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‘Epidemic of violence’: Brazil shocked by ‘barbaric’ gang-rape of gay man | Brazil

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An act of “barbaric” violence where a 22-year-old gay man was gang-raped and tortured has prompted fierce reaction in Brazil and is evidence of a growing tide of hate crime in the country, according to human rights campaigners.

The man, who has not been named, was attacked last week in Florianópolis by three armed men who used sharp objects during the assault and forced him to carve homophobic slurs into his legs, said activists.

His attackers left him in the street where he was found and taken to hospital. He is now recovering at home. Verdi Furlanetto, chief of police, confirmed to the Guardian that his force is investigating but there have been no arrests as yet.

“This is a frightening crime but it’s very common in Brazil, and violence – not only against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but also women, black people and immigrants – is worsening,” said Lirous Ávila, president of the Association in Defence of Human Rights, an organisation that helps victims of violence in Florianópolis.

Ávila is supporting the family of the victim, and added that news of the attack, which came to light during pride month, had provoked a huge nationwide reaction. She said opinion had been divided, with some people shocked by the case while others justified it, saying the man was gay. “It’s absurd to justify violence that is brutal and barbaric,” she said.

Brazil has one of the most alarming rates of violence and discrimination against LGBT people in the world. Cristian González Cabrera, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that while the supreme court banned violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2019, “the government needs to take urgent further steps to stave off this epidemic of violence against LGBT people”.

“Violence against LGBT people in Brazil has grown a lot recently,” said Margareth Hernandes, a lawyer based in Florianópolis and president of the gender law commission. “Brazil is the world champion of LGBT murders. We are a very conservative country where there is still a lot of prejudice. Hate speech ends up propagating violence.”

In 2020, 237 LGBT people died in situations of violence; there were 224 murders and 13 suicides, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia, the oldest LGBT rights organisation in Latin America. The national Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office reported to Human Rights Watch that, between January and June 2020, it received 1,134 complaints of violence, discrimination and other abuses against LGBT people. Data from the government’s hotline to report abuses, revealed that between 2011 and 2017, there were 12,477 complaints of violence against LGBT people in Brazil.

Hernandes, along with Ávila, attributes this rise in violence partly to the attitude of the leadership in Brazil. President Jair Bolsonaro has a long history of LGBT-phobic and misogynistic comments, including saying that he is a “proud homophobe”.

“We have a president who compounded this violence,” said Ávila. “It seems that the population feels it has a right to commit these violent acts against the LGBT population, influenced by Bolsonaro.”

There have been other homophobic attacks in the country where objects have been used on the victim. Prof Luiz Mott, a gay rights activist and founder of Grupo Gay da Bahia, cited the case of 17-year-old Wesner Oliveira who died after attackers pushed a compressed air hose from a car wash inside him. Mott said that attackers sometimes kill and then mutilate victims, including cutting off their genitals.

Perpetrators of hate crimes often go unpunished, added Mott. “A serious problem in relation to homophobic and transphobic crimes is impunity,” he said. “The police – for reasons of homophobia or structural incapacity – don’t investigate every murder. This impunity brings about new crimes.”

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In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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EU to propose universal phone-charger law

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The EU plans to propose laws harmonising mobile-phone, tablet, and headphone chargers and ports on Thursday in a bid to make life easier for consumers, Reuters reports. But Apple, whose iPhones use a special ‘Lightning cable’ has said the move will lead to piles of waste and deter innovation. Rival Android-based devices use so-called ‘USB-C’ connectors, but ‘USB micro-B’ and Lightning connectors account for about a third each of market-share.

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Brexit: British Embassy launches survey on key issues affecting UK nationals in Spain | Brexit | International

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The British Embassy in Madrid has launched a survey aimed at finding out how UK nationals in Spain have been affected by key issues, in particular, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, a process commonly known as Brexit.

The poll is for Britons who are full-time residents in Spain (not those with second homes) and are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, i.e. they were officially registered in the country before December 31, 2020, when the so-called Transition Period came to an end.

Questions in the survey address issues such as access to healthcare and the uptake of the TIE residency cards, which were introduced as a replacement for green residency cards (either the credit-card size or the A4 sheet version, officially known as the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión).

As we approach a year since the end of the Transition Period, we really want to hear from you about the key issues…

Posted by Brits in Spain on Friday, September 17, 2021

The aim of the poll is to gather vital information on the experience of UK nationals living in Spain that will help the British Embassy provide feedback to Spanish authorities. The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete, and all answers are confidential.

Have you heard our Spanish news podcast ¿Qué? Each week we try to explain the curious, the under-reported and sometimes simply bizarre news stories that are often in the headlines in Spain.



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‘The challenge for us now is drought, not war’: livelihoods of millions of Afghans at risk | Global development

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The war in Afghanistan might be over but farmers in Kandahar’s Arghandab valley face a new enemy: drought.

It has hardly rained for two years, a drought so severe that some farmers are questioning how much longer they can live off the land.

Mohammed Rahim, 30, grew up working on a farm along with his father and grandfather in the Arghandab district of Afghanistan’s southern province. Famous for its fruit and vegetables, the area is known as the bread basket of Kandahar.

Like most in the valley, Rahim’s family relies solely on farming. “The fighting has just stopped. Peace has returned,” Rahim says. “But now we face another war: drought.

“Now we have to dig deep to pump water out of the land. It has been two years, there has been little rain and we have a drought here. I don’t know if our coming generations can rely on farming the way our ancestors used to do.”

Pir Mohammed, 60, has been a farmer for more than four decades. “Not long ago, there were water channels flowing into the farm and we were providing the remaining water to other farmers,” says Mohammed. “Before, the water was running after us, flowing everywhere – but now we are running after water.”

The water used to come free from the river but now the daily diesel cost for the water pump is at least 2,500 Afghani (£21).

“We don’t make any profit. We are in loss, rather. Instead, we are using our savings. But we don’t have any other option as we do it for survival,” says Mohammed. “However, the scarcity of water has affected the quality of crops as well.”

About 70% of Afghans live in rural areas and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of drought.

Last week, Rein Paulsen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience, said severe drought was affecting 7.3 million people in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces.

He warned: “If agriculture collapses further, it will drive up malnutrition, increase displacement and worsen the humanitarian situation.”

Arghandab has been a favourite destination for farming because of the abundance of water and fertile lands. Neikh Mohammed, 40, left the Dand district of Kandahar to work in Arghandab in 2005. When he arrived he was amazed to see the greenery and pomegranate farms.

A dam affected by drought in Kandahar.
A dried up dam in Kandahar. A majority of Afghans are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of drought, as they live in rural areas. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

“It used to rain a lot here and we could not cross the river and come into our farms. We had a life with abundant water. But the past is another country now,” he says.

According to a report by the UN mission in Afghanistan, many local farmers were caught in the crossfire between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces. The Taliban carried out attacks from thick foliage on the farms, which provided a hiding place, ideal for an ambush.

“For the past 20 years, we did not have peace and could not work after dark in our farms. But now we can stay as long as we want without any fear,” says Neikh Mohammed. “Now the challenge is not just restoring peace but the drought and escalating cost of essential commodities.”

Farmers say they want support from international aid agencies and assistance from the new government headed by the Taliban to help them survive.

Pir Mohammed says: “The real challenge for us now is drought, not war. We need food, water, dams and infrastructure in our country. The world should invest in us and save us.”

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