News and Views by Region
Somalia: UN Reports of Rape of Somali Women Fleeing Famine
11 August 2011 – The United Nations official leading the fight against sexual violence in times of conflict today voiced concern over reports that women and girls fleeing famine in Somalia were being raped or abducted and forced into marriage by bandits and other armed groups as they tried to reach refugee camps in Kenya.
“During the long and perilous journey from Somalia to the camps in Kenya, women and girls are subjected to attacks, including rape, by armed militants and bandits,” said Margot Wallström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, in a statement.
Tanzania: Villages Program to End Witchcraft Accusations
Imagine living in a community your whole life. Then suddenly, you are accused of witchcraft and told to leave. Or you are sent threatening letters saying you have bewitched a neighbour's child. Or you are attacked and slashed with a machete during the night.
The reality is, in many parts of the world, including Tanzania, older women are still persecuted and accused of witchcraft. Belief in witchcraft is still strong in many places and throughout society, but often these accusations have an underlying malicious element.
We believe that these accusations are a critical factor in the violation of women's rights.
Rigid Coptic Divorce Law Sparks Brawl, Protests
CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)--Despite the stigma attached to divorce, ending a marriage is still relatively easy for Muslim women in Egypt. All they have to do is file paperwork with a family court and the deed is done, as long as they're not seeking alimony or damages from their husbands.
For the country's millions of Orthodox Christians, or Copts, it's been nearly impossible since Pope Shenouda III, the head of one of the most conservative churches in Christianity, forbade divorce except in the case of conversion or adultery three years ago.
Tunisia: Sit-in against 'fundamentalism, extremism, and violence' in centre of Tunis
Dozens of people participated Saturday in a sit-in in the center of Tunis to warn against "fundamentalism, extremism and violence", AFP noted.
Gathered on the steps of the City Theatre, the participants came following calls on social networks, waving placards saying "no to violence, yes to tolerance," "against any religious extremism", "No to Algeria of the 90s."
The event turned into impromptu happening, dozens of passers-by sit down to discuss the place of Islam in society, freedom of expression or the defense of the Revolution’s gains.
Liberia: Tackling sexual violence head on
Rape continues to be the most frequently reported serious crime in Liberia. A new multipronged approach is underway to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.
MONROVIA, Liberia (WOMENSENEWS)-- Korlu, a young mother of two, lives on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital here. A high school dropout, Korlu, who declined to give her last name for safety reasons, says when she was a teen, she became pregnant. "My parents put me out of their house because they couldn't bear the shame of me getting pregnant," she says.
Kenya: I was told that I deserved to die – for being a female journalist
It's not always easy being a female investigative journalist, even in the west. But imagine going to do an interview and not being able to shake hands with the interviewee or indeed even being able to sit in front of him to ask questions.
In Somali culture – I grew up in a Somali family in – it is wrong to speak and raise an opinion in front of men or even to shake hands with a man of no relation to you. Even travelling for work unaccompanied by a relative is not permitted.
Somewhere on the Kenyan-Somali border, a Somali woman was chosen to be a town chief, but she fled from the town because of violent opposition from the elders. As a journalist, I tried to get comments from the Somali elders, but they then turned on me and threatened to punish me also.
Widow Cleansing: Harmful Traditional Practice
Violence against women still is universal, and while it has many roots, especially in cultural tradition and customs, it is gender inequality that lies at the cross-cultural heart of violent practices. Violence against women is deeply embedded in human history and its universal perpetration through social and cultural norms serves the main purpose of reinforcing male-dominated power structures.
The calls for “equal and inalienable rights” for all people, “without distinction of any kind.”
Ethiopia: Girls fight child marriages
"I wanted to get an education but my parents were determined to marry me off," says Himanot Yehewala, an Ethiopian girl who was married five years ago at the age of 13.
"I tried to run away but my mother said she would kill herself if I did not marry him."
"I was not mature physically or emotionally so it was not easy for me to go and sleep with my husband."
Sudan: Early Marriage Often Ends Girls' Education
UBA (AlertNet) - It took years of pleading before Jane Aketch persuaded her parents to send her to primary school in the dusty bush of South 's Eastern Equatoria state.
Although her parents wanted her to learn how to read and write, like most of the communities in Aketch's home county of Magwi, they did not place particular importance in furthering a girl's education.
"Generally, in South Sudan, girls are supposed to stay at home and clean, while boys attend school," explained the 14-year-old, who is one of five daughters.
Rwanda: Rape, justice and privacy
KIGALI, 2 June 2011 (IRIN) - A new report has rekindled debate on whether the Rwandan government "betrayed" women who were raped during the 1994 genocide by letting community-based gacaca courts process their cases.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) marks one of the first attempts by an advocacy group to assess how the gacaca handled rape cases, which were transferred from conventional courts in 2008. (Gacaca means "grass" in Kinyarwanda, symbolizing a gathering place and referring to a system of public conflict resolution once reserved for minor civil disputes.)