Daily Archives: February 18, 2018

Gang Rapes in Mali Prompt Anger, Calls for Reform

Two gang rapes, including one filmed and shared widely on social media, have shocked the nation of Mali.

The first case involved four assailants aged 16 to 25 who took turns raping a 14-year-old girl while she pleaded for help. When video of the incident began circulating on social media, it drew anger across Mali and an outcry from human rights groups.

The second case involved three assailants. Both took place in the capital city, Bamako.

Malian authorities have arrested 14 people involved in the two rapes and a man involved in a separate pedophilia case. The suspects include the four assailants seen on the video, authorities said.

‘Time to be tough’

But advocates say arrests aren’t enough. They want legal reforms and cultural changes.

This has been going on for a long time, said Mahamane Mariko, who leads la Convention des Reformateurs Pour L’alternance de la Justice, a group advocating for political and judicial reform. But in the society that we live in, in most cases women do not voice their rape because it shameful.

Mamadou Z. Sidibe, national deputy director of the police, said authorities need to crack down on sexual violence.

It’s time to be tough, zero tolerance as they say, he told VOA’s Bambara service. It is about protecting the ethics of our youth. We want to prevent these behaviors from becoming a social phenomenon.

Widespread gender-based violence

At least 300 women are victims of sexual violence each year in Mali, says Bamako-based Women in Law and Development in Africa, citing local police records. But the group believes the actual number is much higher, and few of the cases end in a conviction.

The problem has worsened since a political crisis in 2012 rendered much of northern Mali lawless and occupied by extremist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

In 2014, human rights groups filed a complaint in a Bamako court on behalf of 80 women and girls who were victims of rape and abuse. The complaint called for a full-scale investigation of crimes against humanity during the 2012-2013 occupation of northern Mali. At that time, allegations of serious misconduct, including rape, by U.N. peacekeepers in Mali also came to light.

Issues of violence against women were brought to the fore again in late December 2017 when a 27-year-old receptionist in the office of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was found murdered at work. Police suspect her husband.

Why has it taken so long for Malian authorities to take stronger action against rape?

We must see the crime before we can fight it, Sidibe said. And the difficulty is the silence of the victims and their relatives who do not have the courage to come forward. Families close their eyes and prefer to keep quiet on a rape case because they think, in keeping quiet, they protect the honor of the victim.

Advocates say the rape that was shared across social media proves there is still a long way to go in solving the problem of violence against women and girls.

The act that they did, by raping a young girl, filming it and posting it on social media, shows that this is not a country we are living in, that we are in a jungle, said Diakite Kadidia Fofana, president of Collectif des Amazones, one of the largest women’s associations in Mali.

Many associations are standing up for this cause and calling for the proper punishment to be applied. They have ruined her life. They should know that anyone who does a horrible act like that should be severely punished. That’s what we are fighting for.

Source: Voice of America

Gang Rapes in Mali Prompt Anger, Calls for Reform

Two gang rapes, including one filmed and shared widely on social media, have shocked the nation of Mali.

The first case involved four assailants aged 16 to 25 who took turns raping a 14-year-old girl while she pleaded for help. When video of the incident began circulating on social media, it drew anger across Mali and an outcry from human rights groups.

The second case involved three assailants. Both took place in the capital city, Bamako.

Malian authorities have arrested 14 people involved in the two rapes and a man involved in a separate pedophilia case. The suspects include the four assailants seen on the video, authorities said.

‘Time to be tough’

But advocates say arrests aren’t enough. They want legal reforms and cultural changes.

This has been going on for a long time, said Mahamane Mariko, who leads la Convention des Reformateurs Pour L’alternance de la Justice, a group advocating for political and judicial reform. But in the society that we live in, in most cases women do not voice their rape because it shameful.

Mamadou Z. Sidibe, national deputy director of the police, said authorities need to crack down on sexual violence.

It’s time to be tough, zero tolerance as they say, he told VOA’s Bambara service. It is about protecting the ethics of our youth. We want to prevent these behaviors from becoming a social phenomenon.

Widespread gender-based violence

At least 300 women are victims of sexual violence each year in Mali, says Bamako-based Women in Law and Development in Africa, citing local police records. But the group believes the actual number is much higher, and few of the cases end in a conviction.

The problem has worsened since a political crisis in 2012 rendered much of northern Mali lawless and occupied by extremist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

In 2014, human rights groups filed a complaint in a Bamako court on behalf of 80 women and girls who were victims of rape and abuse. The complaint called for a full-scale investigation of crimes against humanity during the 2012-2013 occupation of northern Mali. At that time, allegations of serious misconduct, including rape, by U.N. peacekeepers in Mali also came to light.

