In this week’s highlight of African news, I’m going to start off with the bad news and end with the good, because then you can dwell on the positives instead of the negatives. Here we go!
Bad news first:
EGYPT-Egyptians reported 727 cases of verbal and sexual harassment during the last week’s Eid al-Adha holidays with most occurrences happening in public spaces. Six women’s rights organizations launched the “Seen Harassment” initiative that supports victims by providing free legal support. Most harassers are not punished, and the initiative seeks to push for heavier penalties for those who continue to victimize others.
EGYPT-Related to the above news entry, post-revolution Egypt is regressing in how it treats women. Although women were treated almost equally during the revolution, standing alongside men in Tahrir Square, their hope to continue as equal partners in Egypt’s future has not come to fruition. Many seek to take back rights that women earned under Mubarak’s reign, changes which will impact divorce and custody laws, push FGM, and change the legal marrying age from 18 to 9 years old.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC/UGANDA-The Ugandan military has made it a habit to pardon and then integrate captured members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) so that they can be used to find their former comrades-in-arms. Obviously, this is problematic, even unethical, and victims of the LRA’s cruelty in Central African Republic are rightfully pissed off about this. From the article:
ZangagoumÃ© said it is wrong to send former LRA members back to areas in which they operated, now as protectors. Civil society organizations like JUPEDEC (Youth United for Environmental Protection and Community Development), a local NGO working for a “inclusive” plan in the fight against the LRA in the prefectures of Mbomou and Haut-Mbomou, agree.
“At a meeting we organized, a female victim recognized among the Ugandan forces a former LRA rebel who had raped her. He even wanted to court her. She told us this; it is a difficult situation,” said Alexis Lewis Mbolinani, the NGO’s coordinator.
And moving quickly to the good news:
SOUTH AFRICA-South African scientists have new research that could lead to an AIDS vaccine. Yes, you read that correctly! There are certain features of HIV that allow some infected people to create antibodies effective against multiple strains of HIV. I’m not going to do the article justice because I’m not much of a science-y person, so click through to read for yourself. I understand enough to know that this is excellent news!
MOROCCO-Local association “Mawarid” seeks to promote awareness of the hazards of non-biodegradable plastic bags on the environment, partnering with women’s cooperatives to provide green bags to both municipal markets and rural souks. Mawarid’s campaign also includes ads, debates, and films on public channels, and lectures in schools.
NIGERIA-In the recent Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Nsisong Asanga broke a record by becoming the only woman Fader Master in West Africa. (Holla!) As chess is typically a male-dominated game, this is really great news (understatement). I’m not up on the lingo of competitive chess, but if you want to read this interview with Dr. Nsisong Asanga, I highly encourage it. Side note: not only is this brilliant Nigerian woman a chess champion, she is also a medical doctor, a wife, and a mother.