June 2017


Reclaiming Adolescence: A Roma Youth Perspective

Harvard Educational Review

The Summer 2017 issue of the Harvard Educational Review (HER) includes “Reclaiming Adolescence: A Roma Youth Perspective,”  a paper about the FXB Roma Program research in Serbia in partnership with the Center for Interactive Pedagogy. Most of the abstract appears below: 

In this article, the authors present data gathered in the Reclaiming Adolescence research project, which investigated the educational hardships of Roma youth by comparing their experiences with their non-Roma peers’ in Belgrade, Serbia. Serious inequalities in access to secondary and tertiary education affect the life and career opportunities of Romani adolescents in Europe. Yet, despite a plethora of reports and surveys on this topic, the views of young Roma themselves remain undocumented. This article reports on research that addresses this lacuna in terms of both substantive findings and methodological innovation…

Go to the link for the paper.

To further highlight the team’s work, Margareta Matache, Jacqueline Bhabha, and Arlan Fuller contributed an op-ed to Voices in Education, the HER blog. Go to the blogpost,  “Writing Romani Youth Lives.”

April 2017


Child refugees in Europe ‘forced to sell bodies’ to pay smugglers

The Guardian

Photo: Courtesy of Clément Martz, all rights reserved. The child is a Syrian refugee, but not a victim of sexual violence.

By Diane Taylor

Unaccompanied child refugees in Greece desperate to reach the UK and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys, according to a new report from Harvard University.

The report, from Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Prof Jacqueline Bhabha at the university’s centre for health and human rights, reveals what they describe as a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece”.

Read the article



Escaping from Criminal Violence in Central America, México, and the US: Migrants or Refugees?

Facebook Live

On Tuesday, April 18 at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, FXB fellow Sergio Aguayo presented the “Works in Progress” lecture, Escaping from Criminal Violence in Central America, México, and the US: Migrants or Refugees? Watch the presentation in English below or with in English with Spanish subtitles in the second link.



A Life in the Margins: Understanding the Roma Experience

Weatherhead Center Blog

By Michelle Nicholasen

In recognition of International Roma Day, Weatherhead Faculty Associates Jacqueline Bhabha and Jennifer Leaning, and their colleague, Roma Program Director Margareta Matache, discuss the annual conference and their team’s research on a disenfranchised people.

In one of the popular Madeline children’s stories, the well-known redheaded French schoolgirl runs away with her friend Pepito to join a caravan of Gypsies who train them to perform in their traveling circus.         Read the rest of the blogpost.

March 2017


The Weaponization of Healthcare: Health in Conflict

The Lancet

This week the Lancet-American University of Beirut (AUB) Commission on Syria, which FXB director Dr. Jennifer Leaning co-chairs, published its first health policy paper, “Health workers and the weaponisation of health care in Syria: a preliminary inquiry.”

The conflict in Syria presents new and unprecedented challenges that undermine the principles and practice of medical neutrality in armed conflict. With direct and repeated targeting of health workers, health facilities, and ambulances, Syria has become the most dangerous place on earth for health-care providers. The weaponisation of health care—a strategy of using people’s need for health care as a weapon against them by violently depriving them of it—has translated into hundreds of health workers killed, hundreds more incarcerated or tortured, and hundreds of health facilities deliberately and systematically attacked.

Read more.

Go to the Commission’s web page.

January 2017


No Easy Answer for Health Void in Syria

Harvard Gazette

Syria’s civil war, now under a fragile cease-fire, has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left widespread devastation, including a health care system in crisis. Rebuilding that system will require replacing at least 1,000 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have fled or been killed, according to Jennifer Leaning, a Harvard expert on the health impacts of warfare.

Leaning, the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, was one of three co-chairs named last month to lead a 15-month study by the medical journal The Lancet examining the war’s consequences for health and society.

The Gazette asked her about the prospects for peace and recovery in Syria.

Read Full Article

December 2016


Rohingya Face Health Care Bias in Parts of Asia, Study Finds

New York Times

HONG KONG — Members of the Rohingya ethnic group face chronic discrimination in access to medical care in Myanmar and other Asian countries, with severe consequences for health and mortality rates, a study has found.

The report, published online by the British medical journal The Lancet on Dec. 1, said the Myanmar government’s role in the situation could arguably be characterized as genocide or ethnic cleansing.

The study analyzed health care indicators in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries where about 1.5 million Rohingya live. The researchers compiled data from governments, human rights groups and other sources. It found that the indicators were consistently worse for the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group, than for other populations living in the same areas.

Read full article

October 2016


Confronting the Refugee Crisis

Harvard Gazette

BERLIN — One minute, Donia Mehu was standing in her kitchen, cooking and puttering. The next she was lying in rubble, horribly wounded and bleeding.

It was 2012, the year that the Syrian civil war came to Aleppo, that troubled nation’s largest city and Mehu’s home. When her husband found her unconscious after the bombing, it was too late to save her leg.