Issues of violence against women were brought to the fore again in late December 2017 when a 27-year-old receptionist in the office of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was found murdered at work. Police suspect her husband.

Why has it taken so long for Malian authorities to take stronger action against rape?

We must see the crime before we can fight it, Sidibe said. And the difficulty is the silence of the victims and their relatives who do not have the courage to come forward. Families close their eyes and prefer to keep quiet on a rape case because they think, in keeping quiet, they protect the honor of the victim.

Advocates say the rape that was shared across social media proves there is still a long way to go in solving the problem of violence against women and girls.

The act that they did, by raping a young girl, filming it and posting it on social media, shows that this is not a country we are living in, that we are in a jungle, said Diakite Kadidia Fofana, president of Collectif des Amazones, one of the largest women’s associations in Mali.

Many associations are standing up for this cause and calling for the proper punishment to be applied. They have ruined her life. They should know that anyone who does a horrible act like that should be severely punished. That’s what we are fighting for.

Source: Voice of America

Chinese New Year Skit Sparks Backlash over Relationship with Africa

The Chinese government’s annual New Year’s Gala, televised to millions of households across the mainland, has drawn global criticism for its offensive caricatures and a story line about Africans’ admiration for China.

The 13-minute segment featured several dozen African actors, a Chinese co-host and a Chinese actor dressed in blackface. Several actors were also dressed as animals, including an actor from Cote d’Ivoire in a monkey costume.

Playing to stereotypes

In recent years, a range of companies have faced criticism for insensitive and, at times, overtly racist portrayals of black people in their advertisements.

These ads often portray light skin as normal and dark skin as unclean, or they associate black people with monkeys, both tropes with deep roots in American advertising.

In October, Dove dropped an ad in which a black woman removes her shirt and reveals a white woman underneath.

Earlier this year, Swedish clothing company H&M drew ire for an ad with a black child wearing a sweatshirt with coolest monkey in the jungle printed on the front.

And a Chinese advertisement for detergent that shows an Asian woman push an African painter inside a washing machine, only to emerge as an Asian actor, suggesting a transformation from dirty and unattractive to clean and desirable, was widely condemned.

Government-sanctioned

The Chinese Spring Festival Gala, broadcast on the state-owned China Central Television network to millions of households across China, is different. The Communist Party of China produces and vets the four-hour broadcast. It’s a chance for the central government to reinforce key messages about domestic and foreign policies.

The controversial skit, set in Kenya, begins with an African-themed dance set to “Waka Waka” (This Time for Africa) by Colombian singer Shakira, a song that prompted controversy in its own right when FIFA picked it as the theme for its 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in lieu of music by an African artist.

In the New Year’s skit, the Chinese-built railway linking Mombasa and Nairobi has just opened, and a railway trainer, played by the gala’s Chinese co-host, compliments a group of African train attendants on their command of Chinese.

The trainer explains that he’s to marry his Chinese fiancee later that day, but a young African woman � another train attendant � ropes him into pretending they’re in love to get out of a blind date set up by her mother, played by Chinese actress Lou Naiming, who appears in blackface as a Kenyan mother trying to find a husband for her young daughter.

When the groom’s older brother arrives, he cracks a joke about African transportation. When I got off the plane, I rented an African public bike [a giraffe], his brother said, pointing to an actor dressed as a giraffe.

When the trainer’s Chinese bride arrives, the African attendant is forced to tell her mother that she lied to get out of the blind date.

Backlash

The skit drew a prompt backlash on social media, with viewers in and out of China expressing astonishment and disgust. Hansi Lo Wang, a correspondent with National Public Radio (NPR), called out the racial stereotypes.

Viewers in China expressed shame at the portrayals and regret that their country had perpetrated negative stereotypes.

The sketch, which relies greatly upon the differences in language and cultural norms, is usually one of the most anticipated programs every year. This year, for the first time ever, foreign actors took part in the sketch.

Beyond its overt caricatures, the skit reflected Chinese ideals of hard work and industriousness. By showing that Africans aspire to the traits Chinese hold in high esteem, the Chinese government reinforced the value of Chinese foreign investment in Africa.

In the skit, the young woman makes clear why she doesn’t want to get married.

I want to go to China to study. I want to be just like a Chinese person. I’m going to roll up my sleeves, work hard and make the whole world just like me, she tells her mother, played by Lou.

That line drew applause and cheers from the live audience.

It’s an appealing message for a Chinese audience that might be skeptical about its country’s involvement in the development of other nations at a time when significant challenges remain at home, especially around the country’s ongoing struggle with pollution and air quality.

Infrastructure in Africa

The skit centers around the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, a $4 billion Chinese-built infrastructure project in Kenya. The Kenyan project is one of many large-scale African infrastructure projects financed and developed by China. It’s one of several railways connecting landlocked African cities to busy ports and promises to facilitate exports back to China.

