10 October 2017

Puerto Rican Debt in the News


Puerto Rico Bonds Slide as Trump Says ‘Goodbye’ to Territory’s Debt
10 Oct 2017
Puerto Rico bond prices fell Wednesday after President Donald Trump said the U.S. territory’s roughly $70 billion in debt may get out wiped out to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria. “You can say goodbye to that,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox News during his visit to Puerto Rico. It wasn’t immediately clear how the U.S. would do that.  In trading Wednesday, benchmark Puerto Rican general obligation bonds maturing in 2035 were at 32.75 cents on the dollar, down from roughly 44 cents late Tuesday.

Storms complicate Puerto Rico's debt problems
26 Sep 2017
Puerto Rico's more than $70bn in debt is casting a shadow over recovery efforts, which was badly destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is facing the collapse of its electricity and communications network as it evacuates flooded families and examines damaged infrastructure. A major dam is at risk of failure. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosello warned of a "massive exodus" without aid.

US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday night that the island was in "deep trouble". He added that its debts, "sadly, must be dealt with". "Texas and Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble," he wrote. "Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars ... owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with."

Puerto Rico had been working on a financial plan with cuts that would satisfy the federal oversight panel. But Governor Rosello told broadcaster CNN that the hurricanes were "a game changer" for those discussions. "This is a completely different set of circumstances," he said.

After Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis, Worries Shift to Virgin Islands
25 Jun 2017
Government officials are scrambling to stave off the same kind of fiscal collapse that has already engulfed its neighbor Puerto Rico. The public debts of the Virgin Islands are much smaller than those of Puerto Rico, but so is its population, and therefore its ability to pay. This tropical territory of roughly 100,000 people owes some $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors. All of America’s far-flung territories, among them American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, appear vulnerable.

Puerto Rico votes in referendum to become US state
12 Jun 2017
The US territory of Puerto Rico has voted to ask Congress to make it America's 51st state. More than 97% of voters favored attempting to join the US over becoming independent or remaining a self-governing territory. However, just 23% of the electorate turned up to cast their ballot amid an opposition boycott, and its results are non-binding. The final decision is also not in their hands but up to Congress.

Puerto Rico files for bankruptcy in last-ditch attempt to sustain public services
05 May 2017
Puerto Rico has filed for a form of bankruptcy in a desperate bid to stave off creditors and maintain essential services to its 3.4 million citizens, nearly half of whom live in poverty. The insolvent US territory owes more than $70bn (£54bn) in public debt. A recession spanning decades – prolonged by the departure of multinational manufacturers, including “big pharma” companies – and the extensive brain drain to the US mainland has left Puerto Rico with arrears worth nearly 70% of its GDP. Unemployment is twice that of the US and millions depend on costly government programs such as Medicaid. On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Puerto Rico was closing 184 public schools in a bid to save millions of dollars.


Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Call for Bankruptcy Ahead of "Vulture Fund" Deadline
25 Apr 2017
Before May, protections expire that shelter Puerto Rico from debt lawsuits and predatory financial groups popularly known as "vulture" funds. The Catholic Archbishop of San Juan and Puerto Rico's Bible Society head are calling on the island's governor and oversight board to immediately activate a bankruptcy process designed by Congress. "If the oversight board and Governor do not act by April 28th, we fear that Puerto Rico could be held hostage by predatory actors and 'vulture' funds." "New austerity programs are being forced on our people and we must now receive the debt relief we are promised. It is immoral and unethical for any person or group to attempt to deny our people access to promised debt relief processes."