Mehu paused briefly in her story to control her emotions, then continued. Life was good in Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest cities, before the war. She and her husband had no children, yet they did well enough that she was able to stay home and take care of the household. But that world was now blown apart. [Full article]

July 2016


Trafficked workers in India band together in hope of breaking ugly cycle

Christian Science Monitor

“The owner would probably kill us if he found us,” Vanvasi says behind a nondescript brick hut early one morning in April. He and his friend, Ram Jatan, haven’t slept in the same house for more than one night in a row. “We’re scared for our lives.”

Despite his lingering fears, Vanvasi knows he’s lucky to have escaped the kiln at all. India is home to 18.3 million modern slaves – or 40 percent of the world’s total of 45.8 million – according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation. Hundreds of thousands of them work in brick kilns here in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, in dangerous and squalid conditions.” [full story]


IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

Voice of America

“Nearly eight months after overhauling its strategy to curtail the Islamic State terror group’s success in cyberspace, U.S. officials admit it is hard to know if they are making much headway.

“This arguably is the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face,” said George Selim, director of the office for community partnerships at the Department of Homeland Security. “There’s not an overarching measure.” [full story.]


Study Reveals Deficiencies in Rehabilitation of Child Labourers

The Hindu

Despite increased awareness on child trafficking, there are “startling inconsistencies” between the policy commitments and on-the-ground realities for rehabilitation of child labourers across three northern States of Rajasthan, Bihar and Delhi, says a new study conducted by an institution attached to Harvard University of the U.S.

The study, released here over the week-end, covered the trafficking source State of Bihar, the transit State of Delhi, and the trafficking destination State of Rajasthan. Titled “Is This Protection?,” the study was conducted by Harvard University’s Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Centre for Health and Human Rights. [full article.]



June 2016


Book Review: Child Migration & Human Rights in a Global Age

Huffington Post

Princeton’s promotional website begins its pitch for this book with the question, “Why, despite massive public concern, is child trafficking on the rise?”

After reading this important but disturbing tome it is clear there isn’t any “massive public concern.” While laws, conventions and treaties protecting children’s rights exist on paper, implementation is sketchy at best. [Full article.]

April 2016


Thousands Gather in Times Square to Commemorate Genocide

The Armenian Weekly

NEW YORK—The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide last year reinvigorated worldwide efforts to not only commemorate the massacres of 1.5 million lost lives but to seek recognition and justice with renewed energy.

Entering a new century of commemorations, this year thousands gathered in one of the most illustrious landmarks in the world—Times Square, New York—on Sun., April 24, to pay homage to those killed in 1915 and to show the perpetrators and the world at large that the legacy of those who perished during the Armenian Genocide continues to live on. [Full article.]


Roma Slavery: The Case for Reparations

Foreign Policy in Focus

After years of neglect or outright dismissal, movements calling for reparations for historical injustices have resurfaced with renewed vigor. Some of these movements are defined by race or ethnicity, others by religion, gender, social class or caste. They span a multiplicity of national or regional affiliations.

Participants at the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, for instance, pressed governments for substantial social and economic public investment in programs that target the needs and rights of harmed communities. In 2014, Ta Nehisi Coates wrote an influential article in The Atlantic revitalizing calls for reparations in the United States for the descendants of slaves. In 2015 at an Oxford Union debate, Shashi Taroor argued that Britain should pay reparations to India, a call that went viral in India itself. Those interested in Roma slavery, meanwhile, have prioritized memorialization through symbolic remedies, including public monuments, apologies, commemorative days, or history books. [Full article.]


March 2016


Indians mobilise to break free from forced, bonded labour – Harvard study


NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Victims of forced or bonded labour in north India can break free from exploitation if they mobilise and exercise their collective power to demand enforcement of labour protection laws and social welfare entitlements, a Harvard survey said on Thursday. [Full article.]


Zika: Starting Over with Each New Public Health Emergency?

Feminism & Psychology

Every time there is a new public health emergency, it seems we have to re-learn the same old lessons. Zika is now forcing us to face some of the lessons we might have learned from Ebola. For example, Ebola showed us so clearly that outbreaks of disease have differential effects on different populations. An epidemic of any disease highlights, like a social x-ray, those who are vulnerable because of poverty, gender, race, age, and other aspects of identity. Individuals who live under any combination of these marginalizing conditions may be invisible in society much of the time, but when epidemics arise, their collective vulnerability to ill health, and the risk this poses to the rest of society, are illuminated in sharp relief.  The connections between poverty and gender discrimination could not be clearer in the aftermath of Zika. [Full article.]


Poor Reintegration Leaves India’s Rescued Child Workers At Risk


MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India’s strategy for rescuing and reintegrating child victims of labour trafficking is marred by poor coordination, a lack of accountability and inadequate resources that can leave children at risk of further harm, Harvard researchers say.

There must be a comprehensive, sustained effort to address these issues, rather than the current short-term approach to return children to the same circumstances that led to their trafficking in the first place, the researchers said in a report released this week. [Full article]



History Slam Episode Eighty: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter

“Before I had my two children, I had a miscarriage.” This is how Alicia Yamin starts her new book Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter. By introducing the book in such a personal manner, Yamin, the Policy Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, prepares the reader for what is to follow. In interweaving personal stories, Yamin demonstrates how health should be situated as a human right and, in doing so, represents a major turning point in the struggle for dignity. [Full article with podcast]

February 2016


Saúde, direitos humanos e zika

Huffington Post Brazil

This article is a translation of a blog written by Professor Alicia Yamin concerning the need to respond to the zika virus outbreak using a multifaceted response that considers the social and political context in which such incidences occur. The article has also been reproduced in the US version of the Huffington Post. Full blog (Portuguese).


