaan area of Guerrero– among Mexico’s poorest states, with high rates of teenage pregnancy, baby and maternal death and gender-based violence. There were 5 maternal deaths in La Montaa throughout the very first 3 months of 2019, compared to 9 in the whole preceding year.

Obstetric violence is a legal term created in Latin America to explain harsh, irresponsible and degrading treatment throughout pregnancy, giving birth and the postpartum duration. Such treatment, which occurs in both public and personal healthcare facilities, results in unneeded discomfort and suffering, embarrassment, ill-health, sterility and even death.

The occurrence of obstetric violence is unidentified in Mexico– the exact same uses internationally– however, according to the World Health Organization , teens, impoverished females, those residing in backwoods, and females of colour are most likely to experience violent treatment.

Nancy At 17, Nancy Martnez, was thought about a high-risk pregnancy. She was left alone for hours without keeping track of or medication. Photo: Cesar Rodriguez

In Mexico , the issue is traditionally rooted in racist health policies that methodically turned typical pregnancies into high-risk ones, according to medical historian Elizabeth O’Brien.

“As long as they got the infant out and baptised so it might enter into God’s kingdom, the lady’s life and her capability to deliver in the future didn’t matter,”O’Brien states.

This pattern of treatment is continuous. In 2013, pictures of a native female, Irma Lpez, delivering in an Oaxaca healthcare facility yard after being turned away by personnel stimulated outrage. Practically 50%of infants are provided by caesarean in Latin America– a surgical treatment that increases the danger of dangerous issues for females– compared with an ideal rate of 10-15 %, according to the World Health Organization.

The basic and maternity health centers in Tlapa have actually formally backed zero-tolerance policies versus discrimination, yet some females from neighborhoods without running water are denigrated for being dirty and declined attention till they shower. Others are reprimanded for shrieking in discomfort throughout labour, according to midwife Elizabeth Melgar, the medical organizer at the state school of midwifery. “Obstetric violence keeps occurring, specifically to native ladies who do not speak Spanish,” states Melgar

Consuela Moreno, 32, went to healthcare facility with a piercing headache, queasiness and cold sweats, hardly able to stand.

Tests exposed that she was pregnant and Moreno, currently the mom of 2 kids, informed the responsibility physician something was really incorrect. Her signs were dismissed as common pregnancy grievances.

After 7 hours in the emergency clinic, Moreno pled her other half to take her house. “I ‘d rather pass away in your home than here.”

Her other half states Moreno was buffooned by the medical professional, who insisted she was great– till a coworker found her high blood pressure was alarmingly high.

She was moved to the maternity healthcare facility and hurried to surgical treatment with an ectopic pregnancy. It is uncertain what occurred in theatre, however physicians informed the household that while Moreno would not have the ability to have more kids, she would recuperate.

But Moreno never ever gained back awareness. She passed away a number of days later on, in December 2018, leaving the household ravaged and questioning the care she got.

“No one took her temperature level or high blood pressure for 7 hours, they simply let my better half pass away,” states Fidel Leon, 56. “I feel so guilty for not having loan to take her to a personal healthcare facility. I feel so guilty for being bad.”

alt=”Fidel” leon “src=”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/b440f9a84a0dc6d7a6756ad96aa92851895c3d3b/0_0_6000_4000/master/6000.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=fd57fa741e1ec242bc9f3e15cad330d5″/> Fidel Leon at his house in Tlapa, Guerrero. Picture: Cesar Rodriguez

Neil Aria Vitinio, an attorney from the Tlachinollan human rights centre in Tlapa, is representing numerous victims consisting of Martnez and Moreno. “In each case we see an absence of sufficient and prompt medical attention, no understanding of emergency situation standards, no notes, and, typically there is discrimination, inhumane and dishonest treatment,” she states.

“This keeps taking place– regardless of ten years of suggestions to enhance healthcare facility facilities, staffing numbers and training– since there’s no political will.”

The state human rights commission concluded Martnez went through obstetric violence, and made a series of suggestions. The assistance, which has yet to be accepted, consisted of monetary payment and personnel training.

The failure to mark out obstetric violence left teen Griselda Romero not able to have more kids. In June 2017, Romero, who requested her name to be altered, was turned away from medical facility on a number of celebrations after midwives concluded her labour was not far adequate advanced.

Back house, her mom made a tea from epazote, or wormseed– a nutrient-rich herb frequently utilized in Mexican cooking. The discomfort ended up being intolerable, so they returned to medical facility where midwives scolded Romero’s mom about the tea, declaring it had actually accelerated the labour and triggered problems.

The child lady was born healthy, however then a midwife unintentionally took out Romero’s uterus in addition to the placenta. Stressed, the group of nurses and midwives attempted to reinsert the uterus 3 times. Romero was not used discomfort relief at any phase throughout giving birth; no one called her gynaecologist.

“She had my uterus in her hands, I saw it, it was so unpleasant,” states Romero. “One midwife was sobbing, another one yelled at me to be peaceful.”

Romero was ultimately moved to the maternal health center for emergency situation surgical treatment, where physicians carried out a hysterectomy. “This wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my mom’s fault,” states Romero, now 19, who just recently affirmed at the nationwide human rights commission, which is adjudicating her case.

“Nobody has actually stated sorry. I’ll never ever have another kid. I desire them to apologise and identify the damage they did.”

The basic and maternity medical facilities did not react to duplicated ask for remark.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jun/17/mexico-hospitals-obstetric-violence-mothers-tlapa

US medical group that pushed doctors to prescribe painkillers forced to close

American Pain Society, implicated of being pawn of huge pharma, dealt with multitude of suits over Americas worst drug epidemic

A leading medical society, explained by a United States Senate report as a pawn of the pharmaceutical market for its popular function in pressing physicians to recommend opioids, is to close down in the face of claims blaming it for America’s worst drug epidemic.

The American Pain Society led the project to promote the idea of “discomfort as the 5th essential indication”, which led to health centers throughout the United States presenting smiley-face discomfort scales into seeking advice from spaces in the 2000s and needing medical professionals to focus on discomfort treatment.

Doctors stated the policy led to clients in impact composing their own prescriptions due to the fact that medics dealt with disciplinary action, consisting of principles hearings, if they did not please needs for discomfort relief even in cases where it threatened clients.

The APS is among a group of allegedly independent medical advocacy companies that critics declare were caught by the drug market and utilized to drive sales of narcotic pain relievers that turned into a multibillion-dollar-a-year market.

Last year, a Senate report called the APS as part of a web of companies it stated were developed into “cheerleaders for opioids” by drug producers’ loan. The society took almost $1m from the leading opioid makers over the 5 years to 2017, consisting of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin– the drug that started an epidemic that has actually declared more than 400,000 lives.

This week, the APS was called in another report , by 2 members of Congress, that implicated Purdue of corruptly affecting the World Health Organization into motivating making use of opioids.

A multitude of claims by cities and states have actually targeted the APS along with opioid producers, suppliers and drug stores for apparently driving the epidemic. Today, the society’s board stated it had actually chosen to close the company with a “aching heart”.

It stated: “APS has actually been called as an offender in various spurious claims and goes through many subpoenas. In spite of our best shots, APS was not successful in its efforts to deal with these suits with the requirement for what will be pricey and prolonged lawsuits.”

The subscription, mainly discomfort experts, is anticipated to vote to verify the declare insolvency and closure next week.

The news of the APS’s death was grieved by some experts who stated it had actually been necessary in assisting to money research study and promoting the interests of discomfort clients. Its track record was dented by its close association with the opioid market.

Through the 1980s, the society was at the leading edge of promoting a broad technique to discomfort treatment and bewared about using opioids. Modifications in management led the APS and comparable groups to take a various position in favor of narcotics for discomfort relief.

In 1996, the society released a prominent declaration stating opioids were reliable and safe for treatment of persistent discomfort which the danger of dependency was low, a claim that has actually given that been challenged. The co-author of the declaration and chair of the committee that concurred it was a physician, David Haddox, who was a paid speaker for Purdue Pharma. Haddox went on to end up being the business’s vice-president of health policy and a leading supporter for recommending OxyContin.