Restructuring agreement for Puerto Rico's utility could be in jeopardy
22 Mar 2017
A financial agreement involving Puerto Rico's largest utility may be in jeopardy, which could put the U.S. territory's power grid at risk for outages and hamper efforts to diversify its fuel mix. A restructuring support agreement, or RSA, for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, is set to expire March 31. Unless the RSA is renewed, the territory has no other viable options to meet its bond payment due July 1 of $455 million, which would cause the utility to default and likely trigger power outages across the island.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate, on Saving Puerto Rico
27 Feb 2017
“The board appointed to oversee Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring is predicted that its proposals would turn the island’s recession into a depression, of a magnitude seldom seen around the world — a decline of 16.2 percent of gross national product in the next fiscal year, comparable to the experience of countries in civil wars, and Venezuela in economic crisis in 2016. Unemployment, already at 12.4 percent, would soar. The plan, which puts the creditors’ interests above those of the island’s economy and people, will create a debt spiral. As in Greece, the debt/gross domestic product ratio will rise, and with it the likelihood of ever-deeper debt write-downs. American taxpayers will lose, too, as they will pay for the costs.”

Puerto Rico Governor Weighs Asking Creditors for More Concessions
27 Jan 2017
Many bond investors have viewed Puerto Rico’s new governor, Ricardo Rosselló, as a likely ally in their fight to get repaid. Now that hope is starting to dwindle. The governor struck a populist tone in a recent public spat with the federal oversight board managing Puerto Rico’s financial rehabilitation. Investors increasingly fear there will be a bankruptcy.





Two of Puerto Rico’s New Overlords Are Accused of Helping Create Its Debt Crisis
16 Dec 2016
A control board, which has veto power over major Puerto Rican budget decisions, was created by Congress in June as the island foundered under $70 billion in public debt. Activists are calling for the resignation of two members of Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board, Ramon Gonzalez and Carlos As Puerto Rico’s debt rose, the island’s elected officials began pushing the burden of repayment onto the public. Beginning in 2009, then-Gov. Luis Fortuño instituted major austerity measures, laying off tens of thousands of public employees. 

Puerto Rico: Huge blackout after power plant fire
21 Sep 2016
A big fire at a power plant has left 1.5 million people without electricity in the US territory of Puerto Rico. The fire affected two transmission lines and caused the collapse of the electricity system across the island. Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority has been undergoing restructuring and is seeking funds to update what it says is outdated equipment. The cause of the fire is still unclear. The blackout also caused 15 fires across Puerto Rico as a result of malfunctioning generators.

White House Announces Puerto Rico Oversight Board Membership
01 Sep 2016
The White House is announcing members of Puerto Rico's fiscal oversight board established as part of legislation to address the US territory’s debt crisis. The board is responsible for triggering debt restructuring on the island and approving the Governor's budget. Four of the seven board members are Puerto Rican. The legislation additionally put a stay on debt lawsuits against Puerto Rico and granted the island tools to restructure all of its debt. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion overall and defaulted on $2 billion in debt on July 1. The island is in the midst of a decade-long recession, has an unemployment rate more than double the national rate and nearly half its population lives in poverty.

Obama Appoints Social Security Critic to Fix Puerto Rico’s Budget
31 Aug 2016
Andrew Biggs, an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and architect of conservative efforts to cut and privatize Social Security, has been named by President Obama to a seven-member fiscal oversight board for the debt-ridden U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The oversight board is tasked with balancing Puerto Rico’s budget and pursuing all avenues to pay off its massive debt, including cuts to the island’s education, police, and health care systems.

Puerto Rico to default on $779m debt
01 Jul 2016
Puerto Rico announced on Friday that it would default on $779m (£588m) of debt. Debt payments totaling just over $2bn were due on Friday. US President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Thursday giving the island access to a debt restructuring process and halting any litigation arising from defaults. As part of the US law, the island's finances will soon come under a US federal oversight board. Puerto Rico has been struggling to make payments on its $70bn debt load.

Treasury Secretary Reminds Senate It Has 4 Days Before Puerto Rico Defaults On More Debt
27 Jun 2016
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounded the alarm Monday on the looming deadline for the Senate to pass legislation to help Puerto Rico with its debt crisis. The commonwealth owes a $2 billion debt payment on July 1, and its government has said it will default. Without action, Puerto Rico could be exposed to a flurry of lawsuits, which could lead to hospital closures and squeeze the island’s police force, education system and other services. The House has passed a bill to help the island restructure its debt, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.

