Ban Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Massachusetts

Our names are Aisha Yusuf, Hanna Stern, and Mariya Taher, and we each are pleading to the Massachusetts State Legislature to pass a law making it illegal for someone to carry out Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting/Circumcision (FGM/C) on young girls. FGM/C involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue on girls, and can cause physical harm including pain, bleeding, shock, tetanus, genital sores, and cause long-lasting psychological harm including sexual disorders, fear of sexual intimacy, nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mariya - I was born in the United States and now live in Massachusetts, but at the age of seven, I was subjected to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in India. Friends and relatives of mine also living in the United States have undergone FGM/C both here in the United States or in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Australia, and many other countries in the world. Aisha- I got my circumcision when I was five. I know many women who also got it done. Personally, I know people in my community who talk about it as if it’s normal. I was aware of people practicing it behind closed doors but I also know that some people are looking for ways to keep the practice alive here in the States even though it might mean legal action is taken against them. I didn't know my home state, Massachusetts, had no laws against FGM/C until I met Mariya who works with many communities to protect girls against FGM/C. Hanna - I literally stumbled on the subject of female genital mutilation searching for a global health research topic online for a school project. I knew nothing about it and was concerned that others would find it uncomfortable and unrelatable. My teacher told me that was all the more reason to focus on FGM/C. It’s not a cultural issue; it’s not a third-world problem. FGM/C happens all over the world; it is happening in Massachusetts! Regardless of culture and tradition, and despite a lack of intent to cause injury, the end result is girls in MA are being violated and need our protection to safeguard them from FGM/C. Massachusetts is known for its progressive policies in terms of reproductive rights, anti-discrimination laws, and equality issues, yet our state still is in the minority of states that do not ban female genital mutilation or cutting. As FGM/C is nearly always carried out on minors, is a violation of the rights of children, and reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes that constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women, we must protect girls from undergoing FGM/C. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that over half a million girls and women in the United States are at risk. Massachusetts ranks 12th in the nation for at-risk populations with an estimated 14,591 women and girls.  Since 2012, the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association has over and over again tried to advocate for a state law criminalizing FGM/C. Yet, still to this day, no law has been put into place. The current bills, S.788, and H.2333, have been sent to committee for study and most likely will not move forward either. All three of us believe in the importance of education and community engagement to help create social change within communities and amongst groups where FGM/C might be happening. To that end, we each have organized and participated in community events to educate our friends and family members about the harms of FGM/C and why it should be abandoned. Yet, despite our efforts, FGM/C continues, often being touted as a religious or cultural practice that is needed to control women’s sexuality. In April 2017, a doctor in Michigan was charged with performing FGM/C on minor girls, highlighting yet again that FGM/C does affect women and girls living in the United States. The doctor claimed FGM/C was a religious requirement and that there were no harmful effects. We three believe that culture and religion should not be an excuse used to sanction harm to girls. We need a bill in Massachusetts that unequivocally reiterates that female genital mutilation/cutting is a form of violence. There are laws against domestic violence and sexual assault. We need a law against FGM/C as well. We three believe our state can do a better job of protecting girls in the Commonwealth by banning FGM/C. You can support us too by signing our petition demanding that legislators make passing a bill banning FGM/C high on their list of priorities. Let’s work together to take a stance against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting!  ~ Aisha Yusuf, Hanna Stern, and Mariya Taher

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305,469 signed of 500,000 goal