Former APS presidents consist of Dr Russell Portenoy, a discomfort expert who has actually given that confessed to overemphasizing claims for the security and efficiency of opioids in order to break down what he considered as baseless resistance within the medical occupation to recommending them. Portenoy was then paid by Purdue Pharma to assist drive sales of OxyContin. He has actually now consented to affirm versus the drugmaker and other business, and implicated them of overemphasizing the advantages and downplaying the threats of opioids.

But the APS’s biggest effect remained in promoting the treatment of discomfort as a 5th essential indication together with high blood pressure, respiration, temperature level and pulse rate, introduced by its then president, Dr James Campbell, in 1996.

The society even copyrighted the expression: “Pain: the 5th Vital Sign.”

The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which certifies medical facilities, utilized client fulfillment studies to determine whether individuals felt they were getting appropriate discomfort treatment. Since medical facilities feared that disappointed clients might cost them their licenses, medical professionals stated that contributed to press to recommend.

By 2012, more than 250m opioid prescriptions a year were given in the United States, enough to supply every American grownup with 30 days of tablets.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/25/american-pain-society-doctors-painkillers

Dont tell women to shut up about childbirth. Sharing stories saves lives | Suzanne Moore

Giving birth is bloody uncomfortable. Why reject it? Its likewise the experience of a life time, states Guardian writer Suzanne Moore

Mumsnet may be accountable for a lot of doubtful things– penis beaker , anybody?– however will it in fact end the mankind? Will it stop us recreating? This appears a little extreme however obviously by sharing stories about giving birth there, ladies are terrifying other females into “a pathological horror of giving birth”, states a professional. Catriona Jones is a speaker in midwifery at the University of Hull who studies “tocophopbia”. She recommends social networks is partially to blame for this fear-with-no-name (which, obviously, now has one).

Let’s break this down, shall we? Women worry giving birth since pressing out another human being through a little opening in your body is to be divided asunder. They fear the discomfort that preceedings it: labour. They fear the discomfort throughout the real pushing-it-out bit, and frequently have little concept about the discomfort that follows. We “feel the worry and do it anyhow”– simply as that dumb mantra informs us to.

The worry is logical. This is not a workout in fiction when ladies inform each other birth scary stories nowadays. They are informing the fact.

My mom explained giving birth to me therefore: “I was sitting beside your nana on the sofa. I felt a twinge, and she stated, ‘It’s time to pop upstairs’– and you were born.” She likewise stated there was no have to “make any sound”. That expression returned to me when, off my skull on pethidine, I was bring to life my 2nd kid, I believed I remained in a field of huge cows mooing; then I understood these deep, groaning sounds were really originating from me.

For my sins, I have had one natural birth, one on screens (with stated beautiful pethidine), and a caesarean. My experience is that I recuperated far more rapidly from vaginal shipments than caesarean ones. Anecdote is not information, however, and basically I feel females need to have the option.

Choice can not be made in a vacuum. And this is why females talk with each other. You may get the odd sadist who gets a kick out of explaining torn perinea, infection, the destruction of their whole “undercarriage” (!). You likewise find out. In theory everybody desires a low-lit birth swimming pool. In truth, when the shit strikes the fan– or often the birth “partner”– one is eliminated that hi-tech, medicalised births are to be had.

The feminist discourse around birth looks for just a smidgen of control. Ladies need to not need to plead for discomfort relief or caesareans, anymore than they must need to ask to keep whatever as natural as possible. Severe discomfort makes us feel out of control– everyone. To get ready for that, it is needed to understand exactly what alternatives are readily available.

This is not sharing “scary stories”. While children might be stunning, let’s not pretend birth is. It is full-body scary. Why reject it? Who understood that once the infant comes out you still need to provide exactly what appears like a huge internal organ– the placenta? Who really wishes to be sewn up in the most delicate part of your body, while being informed you do not feel it, although you do?

The ecstasy might soothe, however this does not imply you will not be sent out house in discomfort, greatly bleeding– whichever method you have actually delivered. All the squidgy toys and soft infant blankets and consumable cuteness is a big rejection of the blood-and-guts experience of birth. It is informing that numerous female obstetricians choose optional caesareans.

They state you forget the discomfort of giving birth. Yes and no. You primarily question how you survived it. Exactly what I remember is the discomfort after giving birth, which in fact is exactly what much discussion on Mumsnet has to do with. Females feel harmed, aching, cut, fretted about ever making love once again. They fear incontinence and the loss of the capability ever to feel satisfaction once again, along with absolutely deserted by medics. They are implied to be pleased, however their bodies feel broken. They feel that nobody informed them it would be in this manner, and they hesitate.

This does not sustain worry: it fuels action. How else would the scandal of vaginal mesh have been made popular? The truth of an NHS extended to it restricts is: inadequate midwives, too couple of anaesthetists on call, and ante- and postnatal care lowered to six-minute slots. In this context, then, worry of giving birth is not ungrounded, or to be treated with a little CBT.

I would state to any ladies: yes, it bloody injures, however it’s normally just a day approximately from your life. If it does not go as prepared, do not blame yourself. The very best strategy is the one where both you and the kid live at the end of it. It is the experience of a life time. Please do keep talking if you feel psychologically and physically traumatised. You are not spreading out worry. Since females sharing their facts, nevertheless bloody untidy these are, is in fact how we alter things.

Suzanne Moore is a Guardian writer

  • Comments on this piece are premoderated to guarantee the conversation stays on the subjects raised by the author.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/13/women-childbirth-stories-giving-birth-painful

‘National shame’: 147 Indigenous people die in custody in Australia in a decade

Calls for action after Guardian Australia releases damning analysis

Australia’s stunning treatment of Indigenous individuals has actually been laid bare with the publication of brand-new figures by the Guardian revealing 147 Indigenous individuals– a few of them kids– have actually passed away in custody in the previous 10 years.

Opposition celebrations have actually stated it a “nationwide embarassment” and Aboriginal groups have actually required the federal government instantly permit independent tracking of all detention centres, with Indigenous detainees as the top priority.

Just 2.8% of the Australian population recognizes as Indigenous. Native individuals make up 27% of the jail population, 22% of deaths in jail custody and 19% of deaths in authorities custody.

Guardian Australia’s examination into 10 years of deaths in custody cases discovered severe systemic failings:

  • 407 Indigenous individuals have actually passed away because completion of a royal commission that laid out methods to avoid Indigenous deaths in custody practically 30 years back.
  • Native individuals are passing away in custody from treatable medical conditions and are much less most likely than non-Indigenous individuals to get the care they require.
  • Agencies such as authorities watch-houses, healthcare facilities and jails cannot follow all their own treatments in 34% of cases where Indigenous individuals passed away, compared to 21% of cases for non-Indigenous individuals.
  • Psychological health or cognitive disability was a consider 41% of all deaths in custody. Native individuals with a detected psychological health condition or cognitive disability, such as a brain injury or foetal alcohol syndrome condition, got the care they required in simply 53% of cases.
  • Households waited as much as 3 years for inquest findings in some states.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert stated: “Guardian Australia’s ‘Deaths Inside’ database launched today is an extremely crucial effort that shines a light on this destructive concern.”

Pat Dodson, an Indigenous Labor senator, stated: “We are reversing as a country. The present federal government is cannot reveal management and dedication to reversing the dreadful state of how our justice system deals with Indigenous individuals.”

However, the numbers inform just part of the story. Checking out 463 reports by coroners, Guardian Australia discovered a record of systemic failure.

An Aboriginal female with a persistent injury and a tooth abscess was rejected discomfort medication for 6 weeks after being moved to Townsville females’s jail in 2010. Her medical records had actually not shown up with her and, apart from providing Panadol, authorities did not think she needed discomfort relief. 6 weeks after transfer, she took her own life. The coroner stated the discomfort was “a contributing consider her misery” throughout her last weeks.

“It merely can not be that tough to offer individuals in custody medical attention. How can individuals in 2018 be passing away in jail from a tooth abscess?” Siewert stated.

An Aboriginal male suffering a heart attack was made to stroll to a guard station to utilize a portable oxygen system prior to an ambulance was called.

Another Aboriginal guy passed away of cardiovascular disease resting on a concrete bench in a Darwin authorities watch-house cell. The coroner stated “an ill middle-aged Aboriginal male was dealt with like a criminal and jailed like a criminal; he passed away in an authorities cell which was constructed to house wrongdoers … In my view, he was entitled to pass away as a totally free guy.”

Prisoners understood to be at danger of self-harm were kept in cells with hanging points, or positioned in cells alone.

Research by the Guardian discovered that households of those who passed away likewise knowledgeable bad treatment. Coroners have actually criticised unneeded hold-ups in alerting near relative. In one case, a daddy discovered his child had actually passed away when another detainee called him numerous hours after the death, long prior to authorities informed him formally.

An inquest is under method in South Australia into the death of Wayne Morrison, who passed away in health center 3 days after a run-in with corrections personnel at an Adelaide jail left him braindead.

Footage revealed on Monday revealed the occurrence preceeding Morrison’s transfer in the jail van. At one phase, more than 16 officers crowd the corridor where Morrison is being limited, face-down. It is nearly difficult to see him underneath them.

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Footage reveals Indigenous detainee being limited prior to death– video

Once limited, he was brought outdoors and put face-down in the back of a jail escort van to move him. 8 jail personnel, consisting of the chauffeur of the escort car, accompanied Morrison on the journey in the van.

There is no video footage of exactly what took place inside the van, however counsel helping the coroner, Anthony Crocker, informed the court that “when the van reached G Division, Morrison was discovered to be unresponsive and blue”. The journey took a little under 3 minutes.

“Precisely exactly what happened in the van is unidentified as 7 of the 8 jail personnel who accompanied Mr Morrison on the journey have actually decreased to offer cops with declarations,” Crocker stated.

His household informed Guardian Australia they did not get an official notice that he had actually been hurt and were rejected entry to the healthcare facility for more than 10 hours.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/28/national-shame-147-indigenous-people-die-in-custody-in-australia-in-a-decade

‘I don’t think I look like a stoner’: the women changing the face of the cannabis industry

US cannabis laws are slackening, and a number of enterprising women are tapping into female interest in the drug through magazines, cooking, health and fashion. Candice Pires reports

As weeds legal status loosens across the US, the way cannabis is being marketed, sold and celebrated is evolving. An industry that has been dominated by men is finding a female voice in consumers and new business owners. Search #womenofweed on Instagram and youll find a female chef drizzling cannabis oil on to a soup, and a woman relaxing in a rose-petalled bath with a spliff in hand. These are women who are celebrating cannabis as an important part of their lifestyles an aid to their health, as much as their creativity.

The legality of using cannabis differs from state to state (and within states) in the US. In California, youre able to possess an ounce if youre aged 21 or over. In Indiana, possessing any amount could land you up to 180 days in jail. (In the UK, being caught with cannabis in small doses comes with a fine or warning, but production and supply can lead to a prison sentence.)

Still, new business opportunities are emerging. There are now yoga retreats, workouts, day spas, parties, conferences all for women who like weed. One female artist is making gold-trimmed porcelain hash pipes that look more sculptural than functional. Whoopi Goldberg has started a line of cannabis products, including body balms and bath soaks, that help with PMT.

As the weed market continues to grow, women are shifting perceptions of the drug and its users. Stoner stereotypes are being knocked back and women are talking openly about the place weed has in their lives. Ideas of community and equitable access to the industry are held as highly as enjoyment of the leaf. And aesthetic representations are being made through a female lens.

Anja Charbonneau

Editor of womens weed magazine Broccoli

Anja
Women see Broccoli as an invitation to communicate about this really private part of their lives: Anja Charbonneau. Photograph: Jules Davies for the Observer

In Portland, Oregon, a city in one of the nine states to legalise recreational marijuana, Anja Charbonneau recently launched Broccoli (a slang term for the drug). Broccoli looks like a design publication and calls itself a magazine created by and for women who love cannabis. The cover of the first issue featured weed ikebana, where a stylist crafted cannabis leaves according to the rules of the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. Inside issue two, Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Bob and Rita Marley, speaks about her grandparents legacy. And theres a photo story set in an imaginary cannabis dispensary for cats. Since Broccolis inception, other design-focused cannabis magazines have appeared.

The idea for Broccoli came from cannabis dispensaries and seeing the little stacks of free magazines. I noticed they were all for men, by men, Charbonneau explains. Last summer she decided to test her idea of creating a weed magazine for women. She began by speaking to other women who enjoyed cannabis, as well as women in the industry, asking if theyd be interested in a magazine aimed at them. I almost didnt have to ask, she says. As I was explaining what I wanted to do, I was met with this resounding, Yes! Please do that, we want it. She got together a couple of ex-colleagues from the slow-living lifestyle magazine Kinfolk: a writer she knew and an editor shed admired online. Because cannabis is so new as a legal industry, it feels like theres this opportunity to make womens voices heard while its being built and thats pretty much never, ever happened with any other industry.

Charbonneau has been receiving hundreds of messages of support from women sharing stories of their relationships with weed. It seems women felt like they didnt have permission to talk about this really private part of their lives, she says. Theyve seen Broccoli as an invitation to communicate about it, and theyre like, Let me tell you about my life. Its unlocked something.

Andrea Drummond

The marijuana chef

Andrea
I hope Im bringing some normalcy to cannabis: Andrea Drummond. Photograph: Amanda E Friedman for the Observer

Andrea Drummonds path into the cannabis industry was rocky. Despite her religious upbringing, she tried cannabis aged 12 or 13, but the experience made her uncomfortable and after getting into a fight with a friend, she ended up doing community service. That made me think that if you smoke marijuana, you end up in jail, she says.

For the bulk of her adult life, Drummond worked largely in roles advising kids to say no to drugs. But when she moved to California in her mid-30s, she looked at people around her and came to the conclusion that cannabis wasnt the gateway drug it had been touted as. I worked for a successful attorney who was an avid user and I became more open-minded.

At 37, Drummond decided to follow her passion to become a chef and signed up for Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, later honing her craft at top Los Angeles restaurants and starting her own catering company. One evening, a friend asked her to make him some brownies from leftover cannabis leaves. I took it on as a challenge, Drummond says. It smelled so beautiful and Im not really big on sweets so I thought, This wants to be something else. Drummond made a cannabis butter for bruschetta. It completely enhanced the flavour of the dish, she says. Another friend insisted Drummond needed to sell her creation. That night in 2012, while high on bruschetta, the trio hatched a plan to start a cannabis catering company: Elevation VIP Cooperative.

After obtaining a medical licence, they were able to serve anyone who held a California State Medical Marijuana ID Card, which werent difficult to acquire, but It wasnt received well, says Drummond. People were afraid and I was begging them to come for dinner at ridiculously low prices, like $30 a head for five courses. But Drummond kept at it, starting a side business in cannabis education to help people understand the plant better. For a while she was homeless and slept in her car. Then, one day, while working on the business from a Starbucks, she received a call from Netflix. They wanted her to cook for a documentary series called Chelsea Does, where host Chelsea Handler would be doing drugs. The exposure led to a flood of enquiries.

On a personal level, she started using cannabis to treat the sciatica shed developed while working in kitchens. I didnt want to take prescription drugs but there were times I was completely immobile, she says. But as soon as I tried cannabis I knew it was the alternative for me.

Last year Drummond published a cookery book, Cannabis Cuisine. I hope Im bringing some normalcy to cannabis with it, she says. I dont think I look like a stoner, she adds. Hopefully that helps normalise it, especially for other women.

Tsion Sunshine Lencho and Amber Senter

Supernova Women, marijuana advocacy organisation

Portrait
The plant can be used to heal our communities: Amber Senter, above right, with Tsion Sunshine Lencho of Supernova. Photograph: Winni Wintermeyer for the Observer

In Oakland, California, Amber Senter focuses daily on getting other women into the cannabis industry. Her own introduction to weed came via pain relief. As an adult, Senter was diagnosed with lupus, and credits smoking with alleviating sore joints and digestive issues. Her medical condition led her to research the plant extensively and gave her a career in the industry.

