Friday news roundup September 4, 2020
Angela Merkel’s 2015 refugee gamble appears to have paid off. While trying to address concerns about the rising number of people seeking asylum in Germany in the summer of 2015, Chancellor Merkel told the media that Germany would manage the influx. Some were concerned her message would act to encourage more people to risk dangerous journeys to Germany and overwhelm the country. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, 1.7 million people applied for asylum in Germany, making it the country with the fifth highest population of refugees in the world. Data now reveal that more than 10,000 of those refugees have mastered the German language sufficiently to enrol at university; more than half are in work and pay taxes; and among refugee children and teenagers, more than 80% say they have a strong sense of belonging to their German schools and feel liked by their peers.
The Afghan government accepted a proposal for mothers’ names to be added to their children’s birth certificates. Using a woman’s name has been seen as offensive in the extremely conservative country since Taliban rule in the 1990s. It will not appear on her ID documents, or even on her wedding invitations or, eventually, her grave. Campaigners have been pushing for change for years, more recently under the hashtag #Whereismyname. This week the Afghanistan cabinet’s legal affairs committee, headed by Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, agreed to a proposal to change the law and allow the names of both parents on birth certificates. “The decision to include the mother’s name in the ID card is a big step towards gender equality and the realization of women’s rights,” Danish’s office said in a statement. However, the amendment still needs approval from the country’s male-dominated parliament and sign-off by the president.
The UK’s hostile migration environment has fostered racism and caused poverty, according to a report from the IPPR. The measures also failed to achieve their key objective of increasing the numbers of people choosing to leave the UK voluntarily. The hostile environment—introduced by former prime minister Theresa May when she was home secretary—makes it harder for individuals without proof of their right to be in the UK to take up employment, rent property, open bank accounts, get driving licences, and access welfare and public services. Amreen Qureshi, the IPPR report’s lead author, says: “The hostile environment … has forced people into destitution without encouraging them to leave the UK, highlighting both its poisonous impacts and its ineffectiveness.” An inquiry into the Windrush scandal, in which thousands of legal UK residents were classified as illegal immigrants and denied the right to work, rent property, access healthcare and benefits, and in some cases even returned to countries they left decades ago as young children, has also criticized the hostile environment. The present home secretary, Priti Patel, has committed to a full review of the policy.
Brazil announced it will pay its men’s and women’s national football players equally. The Brazilian Football Federation announced on Wednesday that pay parity had in fact begun in March. The policy means that every player representing Brazil will receive equal daily rates and prize money when on international duty. Two women's football coordinators, Duda Luizelli and Aline Pellegrino, have also been appointed. The US women’s national team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation back in March 2019 claiming gender discrimination in earnings and working conditions, but their case was dismissed by a federal judge in May who rejected the players’ claims that they were paid less than the men’s national team. Australia, Norway, and New Zealand are also working toward equal pay in the game.