No child should die from the flu

For most of us, the flu season is inconvenient, but for people confined to immigrant detention centers it’s scary. Children held in detention are 9 times more likely to die from the flu than the general pediatric population. With flu season well underway, we urgently need your help to get flu vaccinations to the people who need it most. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is blocking a group of doctors from offering the flu vaccine to children and families in detention.  Immigrant detention camps function like prisons: physically and emotionally stressed migrants are held in these overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, often for months on end. Without the flu vaccine, it’s almost guaranteed that we’ll see more outbreaks, putting more lives at risk. No one in 2019 should be dying from the flu in these camps. Carlos' death could have been prevented. Send a message to DHS before the disease spreads even further.  This is a heartless way to punish people who are seeking safety in the United States. Let’s be clear: our government put these people in camps simply because they are seeking asylum; they have not committed crimes. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our organization, Doctors for Camp Closure, wants to offer the vaccine to people in a detention center in California at no cost to the government. All we need is permission to enter. Join us in requesting permission to offer the flu vaccine to vulnerable children and families in migrant detention. P.S. – If you’re a physician, medical professional or medical student, please leave a comment indicating that when you sign.

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12,894 signed of 15,000 goal

Poor children deserve a question in the presidential debates

No child living in America today should have to worry about whether they’ll have a place to sleep at night or enough food to eat. But these are daily realities for the 1 in 6 poor children in this country. Children like me. Growing up on the North Side of Minneapolis, I know what it means to struggle. I’ve been homeless, spending school nights sleeping on park benches. I’ve been hungry, not knowing where my next meal would come from. I know what it means to have to work to support your family when you need to be focusing on school. And I know that other kids shouldn’t have to face these struggles. Every child in America should be able to focus on learning, growing, and just being a kid. Did you know it’s been 20 years since there was a question about how to address child poverty in a presidential debate? But a child is born into poverty every minute in this country. Those children will face hunger, homelessness, illness, violence and toxic stress. And those children deserve answers about how the next president of the United States is going to make sure they get a fair shot at a better life. Ignoring this issue on the national debate stage sends a signal that children living in poverty are not a priority. To fix the problem, we need to put a spotlight on it. That’s why I’m calling for a question in the presidential debates about child poverty. I want to know what the next president is going to do to make sure the next generation won’t struggle like I did. Will you join me? Please sign the petition today. 

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41,405 signed of 50,000 goal

Rodney Reed is innocent. Exonerate and send him home.

Update: On November 15, 2019, with 5 days before Rodney Reed was scheduled to die, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously blocked his execution, and remanded his case back to the 21st District Court of Bastrop, Texas for a new hearing to examine new evidence, new witnesses, Brady violations, and Rodney's claims of actual innocence, which is a chance for him to clear his name and be exonerated. Our work is just beginning and we must keep pressure on those with the power to continue doing the right thing.   Dear Governor Greg Abbott: 1. Rodney Reed is innocent. 2. The State relied on expert testimony to convict Rodney Reed that has since been recanted BY THE EXPERTS who put forth the testimony. Three renown medical examiners have concluded it is "medically impossible" for Stacey Stites to have been killed at the time the state says she died. This alone exonerates Rodney Reed. Reed was convicted based on forensic expert testimony that has now been recanted by the scientists and agencies that offered the evidence on behalf of the State. In fact, leading forensic pathologists have concluded that it would be "medically and scientifically impossible" for Reed to have murdered Stites. This new forensic evidence (which the State hasn't contradicted) indicates that Stites was murdered at a time that her fiance, local police officer Jimmy Fennell, testified that he was alone with Stites in their apartment. Fennell recently completed a ten-year prison sentence after he plead guilty to felony charges arising out of the kidnapping and sexual assault of a women he encountered while on patrol as a Georgetown, Texas police officer. Rodney Reed is innocent and should be exonerated, not executed. 3. We hate to say it, but, Rodney Reed is the victim of racism and was framed for a crime he didn't commit. 4. ALL OF THE EVIDENCE implicates *somebody else* was the real killer. And that somebody else failed two polygraph exams about his role in the murder, and he has continued to be a violent offender and assaulted others in the same way - kidnapping, sexual assault and choking with a belt. 5. Rodney Reed, and the Reed family, have suffered enough. 6. Sometimes our court system makes mistakes, and this case is a prime example of those injustices of what happens when the system fails. 7. Due to these mistakes, there's been no justice for the victim, Stacey Stites, and the real killer has continued to be a serial violent offender. 8. We need you to hear us, review this case, and find it in your heart to do what's right. 9. You promised Texas wouldn't ever kill an innocent person. You're the only person who can keep this promise by stopping the execution of Rodney Reed. 10. If prosecutors followed the evidence, and the evidence only, Rodney Reed wouldn't even be a suspect in this case, let alone become indicted. There's absolutely no evidence that indicts Rodney Reed. Please exonerate Rodney Reed.