At the end of the CCTV skit, the mother says that a Chinese doctor once saved her life, and now the Chinese are helping build Africa’s infrastructure and cultivating her daughter into a better person.

I love Chinese people! I love China, the mother said.

That message may appeal to the Chinese government, whose focus on building soft power requires positive relationships with countries with much smaller economies and far less global clout.

But for many, including Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, the New Year’s portrayal missed the mark.

China’s President Xi Jinping likes to talk about his vision for a new, just world order. It’s hard to see that happening when his own state media broadcasts a vision of racism � and then censors criticism of it, Richardson said.

Source: Voice of America

Statement on the postponement of Mining Charter application

Following the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Friday, 16 February 2018, the Presidency has been in discussion with the Chamber of Mines to resolve the impasse over the mining charter and to facilitate a process of developing a New Mining Charter that all stakeholders can support and defend.

The Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, has agreed jointly with the Department of Mineral Resources to postpone its court application in respect of the Reviewed Mining Charter, which was due to be heard in the High Court on 19 to 21 February. The postponement serves to allow parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution.

The Presidency and the Chamber of Mines have approached the seven other applicants, as well as two amici curiae, namely the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity, to advise them of this development, and have encouraged them to similarly postpone their applications.

This is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment during the State of the Nation Address to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.

By working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision, I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy, President Ramaphosa said.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa: South African National Defence Force Inter-Faith Service

Speaking notes of the President of the Republic of South African and the Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) during an interfaith church service in prepareation for the marking of the Armed Forces Day, Kimberley

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,

Premier of the Province of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas

Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Makhudu Gulube ,

Chief of South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke,

Generals, Admirals, Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers,

Military Veterans,

Religious Leaders,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a tremendous honour to join our nation in affirming the undying bonds between our people and our national pride, the South African National Defence Force.

On Wednesday � 21st February 2018 � our nation will observe South Africa’s Armed Forces Day.

The marking of the 21st February allows our nation never to forget the heroic sacrifices of our soldiers who died that fateful morning when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel.

It has become a day that allows us to remember all men and women who paid the ultimate prize in defence of freedom, peace, and justice.

It is a day that reminds us that blood was spilled by countless South Africans and freedom fighters to guarantee us our freedom and human rights.

It is a reminder that brave men and women continue to put their lives on the line to secure and hard-won freedoms and defend our Constitution.

This year, these celebrations carry a profound and special meaning for our nation.

They occur at a time where our defence force has once again confirmed the depth of the roots of our democracy and the flourishing of Constitutional order.

They occur as our nation celebrates the change of leadership in the governing party without any appetite for senseless bloodshed because our Defence Force is led by wise women and men who abide to the ideal of the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.

They are even more significant because they occur in a year when South Africa commemorates the centenary birthday of our first Commander in Chief, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

It is this SANDF � the People’s National Defence Force � that our founding father, President Nelson Mandela envisaged as a non-partisan unifier and defender of all South Africans.

As its first Commander-in-Chief, President Mandela moulded the SANDF into a law-abiding institution that upholds the Constitution of the Republic in defence of its people.

President Mandela left us a coherent SANDF whose task is to diligently safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic, build peace, and support development on the African continent.

He left us a National Defence Force that is a true microcosm of our diverse society.

This is an SANDF that inspires confidence for a better, more secure tomorrow.

A truly national defence force for all South Africans that guarantees that its tanks and guns will never again roll into townships and suburbs to fight against the very same people it was established to protect.

We pay tribute to the men and women that wear the SANDF uniform and bear arms on behalf of South Africans.

Your patriotism is felt throughout our country through community initiatives like Koba Tlala.

We look to you to remain the disciplined soldiers and agents of rural development through Koba Tlala, local procurement, small business support, skills development, and enterprise development.

Thank you for lending a hand in the renewal and development of our beloved country.

We applaud the major role that our Department of Defence is playing in actively promoting our Defence Force as a career of choice.

We are aware of your various skills and training opportunities targeting our young people.

Government is committed to support these initiatives as part of strategies to absorb our young people into training and employment opportunities.

As I mentioned in the State of the Nation Address, I will soon be visiting the leadership and management of our national departments to see how well we can work together to advance the imperatives of service delivery, training, and job creation.

As Chief Commander of the South African National Defence Force, I will be prioritising my engagement with the Department.

Since I will be in parliament on Wednesday for the Budget Vote Speech, I have assigned the Minister of Defence and General Solly Choke to lead the celebrations of the Armed Forces Day.

I wish you well and thank you once more for protecting our country and for defending its sovereignty.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa