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Human Rights

The inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Preamble, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

Labor Standards In The Sex Industry: One Sex Worker Shares Her Work and Vision

By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights

Female, with tattoos peeking out of her shirt partially covered by a black and white striped apron, Susan Davis is anything but a Hollywood image of a butcher. When you check out her Linked In profile you see she is much, much more: born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia she moved out to Vancouver in 1990. Her father was an environmental conservationist and her mom a marine biologist. Childhood summers were spent tracking down snails on the Atlantic seaboard or polishing rocks for her grandfather, the head of the Geology department at Dalhousie University. A conservatory trained musician, she’s played the piano, French horn and the flute for nearly 40 years. Susan has also practiced sex work since 1986, and she has been an advocate for sex workers internationally, nationally and locally for the past twelve years.

I sat down with Susan in her apartment in Vancouver above her butcher shop, which she runs with her partner. Bookshelves line the wall near the kitchen. I asked her if she had read Sin in the Second City, one of the most accessible texts about the clampdown on red light district and high-end brothels in Chicago. She pulled it off her shelf and a pack of lube serving as a bookmark fell out. We both laughed.

Memorabilia for a forthcoming sex workers museum 10 years in the making, including a parson’s bench and women’s bust from an old brothel, were placed throughout the apartment.   (more…)

Lampedusa boat tragedy: a survivor’s story

Repost from the Guardian. Last October a boat went down off the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing 366 migrants on board. What happened next? This is the story of Fanus, a survivor and one of thousands of people who flee Eritrea every year … Continue reading

The Evolution of American Revolutionary

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By Grace Lee I first met Grace Lee Boggs in 2000 while filming The Grace Lee Project, a personal documentary that took me on a journey to unpack the model minority stereotype of Asian Americans. I interviewed dozens of women … Continue reading

A Heathen Learning

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By Dr. Adriana Garriga-López * These remarks were delivered at the Kalamazoo College 2014 Baccalaureate Service earlier this June. I’ve been asked to meditate on the theme of light for this event, and as I discussed this invitation with my … Continue reading

In search of the activist academic

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By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights When people ask me “what do you do?” meaning “what do you do for a living?” I find I have two options for how to respond. One is to look proudly in their … Continue reading

The Starting Point Of Death and Justice

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By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights It was Wednesday night. My friend Malin, who is from Sweden, temporarily living in Edmonton and en route to Taiwan, was staying at my house for a few days in Vancouver. We are … Continue reading

Freedom through Exile: The Unfolding Stories of Cambodian Son

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By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights Three years after a meeting in the bustling streets of Phnom Phen when the co-founders of Studio Revolt, Masahiro Sugano and Anida Yoeu Ali, first “experienced” Kosal Khiev’s poetry, a documentary about his … Continue reading

Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Author Says Aid Cuts Small Price to Pay

Repost from Reuters. “The donor backlash after President Yoweri Museveni’s approval of the bill last week, imposing jail sentences of up to life for gay sex, reflects a gulf in social attitudes between the West and conservative African governments.The World … Continue reading

Torture and Canadian Justice

By Matt Eisenbrandt, Legal Director, Canadian Centre for International Justice Last year, Roy Samathanam, a Tamil-Canadian, filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee seeking to make Sri Lanka address the torture it inflicted on him. “I was … Continue reading