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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:01 am 
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Four guilty of lesbian killing in South Africa
7 October 2011

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Cape Town gay pride 2011

Four men were convicted on Friday of murdering a lesbian in Cape Town, in a case that dragged on for five years and heightened concerns about "corrective rape" targeting gay women.

The four men stoned, kicked and stabbed to death 19-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana just metres (yards) from her home in 2006, the Khayelitsha Regional Court found. She had lived openly as a lesbian.

Magistrate Raadiyah Wathen acquitted three others because there was no evidence that linked them to the killing, though they were present when it occurred. Wathen last month set free two others in a case that was postponed more than 30 times because defence lawyers were changed or failed to arrive at court.

South Africa is the only African country that allows same-sex marriage, but violence against openly gay people is common. Lesbians are targeted for attacks known as "corrective rape", by men trying to "cure" their homosexuality. Big groups are said to take part in the crime, but only a few are convicted.

Two years ago a man was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a lesbian activist and football player who had been gang-raped and robbed.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 7:01 am 
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African male rape victims speak, fight shame of war horror
By Henry Wasswa
October 29, 2011

Kampala - Job is a big and tall man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, strong and healthy looking.

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Once he begins to speak, however, the facade falls and the 50-year-old shows himself to be in tatters, suffering deep physical and mental wounds from a secret weapon of war being employed in central Africa.

So secret, many deny it exists. But more people like Job are coming forward to shed light on an often neglected group of victims. Repeatedly gang-raped by Congolese government soldiers in 2007, Job is being cared for now by doctors and counselors to help him heal from an attack by an army supposedly fighting insurgents, but also meting out wrath on civilians. 'I was arrested in an operation by the soldiers and, while in prison, two soldiers picked me, tied my hands and legs and one after another raped me. I screamed but no one helped me. I fainted. The same thing happened to me the following day and for weeks. I was bleeding all the time,' Job told dpa.

Rape as a weapon of war has been used in the African Great Lakes region for many years, but most of the focus of aid groups has been on female victims. Slowly, however, men are seeking help.

Social workers and lawyers at an aid centre in Kampala say they regularly hear stories like Job's, from men fleeing conflict areas in DR Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and parts of Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Refugee Law Project (RLP), housed on a low hill in a quiet residential area in the Ugandan capital, receives up to 10 male rape victims some days, compared to an average of eight women a day. The victims often turn up with open wounds and are taken to hospital for treatment. Social workers and volunteers later offer counseling. Many victims have a simple goal: being able to lead a normal life, without ending up in an asylum.

Job says he was arrested by soldiers pursuing militias in DR Congo's volatile North Kivu province. The eastern region of the country is infested with rebel groups and Job was accused of helping them. 'I was raped by different soldiers. I have so many thoughts. I cannot sleep. I became impotent. Concentration is my main problem. My future is ruined. I have no future,' Job says.

Moses says that in 2007 he was abducted by Congolese rebels while at work at a Catholic mission center in North Kivu and forced to fight with the guerrillas. 'I tried to escape but I was recaptured. The rebels told me I was to be punished. They told me that there were no women in the bush and so I was to offer sex. They regularly raped me. I became sick. Blood was flowing from my anus,' said Moses, who eventually escaped to Uganda.

Socials workers at the RLP center say that the level of sexual violence used against civilians in conflict-ridden countries is high. 'We have male clients who complain of screwdrivers pushed through their anus and they get infections. The majority are gang-raped,' says Salome Atim, the gender officer at the RLP. Other forms of sexual torture employed are even more graphic. 'When these men report to us, many of them smell of faeces and use pads to stop the bleeding and the pus coming out of their bottoms,' Atim noted, adding: 'They (men) are captured everyday and raped.'

Due to the stigma attached to homosexuality, victims from countries like Somalia do not readily talk about their experiences. It is not only society they fear: many lose their wives and friends when their hidden truth emerges. 'We ask them questions and give the details to the doctors, because most of them do not tell the doctors that they were raped. They feel ashamed. They fear that they would be ostracized once it is believed that they are homosexuals,' Atim says.

Lara Stemple from the University of Los Angeles, conducted a study two years ago entitled 'Male Rape and Human Rights.' She warns men are being ignored. 'Male victims have been neglected for a long time in all regions of the world. And anywhere where homosexuality is severely stigmatized, male victims will have a harder time coping,' said Stemple.

The study found the practice widespread in a variety of past conflicts. But, in Central Africa, the fighting goes on as justice systems fail to bring perpetrators to justice. Worse, advocates say, rich world donors often only donate to groups treating female victims of rape, thus potentially sidelining a whole segment of society in need.

Source: Monsters & Critics.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:25 pm 
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South African lesbians live in fear, report finds

Human Rights Watch survey paints grim picture of sexual violence, intimidation and harassment

by David Smith in Johannesburg
Monday 5 December 2011

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Members of the Chosen Few lesbian football team warm up for a training session in Johannesburg. Photograph: Peter Andrews / Reuters/Reuters

Black lesbians in South Africa endure ridicule and abuse in schools, workplaces and churches, sometimes being accused of witchcraft, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigation has found. "Lesbians and transgender men live in constant fear of harassment as well as physical and sexual violence," the watchdog group reported.