In 2015 Senter was working for a consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs apply for cannabis dispensary and cultivation permits. At a networking event she met Tsion Sunshine Lencho, an African-American, Stanford-educated lawyer who was looking for a job in the industry. Senter recruited Lencho and the two began working closely together. We noticed that the groups that we were writing applications for were all well-funded, all male and very white, she says. This is an industry that was built on the backs of black and brown people. We thought, Man, were gaining all this knowledge and essentially gentrifying our industry.

The pair decided to start Supernova Women, to help people in the black community get into the cannabis industry. They recruited two other women with existing cannabis-delivery businesses, Nina Parks and Andrea Unsworth, and the four now work in advocacy, education and networking, primarily for women of colour.

The biggest barrier to the cannabis industry is funding, says Senter. And all the people who know each other with money are white guys. Were teaching women of colour how to raise money and how to be good negotiators. The women we work with are equipped with the skills to run businesses they just dont have the resources or the pathways to money.

On 1 January 2018, cannabis went from being medically to recreationally legal in California. There is a finite number of dispensary licences available. Supernova is now working with city councils on equity legislation for creating licensing programmes that give priority and assistance to marginalised groups.

Ultimately, Supernova wants money made from the industry pumped back into the communities its affected. We dont just want people in the community becoming owners we also want to see the money reinvested in social programmes and education, says Senter. The plant can be used to heal our communities, she says, even though its been used to destroy them.

Harlee Case & Co

Ladies of Paradise, cannabis creative agency

Harlee
We want to help remove the stigma: Harlee Case, above left, with Jade Daniels, both of Ladies of Paradise. Photograph: Evie McShane for the Observer

Harlee Case started smoking behind her super-religious, strait-laced parents backs when she was 17. She had grown up around cannabis without knowing it. Her small hometown of Central Point in southern Oregon is surrounded by land and perfect cannabis-growing conditions. Now I understand why everyone had these big farms in their back yards, says the 26-year-old, and why people always had cash.

Case is one third of Ladies of Paradise, a women-in-cannabis blog and creative agency. The collective, which includes co-founder Jade Daniels, 30, and new recruit Leighana Martindale, 23, creates cannabis marketing for the female gaze.

Case and Daniels met three years ago. Danielss boyfriend was buying a cannabis farm in southern Oregon and the couple moved to work on it. Both Case and Daniels had fashion backgrounds and large online followings through their Instagram shops, which led them to collaborate on photography and styling.

Last autumn, working the harvest season on the farm and burnt out from their online work, they decided they wanted to redirect peoples eyes to the cannabis industry in a female-driven way, says Case. Our first idea was to spotlight women working in the industry by interviewing them about what theyre doing and styling them in a unique way. They took Danielss online jewellery shop, Ladies of Paradise, and set it off in a new direction. It felt risky and we lost a few followers, but most people were really up for it, says Daniels.

Having recruited Martindale, who had been managing a cannabis dispensary, the trio now work with small cannabis brands that want to bring a female perspective to their photography, styling and events. When a vape pen company approached the women for a revamp of their Instagram feed, the first thing Case decided had to go were the bong girls. Theyre all over the internet, she explains. Case, whos a photographer, likes to feature different types of women. Its about women being women. When we do boudoir stuff, its for us. Not men.

They are keen to broaden the appeal of cannabis among more women. Ideally, if youre my mum and youve never smoked cannabis, seeing a photo of a woman your age with a joint might make it seem less intimidating, says Case. We want to help remove the stigma.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/12/i-dont-think-i-look-like-a-stoner-the-women-changing-the-face-of-the-cannabis-industry

Hawaii’s evacuees on why they live under a volcano: it’s affordable

As the Kilauea volcano erupts, Puna district residents reflect on the threat to an area of affordable housing and great beauty

Imago Mana had always wanted to move to Hawaii. But it was mostly a dream for the computer technology teacher from Virginia, who put it in the back of her mind.

I always thought: I cant do that now, Hawaii is too expensive. Then, around the age of 50, she began getting debilitating migraines. She lost her job, her house, her car. She moved back in with her mother. As she was trying to figure out what to do next, a friend told her about a part of Hawaii where life was a little different, a little wilder. In the district of Puna, Mana found a raw vegan commune where she could work in exchange for living in an off-the-grid hut on 50 acres of jungle. She bought a one-way ticket and boarded a plane four days later.

The minute I got off the plane I knew I was home, Mana said.

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  • A lava flow on Makamae Street in Leilani Estates.

Mana, now 59, has since moved out of the commune and was among those evacuated on Thursday because of the continuing eruptions of the looming Kilauea volcano. Dramatic videos of lava slowly pouring through streets and inching over the land have attracted international attention.

Mana has lived in the Leilani Estates subdivision, which is located in Pahoa, for three years rent-free as a caretaker. Its one of the reasons she has been able to live on her $1,400-a-month disability checks. Now, shes one of many trying to replace the affordable housing she lost in Pahoa where many depend on the low cost of living. In exchange for living in the lava zone, often without infrastructure such as city water or sewer lines, she and others have been able to make a life for themselves without much money.

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Puna district and the town of Pahoa, where homes have been destroyed by lava, are among the least expensive places to live in the islands. Its common for three-bedroom, two-bath houses on an acre of land to sell for around $250,000, according to Cathy Fedak, a realtor from Pahoa who also lived in Leilani Estates.

There are a lot of literally starving artists here, said Amedeo Markoff, who opened the Puna Gallery and Gift Emporium in March to sell handcrafted wood pieces and local art. Markoff added that with news of the volcano scaring off tourists, a community where many struggle to make ends meet is in even greater peril.

Markoff said for the residents, businesses and artists, affordable housing is key.

There are a lot of reasons why people want to live in Puna, he said But the No 1 reason is the beauty. The No 2 reason is that real estate is priced so that your average Joe can live here.

Thats certainly the case for Corey Hale, who came to Pahoa from California nearly four years ago and purchased a one-acre plot of land just outside Leilani Estates for $15,000.

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  • Top: a fissure eruption fountains more than 200ft into the air, consuming all in its path, near Pahoa. Bottom: video of more volcanic damage.

Hale, who is 54 and a former crisis counselor, intended to build a house on her thickly forested jungle plot at some point, but needed to wait until she got the money together. In the meantime, she lived in a gypsy wagon given to her by a neighbor, went to work fixing leaks and building an outdoor shower out of old wood pallets, and lit oil lamps to see at night.

But having her own land and an inexpensive off-the-grid lifestyle became even more important when she became disabled and saw her monthly income reduced to $340 in food stamps and $338 in cash. Luckily, Hale said, she never went hungry because of the abundance of avocado, mango, papaya and banana trees around her property.

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I created a really good life for myself, she said. It was simple, but it was good life is messy here, but its real and its beautiful.

Hale, who was evacuated on Thursday, said she hoped shed be able to return home soon. For now, shes staying at a Red Cross shelter in Pahoa. Shes been reluctant to make plans because no one knows how long the eruption will continue or how long residents will be kept out of their neighborhoods. And on Tuesday, just as things had become quiet, Hale got another shock when two new volcanic fissures opened up near her property. She fears that even if she can return, the eruption will have changed the place she knew and loved.

With lava, after its gone, its like you come back to a different planet, she said. I had to say goodbye to my land when I left, and my heart hurts.

Henrietta Kaonohiokalani Jeremiah, a musician, retiree and native Hawaiian, also lives in Leilani Estates and is waiting to see if and when she will be able to go back home. She purchased her one-acre plot of land for about $20,000, then built a multi-sided home, similar to a yurt, on the property.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/10/hawaiis-evacuees-on-life-by-the-volcano-people-think-were-crazy-to-live-here

The way some pigs are reared is ‘upsetting and wrong’, say shoppers

Most individuals ready to switch to grocery stores aiming to enhance farming requirements, study discovers

Shoppers worldwide extremely support high animal well-being requirements for pigs, and the majority of would likewise be prepared to alter their grocery store practices in action, a global study on pork intake has actually discovered.

Seven from 10 individuals questioned stated they discovered the way where pigs are raised for massacre on some agriculture “distressing”, “incorrect” or “stunning”, after being revealed pictures of some pig-keeping conditions in the online survey. The study highlighted practices such as plants kept in little cages, antibiotic usage, along with tail-docking, teeth-grinding and castration, often without discomfort relief.

