A report from Sky News sheds light on the rising trend of ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa, in which openly gay women are being raped ‘in order to teach them a lesson’.

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Cosmetic products which bleach dark skin have found an ever-growing market on the Ivorian Market and it seems to be affecting women of every caste.  One women when asked to describe the products said they work by  ‘making the skin more beautiful and facilitates relationships.’ This video from Africanews shares more about the phenomenon.

Uganda Bans Female Mutilation

December 12, 2009

The Uganda parliament has unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a practice mostly used in the northeastern region of the country.

Female mutilation, or female circumcision, involves the removal of a female’s clitoris or other genital parts at a very young age in hopes of ensuring virginity and in preparation for marriage. Critics say it prevents pleasure for women during sexual intercourse, leads to complications during childbirth and increases other health risks such as infection and bleeding.

Anyone convicted of female circumcision may face up to10 years in jail, or a life sentence if a victim dies as a result of the surgery.

In some countries FGM is seen as a way to ensure virginity (BBC)

MP Alice Alaso told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program that, “It’s a very bad practice. It’s cruel, it traumatizes people, it’s led children to drop out of school, it’s a health hazard.  This is a warning signal – whoever dares practice female genital mutilation will be subject to the law.”

And another MP, Lulume Bayiga, said the ‘law would liberate both men and women – who often face being ostracised for shunning the custom.’

Uganda’s shadow health minister, Francis Epetait, told AFP, “This operation is so painful, so cruel, and these so-called surgeons are paid to do it.  I supported the bill with all my strength and heart.”

In 2007, the United Nations passed a resolution which labeled female genital mutilation “irreparable, irreversible abuse” and deemed it  a violation of the rights of women.   The United Nations estimates that 100 to 140 million women worldwide are victims of female mutilation.

Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Rate Drops

December 12, 2009

Zimbabwe’s HIV/AIDS infection rate has dropped to below 14 percent.

According to Voice of American, Zimbabwe’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, which started at least 23 years ago, used to record infection rates of more than 25 percent of the population,but  a demographic survey conducted in 2006 found the infection rate had dropped to 18 percent.

Now, health care authorities, say it is at 13.75 percent.

South Africa has promised to overhaul the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients within the African nation.  In a speech marking World AIDS Day, December 1, President Jacob Zuma outlined a number of policy changes, which he hopes will be put in place before April 2010.

The BBC reported that UK’s Department for International Development welcomed the changes, saying, “South Africa has turned a corner and is embarking on a new and bold drive to take responsibility for tackling HIV and Aids.  The UK will continue to support South Africa to realize its ambition of reducing new HIV infections and increasing access to effective treatments.”

Zuma announced all South African babies under the age of one will be treated if they test HIV-positive and promised more anti-retrovirals – ‘drugs which the previous government said were too costly’, according to the BBC.

In his speech, President Zuma said, “Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma. Let the politicization and endless debates about HIV and Aids stop.”

The speech conveyed a completely different message than the previous president who outright denied any correlation between the HIV virus and AIDS.

However, not every is so confident in the leaders abilities to raise awareness. Al-Jazeera English reports, “In some ways, Zuma is an unlikely champion for Aids activists.  In 2006, while being tried on charges of raping an HIV-positive woman, he was ridiculed for testifying that he took a shower after sex to lower the risk of Aids.

An estimated 59,000 babies are born with HIV every year in South Africa, adding to a country with highest number of people living with the virus- over 5 million.

AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

5.2m people with HIV

17% of people aged 15-49 HIV-positive

1.5m adults need Aids drugs in 2009

106,000 children under 15 need ARVs

413,000 new infections in 2009

59,000 of these are children

Source: Statistics South Africa

The case against news editor, Chansa Kabwela, from Zambia’s newspaper The Post has  been thrown out after the court failed to prove their case against the journalist.  Kabwela faced pornography charges and jail time after sending graphic photos of woman giving birth on a pavement to the country’s president.

The photos were taken during the country’s doctor strike in June, which left many in the country without proper medical help.  The infant, unfortunately suffocated and later died.

Ms Kabwela told reporters, including those from The Telegraph,

“This victory to me is a victory for those that suffered during the strike. I was confident that I would be acquitted.”

The Post is Zambia’s only private newspaper and there is speculation that the charges may have been a politically move to halt the reporting of corruption in the government.

In article in The Post, Professor Muna Ndulowritten, an Ivy League law professor, writes,

“The average person in Zambia, while no doubt being shocked and disgusted by the picture, would not regard the publication of pictures of a woman giving birth in order to expose the plight of ordinary people during a national strike by medical personnel as being prurient and having the effect or as intended to deprave and corrupt morals.

Instead, the pictures should lead to outrage and anger at those who were not making maximum efforts to end the strike.”


Click here to hear more about the strike earlier this summer in an interview from the BBC.

The Living Proof Project

November 20, 2009

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s The Living Proof Project aims to highlight the positive work being done to improve the state of global health care. The initiative aims to combat the generally negative media stories and put together a multimedia package which highlights success stories around the world. This particular video highlights the work being done in Ethiopia to improve the country’s birthrate and at home delivery care for mothers.

To watch more videos of hope from Africa by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, click on the link provided here.