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669,142 signed of 1,000,000 goal

Demand a Fair Trial for Jonathan Irons, Wrongfully Convicted Since Age 16

Jonathan Irons has been incarcerated since 1997 for a crime that he did not commit. He was just 16 years old at the time and arrested for the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner during a burglary -- even though no DNA evidence, fingerprints, physical evidence, or footprint evidence collected ever linked Jonathan to the crime.  I’ve known Jonathan for over a decade, and I’m fighting to make sure his case gets a fair review and calling attention to the prosecutorial misconduct that I believe resulted in Jonathan being wrongfully sent to prison for 50 years as a teenager. Will you stand with me and demand new evidence be considered? Jonathan’s conviction was based solely on unreliable eyewitness testimony. Credible witnesses who could have provided testimony to Jonathan’s whereabouts during the time of the crime were never brought to court to testify, and Jonathan was interrogated by authorities without a guardian or attorney present, even though he was a minor. Moreover, when the shooting victim indicated that he couldn’t identify his shooter, police officers told him to give his “best guess” which led to his guess of Jonathan. Jonathan has now been in prison for 22 years, for a crime I know and thousands of others know he didn’t commit. I met Jonathan through a family member’s prison ministry program when I was 18. I was shocked and horrified to discover that this was happening to someone who was only a couple years younger than I was at the time of his arrest. I was even more shocked to learn that over 10,000 people may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year and that prosecutorial misconduct is rampant in communities across the United States. I’m dedicating my life to freeing Jonathan the same way I dedicated myself to each game in the WNBA. And it’s why I need your help today. I urge you to join me in asking Judge Daniel Green and Missouri Assistant Attorney General Patrick J. Logang, the Office of the Missouri State Attorney General and the Office of the District Attorney of Saint Charles County to take into account the undeniable facts of Jonathan’s case, and provide justice for Jonathan Irons once and for all.

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108,878 signed of 150,000 goal

Go #AllinforClimateAction NOW - #Climate Emergency

Time is running out for our planet. And as the Amazon “the lungs of our planet” burn before our eyes, we must act now to fight climate change or doom this and future generations into an age of extinction.  The next generation may never see the Amazon rainforest, coral reefs, or a polar bear.  But the spectacular biodiversity existing on our planet, our home, is more than just beautiful, it is what keeps us alive. Our destruction of ecological life support systems will literally kill us all. My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a high school student from Brooklyn. I first started getting involved with the movement during the UN's High-Level Political Forum when I learned about the linkages that climate change can have with multiple important topics. Having the Climate Change Summit in the New York UN Headquarters is extremely important for the American climate action movement. In fact, since the summit will be in New York, we need to utilize our voices to make sure our message is heard loud and clear by world leaders in September. Being one of many youth climate activists proves that young people will continue to advocate and protest until we have definite plans for climate change because our futures are at risk.  My generation and millions of young people from all over the world, are skipping school, university or work, taking to the streets and protesting your inaction on climate change. The time to act is now and we have one month to add our voices to call for strong, unified climate action from our government.   Add your voice today if you want to hear our world leaders’ plans to mitigate emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century! This September, world leaders will unite in NYC for the UN Climate Change Summit. And young climate leaders from around the globe will be there to deliver the world’s biggest call-to-action! We demand that they come up with bold, ambitious, definite and effective climate and environmental action plans. Great-Britain and Ireland have already headed our call and declared a climate emergency. We urgently need more countries to stand up to protect their people, animals, and OUR planet.   Let’s face the truth. Radical transformational change is imperative in safeguarding our future and future generations. IPCC’s 2018 report emphasizes that we need major transformation, especially since we are now off track in limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees celsius. And global political and business leaders hold the key to the transformational change we urgently need. We, the youth of today, are holding them accountable through direct action and we expect the powerful to take responsibility to deliver a sustainable future for all. World leaders should no longer ignore tens of thousands on the streets. In the moments leading up to September and the meeting of the powerful, we’ll mobilize internationally to get world leaders to take climate action! When leaders of the world unite in New York City in September, we will be there and we will deliver, the world’s most signed call-to-action! Until then, we are watching them carefully. We will not go down without a fight. We will keep rising until governments will act. And when September comes, we will be there! This petition is part of an international campaign. You find all petitions here: www.change.org/allinforclimateaction Please support our campaign and join us!  Sign this, if you are also #AllinforClimateAction! Please follow us on  Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/allinforclimateaction/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allinforclimateaction/