Eight from 10 consumers surveyed in more than 10 nations concurred that high well-being for pigs was necessary, and almost 9 of from 10 in 3 essential nations stated they might be encouraged to patronize a grocery store devoted to enhancing the lives of pigs.

However, less than one in 3 consumers in many nations surveyed stated they actively searched for labels on pork items showing the animals had actually been raised in high-welfare conditions, and the excellent bulk of those surveyed internationally pointed out rate, quality and look as more crucial in picking which pork items to consume.

The study was performed on behalf of World Animal Protection , and included interviews with almost 10,000 customers worldwide, consisting of the UK, the United States and China, all significant customers of pork items, by the ballot business Voodoo. About 1,000 interviews were carried out in each nation in the report.

World Animal Protection, a marketing organisation, gotten in touch with significant grocery stores to promise greater pig well-being in sourcing their meat, and advised customers to require modification from sellers. Steve McIvor, president, stated: “Supermarkets hold the power to produce much better lives for pigs. We are motivating clients of leading grocery stores to let them understand they anticipate greater well-being requirements for pork items, with the warranty that pigs are raised right.”

The group desires pigs to be enabled to reside in social groups in comfy environments, with chances to reveal natural behaviour, and an end to practices such as those highlighted in the study: plants in little cages, pigs kept in “dark, squalid storage facilities and confined, difficult conditions”, piglets having their teeth ground and tail docked without anaesthetic, and the overuse of prescription antibiotics .

Consumer issues over bad conditions for lots of pigs was laid out in the UK just recently in the BBC program Countryfile , where a farmer revealed pigs being raised in cages, provoking furious reactions on social networks both from those stunned by exactly what they saw and protectors of extensive farming for making it possible for less expensive meat.

Changing purchasing routines amongst customers might be a difficulty, as a lot of surveyed do not presently base their intake on well-being factors to consider and lots of revealed little awareness of essential elements of pig-rearing .

Minimum requirements such as the area where plants are kept and fundamental constraints on prescription antibiotics are imposed in nations such as Europe however are inadequate, inning accordance with advocates, while the rearing of pigs in “mega-farms” where they seldom have access to the outdoors is on the boost.

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We wish to speak with individuals operating in the farming and food production market all over the world as we start a brand-new investigative series .

Share your experiences and views utilizing our encrypted kind here . Among our reporters might call you to talk about additional and we will include a few of your contributions in our reporting.

Thank you for your feedback.

Some grocery stores around the globe have actually currently devoted to greater well-being requirements. From July, for example, the Co-op in the UK will source all its own-brand fresh pork, bacon, sausage, gammon and ham from outdoor-bred pigs on RSPCA-assured farms.

Jo Whitfield, the retail president of Co-op, stated: “The greatest animal well-being requirements ought to not simply be the protect of top-tier items and we wish to make sure that the really best-quality British pork is offered at daily inexpensive rates.”

On outdoor-bred farms , piglets and their moms have access to the outdoors for about 4 to 6 weeks from birth. After that, they can be raised inside your home. In outdoor-reared systems, the pigs have access to fields for about half their lives.

Contact us with your stories and ideas at animalsfarmed@theguardian.com

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/17/the-way-some-pigs-are-reared-is-upsetting-and-wrong-say-shoppers

How the most vulnerable workers are targeted for sexual abuse

Long read: Isolated, unprotected and scared to speak out some workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment. Who finds the cases of sexual assault no one else is looking for?

The southern California sky dims as Vicky Mrquez zooms south along Interstate 5 in her Honda SUV, with syrupy Spanish-language love songs blasting from her stereo. The satnav on her phone is directing her through a monotonous landscape of Orange County office parks, and Mrquez is racing against rush hour, dodging between lanes and swerving with inches to spare. Im kind of a crazy driver, she admits.

Mrquez works for a little-known non-profit organisation with the pressing goal of fighting labour exploitation among night-shift janitors an industry that operates in obscurity, with workers sent to anonymous buildings rarely visited by government regulators. With her glasses, curled-under fringe and pastel sweater, Mrquez looks more like a retired librarian than a labour rights activist. On tiptoe, she stands under 5ft tall. On this particular late winter evening, Mrquez is on the road to the first of half a dozen office parks where she will make surprise visits, making sure that cleaners are being treated fairly by their bosses.

It is a job that few government agencies bother to do, but it is work that Mrquez believes in. For 16 years after moving to the US from El Salvador, where she left her husband and three children behind she too worked as a janitor. The work was rough, and she had to put in more hours than she was paid for, but she still managed to send money back home.

After 40 frenetic minutes on the road, Mrquez arrives at her first destination, near the city of San Clemente. She climbs out of the car carrying a bulging black bag stuffed with papers and tests the front door of the office. Tonight, she has arrived early enough that the door swings open. Mrquez has other strategies for when they are locked: she might station herself near the service exits or the dumpsters, where she knows the night-shift cleaners will eventually present themselves. In supermarkets or guarded high-rises, she will sweetly ask for the janitor. If the person she is talking to assumes that shes looking for a job, so be it.

Tonight her first move is to look for bathrooms or supply closets two places she knows she is likely to find a janitor. She moves past the elevators to a rear hallway, where she finds Mara Garca, a cleaner, holding a mop next to a bucket of murky, citrus-smelling water. Mrquez greets her in Spanish. Garca is on the clock and responds brusquely, almost warily. Mrquez doesnt waste time on small talk. Setting her large bag on top of a drinking fountain, she extracts a packet of papers and passes them to the cleaner. Mrquez explains that she works for an organisation called the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), which helps janitors make sure they get paid what they are owed, and helps them solve problems with issues such as immigration.

When she has Garcas attention, Mrquez asks a few more questions: does Garca get paid in cash, or with a cheque on a regular basis? A cheque every two weeks, Garca says. Mrquez nods. Is she given regular breaks? Yes. Does she have to pay for her own cleaning supplies? Garca says that sometimes what the company gives her is not enough, so she has to buy a few more bottles of bleach. Mrquez tells her it is the companys responsibility to provide her with the supplies she needs.

Then Mrquez goes in to close the deal. Tu telfono, mija? Mrquez asks. Mrquez scribbles the number into a black notebook. Y tu direccin? Mrquez then takes down Garcas address.

Gathering workers contact information is Mrquezs ultimate aim. The MCTF is one of only a handful of organisations in the US keeping careful tabs on the practices of non-union cleaning firms some of which operate entirely in the black market. Through these impromptu meetings, the organisation has generated a database of workers who can give first-hand testimony about whether these companies are following labour laws. Since 1999, the MCTF has helped collect more than $26m (19m) for janitors who were being abused at work.

Garca doesnt know it yet, but Mrquez will later call or visit her at home in the early afternoon, when most night janitors have not yet left for work. At these follow-up meetings, Mrquez will remind Garca that she is there to help her solve any problems she may be facing at work. If Garca doesnt pick up or answer the door, Mrquez will keep trying until she makes contact with her a second and then a third time. This process can take months, but such is the long, slow dance necessary to build trust among workers in low-paying and invisible industries people who are unlikely to ever make formal complaints.

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A 2016 protest in Sacramento, California, in support of a bill to protect female workers from sexual harassment. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

As a reporter who has investigated these industries for several years, I have been forced to conclude that low-wage immigrants labouring in isolation are at unique risk of sexual assault and harassment. It is an open secret in these industries that immigrant women in financially precarious jobs many of whom are undocumented are targeted for sexual abuse by their superiors. While it is not possible to know how often these abuses happen, they are not anomalies. Federal government figures estimate that about 50 workers are sexually assaulted each day, and in the industries that hire newcomers to the country in exchange for meagre paycheques, such assault is a familiar workplace hazard. And yet there have been few meaningful efforts to prevent it before it starts. Instead, we expect women with the most to lose to seek recourse by reporting the problem after the fact but the reality is that if these workers face abuse from a superior, the combination of uncertain immigration status, financial constraint and shame often conspires to keep them silent.

The same unfortunate pattern plays out among farm workers and domestic workers those who cook, clean and care for families behind the locked doors of private homes. Their vulnerability to sexual violence echoed what I had heard from janitors: in their isolated workplaces, it was often their direct employers who groped them or propositioned them for sex.

