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’.

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.

Namibia Elections

November 27, 2009

While Namibia holds the country’s fourth general and presidential elections today, the rest of the world will be waiting to see who voters show up to cast their ballots for.

The election is predicted to bring in over one million voters to over 3,200 polling stations around the country, most of which will be moving around to reach the remote areas of the region.

The Namibian wrote that in a report on the election, Standard Bank’s economist Jan Duvenhage said, “Internationally, Namibia is already classified as a “flawed democracy… any additional slippage in the global democracy stakes will be a cause for concern.”

 


Currently Namibia is ranked 64th out of 167 countries on the latest Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), receiving an overall score of 6.48 out of a possible ten points.

Rally for Democracy and Progress is expected to pose the main opposition to South West African People’s Organization, the current ruling party in Namibia is expected to.  Something had has not gone unnoticed by Swapo who has filed a $13 million defamation lawsuit the country’s opposition party.

According to Bloomberg.com, Swapo “… alleged that RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya had damaged its reputation by claiming the party rigged previous elections when he addressed a rally in the northern town of Okongo this month.”

Nonetheless, a violent election is not expected. In IPS Graham Hopwood, political analyst and director of the Institute for Public Policy Research said, “Namibian elections are mostly peaceful, we don’t foresee surprises.” But even without violence, the BBC reports the National Society for Human Rights does expect attempts at poll rigging.  They report the NSHR as stating, “.. the voters’ roll includes constituencies that have been listed twice, voters who have been listed twice and under-age people – a discrepancy of about 180,000 voters.” The NSHR are now being allowed to observe the presidential and parliamentary ballots at the numerous polling stations by the Namibian courts.

And finally, gender activists are afraid the election will lower the current female representation in the government from 30.8 percent to roughly 25 percent, a drop that will impede the region’s goal of 50 percent female representatives in politics by 2015.

“In their manifestos parties enshrine equal opportunities for men and women, but when the candidate list comes out, it’s dominated by men,” says Sarry Xoagus-Eises, country organizer for non-governmental organization that promotes gender equality, to IPS.

Results of the election are expected to be posted Sunday morning outside polling stations.

NAMIBIA GENERAL ELECTIONS STATS:
Presidential and parliamentary ballots
12 presidential candidates
14 parties
72 seats in parliament
1.1m registered voters
Voting on Friday and Saturday