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69,591 signed of 75,000 goal

Stop the sale of guns at Walmart stores

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019: 2 people were murdered at Walmart #0848 in Southaven, Mississippi.  Saturday, August 3rd, 2019: 22 people were murdered at Walmart #2201 in El Paso, Texas. In light of these recent tragedies -- a mere snapshot of the gun violence epidemic plaguing the United States -- and in response to Corporate’s inaction, we as employees are organizing several days of action, to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of firearms and ammunition. Walmart is a company that has always placed its associates and customers first; we have recently made great strides toward fostering a safe, inclusive, and progressive community. Last year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21. In 2015, Walmart removed products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory. Nonetheless, Walmart remains one of the largest retailers of firearms in the United States, and there is a direct correlation between the number/availability of guns and the amount of mass shootings per capita. Yes, we have made great strides already, but now we must organize to shape this company into a place that we can all be proud of. As associates, we can and must leverage our power and ability to change our company for the better. We have one demand, and that is all. We value Walmart and our fellow associates, but we are no longer willing to contribute our labor to a company that profits from the sale of deadly weapons. We would like to see Walmart take a unified and public stance against guns and gun violence. We urge our leadership to cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease WALPAC donations to NRA backed -A/A+ politicians. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at walmartwalkout@gmail.com

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155,257 signed of 200,000 goal

#JusticeForRocky Demand that Rocky be released from Swedish Officials

On Sunday, June 30th, A$AP Rocky, his bodyguard and two performers from his show acted in self-defense after two men followed, harassed and physically assaulted them in Stockholm. Video footage shows the assailants following Rocky and his colleagues, even cutting off where they are trying to walk sometimes, while Rocky pleads to them that he does not want any issues.  The group of men continued to follow and harass Rocky and his colleagues, asking for money, and began grabbing Rocky and the others. This led Rocky and his colleagues to act in self-defense to avoid any further physical harm. On Tuesday, July 2nd, Rocky volunteered to go to police headquarters after his performance for questioning about this incident. Rocky and his colleagues were arrested on-site.  We are surprised that something like this could happen in Sweden to people who were minding their business and forced to defend themselves from a group of assailants. This should be about justice. Rocky has been in prison for six days for the use of self defense.  Upon being detained, Rocky was denied his request to counsel which is in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Sweden is a signatory.  Everyone has the same rights to be treated fairly upon detainment and should be given fair and equal access to such rights. Since, he has been allowed to visit with a U.S. Embassy Consult and attorney, but only in the presence of Swedish officials. It is extremely troubling and worrisome that the laws are not being applied equally in these circumstances.  On Monday, July 8th, we filed an appeal with the Swedish Supreme Court to have Rocky released from the inhumane conditions and the clear violation of human rights. They rejected the filing, which means Rocky will remain in prison for two weeks. The conditions of the facility are horrific. Some of the inhumane conditions Rocky and his colleagues are facing at the Stockholm Detention Center include 24/7 solitary confinement, restriction of amenities for the most basic of human functions, access to palatable and life sustaining food as well as unsanitary conditions.  The prosecutor on the case has further communicated that he is working to receive an additional two-week extension for a trial to begin in mid - to end of August. To keep Rocky and his colleagues in jail pending the lengthy trial proceedings is a punishment before the fact, with no due process.  Join us in the #JusticeForRocky movement and demand that Rocky be released from Swedish officials immediately. Share this petition, along with our image on social media: https://bit.ly/2NIQt2A