The research, We'll Show You You're a Woman, was based on interviews with 121 lesbians, bisexual women and transgender men over two years in the impoverished townships where most South Africans live. Graeme Reid, director of HRW's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights programme, said: "It's a grim picture. It's a picture of fear and intimidation. A segment of South African society lives in terror and feels it has no one to turn to, including the police."

Same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa, and the country has some of the most liberal laws on sexual orientation on the continent. But cultural attitudes do not always match the constitution, approved in 1996. One woman told HRW of a series of rapes by her cousin, her coach and her pastor. Another said a female cousin spiked her drink so that the cousin's boyfriend could rape her. A third said that, after a rape, "I really hated myself."

Raping a lesbian, HRW researchers found, can make a man a township hero. Attackers boast publicly of their crimes and declare to their victims: "We'll show you you're a woman," the report said. Such attacks are often referred to as "corrective rapes" in South Africa. Lesbians and others who do not fit the norm respond by avoiding being alone in public, trying not to attract men's attention, and hiding their sexual orientation, the report added.

The lead researcher, Dipika Nath, said lesbians and transgender men faced physical and verbal abuse that led to their dropping out of school, losing their jobs and becoming economically marginalised. Those who did not follow conventional patterns of dress and appearance were particularly vulnerable. "Families, churches and schools – all the spaces of socialisation – are very often homophobic and transphobic," she said. "Churches very often become spaces that further the stereotypes: 'We don't want Sodom and Gomorrah'; 'We don't want witches'; 'These people don't belong in Africa.'"

Nearly all those interviewed by HRW said they were reluctant to approach the police for protection or to report crimes. Of the few cases of sexual or physical violence against lesbians that have been prosecuted, the significance of sexual orientation has been acknowledged in only one. HRW called on South Africa's government to act against the attackers but also to tackle the problem at its roots. "What we really need is a sustained, large programme" that embraces education in schools and engages with religious leaders, Nath said.

A number of lesbians have been murdered, apparently because of their sexuality, in what activists believed should be classified as "hate crimes". Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was stoned and stabbed to death and apparently raped in Kwa-Thema township in Gauteng earlier this year. Nomboniso Gasa, a gender policy analyst, said the country needed to confront a culture of violence and homophobia that betrayed its democratic foundation. "This violence makes a farce of all that we claimed to achieve in post-apartheid South Africa in the constitution," Gasa said.

"If there was any other group that was targeted in the way LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people] are targeted, South Africa would declare a crisis. This report lifts a veil of silence to make visible the realities South Africa would rather pretend do not exist."

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:58 pm 
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South African lesbian's killers get 18 years
1 February 2012

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Sabelo Yekiso and Sicelo Mase, two of the men accused of the murder of Zoliswa Nkonyana, at an earlier appearance at the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court.
Image by: MOEKETSI MOTICOE

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Zoliswa Nkonyana

A South African judge sentenced four men convicted of murdering a Cape Town lesbian to 18 years in prison Wednesday, six years after her killing cast a spotlight on homophobic crimes.

The four men were convicted in October of stoning, kicking and stabbing to death Zoliswa Nkonyana just metres (yards) from her home in 2006. The 19-year-old had lived openly as a lesbian.

Prosecutors welcomed the sentence and said it sent a message that hate crimes would not be tolerated in South Africa, where violence against gays is common despite a liberal constitution, the only in Africa to allow same-sex marriage. "We are happy that the court agreed with us that these gentlemen did not show any remorse and had a slim chance of being rehabilitated," National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told the Sapa news agency.

Lesbians in South Africa are commonly targeted for attacks known as "corrective rape" by men trying to "cure" their homosexuality. Three years ago a man was sentenced to life in prison and another to 32 years for the gang rape, robbery and murder of Eudy Simelane, a lesbian activist who had been a midfielder on the national football team.

In December, Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing South Africa of "desperately failing lesbian and transgender people" by not doing enough to stop attacks against them.

Source: Breitbart /AFP.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 10:12 am 
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South Africa searches soul over alleged rape of disabled 17-year-old girl

Suspected gang-rape by seven men and boys sparks outrage in country where sexual violence is common

by David Smith in Johannesburg
Thursday 19 April 2012

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Soweto, where the girl apparently went missing for three weeks without the alarm being raised. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters

It is a country that can seem inured to violence from sheer familiarity. But this was a crime so shocking that even South Africa has begun to search its soul.

A disabled 17-year-old girl, said to have the mental capacity of a five-year-old, was allegedly gang-raped by seven men and boys in an assault that came to light only when a mobile phone video of the brutal attack went viral online. Outrage has been compounded by reports that the girl was missing from her home in the sprawling Soweto township for three weeks, yet no one raised the alarm, and police were only prompted to act after the video appeared. There were angry scenes on Thursday when the seven suspected rapists appeared in a Johannesburg court. Protesters outside the building waved posters that read: "Cut their penis – no bail," "Let them rot in jail," and "Done with rapists."

Heinous acts of violence are all too unexceptional in South Africa, where nearly 16,000 murders and more than 66,000 sexual offences were recorded by police last year. But the stark details of this case have prompted a rare bout of introspection, particularly about the status of women.

"This is a story of complicity, gender violence and neglect in Soweto and is, in all likelihood – to varying degrees – representative of what so very often happens to girls and women at the hands of this nation's men," said a pointed story on page one of the Times newspaper. "The complicity lies in the fact that a community knew this teenager, a child really, and must have known she had previously disappeared for weeks on end. She had apparently been raped several times since 2009. But no one seems to have found it necessary to report this to the authorities."

