Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016 (5)

2017-03-09 14:54Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping ECNS App Download

V. Women, Children, Elders' Rights Lack Proper Protection

The situation of protection of rights of women, children and elders in the United States was worrisome in 2016. Women were paid much less compared to their male colleagues who do the same work, and they frequently fell victims to sexual harassment and assault. Poverty rate among children remained high and cases of elder abuse happened from time to time.

Gender pay gaps remained large. Women were paid much less compared to their male colleagues who do the same work in 2016 (, March 8, 2016). An analysis found women with city government jobs in New York made 18 percent less than men (, April 11, 2016). Gender pay gap among supervisor staff in San Diego was even wider. Women who work for San Diego County supervisors earned about 37,000 U.S. dollars less in pre-tax pay per year on average (, August 14, 2016). Women comprised about 60 percent of California workers earning minimum wage or less, according to a review of federal labor statistics by the National Women's Law Center (, April 10, 2016).

Sexual harassments and assaults took place frequently. The USA Today website reported on July 7, 2016 that roughly one in four women say they have been harassed on the job (, July 7, 2016). It said that with many victims too frightened to speak up, attorneys and employment experts said the actual number of such instances was likely far higher. The New York Post website on July 14, 2016 reported that an investigation found Tennessee lawmaker Jeremy Durham used his position to sexually harass at least 22 female interns, lobbyists, staff and political workers (, July 14, 2016). In the law enforcement field, the U.S. police failed to provide adequate protection for sexual assault victims and are deeply dismissive of such people. The New York Times website on October 28 reported that Baltimore officers sometimes humiliated women who tried to report sexual assault and disregarded some complaints filed by certain victims. Some officers blamed victims or discouraged them from identifying their assailants. There were even complaints that some officers target members of a vulnerable population -- people involved in the sex trade -- to coerce sexual favors from them in exchange for avoiding arrest, or for cash or narcotics (, October 28, 2016). A Los Angeles Times report on October 28 said that nearly half of skid row women had been attacked in the previous 12 months; more than a quarter of them were sexually assaulted (, October 28, 2016). As of February 26, 2016, federal investigations related to sexual violence were underway at 167 colleges and universities, according to the Education Department. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in 2015 found that 20 percent of young women who attended college during a four-year span said they had been sexually assaulted (, March 5, 2016). A survey of Santa Cruz graduate students found that 32.6 percent of 200 respondents said they had been sexually harassed or knew someone who had been (, March 2, 2016). Sexual violence also happened in primary and secondary schools. The Education Department in fiscal 2015 received 65 civil rights complaints related to K-12 school districts' handling of sexual violence - triple the number the agency had received the year before (, January 17, 2016). The Miami Herald website on September 21 reported that after a 16-year-old girl told her high school she was sexually assaulted, her school failed to respond properly and she was further traumatized during the investigation. She was eventually suspended (, September 21, 2016).

Protection for children's rights was inadequate. The U.S. Urban Institute on September 11, 2016 released a report noting that an estimated 6.8 million people aged 10 to 17 are food insecure. When faced with acute food insecurity, some youths engaged in criminal behavior such as selling drugs and stealing items to resell for cash. Some youths sold sex for money to pay for food. In a few communities, teens talked about going to jail or failing school (so they could attend summer classes and get school lunch) as viable strategies for ensuring regular meals (, September 11, 2016). A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that about 59 percent of people said the government does not do enough for poor people or for children (, February 4, 2016). An Associated Press website report on October 14 said that during the first six months of 2016, minors died from accidental shootings at a pace of one every other day (, October 14, 2016). USA Today website reported on October 5 that a new research suggested that more than 160,000 children in 19 states are the victims of corporal punishment in schools each year (, October 5, 2016). In mid-September, more than 14,000 kids in Texas had not been seen by child abuse investigators within state-mandated timeframe after a report of abuse. Some children died in child abuse cases were already on the Child Protective Services radar (, October 4, 2016).

Elders lived in difficulties. A report at the Christian Science Monitor website on June 15 said that according to estimates of the U.S. National Center on Elder Abuse, of the 5 million older adults abused each year, 90 percent are abused by family members, and half are the person's children. Abuse can be verbal, financial, physical, or sexual (, June, 15, 2016). The situation for elderly women was even worrisome. The National Institute on Retirement Security reported that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women at age 75 to 79 are three times more likely (, July 10, 2016).

VI. Gross Violations of Human Rights in Other Countries

In 2016, the United States continued to trample on human rights in other countries, causing tremendous civilian casualties. Its overseas monitoring projects infringed on the privacy of citizens of other countries and the United States set up detention camp that illegally detained and tortured prisoners in many places on the globe.

Air strikes caused a large number of civilian casualties. According to Airwars, a project aimed at tracking air strikes in the Middle East, the United States had repeatedly organized coalition forces to launch air strikes against military forces in Iraq and Syria since August 8, 2014. As of December 19, 2016, the United States launched 7,258 air strikes in Iraq and 5,828 in Syria, causing 733 incidents with an estimated number of civilian deaths between 4,568 and 6,127 (, December 19, 2016). According to a report by the website of Los Angeles Times on December 2, a U.S. airstrike killed at least 15 civilians in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province (, December 2, 2016). Since 2009, the upper limit of the civilian death toll from U.S. drones stood at more than 800 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia (, July 1, 2016).

The issue of illegal detention and torturing prisoners of other countries remained unsolved. The U.S. government promised to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2009, but as of December 4, 2016, there were 59 detainees at Guantanamo Bay (, December 4, 2016). According to a report by the Washington Post on June 14, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on violating "Freedom of Information" and forced the CIA to release 50 declassified documents. A declassified report revealed in a CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit, militant Gul Rahman was placed in an "extremely cold" cell, suffered from pouring water to his body, and was determined to have died of hypothermia while in detention (, June 16, 2016). In a document titled "Description of Physical Pressures," the CIA tortured detainees including a facial slap, use of diapers, "insects," and "mock burial." In November 2016, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said in a report that the U.S. armed forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan (, November 15, 2016).

The United States continued overseas monitoring projects in a large scale. The U.S. intelligence agencies placed long-term monitoring of head and leaders of other states, diplomatic institutions and common people. Since National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked the U.S. surveillance programs to the new media in June 2013, the United States continuously extended the scale to monitor head and leaders of other states, common people and related enterprises with updated technologies which draw sharp criticism. In 2016, the CIA invested in firms to mine Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media (, April 15, 2016). A windowless Manhattan skyscraper appeared to be a secrete location used for NSA surveillance program that targeted not only domestic communication but also the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and at least 38 countries (, November 17, 2016). A spy base named Titanpointe in NSA building used equipment with companies such as AT&T and spied on phone calls, fax messages and internet data, intercepting satellite data including emails, chats, Skype calls, passwords, and internet browsing histories. The United States drew vast criticism from the international community.



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