Health, Human Rights and the Zika Virus

Huffington Post

To fight Zika, we must fight poverty and powerlessness and ensure that women enjoy their rights.

Health ministers throughout Latin America have announced they will unite to stop the alarming spread of the Zika virus. Similarly, the World Health Organization has acted with uncharacteristic haste to curb this virus, of which the world presently knows very little. But there is much we do know about containing Zika’s impact, because it is, yet again, a disease of poverty and disempowerment. Therefore, it will take more than health ministers and agencies to overcome it. Full blog post.

This Huffington Post article originally appeared on the website of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.


Incubator Hosts Discussion on Human Rights

Incubator at Harvard University

On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Incubator welcomed invited guests and discussants to a roundtable celebration of the new book, Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter, by human rights lawyer Alicia Ely Yamin. Yamin is lecturer on law and global health, and director of the JD/MPH program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), as well as policy director at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and Global Fellow of the Centre on Law & Social Transformation, in Bergen, Norway. Her new book uses stories to invite a diverse audience—students, legal and public health practitioners, and interested lay readers—to explore what a human rights framework implies, the potential for social transformation it entails, and the impact human rights-based approaches (HRBAs) have had on people’s lives and health outcomes. [Full article.]


Combatir el zika tratando solo de erradicar al mosquito no funcionará

El Pais

Policy Director Alicia Yamin spoke with Spain’s El Pais newspaper on the need for a response to the zika virus outbreak that goes well beyond medical interventions to take account of the social and political contexts in which such outbreaks occur. In Spanish. Full interview.


January 2016


“ISIS is a modern phenomenon; it is really a new religion”

Today's Zaman

In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, Professor Jessica Stern shared her insights on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Stern states that “for Baghdadi and ISIS, the caliphate is here and now,” suggesting that ISIS counts the re-establishment of the caliphate as an essential step leading up to the apocalypse. “Although many jihadi groups are somewhat apocalyptic, ISIS is much more focused on an end times narrative and on the imminence of the prophesied final battle,” she argues. [Full article]


Studying the Kumbh Mela from Many Perspectives

Harvard South Asia InstituteHarvard Global Health Institute

What happens when tens of millions of people form a temporary city on the banks of a holy river? In 2013, a team from Harvard set out to answer this question, and found that there is much more than meets the eye at the Kumbh Mela.

On Monday, January 18, the Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) launched the book and exhibition Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity in Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in partnership with the Asia Society India Centre and the Harvard Club of Mumbai. The event drew a crowd of more than 200 people, including Harvard alumni, community members, government officials, students, and members of the public. [Full article.]


AP INVESTIGATION: Feds’ Failures Imperil Migrant Children

Washington Times

Capture-WashingtonTimesAs tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found. [Full article.]


When Water Is Safer Than Land

Harvard Magazine

The jubilation that accompanied the flowering of the Arab Spring is long gone as its deadly aftermath—in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere—spirals into transcontinental turmoil. We face the prospect of a grim winter. Hundreds of thousands of desperate people in flight from those indiscriminate civil wars (not to mention the chaos in Iraq and Yemen, the turmoil in parts of Africa, and the ethnic oppression in Myanmar) face arduous hurdles in search of safety and security in Europe and elsewhere, while potential hosts negotiate rising xenophobia (intensified by the November attacks in Paris) and increasing desperation in the face of apparently unending need caused by the continuing migrant arrivals. [Full article.]

December 2015


Experts Urge Importance of Mental Health in Disaster Situations

Express Tribune/international New York Times

KARACHI: Gun shots, explosions and terrorist attacks break you or make you. On December 16, 2014, 147 innocent people lost their lives but the ones lucky enough to survive are haunted by the trauma they faced that day.

To remember the deceased and to save the ones who survived an event was organised by the Aman Foundation, in collaboration with Harvard South Asia Initiative on ‘Mental Health in Disaster Response’. Full article.


Call for rapid response to disasters, APS-like attacks

News International

Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday on mental health response to catastrophes stressed the need for a rapid response to disasters and other tragic incidents to help the survivors overcome the effects of trauma. (Full article.)

November 2015


HKS PolicyCast: Syrian Refugees Already Faced Difficulty to Reach the US

Boston Globe

In this podcast Harvard FXB Center research director Jacqueline Bhabha explains long and difficult process the United States employs to vet and resettle asylum seekers and discusses steps that can be taken to prevent such massive refugee outflows, as in the case of Syria, in the first place. This piece from the Boston Globe contains a link to the full audio as well as a text excerpt.



Black Comedy Uncovers Dark Place in Romanian History

Radu Jude scored the biggest success for Romanian filmmaking this year, when the costume drama Aferim! earned him the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival. Full article