The article added: "But perhaps most tragic of all is the way that the 17-year-old was discovered yesterday. As police officers moved through the township, using loudhailers to ask community members to come forward with information about the missing girl, she was brought from a 37-year-old man's one-roomed home. He claimed she was his 'girlfriend' and that she had arrived at his house on Monday. Hungry, dazed and confused, the girl was yesterday unable to recall her whereabouts."

The mobile phone video, filmed on 21 March, reportedly shows the girl being raped in an open field, screaming "You are forcing me," and pleading for her assailants to stop. They ignore her cries, joking and laughing as they take turns. Eventually one offers her two rand – about 16p.

Under the front-page headline "A nation's shame," the Star lamented: "We are a nation of heroes; of Mandelas, Tambos, Luthulis, Bikos, De Klerks and Tutus, South Africans who won the world's praise for their courage and humanity. Today, though, we have tarnished their legacy – and the countless millions of decent South Africans who find this news as abhorrent as we do."

Politicians joined the condemnation. The women's league of the governing African National Congress said words could not describe its "outrage, anger and disgust". It demanded: "When does it become acceptable amongst a group of peers to rape a girl and laugh about it? It just makes one sick to the stomach."

South Africa boasts one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, enshrining women's rights. Yet activists estimate that more than one in three South African women will be raped in their lifetime. Lisa Vetten, executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, which campaigns to end violence against women, said: "All the causes of rape you will find in South Africa." She listed causes including a "dysfunctional" criminal justice system, a historical culture of violence in which such acts are tolerated, a very unequal relationship between men and women, a lack of adequate childcare, which results in the neglect of boys, a high rate of male unemployment and inadequate aftercare services for perpetrators and victims.

Mbuyiselo Botha, a spokesman for the Sonke Gender Justice Network, said: "Men in our country have a sense of impunity. They rape because they can and because they can get away with it. Women are seen as fair game."

Critics have accused the president, Jacob Zuma, a traditional Zulu polygamist due to marry his fourth wife this weekend, of failing to lead the way. Botha said: "Males in leadership in our country have not, by their words or actions, spoken out loudly. Our president has not said: 'Not in our name.'"

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:32 pm 
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Nigeria school offers hope for young women
7 August 2012

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A student gives a sewing demonstration at the Tattali Free School in Kaduna.

AFP - The clattering sewing machines at this northern Nigeria school offer hope of a better life for a group of young women who fled abusive marriages that for some prove inescapable.

In Nigeria's deeply impoverished north, which has some of the worst gender disparities in the world, millions of girls who never learned to read or write are pushed into marriage in their early teens, a recent study said.

The Tattalli Free School in the city of Kaduna was set up as a refuge for those who, overcoming fear and the pressures of patriarchal society, left their husbands when the relationships became unbearable.

"I was married and pregnant and my husband was at home doing nothing," said 17-year-old Bilkisou, the mother of a young girl. "At times he would beat me or shout at me. When I went to report him to my father, he sent me back," she added. She left with her baby strapped to her back and came to Tattalli, where she can learn skills ranging from dressmaking to beadmaking in hopes of earning enough money to care for herself.

The school's founder, Saratu Aliyu, said she wanted to give vulnerable young women a chance to learn a marketable skill and save them from having to sell themselves for survival. "You find them going into prostitution, you find them getting into wrong hands," said Aliyu, who funds the school with her own money. "So many things could happen to them because they cannot help themselves, and anybody who is in need of money, anything that comes your way, you try your hands at it."

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A teacher teaches English at the Tattali Free School in Kaduna.

The roughly 150 students at Tattalli should, in principle, have had access to public primary and secondary education, which is free in Nigeria. But in reality an education brings extra costs that many families cannot satisfy. Some teachers are even said to demand money to pass students. "A married woman is one less mouth to feed," Rukayyat Adamu, the Tattalli school's director.

The problem is especially acute in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, where sharia (Islamic law) exerts a powerful influence. In the north, more than two-thirds of girls aged 15-19 are unable to read a sentence, compared to less than 10 percent in the southern part of the country, according to a British Council report published in May. Half of all women in the region are married by the age of 16, the report further said, while the Global Campaign for Education estimates that 50 percent of northern girls are not even enrolled in school. Worldwide, Nigeria ranks 118 out of 134 countries on the Gender Equality Index, the British Council study said.

Kaduna is also one of several northern cities hit hard by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, responsible for scores of attacks across the region in recent months. A suicide blast at a church last month sparked sectarian mob violence and Kaduna state, where Kaduna city is the capital, was placed under a tight curfew.

Analysts say the prevailing security crisis has further damaged the region's already feeble economy. "Men who become frustrated by inability to take care of their families turn their wives to punching bags when they complain," said Aliyu.

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A student gives a sewing demonstration at the Tattali Free School in Kaduna.

At the school she founded five years ago, gathered in a small shaded courtyard, a group of teenagers, including Mansoura Sani, were learning how to make dresses. She said that not long after her 10th birthday her family promised her to a much older man, who already had two wives. "His older children fought and his wives often made fun of me," she recalled. She ran to the home of a cousin in Kaduna and later made her way to Tattalli, and said she hopes the education she is receiving may help her marry again. "This will make a difference because men appreciate educated women. They accord them more respect," she said. "I could also be independent."