In her work as an advocate for cleaners, Vicky Mrquez has discovered that a lot can happen in places no one is looking but she didnt realise the full extent of it until she met a young cleaner named Georgina Hernndez.


Many low-paid jobs share similar risk factors. Every day vast numbers of women often hired via a complex web of barely accountable subcontractors find themselves working in isolated locations across the US. With few other people around and those that are often battling poverty and eager to keep their jobs they can become the perfect target for predators.

Hernndez was working at a cinema sweeping up popcorn when Mrquez first met her. For the first month and a half on the job, Hernndez never received a pay cheque, and worked more hours than she was being paid for. She hadnt complained because she thought that, as someone without immigration papers, she was easy to replace. She still recalls the way Mrquez spoke to her gently, like an understanding aunt. Before Mrquez left, she took down Hernndezs phone number and told her she would check in with her again.

On her next visit, Mrquez looked at Hernndezs pay stubs and compared them to the working hours she had written down in a notebook. They didnt match up. When Mrquez asked why Hernndez hadnt written down any time for breaks, she said it was because she wasnt given any. Mrquez and the MCTF eventually helped Hernndez and some of her co-workers file a complaint with Californias labour commissioner, which led to a $1m fine from the state of California against the two cleaning companies that had employed Hernandez: for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, and for not giving their workers rest or meal breaks.

But when Hernndez moved to a new, higher-paying job as a hotel cleaner, there were even bigger problems. Early on, she says, her supervisor flirted with her and tried to convince her to have sex with him. She rebuffed him, and he retaliated by giving her more work. When his advances didnt stop, she tried to hide from him, but he would follow her or call her on her cellphone to find out where she was.

His demands quickly became violent. Less than a week into the new job, Hernndez says he told her that he needed to talk to her privately about her work in his car. This made her uncomfortable, but he said: You need this job, dont you? He instructed Hernndez to meet him in the parking garage. Worried about losing her job, she went. When she got there, he told her to get into the vehicle. She hesitated, but he was the boss. She did what she was told. The supervisor drove them to a higher, darker floor of the garage. After he parked, he began to touch her legs. She told him she didnt want to continue, and he replied that he would give her more days off and better pay. Hernndez told him she didnt want more days off she had taken the job because she wanted to work. When he began touching her breasts, she became afraid. Then he took off her trousers. As he forced himself on her, she panicked and froze.

Afterwards, the supervisor asked her to put in a request for an extra shift that week, so he could take her to a hotel. Hernndez told him she couldnt. He assured her there would be perks: he would pay her for the shift, and make sure she received seven shifts that week. Youre delicious, he told her before driving her to a lower level of the parking garage. He told her to go into the building first. He followed a while later.

Hernndez never requested an extra shift. She didnt immediately tell anyone what her supervisor had done. The shame of it was too much, and she knew it would not be easy to find a new job as an undocumented worker who couldnt read or write.

About a week later, Hernndezs supervisor told her to meet him again. When she said no and tried to quit, he threatened to hurt her and her daughter. He added that if she wanted to stay in the country, she needed to keep him happy. This time he drove them to a motel.

On one of her nights off, Hernndezs supervisor called her incessantly until she picked up the phone. He said he needed her to work that night and that he was on his way to pick her up. Hernndez hurried to get herself ready for work, but once she was in his car, he drove to the motel. Hernndez cried and tried to climb out of the car, but he pulled her into a room by her hair, where she says he forced her to have sex with him again. He later warned her not to tell anyone what had happened but she would have stayed silent anyway. She thought her family and friends would never believe her, or would think she had brought it on herself.

Hernndez says that, at the time, she didnt think there was a way out of her supervisors trap. Theres no way to defend yourself, she says. Theres no way to say no. When you need the job, you become the victim. Thats why you deal with all the harassment, the discrimination, everything because you need the job.

For the next few weeks, she reported to work at the hotel as usual, making a point to avoid her supervisor. But he managed to find her, either to remind her how much she needed the job, or to chastise her for being so cold during their encounters. Finally, he came to her with an ultimatum: she had to decide whether she wanted to keep her job or not. If she did, he would continue to have certain expectations of her.

Hernndez felt hopeless. She was having migraines and panic attacks. She dreaded his next demand. When he confronted her again, she told him she would not have sex with him to keep her job. Then began his revenge. He yelled at her in front of co-workers and disciplined her for supposedly leaving used tissues in the lobby. Then, she says, he started to sabotage her work, making a mess of places she had cleaned and disciplining her for it.

The rapes had been horrific violations, but they had happened in private. Now her supervisor was publicly impugning her work, and her job was still at risk. She felt lost and compromised, but she swallowed how she felt and continued to drag herself to work.

She later decided to speak to the cleaning company about the assaults. She had seen her supervisor try to hug and flirt with another cleaner, so together the two women called human resources to make a complaint, but nothing changed. Almost two months into the job, Hernndez called in sick one evening. The next day, the supervisor fired her.


Hernndez didnt leave the house for days. She had headaches and couldnt sleep. Her nausea continued to intensify. The truth was hard to face: she was pregnant. Depleted and sobbing, she sought out the only person she could trust. Vicky Mrquez remembers how Hernndez sounded that day. She was crying and her voice was anguished. Mrquez had rushed to Hernndezs apartment, but the cleaner said they could not talk there. I dont want anyone to hear me, she said.

They talked in Mrquezs car. Something has happened that I dont want to have to tell you, Vicky, Hernndez began. Something terrible. She was inconsolable. Mrquez told her: We can find a lot of help for this. Dont be scared. But in truth, Mrquez had no idea what she could do. She called Anel Flores, a colleague who was an attorney, to ask for help. Flores suggested Mrquez bring Hernndez to their office. For the next two hours, Hernndez shared fragments of her experience, until Flores was able to piece the whole story together, from the rape in the parking lot to being forced into sex at the motel. Finally, Hernndez told Flores that she was pregnant from one of the rapes, and that she had already made an appointment for an abortion. I cannot have this baby, she said.

She added that she was worried people would find out she was pregnant, and that she would be judged and blamed for everything. Flores tried to reassure her: Its not your fault. You did not do anything wrong. Youre not a bad person. Hernndez eventually agreed to let Flores share some of what had happened with Mrquez, and with Lilia Garca, the executive director of the MCTF. They told Hernndez they would help her address the problem step by step, and would become her confidants and support network.

When Hernndez terminated the pregnancy a few days later, Flores picked her up from the clinic and took her home. After an attorney specialising in sexual harassment suggested that Hernndez file a police report, Flores and Mrquez drove Hernndez to the police station, and Flores sat with her as she was interviewed.

Reassured by the support of the women from the MCTF, Hernndez became determined to push back against what had happened. With the help of the lawyer she had met through the organisation, Hernndez filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the cleaning company. In the legal filing, Hernndez accused the company of failure to prevent sexual harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery. Within months, the company paid a financial settlement to close the case, though it did not admit any liability in the process. It also fired the supervisor.

Hernndez says the outcome of the case can never make up for the rapes, but she is proud that she set aside her fears to challenge what had happened to her. She had tolerated too much for too long because she didnt know how to get help, and she might have been stuck with the same problems if Mrquez hadnt found her. I would have guarded all of this pain, she says. I wouldnt have known how to speak out about what happened.

Mrquez says the isolation of the job and the demographic of the workers makes night-shift cleaners such as Hernndez easy targets for abuse. It is because the supervisors always think the worker needs work and they have work to give, Mrquez says. So they commit these abuses. And there are many who knows how many hundreds or thousands of cases that remain in the shadows because no one knows. Many women dont say anything out of fear. Theyre afraid that society will realise that they have been forced to sleep with someone. They are afraid that they will lose their job.


Mrquez knows that it is rare to uncover cases such as Hernndezs. For each janitor the MCTF reaches, it can take months of calls and visits before a worker will begin to think about speaking up about their problems. In matters of sexual assault, it takes even more work and time. How many cases are there in this country that we dont know about? Mrquez says.