House Passes Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA)
09 Jun 2016
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to provide restructuring authority for Puerto Rico’s massive debt and establish an oversight board to address the territory’s fiscal crisis. Puerto Rico faces a debt payment on July 1 of roughly $1.8 billion.

Sanders to Senate Dems: Do You Stand with Puerto Rico or with Wall Street?
23 May 2016
As a U.S. House committee prepares to take up the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders opposes the bill. PROMESA would allow Puerto Rico to restructure $72 billion in debt, while establishing an unelected outside control board to oversee the territory's fiscal matters—a top demand from Republicans. The board would not be subject to any Puerto Rican authority and is bound by PROMESA to make decisions that are in the interests of Puerto Rico’s creditors. Sanders blasted the creation of this "undemocratic board," which he said "would have the power to slash pensions, cut education and health care, and increase taxes on working families in Puerto Rico."

Republicans, Obama Administration Reach Agreement on Puerto Rico Restructuring Bill
19 May 2016
WASHINGTON—House Republicans reached an agreement with the Obama administration to provide Puerto Rico a path to restructure its $70 billion debt load. The bill would offer the island a legal out similar to bankruptcy and wouldn’t commit any federal money, a critical requirement to winning support of conservatives. Puerto Rico has defaulted on different classes of bonds, including earlier this month when it missed most of a $422 million payment, and faces payments totaling $2 billion on July 1.

This Nuyorican Superhero Represents Hope And Solidarity For Puerto Ricans
17 May 2016
Puerto Rico just got a kickass Afro-boricua superhero! Her name is name is La Borinqueña, and she’s on a mission to help the Puerto Rican community unite and fight for social justice. Named after Puerto Rico’s national anthem, La Borinqueña was created by Brooklyn-based artist and writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez in response to the island’s current financial crisis and is intended to be a symbol of hope and solidarity. The cover art for the comic book, due out this fall, features La Borinqueña soaring above fellow Puerto Ricans Sonia Sotomayor, Arturo Schomburg, Lolita Lebron, Felicita Mendez, Hector Lavoe, among others.




Sanders Blasts 'Vulture Capitalists' and Colonialism in Puerto Rico
16 May 2016
Campaigning in Puerto Rico on Monday, Bernie Sanders railed against the "colonial-like relationship" that has allowed Wall Street "vulture capitalists" to profit off the debt-stricken territory's economic crisis. "It is unacceptable to me for the United States government to treat Puerto Rico like a colony during a time when its people are facing the worst fiscal and economic crisis in its history," the presidential hopeful declared in a rousing speech at a packed town hall in San Juan. "What vulture funds on Wall Street are demanding is that Puerto Rico fire teachers, close schools, cut pensions and abolish the minimum wage so that they can reap huge profits off the suffering and misery of the children and the people of Puerto Rico," Sanders said. "We cannot allow that to happen. We will not allow that to happen."

John Oliver explains Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Puerto Rico to default on debt payment after talks fail
02 May 2016
Puerto Rico has halted a $422m debt payment due on Monday after talks to ease the US territory's crisis ended without a deal. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a televised speech he had issued an executive order suspending payments. A further debt payment of $1.9bn is due in July. Some creditors have argued that the territory has exaggerated its crisis. Congress is in recess until the week of 9 May.

Puerto Rico’s House Passes Emergency Debt Moratorium Bill
06 Apr 2016
Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives early on Wednesday passed an emergency bill allowing the government to halt payments on its debt, throwing into doubt broader restructuring plans to stave off a financial collapse of the U.S. Commonwealth. The measure would allow Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to declare a moratorium on any debt payment he deems necessary, and also alter the structure of the Government Development Bank. Garcia Padilla is expected to quickly sign the bill into law. Burdened by a $70 billion debt load it says it cannot pay and a 45 percent poverty rate that has led to a steady exodus of its American citizens to the mainland, Puerto Rico faces economic collapse without a solution that either changes laws and/or involves an agreement with creditors. The introduction of the law had drawn a quick rebuke from creditors who hold the Puerto Rican government’s General Obligation debt.