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:14 pm 
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3 Women a day killed by a partner in South Africa
8 March 2013
By MICHELLE FAUL

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Reeva Steenkamp, the model and law graduate shot and killed by Oscar Pistorius, was statistically just one of three women killed on Valentine's Day by an intimate partner, according to a study on violence against women that damns South Africa as having "the highest rate ever reported in research anywhere in the world."

Steenkamp's killing came the day before she planned to wear black in a "Black Friday" protest against the country's excruciatingly high number of rapes, spurred by the particularly brutal gang-rape and mutilation of a 17-year-old that made front-page news in February. The girl managed to identify an ex-boyfriend among her attackers before she died.

As the world marks International Women's Day, South Africans are locked in public soul-searching over the high level of murders and rapes perpetrated against women.

In the past month, among other cases in South Africa: a court charged a man accused of chopping up and beheading his wife with a machete; police arrested a 29-year-old accused of raping a 2-year-old toddler fighting for her life in the hospital; and police are investigating the rape of a 100-year-old great-great grandmother. Police still are hunting for two of 15 men accused of gang raping a 23-year-old woman. Her ordeal lasted hours.

Newspaper editorials and talk radio shows are examining traditional chauvinistic attitudes, gun control laws and weaknesses in the police and court systems that allow many perpetrators to walk free - thus discouraging women from reporting. This week police disclosed that they do not have enough rape kits, needed to collect evidence.

"Of all the matrics (high school graduates) in your class, one third have been raped!" says a public education announcement on Talk Radio 702, referring to statistics that estimate more than 30 percent of girls have been raped by the time they are 18.

It seems there are few places for South African girls to be safe: Many are raped in their homes by a relative or family friend; many are raped at school, often by teachers; only a quarter are raped by someone they do not know.

In South Africa, statistics say someone gets raped every four minutes. Only 66,196 incidents were reported to police last year and their investigations led to only 4,500 convictions.

"If data for all violent assaults, rapes and other sexual assaults against women are taken into account, then approximately 200,000 adult women are reported as being attacked in South Africa every year," Lerato Moloi of the South African Institute for Race Relations said. The real figure is considerably higher, she said, since most cases never are reported.

The rate of murders of women in South Africa is equally troubling.

A woman is killed by an intimate partner every eight hours in South Africa, a probable underestimate because no perpetrator is identified in 20 percent of killings, according to a study published in August and co-authored by Professor Rachel Jewkes of the South African Medical Research Council. That is double the rate of such murders in the United States, according to the report. The study was based on a sample of deceased females aged 14 years and older at national mortuaries, since police statistics do not separate the killings of women by partners from those by strangers.

It found that although the murders of females has gone down between 1999 and 2009, as have all homicides, the percentage killed by intimate partners has increased - from 50 percent to 57 percent. Half the women were killed by partners they were living with, 30 percent by men they were dating and 18 percent by their husbands.

The study also found rape was suspected in more than one in four of the killings. "The proportion of women killed by non-intimate partners where there was a rape has significantly increased, but those figures are hidden" in police statistics, explained Jewkes, who has been researching gender violence in South Africa for 20 years.

The study compared statistics from a similar project in 1999 to find evidence of progress in reducing such killings: "Our assumption would be if our gender-based activities were having an impact we would see a decline but there wasn't, in fact gender-based non-intimate and intimate murders have increased, though overall homicide is decreasing."

Something "is going terribly wrong," Jewkes said. A major obstacle is the number of men who are rapists. Thirty-seven percent of men in a survey in Gauteng Province admitted they had raped a woman, according to a survey that Jewkes did with other academics. Gauteng is the smallest but most populated province of South Africa. Jewkes said it can be difficult to work with men, knowing that one in three is, statistically, a rapist. "This must be a huge obstacle to getting anything done from police to make arrests to decisions in the court room by magistrates and so forth," she said.

At least half a dozen police officers have been arrested for alleged rape since November, including one accused of raping a 14-year-old boy and an officer accused of raping a woman who came to the police station to report domestic violence. In the month of February, two police officers were arrested for alleged rape; one officer was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for shooting and killing his girlfriend and another officer was arrested in the shooting death of a woman he was involved with. Two police officers are on trial for shooting and wounding their wives. The February figures come from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which investigates crimes committed by officers.

The public discussions come as the wife of a multimillionaire Cabinet minister is suing him for divorce alleging domestic abuse.

Opposition politician Lindiwe Mazibuko has described "a silent war against the children and women of this country ... We live in a deeply patriarchal and injured society where the rights of women are not respected."

President Jacob Zuma, who was acquitted on charges of raping the daughter of a family friend in 2005, this month launched a national "Stop Rape" campaign "to rid our country of this scourge, to cure our nation of this sickness."

South Africa has strong laws protecting women and children, but they are not being acted on. Some of the few victims who report domestic violence receive inadequate support from officials, according to an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Violence against Women and Children. "There is evidence that victims reported cases of domestic violence to police or social workers, but their pleas for help fell on deaf ears or (they) were told to resolve the matter with their partners," said its recent report.