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650,774 signed of 1,000,000 goal

Support the Equality Act

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! While we have so much to celebrate, we also have a great distance to go before everyone in this country is truly treated equally. In excellent recent news, the House has passed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their places of work, homes, schools, and other public accommodations. The next step is that the bill will go before the Senate.   While there’s no information yet as to when the Equality Act will go before the Senate for a vote, we do know this: Politicians need votes to stay in office. Votes come from the people. Pressure from massive amounts of people is a major way to push politicians towards positive change. That’s why I’ve created this petition to urge the Senate to support the Equality Act. Our country’s lack of protection for its own citizens ensures that LGBTQ people must live in fear that their lives could be turned upside down by an employer or landlord who is homophobic or transphobic. The fact that, legally, some people are completely at the mercy of the hatred and bigotry of others is disgusting and unacceptable. Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally. 

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576,113 signed of 1,000,000 goal

It's Time For A Healthy, Meatless Option (Please!)

My name is Kathy Freston. I'm an author of books like Clean Protein and The Book of Veganish, and some of you may have seen me talking about healthy living and conscious eating with Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, or others on television or in print. I've been fortunate enough to reach millions of people with a positive message, and with this petition I’m hoping to bring a positive change to America with a mainstream meatless option at McDonald’s! Adding plant-based protein options at McDonald's will appeal to workers out for a quick lunch, families with health-conscious members out to dinner, children on field trips, and anyone looking for something different than the current menu at McDonald’s where even the french fries contain beef flavoring (they don't in Europe, incidentally)! According to a recent survey, more than one-third of Americans already buy meat substitutes for reasons that range from health to ethics! So why not make a meatless option available at one of America’s favorite restaurant chains for everyone to enjoy? Healthy living should be about progress, not perfection, and this is an easy step that McDonald’s could be taking. Sales of meat substitutes in the U.S. bring in over $553 million a year and visionaries like Bill Gates of Microsoft and Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter are helping fund some of the many meatless options in development for mass markets. Meanwhile competitors like Chipotle have new braised tofu Sofritas, Tropical Smoothie added vegan chicken strips, and Burger King has a veggie burger! That's not even getting into the fact that KFC has vegan chicken in Canada (really, try it!), Subway already has a veggie patty, and McDonald's Canada has veggie wraps!  We Americans love a protein center to our meal, so veggies and salads alone (or even in a wrap) won’t do the trick; we want something hearty and protein-centric just like the burgers and sandwiches you already have, only with something plant-based instead. In September, McDonald's partnered with President Bill Clinton (who improved his own health by eating plant-based foods) and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to make some youth marketing improvements, but still left me and many members of the public wondering about people of all ages looking to lower cholesterol, reduce saturated fat intake, and cut calories. Offering an option that is completely without animal products is ideal, not only for those who don’t eat animal products for ethical reasons, but for those who are lactose intolerant or have egg allergies. Like many Americans, I’m over this "all or nothing" way of thinking by powerful decision makers in the government and in the corporate world. We need to work together to find positive ways to work towards common goals like eating healthier, farming sustainably, and treating animals with respect. In that spirit, one very simple step can come from fast food giant McDonald's adding a healthy, plant-based item to the menu in the United States. Truly, there can be something for everyone! Please sign my petition to support adding a healthy, meatless option at McDonald's.

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231,460 signed of 300,000 goal