Plan to Rescue Puerto Rico Advances, Led by House Republicans
24 Mar 2016
Politicians in Washington are coalescing around a financial plan to rescue Puerto Rico, just weeks before an expected major default on bond payments that would spread more turmoil through the island’s shaky economy. The plan would not grant Puerto Rico’s most fervent request: permission to restructure its entire $72 billion debt in bankruptcy. It would, however, give the island certain crucial tools that bankruptcy proceedings can offer — but only if it first comes under close federal oversight. The creation of such a board has been highly controversial on the island, where some residents and officials have called it an act of “colonialism”. If Puerto Rican officials are unable to make the budget balance with existing resources, the oversight board would have the power to do it for them — which could mean cuts in services. Much of the rescue package has been drafted in the House Natural Resources Committee under its chairman, Rob Bishop of Utah. Although the Natural Resources Committee might seem an odd place to resolve an offshore financial collapse, the committee has jurisdiction over America’s territories, which include Puerto Rico.

How Free Electricity Helped Dig $9 Billion Hole in Puerto Rico
01 Feb 2016
The power authority has been giving free power to all 78 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, to many of its government-owned enterprises, even to some for-profit businesses — although not to its citizens. It has done so for decades, even as it has sunk deeper and deeper in debt, borrowing billions just to stay afloat. Now, however, the island’s government is running out of cash, facing a total debt of $72 billion and already defaulting on some bonds — and an effort is underway to limit the free electricity. The free power dates from 1941. Hearings will begin to determine who and what are to blame for the authority’s larger problems, especially its ancient and inefficient power plants, among the last in North America to burn oil. Culprits are expected to include the authority’s secretive purchasing managers, elected officials who wasted money on natural gas pipelines that were scrapped and an institutional hostility to wind and solar power that is hard to fathom on a breezy island where the sun shines most days.

 Faced with $9M in Debt, Puerto Rico’s Utility Appeals for Restructuring
28 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico’s main electricity provider and its bondholders are continuing negotiations to restructure almost $9 million in debt after failing to meet a deadline Friday that caused a tentative pact reached last month to be terminated. The restructuring support agreement between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and its creditors expired after lawmakers failed to pass legislation by Friday to enable Prepa, as the agency is known, to lower its obligations and implement a new customer surcharge. In a sign of progress, banks that finance its fuel purchases and the utility entered into a forbearance agreement on Sunday that keeps their negotiations out of court through Feb. 12.

Faced with $9M in Debt, Puerto Rico’s Utility Appeals for Restructuring
28 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico’s main electricity provider and its bondholders are continuing negotiations to restructure almost $9 million in debt after failing to meet a deadline Friday that caused a tentative pact reached last month to be terminated. The restructuring support agreement between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and its creditors expired after lawmakers failed to pass legislation by Friday to enable Prepa, as the agency is known, to lower its obligations and implement a new customer surcharge. In a sign of progress, banks that finance its fuel purchases and the utility entered into a forbearance agreement on Sunday that keeps their negotiations out of court through Feb. 12.

Puerto Rico: US calls for creditors to make sacrifices
20 Jan 2016
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Puerto Rico's creditors to make sacrifices that would allow the territory to restructure its debt. Mr. Lew said that unless both sides made sacrifices, "there is no path out of insolvency and back to growth." Puerto Rico is in its tenth year of rescission and struggling to cope with $70bn in debt. Negotiations between the Puerto Rican government and creditors have failed. Puerto Rico defaulted on part of its debt at the beginning of January and is on track to miss larger payments in the coming months. Puerto Rico does not have access to Chapter 9 of the US bankruptcy code, the provision that allowed cities such as Detroit to restructure their debts. Puerto Rico, with support from President Obama, is pushing Congress to change that law and grant them permission to use the Chapter 9 provision. In 2015 a US judge struck down a law passed by the Puerto Rican government that would have allowed it to restructure its debt.