The committee was set up in May last year and reviewed research on the subject in February "with the view to develop new strategies." At the same time it noted "a need to move from policy to action."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:29 am 
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Half of girls in South Sudan forced to marry
8 March 2013
By CHARLTON DOKI

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In this picture taken Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Zali Idy, 12, poses in her bedroom in the remote village of Hawkantaki, Niger. Zali was married in 2011.
(AP Photo/Jerome Delay-file)

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) -- The 17-year-old beaten to death for refusing to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather.

The teen dragged by her family to be raped to force her into marrying an elderly man. They are among 39,000 girls forced into marriage every day around the world, sold like cattle to enrich their families.

More than one-third of all girls are married in 42 countries, according to the U.N. Population Fund, referring to females under the age of 18. The highest number of cases occurs in some of the poorest countries, the agency figures show, with the West African nation of Niger at the bottom of the list with 75 percent of girls married before they turn 18. In Bangladesh the figure is 66 percent and in Central African Republic and Chad it is 68 percent.

Most child marriages take place in South Asia and rural sub-Saharan Africa, according to the population fund. In terms of absolute numbers, India, because of its large population, has the most child marriages with child brides in 47 percent of all marriages.

Government statistics in South Sudan show half the girls there aged 15 to 19 are married, with some brides as young as 12 years old. "The country's widespread child marriage exacerbates South Sudan's pronounced gender gaps in school enrollment, contributes to soaring maternal mortality rates, and violates the right of girls to be free from violence," says a Human Rights Watch report published Thursday ahead of International Women's Day on Friday.

The report blames child marriage in part for an appallingly low female school attendance, with girls making up only 39 percent of primary school students and 30 percent at secondary school. A UNICEF report this month blamed child marriage in part for poor school attendance figures in Congo, where one in four children are not in school.

Child marriage is not common in South Africa, where prosecutors are investigating what charges can be brought in the case of a 13-year-old epileptic girl who was forced to leave school and marry a 57-year-old traditional healer in January. Human Rights Watch said that in South Sudan there is a "near total lack of protection" for victims who try to resist marriage or to leave abusive marriages. It called for a coordinated government response including more training for police and prosecutors on girls' rights to protection.

Aguet N. of South Sudan, for example, was married to a 75-year-old man when she was 15 years old, according to testimony she gave to Human Rights Watch. "This man went to my uncles and paid a dowry of 80 cows. I resisted the marriage. They threatened me," the report said. "They said, `If you want your siblings to be taken care of, you will marry this man.' I said he is too old for me. They said, `You will marry this old man whether you like it or not because he has given us something to eat.' They beat me so badly. They also beat my mother because she was against the marriage."

Reducing child marriages is key to achieving U.N. millennium goals to improve child mortality and reduce maternal deaths, according to Malawi's Health Minister Catherine Gotani Hara. She said teen pregnancies accounted for up to 30 percent of maternal deaths in that southern African country. "By ending early marriages we can avert up to 30 percent of maternal deaths and also reduce the neonatal mortality rate," she said in a statement published by the World Health Organization. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in young women aged 15 to 19 years in developing countries, according to Dr. Flavia Bustreo of the WHO.

Early marriages also will prevent South Sudan from achieving the goal of having women hold 25 percent of government jobs, said Lorna James Elia of the local Voices for Change advocacy group. She said women activists grouped under a project "Girls, Not Brides," are trying to engage community leaders and traditional chiefs to end early and forced marriages.

Young brides also confront more violence, according to U.N. studies: Girls who marry before they are 18 are more likely to become victims of violence from their partner, with the risk increasing as the age gap between the couple gets larger. Traditionally, poor families marry off young girls to reduce the family expenses on food, clothing and education. A big incentive can be the dowries older men will pay for a young bride, sometimes hundreds of cows.

Another South Sudan child bride, Ageer M., told Human Rights Watch, "The man I loved did not have cows and my uncles rejected him. My husband paid 120 cows. ... I refused him but they beat me badly and took me by force to him. The man forced me to have sex with him so I had to stay there." In South Sudan, and some other countries, early marriage is seen as a way to protect girls from sexual violence and ensure that they do not bring dishonor on the family by getting pregnant out of wedlock.

Human Rights Watch called for South Sudan's government to clearly set 18 as the minimum age for marriage. But the country's minister for gender and child affairs, Agnes Kwaje Losuba, said the Child's Act already does that. "We need to make sure this is implemented," she said.

Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Johannesburg.
Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:48 pm 
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UN: Rape, violence raging in C. African Republic
16 April 2013

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says the security situation in Central African Republic is deteriorating three weeks after the government was overthrown.

Navi Pillay on Tuesday expressed concern about "a wide range of alleged grave violations" including rape, torture, kidnappings and targeted killings. Pillay said at least 119 people have been killed since President Francois Bozize was ousted from power on March 24 by rebels from an alliance known as Seleka.

The U.N. also has heard of at least 19 cases of sexual violence in Berberati, and several other reported attacks in the capital of Bangui. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia is now president of a transitional council that plans for elections within 18 months, though critics say his government lacks control over its fighters in the streets.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:37 pm 
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UN: Girls as young as 6 raped by Congo troops
8 May 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Congolese troops fleeing the M23 rebels last November raped at least 97 women and 33 girls, some as young as 6, a U.N. report released Wednesday said.

The U.S. Africa Command trained one of the units involved, Commando Battalion 391, in 2010 to be "a model for future reforms within the Congolese armed forces," according to the AFRICOM web site.