Across the US, immigration status and poverty are used as leverage against female workers to hold them hostage in jobs where they are being sexually abused. Labour enforcement is predicated on the idea that workers already know their rights, and thus it is logical to expect them to make a complaint to bosses or the government if problems arise. These laws do not take into consideration the experiences of low-wage immigrant workers and what their options really are if they have been sexually assaulted at work.

The legal system through filing a civil lawsuit or a criminal case is often viewed as the clearest way to demand accountability. Workers can also go to their employers or unions to demand redress. Making a formal complaint helps emphasise that there can be consequences for this type of abusive conduct. But these approaches are only part of the solution, and are inherently reactive, requiring the confrontation of systemic roadblocks such as deeply flawed notions of credibility that often get in the way of satisfactory outcomes. Meanwhile, we know that prevention is possible. Decades of empirical research offers clear direction. While there are some heartening efforts to incorporate this research into worker training and advocacy programs, employers and policy makers have largely chosen not to use it.

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Supporters of the Justice for Janitors campaign at the Sacramento protest. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

In addition, advocates for female workers have tried for decades to make the case that sexual assault at work should not be dismissed or marginalised by employers and the government because it has historically been perceived as a womens issue. Instead, they argue, gender-based violence should be viewed in the same way as other forms of on-the-job physical violence, so that prevention plans are implemented, the government takes a proactive role in enforcement and workers have an avenue for demanding accountability.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, but if there is a perfect storm of factors that put workers at risk, night-shift janitorial work is its epicentre. Nearly every office building relies on after-hours cleaners, but we rarely see the people who do the vacuuming and mopping. The work is scheduled to happen at night or during the early morning, when few people are around. They are expected to be invisible.

This is also emblematic of a wider trend. Before the 1980s, most businesses had their own cleaning staff. Then, as institutional investors purchased high-rises and retailers grew into chains with premises all over the country, it became more efficient and cost-effective to outsource such work to independent companies. A wide range of low-paid, unskilled industries have followed suit.

This business model has become even more opaque with the rise in subcontracting. While one contractor might land the official cleaning contract for a large retail chain or high-rise office block, it might then hire a subcontractor to do the actual cleaning. Some of those subcontractors might then subcontract some or all of the work to a third business. Building owners, retailers and businesses award contracts to the lowest bidder, so cleaning companies both big corporations and small subcontractors have to keep costs as low as possible. Human labour is the largest expense in this business, and where the firms look first to trim costs.

The way you make money in this industry is to cheat, because the profit margin is so thin, says Stephen Lerner, who led the Justice for Janitors campaign with the Service Employees International Union in the 1980s. Larger companies are not without their problems, but they are easier to track, and most provide regular pay cheques and benefits to workers. But at the other end of the spectrum are an unknown number of black-market subcontractors, where misconduct largely stays hidden.


In many ways, the MCTF is doing for cleaners what the state could be doing for all vulnerable workers. The reality is that there are very few or no enforcement agencies who do this work, says Lilia Garca, underlining the fact that the many of the cases her organisation brings would probably go unreported if the job were left solely to the government.

In some states, including California, there is a push to create regulations regarding workplace violence that would address everything from physical attacks to sexual assault. At the federal level, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) acknowledges that it has a responsibility to address sexual assault on the job. In reality, though, the OSHA doesnt do much to tackle the issue. It took on its first case of workplace sexual assault in 2016.

For now, it is up to organisations such as the MCTF to do the tough work of finding the cases that no one else is looking for. There is not [much information] in these work sites of where to call if youre in trouble, of what you can do if a right is violated or if youre attacked, says Garca. They were almost like these lost islands, just operating in the middle of the night, for years and years and years. Were actually connecting them with society, and letting them know that their working conditions are wrong or that an attack on their person was wrong and theres something that they can do about it.

Sexual assault in the workplace is a crime and an extreme form of sexual harassment. It is outlawed by the US Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nevertheless, companies do not have to disclose how many sexual harassment complaints they receive internally, whether the claims were physical and violent, or how they handled them.

Complaints made to government agencies are often kept confidential until one party decides to file a lawsuit. Most sexual harassment complaints received by the federal government never result in litigation. They are processed and then stored in filing cabinets or databases.

Even lawsuits dont always reveal much about what is really happening. If a worker threatens to file a sexual harassment suit, the company can buy the persons silence by offering a confidential settlement before the case is filed and becomes public information. Cases that do make it to court can be kept under wraps through quick settlement agreements, which include confidentiality clauses that silence the worker and sometimes their attorneys.

Of course, some workers dont want their personal business known to everyone. Meanwhile, companies argue that keeping these claims out of the public eye is necessary. They say they settle cases as a way to end an embarrassing complaint, even when they dont truly believe the harassment happened. As a result, they worry that these lawsuits can sometimes become a kind of extortion by disgruntled or dishonest employees.

Advocates such as Garca, however, argue that it is difficult enough to convince women to come forward about far less sensitive problems being paid less than the minimum wage, for example. On the dozens of occasions when her organisation has unearthed cases involving sexual violence, the abused workers, for the most part, havent wanted to move forward with formal complaints because they didnt want anyone to know what had happened to them.

They internalise the shame and the wrongdoing, and the embarrassment is just overpowering, Garca says. They choose not to talk about it to any of their relatives. They really have no other support outside of whatever our organisation can provide.

When sexual assault happens among invisible workers in industries that few are monitoring, it becomes a crime that can be denied, a problem that never receives accountability or prevention. The repercussions of ignoring the realities of vulnerable workers are clear: if on-the-job sexual violence rarely comes to light, then the problem goes unaddressed and the perpetrator is free to abuse again.

This is an adapted extract from In a Days Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against Americas Most Vulnerable Workers by Bernice Yeung, published by The New Press. Buy it at guardianbookshop.com

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/13/how-the-most-vulnerable-workers-are-targeted-for-sexual-abuse

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say

The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is on course for ecological Armageddon, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery, said Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands and who led the new research.

Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline, said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.

The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardised ways of collecting insects in 1989. Special tents called malaise traps were used to capture more than 1,500 samples of all flying insects at 63 different nature reserves.

Malaise
The malaise traps set in protected areas and reserves, which scientists say makes the declines even more worrying. Photograph: Courtesy of Courtesy of Entomologisher Verein Krefeld

When the total weight of the insects in each sample was measured a startling decline was revealed. The annual average fell by 76% over the 27 year period, but the fall was even higher 82% in summer, when insect numbers reach their peak.

Previous reports of insect declines have been limited to particular insects, such European grassland butterflies, which have fallen by 50% in recent decades. But the new research captured all flying insects, including wasps and flies which are rarely studied, making it a much stronger indicator of decline.

The fact that the samples were taken in protected areas makes the findings even more worrying, said Caspar Hallmann at Radboud University, also part of the research team: All these areas are protected and most of them are well-managed nature reserves. Yet, this dramatic decline has occurred.

Insect abundance

The amateur entomologists also collected detailed weather measurements and recorded changes to the landscape or plant species in the reserves, but this could not explain the loss of the insects. The weather might explain many of the fluctuations within the season and between the years, but it doesnt explain the rapid downward trend, said Martin Sorg from the Krefeld Entomological Society in Germany, who led the amateur entomologists.

Goulson said a likely explanation could be that the flying insects perish when they leave the nature reserves. Farmland has very little to offer for any wild creature, he said. But exactly what is causing their death is open to debate. It could be simply that there is no food for them or it could be, more specifically, exposure to chemical pesticides, or a combination of the two.

In September, a chief scientific adviser to the UK government warned that regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and that the effects of dosing whole landscapes with chemicals have been largely ignored.

The scientists said further work is urgently needed to corroborate the new findings in other regions and to explore the issue in more detail. While most insects do fly, it may be that those that dont, leave nature reserves less often and are faring better. It is also possible that smaller and larger insects are affected differently, and the German samples have all been preserved and will be further analysed.

In the meantime, said De Kroon: We need to do less of the things that we know have a negative impact, such as the use of pesticides and the disappearance of farmland borders full of flowers.

Bird
As well as being pollinators insects provide food for birds and other animals and help control pests. Photograph: Kevin Elsby/Alamy

Lynn Dicks at the University of East Anglia, UK, and not involved in the new research said the work was convincing. It provides important new evidence for an alarming decline that many entomologists have suspected is occurring for some time.