Puerto Rico misses second major debt payment as economy struggles
05 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico has defaulted for the second time in five months, as the island struggles with massive debt obligations and a flagging economy. Last week, the island's governor said it would pay most, but not all, of the nearly $1bn it owed. Overall, the island has a total debt load of about $70bn, which Governor Padilla has said the island cannot pay. "This is not political rhetoric, this is mathematic," Mr. Padilla said. "It's very simple, we don't have the money to pay".

Governor Alejandro Padilla has called for the island to be granted bankruptcy rights like those on the mainland. The US Congress is set to debate the issue in the coming weeks. In recent months, the governor has repeatedly warned of a humanitarian crisis that could unfold and has called on the US Congress to extend bankruptcy protections to the island. US states and territories cannot declare bankruptcy under federal law. Puerto Rico's public utilities are heavily debt-burdened, but are not allowed the bankruptcy rights that their mainland counterparts are afforded.

The island has been called the "Greece of the Caribbean”. The flagging economy and uncertainty is driving mass emigration, with an average of about 230 people leaving per day. Unemployment on the island stands at 12.5% - around twice that of the US - and around 45% of people living in poverty. The island faces a bill of around $400m due in February and a much larger $1.9bn bill in July.

Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico’s Future
19 Dec 2015
On the surface, it is a battle over whether Puerto Rico should be granted bankruptcy protections, putting at risk tens of billions of dollars from investors around the country. But it is also testing the power of an ascendant class of ultrarich Americans to steer the fate of a territory that is home to more than three million fellow citizens. The investors with a stake in the outcome are some of the wealthiest people in America.

For decades, the island had been borrowing money to pay its bills. Puerto Rico’s bonds were particularly attractive to mutual funds because they were exempt from federal, state and local taxes in all 50 states. But in 2013, after the island’s general obligation bonds were downgraded, they caught the attention of a different sort of investor: hedge funds specializing in distressed assets. These funds began buying up the debt at a steep discount, confident that this was a bet they could not lose. Not only were the bonds guaranteed by the Puerto Rican Constitution, but under a wrinkle of federal law, the island’s public corporations and municipalities — unlike those of the 50 states — do not have bankruptcy as a recourse.  Drawn by the promise of what was a 20 percent return, Mr. Paulson’s firm purchased bonds in March 2014, as did Appaloosa Management, founded by David Tepper; Marathon Asset Management; BlueMountain Capital Management; and Monarch Alternative Capital. Puerto Rico now owes its creditors in excess of $70 billion, as much as a third of it is owed to hedge funds.

Puerto Rico narrowly avoids default
01 Dec 2015
Puerto Rico has narrowly avoided a default by making a last minute payment on its outstanding debt. The Government Development Bank made a $355m (£235m) payment that was due to creditors on Tuesday. Despite the move the territory is struggling to find money for government services and future debt payments. The Governor said the territory is facing a situation where it must decide between defaulting- failing to make the payments on its debt- or cutting public services. Though Puerto Rico is a territory of the US it is not entitled to restructure its debt in the same way that state and city governments are. Representatives from Puerto Rico - including the Governor - have been making the case that the island should be allowed to undertake the same process Detroit used when it faced bankruptcy.

Puerto Rico economy: Government defaults on bond payment
04 Aug 2015
Puerto Rico has confirmed that it failed to make a debt payment at the weekend, in the latest sign of the economic crisis in the US territory. The government said it did not have the funds available to pay more than $50m (£32m) due on bonds. Puerto Rico's governor said in June that the island's debts of more than $70bn were unpayable and that its finances needed restructuring. Economists say that Puerto Rico's financial woes run deep and will take years to sort out .