The U.N. report covered "mass rape, killings, and arbitrary executions and violations resulting from widespread looting," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. A report by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office says most of the rapes took place over Nov. 22-23 in the eastern Congo town of Minova. The report says that "One or two of the soldiers would leave with the looted goods and at least one would stand guard as the remaining (Congolese) soldiers raped women and girls in the house. Victims were threatened with death if they shouted; some were raped at gunpoint. Most victims were raped by more than one soldier." "The victims included 33 girls aged between 6 and 17," Nesirky said.

During their occupation of Goma and Sake, "M23 combatants perpetrated serious violations of human law and gross human rights violations," Nesirky said, including at least 59 cases of sexual violence. The mass rapes occurred in November, 2012, after the Congolese army was defeated by the M23 rebels who seized the provincial capital of Goma, in eastern Congo. The national army retreated in disorder. Commanders lost control of their troops, or were unwilling to impose discipline over their men who regrouped some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Goma, in Minova.

A small, dusty town on the shore of lake Kivu, Minova is home to several thousand people. For days, the Congolese army raped, killed and looted in anger and disarray after their defeat, before discipline could be re-established by army commanders.

The report says 11 Congolese soldiers have been arrested by the Congolese military prosecutor's office, "including two for murder, but only two for related cases of rape." The other charges were not specified. The commanding officers and deputy commanding officers of the two main battalions suspected of committing these acts, as well as officers of eight other units, have been suspended, the U.N. said. The report specifies the Congolese units involved in the Minova attacks as the 41 and 391 battalions. The 391 battalion was trained by the U.S. Africa Command in 2010.

Military magistrates from both North Kivu and South Kivu, U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian agency staff travelled to Minova and surrounding villages from Feb. 6-13, and "military investigators took testimony from several hundred victims, including a large number of victims of sexual violence," the report said.

Roger Meece, head of the U.N. mission in Congo, said the investigation "should be pursed in an independent and credible manner." "Those responsible for such crimes must know that they will be prosecuted," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement, calling the sexual violence outlined in the report "horrifying" in scale and systematic nature.

On the Web:

The U.N. report on Congo rapes: http://monusco.unmissions.org/LinkClick ... guageen-US

AFRICOM's web announcement of the training of Battalion 391: http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Article ... led-milita

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:32 pm 
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Rapes on rise in Somaliland, say medical officials
12 May 2013
By ABDI GULED

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- An upsurge of gang rapes has hit the breakaway region of Somaliland - a normally peaceful enclave considered by many to be a sanctuary from Somalia's decades of violence.

Knife-wielding young men follow women along the dusty streets of Hargeisa, the capital of the region, dragging them inside buildings to rape and rob them. Children are among the victims.

At least 84 women have been raped since the beginning of this year, according to rights activists and medical officials. "This year is more terrifying than last year when we were barely receiving two or three in each month. This year we are seeing a new victim for every day," said a nurse at a hospital in Hargeisa. She insisted on anonymity because she is not authorized to release the details. "It's rampant and victims are being attacked at homes, streets or anywhere now," she said.

The northern region of Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1960, but it has not won international recognition as an independent state. Having escaped decades of conflict in Somalia, Somaliland employs its own security and police forces, justice system and currency. It is seen by some neighboring countries as a bulwark against terrorism. It also has a reputation for successfully maintaining law and order for its population of 3.5 million.

The outbreak of gang rapes in Somaliland began early this year and has surprised local residents who blame gangs of young men. Confronted by the spate of attacks, police have arrested dozens of suspects, but the rapes continue on Hargeisa's streets and in back roads. Some of the victims were beaten while others suffered stabbings by the gangs. This could dent the women's freedom in Somaliland where they can drive and exercise many freedoms. Many women do not wear the veil in public. But now some religious leaders suggest that women remain closer to their homes to avoid the rapes.

"This is in fact a horrible outbreak, raped and bleeding children are being brought into hospitals every day," said Nimo Hussein Qowdhan, Somaliland's deputy health minister. "It's becoming out of control. We must concentrate on fighting it." Two young children were recent victims of the gang-rape attacks, said officials.

"It's a disturbing development, even children are being raped by criminals," said Fathia Hussein Ahmed, chairwoman of Somaliland's national human rights commission. "According to a report we have made, children are the most affected." She said rapes continue to haunt victims, as many women are shunned by some communities after being raped by gangs. Some are divorced by their husbands because of the rapes. "We are creating awareness among local communities to illustrate the negative impact of rape," she said.

The sexual attacks have brought the long-taboo subject into street conversations and have provoked calls for a new approach toward rapists, instead of the traditional clan-related legal solutions. Clan elders often let off rapists with softer punishments. In Somaliland, it is common for the clans to make their own rulings to evade harsher sentences from the government judiciary.

"We warn that the traditional clan justice system (should) avoid solving these cases, instead, courts must apply the ruling to such cases," said a statement from a consortium of human rights groups in Somaliland.

Unlike the rest of Somalia where women avoid reporting crimes to law enforcement agencies, women in Somaliland are increasingly reporting their cases to the hospitals and police. Hospitals are creating counseling for victims of sexual attacks. Activists say this may also be driving the increase in reported rapes, as women are aware of services and more likely to seek help or report rape.