If total flying insect biomass is genuinely declining at this rate about 6% per year it is extremely concerning, she said. Flying insects have really important ecological functions, for which their numbers matter a lot. They pollinate flowers: flies, moths and butterflies are as important as bees for many flowering plants, including some crops. They provide food for many animals birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and decomposers, controlling pests and cleaning up the place generally.

Another way of sampling insects car windscreens has often been anecdotally used to suggest a major decline, with people remembering many more bugs squashed on their windscreens in the past.

I think that is real, said Goulson. I drove right across France and back this summer just when youd expect your windscreen to be splattered all over and I literally never had to stop to clean the windscreen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers

No pain relief, no running water: the perils of childbirth in Tanzania | Leah McLaren

Natural birth is the only alternative for numerous females here, and though devoted midwives do their finest, the danger of infection and sepsis is high

A t the Nyarugusu medical dispensary in north-west Tanzania , Eva Paulo, 23, remains in her 36th hour of labour. She paces barefoot in circle the dirty lawn behind the hospital room, her narrow back stooped in discomfort. Apart from her stubborn belly she is a slim female with an angular face, her hair scraped back into rows of neat plaits. When a contraction grips her, Paulo leans hard into the nearby tree, shuts her eyes and breathes quietly as the sweat beads off her forehead.

“This is excessive,” she states, as another contraction racks her. “I have no idea why it’s taking so long. And the midwives, they do not inform me anything.”

It is, naturally, the universal grievance of ladies in labour the world over. For numerous ladies in Tanzania, “natural birth” isn’t really an achievement or a choice– it’s the only feasible alternative .

Paulo will deliver for the 4th time in one of the most fundamental healthcare facility conditions you can possibly imagine. The dispensary is made up of 2 simple cinder-block structures in a jacaranda thicket midway up a hill. While the personnel will do their finest, Paulo will get no discomfort relief, no foetal tracking and no medical interventions. The absence of physicians implies caesarean areas are not carried out here.

Another issue– from which numerous others stem– is an absence of water. There is no running water for sterilisation, laundry or hand-washing. Toilets are dirty, squat outhouses a brief walk from the structure.

Each early morning, personnel at the center purchase 20 jerry cans of water from a regional supplier for 500 shillings (about 16p) each, for fundamental cleansing. The cash comes out of their own pockets, which is considerable for nurses who make less than 200 a month. Pregnant ladies are needed to show up with their own water since of this.

Paulo’s water beings in the birth space– 3 big barrels of dirty liquid bought from a shallow well near her home an hour’s leave.

The water in these containers will sterilise any carries out utilized in her birth and make the sweet tea she will consume in the late phases of labour. It will be utilized to hand-wash the bloodied linens and rubber sheet on which she offered birth. A brand-new mom can not be released up until she or her relative has actually done so.

Paulo’s experience is quite the standard. In Tanzania, just 44% of health care centers that provide children have access to water, good toilets and handwashing with soap. Of these, just 24% have these centers in the hospital room. The scenario is comparable throughout the area, with 42% of health care centres in sub-Saharan Africa having no water source within 500 metres.

By 8am every day, the dispensary’s outdoor waiting location is loaded with moms, pregnant females and babies, the majority of whom have actually strolled miles to obtain here. This is a location understood for foreign-owned cash cow. What little work there is here is back-breaking and inadequately paid. Health care is totally free in Tanzania, clients have to purchase their own drugs.

The medical personnel at the dispensary– 3 signed up nurse/midwives, 2 student nurses, a workplace supervisor and a laboratory specialist– are plainly overworked. Outfitted in white smocks, they hurry about with clipboards, weighing and immunising lots of infants, screening ill clients for tuberculosis, malaria and hiv, typically working 24-hour shifts for no overtime, attempting to get ahead of the stream of clients, which can number 500 a day.

Buckets -1.2 -.9 0 -.2 0 -.3.1 -.5 l2-6.7 h.7l.4-1.5 4.2 -.6 h. 2l3 12h1.6 zm -.3 -9.2 c -.9 0-1.4 -.5 -1.4 -1.3 c2.9.5 3.7 0 4.6 0 5.4 0 6.5 6 1.3 c0 1 -.8 1.5-1.7 1.5 z”/> Buckets of water from an independently owned shallow well on the edge of Nyarugusu– the closest water source to Nyarugusu Dispensary, a 15-minute drive away. Photo: Sameer Satchu/WaterAid

Asked if she had a dream list for the center, midwife Jackeline Gideon Mwiguta states:”That’s simple. Running water, much better devices, more beds and more personnel.”

The NGO WaterAid is dealing with city government here to offer a tidy, trustworthy water source for centres like the Nyarugusu dispensary. This is a remote location in a bad nation and development is sluggish. A borehole has actually been dug near the pump however the health center has yet to be provided. With luck, the dispensary will have water by Christmas.

In the birth space, Pendo, 27, has actually simply brought to life a healthy kid called Amos. She resides in a town 10 miles away and entered into labour in the middle of the night. She set off for the dispensary with her “aunty” (her mother-in-law’s youngest sibling) on a motorcycle taxi in the beginning light. After 20 minutes, she felt the have to press and informed the motorist to stop. Pendo then put down by the side of the roadway and brought to life her child. Her auntie cut the cable with a razor blade from her bag. Pendo and her aunty, with Amos in a package, then returned on the bike and owned the remainder of the method to the dispensary. The midwife put a clip on the umbilical stump when they showed up. That had to do with an hour back. Now Pendo is resting under a white sheet while her auntie, who uses a Chelsea FC T-shirt and a standard kitenge wrap skirt, nestles the child.

Asked if Amos has actually been bathed, Pendo shakes her head. They will do it in the house later on. “We didn’t have time to obtain water,” she states.

Nurse-midwife Nurse-midwife Jackeline Gideon Mwiguta brings the placenta out to the center’s disposal pit– an unlined hole in the ground where medical waste is later on burned. Photo: Sameer Satchu/WaterAid

A few hours later on, Pendo and Amos are no place to be discovered. Not waiting to be released, they slipped out of the birth space without the midwives seeing. Mwiguta states this prevails. Maybe they simply wished to go house or, most likely, they could not manage the 1,500 shillings for water.

Childbirth without water is undesirable for all the apparent factors however it’s likewise hazardous. If a labouring female can be found in without her jerry cans and requires an episiotomy, for example, the midwives need to merely clean down the instruments with bleach, rather of sterilising prior to cutting. The exact same opts for the scissors utilized to cut the umbilical cable.

Without water, the hospital room can not be correctly cleaned up in between shipments, which there are a number of every day. Throughout the 3 days I invest there, it smells highly of afterbirth and the flooring is flecked with blood and dirt. Tanzania has actually made terrific strides in reducing baby death over the last few years, however its rate is still relatively high. While simply 3.6 in 1,000 British children will pass away prior to their very first birthday , in Tanzania that number is 51 . One significant factor is the occurrence of bacterial infection and its lethal brother or sister, sepsis. Throughout my time at the dispensary I talk to 3 bereaved moms who had actually lost infants to sepsis in the previous month alone.

In the hospital room, there is unexpectedly fantastic enjoyment. Paulo is lastly in shift and all set to press. Resting on the health center bed curtained in simply a conventional kitenge, she consumes deeply from a pink plastic nursery cup of tea then grips the side of the bed, back arched.

Kushinikiza, kushinikiza,” states Mwiguta, the Swahili word for “push”. She rubs Paulo’s arm, then unhurriedly snaps on a brand-new set of latex gloves. Rather of throwing out the product packaging, she spreads out the white plastic out under Paulo’s bottom– an act that appears both tender and prudent.

As the child’s anxious purple forehead emerges, Mwiguta presses her fingers greatly under the chin and grabs something blue and thick and twisted. “The cable is around the neck– this is why infant took so long,” she states, as if saying on the weather condition. She pulls the cable, pulling it up and over the child’s head. She advises Paulo to press as soon as more and an ideal, slippery infant woman shoots out with force, a mess of other things coming with her– blood and amniotic fluid. The prehistoric soup of life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/oct/02/no-pain-relief-no-running-water-tanzania-maternal-health-perils-of-childbirth