Puerto Rico has $72bn (£46bn) of public debt. That makes it by far the most indebted territory or state per capita in the United States. Unemployment is at almost 14% - more than double the national average - and over the last decade there has been little or no growth, resulting in the economy teetering on the brink of oblivion.  The island has been losing 1% (around 30,000 people) a year to Florida and other parts of the US. And it is mainly the economically active young who are leaving.


Gang Rape in War





War is a package deal, of which atrocity and gang rape are part of the package.

Against Our Will by Susan Brownmiller, 1975, Excerpts

Rape in warfare is not bound by definitions of which wars are “just” or “unjust.” Rape was a weapon of terror as the German Hun marched through Belgium in World War I. Rape was a weapon of revenge as the Russian Army marched to Berlin in World War II. Rape got out of hand when the Pakistani Army battled Bangladesh. Raped reared its head as American GI’s searched and destroyed in the highland of Vietnam. Rape flourishes in warfare irrespective of nationality or geographic location. Rape was outlawed as a criminal act under the international rules of war. Yet rape persists as a common act of war.

Men who rape in war are ordinary Joes, made unordinary by the entry into the most exclusive male-only club in the world. Victory in arms brings group power undreamed of in civilian life. The unreal situation of a world without women becomes the prime reality. To take a life looms more significant than to make life, and the gun in the hand is power. The sickness of warfare feeds on itself. A certain number of soldiers must prove their newly won superiority – prove it to a woman, to themselves, to other men. In the name of victory and the power of the gun, war provides men with a tacit license to rape. In the act and in the excuse, rape in war reveals the male psyche in its boldest form, without the veneer of ”chivalry” or civilization.

On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman, 2009, Excerpts

The ultimate fear and horror in most modern lives is to be raped or beaten, to be physically degraded in front of our loved ones, to have our family harmed and the sanctity of our homes invaded by aggressive and hateful intruders. In rape the psychological harm usually far exceeds the physical injury. The trauma of rape involves minimal fear of death or injury; far more damaging is the impotence, shock, and horror in being so hated and despised as to be debased and abused by a fellow human being.

Throughout history women have been the greatest single group of victims of this environment process. Women have been defiled, debased, and dehumanized for the aggrandizement of others. Rape is a very important part of the process of dominating and dehumanizing an enemy; and this process of mutual empowering and bonding at the expense of others is exactly what occurs during gang rapes. In war, empowerment and bonding through such gang rapes often occur on a national level.

Gang rapes and gang or cult killings in times or peace and war are not “senseless violence.” They are instead powerful acts of group bonding and criminal enabling that, quite often, have a hidden purpose of promoting the wealth, power, or vanity of a specific leader or cause at the expense of the innocent.




Films:
Redacted
Brian De Palma docudrama about an incident in which a 15-year old Iraqi girl was raped and killed by U.S. soldiers.
Casualty of War
Similar movie starring Michael J. Fox where U.S. soldiers rape a Vietnamese girl.



Rape of Sabine. Jacques-Louis David, Intervention of the Sabine Women, 1799





Rape is an instrument of war in Central African Republic conflict
05 Oct 2017
Rape and sexual slavery have been used as weapons of war across Central Africa Republic, with armed groups carrying out brutal attacks with impunity. Research by Human Rights Watch found “Armed groups are using rape in a brutal, calculated way to punish and terrorize women and girls.” The study detailed cases of women and girls who were held as sexual slaves for up to 18 months. Many of the women endured multiple sexual attacks, in addition to other forms of torture. The Central African Republic has been wracked by sectarian violence for the past five years. Both factions, Muslims and Christians, have used sexual violence as revenge against women perceived to be supporters of the rival party.

Sudan soldiers face trial for rape and murder
30 May 2017
Thirteen South Sudanese soldiers accused of raping five foreign aid workers appeared before a military court on Tuesday, a case seen as a test of the government's ability to put people on trial for war crimes. The attack took place on July 11, 2016, as President Salva Kiir's troops won a three-day battle in Juba over opposition forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar. Between 50 to 100 soldiers arrived in the hotel in the afternoon of July 11 and began looting. Five women working with humanitarian organizations were then raped. UN investigators and rights group have frequently accused both the army and rebels of murder, torture and rape since the civil war began in 2013, and say the crimes almost always go unpunished.

Philippines' Duterte under fire for second rape joke
27 May 2017
The president of the Philippines has come under fire for joking about rape in a speech to soldiers. While speaking at a military camp after imposing martial law across the south of the country, he said they were allowed to rape up to three women. Mr. Duterte's words were: "I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three (women), I will say that I did it.” Chelsea Clinton wrote on Twitter that Mr. Duterte was "a murderous thug with no regard for human rights" and that "rape is never a joke". And a women's political party in the country, Gabriela, said in a statement: "Rape is not a joke. Martial law and the heightened vulnerability to military abuse that it brings to women and children are not a joke either." Last year, Mr. Duterte joked about a 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary. He said that as mayor of the town where it happened, he should have been "first in line".

UN condemns 'devastating' Rohingya abuse in Myanmar
03 Feb 2017
The UN has accused security forces in Myanmar of committing serious human rights abuses, including gang-rape, savage beatings and child killing. One mother recounted how her five-year-old daughter was murdered while trying to protect her from rape. In another case, an eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while five security officers gang-raped his mother. Of 101 women interviewed, 52 said they had been raped or experienced sexual violence from the security forces.

UN Accuses South Sudan Forces Of Deliberately Raping, Killing Civilians
11 Mar 2016
GENEVA (Reuters) - South Sudan's government operated a "scorched earth policy" of deliberate rape, pillage and killing of civilians during the civil war in 2015, a report published on Friday by the U.N. human rights office said. "The report contains harrowing accounts of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children and the disabled, killed by being burned alive, suffocated in containers, shot, hanged from trees or cut to pieces." The prevalence of rape suggests its use in the conflict has become an acceptable practice by (government) SPLA soldiers and affiliated armed militias. The scale and types of sexual violence are described in searing, devastating detail, as is the almost casual, yet calculated, attitude of those slaughtering civilians and destroying property and livelihood. Although all sides have committed atrocities that may amount to crimes against humanity, government forces were most responsible in 2015, the report said. South Sudan's war began in December 2013, throwing the world's newest country into chaos, killing tens of thousands, displacing more than 2 million, and plunging at least 40,000 into a famine.

'Comfort women': Japan and South Korea hail agreement
28 Dec 2015
The leaders of Japan and South Korea have welcomed the agreement between their two countries to settle the issue of "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War Two. Japan has apologized and will pay 1bn yen ($8.3m; £5.6m) - the amount South Korea asked for - to fund victims. Estimates suggest up to 200,000 women were sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WW2, many of them Korean. Other women came from China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. The issue has been the key cause of strained relations between Japan and South Korea.

Hague and Jolie unveil plan to end war rape
11 Jun 2014

William Hague and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie are seeking global support for a new plan to end impunity for sex crimes committed in war zones. The pair have been hosting a London summit on the issue. Hollywood actress Ms Jolie said the goal was to make it possible to obtain justice even in fragile countries.

Burma military 'using rape as weapon'
15 Jan 2014

Burma's military has continued to use rape as a weapon of war even after a nominally civilian government was elected in 2010, a women's group says. The Women's League of Burma said it had documented more than 100 cases, some involving children as young as eight. Most of the cases were linked to conflict in the border areas of Kachin and Northern Shan State. "Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression," the report said.  "Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities," it added. The last three years have seen far-reaching political change in Burma, but the army has so far shown little appetite for change.

UN classifies rape a 'war tactic'
20 Jun 2008
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favor of a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war. The document describes the deliberate use of rape as a tactic in war and a threat to international security. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the world now recognized that sexual violence profoundly affected not only the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability of their nations.