However, police and rape victims struggle to identify the culprits who are believed to be unlinked, making it hard for investigators to contain the violence through arrests. "You never know who's to blame," said Sadiya Hassan, a resident in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway region by phone. "The attacks forced us to avoid walking while dark or through back roads."

"This is not easy to pinpoint exactly what triggered (the rapes) but the cost of marriage for young people in Somaliland is too high and contacts between the opposite sex before marriage is also frowned upon and the fact that many youths in the diaspora returned to the country may also have contributed," said Mohamed Abdillahi, a university professor in Hargeisa city.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:45 am 
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Congo suspends 12 senior army officers in probe of mass rape
By Louis Charbonneau
April 11, 2013

(Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended a dozen senior military officers and is interrogating suspects in connection with a mass rape incident in the country's turbulent east, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping department said on Thursday.

The United Nations said 126 women were raped in Minova in November after Congolese army troops fled to the town as so-called M23 rebels briefly captured the nearby provincial capital, Goma, in eastern Congo.

The U.N. special envoy to Congo, Roger Meece, told Congolese authorities in a March 25 letter they had seven days to take action on the rapes. That came after earlier U.N. demands that Congolese authorities prosecute the suspected rapists went unheeded. "The investigations have been launched, including interviews of victims and interrogations of suspects," said U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Kieran Dwyer. "The commanding officers and deputy commanding officers of two units, as well as the commanding officers of eight other units, have been suspended and put at the disposal of the military prosecutor," he said. "Interrogations are ongoing."

It was not immediately clear how many suspected rapists the Congolese authorities were interrogating.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, has a mandate to protect civilians and support operations by the Congolese army. There are more than 17,000 troops in Congo, a country the size of Western Europe. The United Nations previously told Congo that it would end support to two battalions linked to the Minova rapes if it did not try the soldiers involved. "MONUSCO is continuing to monitor progress in the judicial process," Dwyer said.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said in December that human rights abuses were reported in and around Minova between November 20 and November 30, including the 126 rapes and the killing of two civilians. Nesirky said at the time that two soldiers were charged with rape, while seven more were charged with looting.

Peacekeepers have been stretched thin by the M23 rebellion in the resource-rich eastern Congo. The U.N. Security Council last month established a special intervention force, which one senior council diplomat has said will be able to "search and destroy" the M23 rebels and other armed groups in the country. M23 began taking parts of eastern Congo early last year, accusing the government of failing to honor a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels' integration into the army, but they have since deserted. M23, which a U.N. expert panel said last year was backed by Rwanda, has struggled with infighting recently.

African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated accord in February aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern Congo and paving the way for the intervention force approved last month.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:13 pm 
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Angelina Jolie urges world to end rape in war
24 June 2013
By EDITH M. LEDERER



UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Angelina Jolie made her debut before the U.N.'s most powerful body as a special envoy for refugees Monday and urged the world's nations to make the fight against rape in war a top priority.

The actress told the Security Council that "hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of women, children and men have been raped in conflicts in our lifetimes." Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the Security Council has witnessed 67 years of wars and conflict since it was established "but the world has yet to take up warzone rape as a serious priority." "You set the bar," she told the council. "If the ... council sets rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority it will become one and progress will be made. If you do not, this horror will continue."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who presided over the meeting, stressed that "in conflicts in nearly every corner of the globe, rape is used systematically and ruthlessly, in the almost certain knowledge that there will be no consequences for the perpetrators."

Soon after Jolie spoke, the council adopted a legally-binding resolution demanding the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties to armed conflict. It noted that sexual violence can constitute a crime against humanity and a contributing act to genocide, called for improved monitoring of sexual violence in conflict, and urged the U.N. and donors to assist survivors. It was the broadest resolution adopted by the council on the sexual violence in conflict. Hague said Britain plans to follow-up by convening a global gathering during the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders in September to keep up the pressure for action.

Hague said at a discussion later at the Ford Foundation that his prime motivation for pressing for global action against sexual violence was the 1990s war in Bosnia, partly because of an adviser but also because of Jolie's 2011 film, "In the Land of Blood and Honey," about former lovers who end up on the opposite sides of the conflict. He said he arranged the film's British premiere at the Foreign Office and has been campaigning with Jolie since then, including a visit to Congo in March, "to move the stigma and the shame from the victim to the perpetrator." "The time has come for the world to take a strong and determined stand to make clear that the systematic use of rape as a weapon is not acceptable in the modern world and our objective is to change the entire global attitude to these issues," Hague said. Getting the whole world talking about sexual violence in conflict and the need to punish perpetrators not victims "will shift attitudes - maybe over a period of years, but we have begun," he said.

Jolie, who has traveled extensively in her role as goodwill ambassador, recalled several of the survivors she had met - the mother of a five-year-old girl raped outside a police station in Goma in eastern Congo, and a Syrian woman she spoke to in Jordan last week who asked to hide her name and face "because she knew that if she spoke out about the crimes against her she would be attacked again, and possibly killed."

"Let us be clear what we are speaking of: Young girls raped and impregnated before their bodies are able to carry a child, causing fistula," Jolie said, referring to an injury caused by violent rapes that tear apart the flesh separating the bladder and rectum from the vagina, leaving the girls unable to control their bowels or bladder. She continued: "Boys held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault their mothers and sisters. Women raped with bottles, wood branches and knives to cause as much damage as possible. Toddlers and even babies dragged from their homes, and violated."

Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, told the council that two weeks ago she visited Bosnia where an estimated 50,000 women were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the war, but only a handful of perpetrators have been prosecuted. Later, at the Ford Foundation, she said that on an African trip with Hague, she visited the village of Mambasa in eastern Congo's Ituri district where 11 babies aged 6 to 12 months had been raped, 59 children aged 1 to 3 years old had been raped and 182 girls aged 5 to 15 years old had been raped. "Who will rape a baby?," Bangura asked. "It means you want to wipe the community away. That's the only explanation you can have."

Jolie pleaded with the Security Council - and all countries - to implement the resolution and not let the issue drop. "Meet your commitments, debate this issue in your parliaments, mobilize people in your countries, and build it into all your foreign policy efforts," she urged. "Together, you can turn the tide of global opinion, shatter impunity and finally put an end to this abhorrence."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Jolie for being the voice of millions forced to flee their homes "and now for the many survivors of wartime rape whose bodies have been used as battlegrounds." He called on all leaders to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators "and be part of a global coalition of champions determined to break this evil."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:50 am 
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Most conflict-zone sex crimes are against children: charity
10 April 2013

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A M23 rebel soldier stands near children in Bunagana, Democratic Republic of Congo on March 7, 2013.

AFP - Save the Children on Wednesday urged action after releasing a report claiming that most rape and sexual abuse victims in many of the world's conflict zones were children.

The report, entitled "Crimes Against Children", cited data and testimonies from countries including Colombia, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The charity warned that programmes to help children who are victims of sexual crimes in war zones and post-conflict regions were massively underfunded.

"It is shocking that in conflict zones around the world children are being raped and abused at such an appalling rate," said Save the Children's Chief Executive Justin Forsyth. "Sexual violence is one of the hidden horrors of war and the damage it wreaks ruins lives. Even if they recover from the physical effects of their experiences, many victims carry the psychological scars of their ordeal for the rest of their lives, and are often cast out from society. Despite all this, there are huge gaps in funding for the work needed to protect children from these atrocious crimes and to respond to their needs," he added.

Image
Women sit in a rape care centre at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, November 30, 2009.

The issue will be on the agenda of the meeting of G8 foreign ministers this week. The report highlighted a study in post-civil war Liberia which found that 83 percent of victims of gender-related violence in 2011-12 were under the age of 17. Another investigation in post-conflict Sierra Leone found that more than 70 percent of sexual violence cases were committed against girls under 18.

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:40 am 
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South Africa lesbian raped with a toilet brush, murdered
1 July 2013
By Dan Littauer

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Duduzile Zozo, a young lesbian has been brutally murdered and raped with her body dumped in a township outside Johannesburg

A lesbian woman has been brutally raped with a toilet brush and murdered in what is believed to have been a hate crime in Ekurhuleni, South Africa.

The half-naked body of 26-year-old Duduzile Zozo was found in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, a township outside of Johannesburg, on Sunday morning, reported the Daily Sun.

LGBT activists have called upon South Africa’s government to act now against hate crime and asked US President Barack Obama, who is visiting the country, to raise the issue of the rise in hate crimes against gay people.

According to the police Zozo’s body was discovered with a toilet brush rammed into her vagina.

Zozo's grieving mother, Thuziwe Zozo, told the newspaper she suspects her daughter was murdered because of her sexuality. ‘She was a lesbian but she has never had any problems before. People loved and appreciated her,’ she said. In one of her final posts on Facebook on Friday, she wrote: ‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take, relationship we are afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make...’

Police stated they are investigating reports that Zozo was spotted in a tavern on Saturday night. Police Captain Godfrey Maditsi urged the public ‘to come forward with any information that could help put those responsible behind bars.’

Thulisle Msiza, Director of Ekurhuleni LGBTI, told Mambaonline: ‘It seems that as lesbians we cannot go anywhere. We cannot be ourselves. We have to hide ourselves, otherwise we get killed. We have to stay indoors – like caged animals. It’s like we are living in the apartheid era again and homosexuals are the ones that are being oppressed.’

The local municipality has seen number of brutal attacks on lesbian women. In April, the body of the out lesbian Patricia Mashigo (36), a mother of two children, was dumped at Daveyton township, after the woman appeared to have been stoned to death.

South Africa’s Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) two year old task force which aims ‘to address violence against LGBTI people’ has been recently criticized for doing too little to combat the country’s rising hate crimes. Although in a statement DOJ&CD stated their commitment for equality and ‘make an impact’, Eugene Brockman from the Gay Flag of South Africa said: ‘It’s very vague about when they are going to do things. They have had two years to do something.’

Junior Equality Mayema of People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) organization told Gay Star News: ‘This woman was killed in a heinous, brutal and grizzly way simply because of her sexuality. ‘The government must open a dialogue with cultural and religious leaders of this country about LGBT rights, so that the incitement to hate that motivates such crimes, is stopped. I am disappointed why US president Barack Obama didn't raise the topic of LGBT rights during his visit to South Africa; perhaps he is not well informed of what is happening here. Religion, customs and culture are rife with homophobia which also plagues the police. All these issues must be addressed before more people die from such heinous hate crimes that plague South Africa.’

Source: Gay Star News.

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