Sunday, November 30, 2014

Teen’s gang rape in Addis Ababa sounds alarm | Al Jazeera America

More than 70 percent of Ethiopian women face physical and sexual violence
Hanna Lalango, 16, died on Nov. 1, from a brutal gang rape after five men kidnapped and held her captive for several days in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Hanna attended a private high school in the city’s Ayer Tena neighborhood.
On Oct. 1, the day of her kidnapping, Hanna, the youngest of six siblings, “complained about not feeling well” before she left for school. "She was a typical young girl ... a timid and respectful child," Hanna’s brother told Blen Sahilu, who first posted the story on Facebook, as part of the online #JusticeForHanna campaign. “She was really nice.”
Hanna reportedly left school around 4 p.m. local time and got on a taxi that already had a couple of passengers. It is unclear at what point Hanna knew she was being kidnapped. But the culprits allegedly threatened the teen with knife and took her to one of the suspect's house. Reports vary but Hanna’s father told the local media she was raped for at least five days.
Hanna’s kidnappers had other plans. They apparently contacted her sisters by phone, perhaps to kidnap them as well. They met the sisters at an arranged place, driving the same minibus, and reportedly asked them to come along. When they refused, the men drove off, exclaiming, “You won't see your sister then!” A few days later, the suspects left Hanna to die in an abandoned area in the outskirts of the city. Hanna was found unconscious on Oct. 11 and taken to hospital.
“My phone rang 11 days after Hanna disappeared, it was the voice I missed,” Hanna’s father told the U.S.-based Admas Radio last week. “She was weak and exhausted.” For the next few days the family spent going between various referral hospitals and waiting to be admitted. Among other injuries, Hanna suffered from fistula and lost her battle 19 days after she was found. She reportedly identified three of the five suspects from her hospital bed.
On Nov. 19, police brought five suspects before the First Appearance Court in Addis Ababa, according to local reports. During a hearing attended by journalists and women right's groups, one of the suspects pleaded innocence and all five denied the allegations, telling the court their initial confessions were obtained under duress. The police denied torturing the suspects and asked for 14 days to conduct further investigation.
Hanna could have been saved. The police were slow to investigate the case as a sexual crime. The hospitals failed to treat Hanna’s case with the outmost urgency the situation demanded. I broke down in tears as I read about Hanna’s ordeal. I tried to imagine what she might have felt as her captors took turns to satisfy their desires. I imagined how helpless she might have felt. I imagined Hanna worrying and speculating about how to deal with this tragedy or even tell her parents. Hanna spent days on the streets after suffering a brutal gang rape. It took her few days to call her parents and seek help. It remains unclear whether this was planned or a random incident. But Hanna’s story is far from isolated.

Guilt and sexual trauma

Ethiopia is a deeply patriarchal, closed and conservative country. It has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. More than 70 percent of Ethiopian women face physical and sexual violence, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO). Seven percent of girls surveyed by WHO reported experiencing sexual abuse before the age of 15. Seventeen percent said their first sexual experience was forced. The country also has one of the highest rates of bridal kidnapping or marriage by abduction.
Most women and girls keep incidents of rape and sexual abuse secret to avoid societal shunning. About 39 percent never talk to anyone about the violence and the violations they endure, according to WHO. Even fewer women ask authorities for help. Some 53 percent feared repercussions and threats from their partners, while another 37 percent “considered the violence ‘normal’ or ‘not serious,’” the WHO report said.
Worse still, most gender-based violence is solved through family arbitration and socially sanctioned compensation for the victim’s family. As a result, women often don’t feel the need to go public with their story. Therefore, it is not surprising that Hanna’s kidnappers reportedly sent “elders” seeking reconciliation with her parents even as Hanna clung to her last breath in a hospital bed.
The daily ordeal of women in Addis Ababa consists of finding another route to school to escape from the guy who threatened to kill them or maim their face.
Hanna’s story took me back to Addis Ababa, where people walk past you even when they can clearly see that you are in danger. It is a city where the police yell at the victim for running away from a man forcing her into an unwanted relationship or sexual intimacy.
“Addis Ababa is a jungle, be careful,” a friend advised me when I first moved to the city. It didn’t take me long to understand what she meant. In the 10 years that I lived in the city, I learned to cope with endless gazes and widely accepted catcalling. Addis Ababa is one of the country’s few major metropolises. To be sure, city women fare relatively better than their rural counterparts: They drive new cars, they are fashionistas, they hang out at upscale cafes along the famed Bole road, they watch American movies at the city’s upscale Enda Mall and Movie Theater (enjoying popcorn), and they go to sauna and spa every weekend.
But this city of beautiful women has another less known, darker face. In fact, the city’s cosmopolitan character gives the impression that Addis women don’t deal with sexual violence. Hanna's heart-wrenching story also reminded me of an incident that I will never forget.
I was a young lecturer at Addis Ababa University, then in my early 20s. One afternoon, a colleague from the university invited me for lunch. He took me to a place he said was his favorite near Arat Kilo neighborhood. The restaurant was located a walking distance of off the main road and looked like a place no self-respecting man would take a girl on the first date — a hole-in-the-wall in a residential neighborhood on a barely paved road. After we ate lunch, my colleague went to the bar and whispered something to one of the servers, and returned to ask me to go to the backside for "more privacy.” By then I was growing suspicious of his mannerisms and refused the request. First he tried to persuade me and then he reached and pulled my arms to force me to go with him.
The restaurant owner and customers stood puzzled as I struggled to get away from him. To cover up his brazen acts, he started pretending as if we were married or in some kind of relationship. One of the guys at the restaurant offered to help. I asked him to find a police at which point the restaurant’s owner insisted that I leave. “I don't want police to come here and ask me to be a witness,” he said. I told him I wouldn’t leave until I know that I am safe.
Shortly afterwards, the gentleman returned with two young policemen. For a minute I felt safe. I told the cops what happened. “It is all your fault,” one of the officers exclaimed. “Why would you go for lunch with him unless you are interested.” I felt insulted and humiliated in front of the restaurant’s patrons. I made it home safe that day but said nothing of my colleague who continued to threaten to get me fired for years unless I slept with him.
As a counselor at AAU, my students came to me with their problems thinking I was better of. I was older than most, but my lot was not better. I received no protection from the university or law enforcement. My students told of sleepless nights worrying about how they would make it to class the next day amid men who wake up early in the morning to do nothing but harass and intimidate them.
In contrast with those in rural areas, a woman in Addis maybe educated and assertive but they are not protected. Their daily ordeal consists of finding another route to school to escape from the guy who threatened to kill them or maim their face. It means making up stories to tell your parents about the bruises on your nose after a boyfriend punched you, or a redeye or a bruise on your chin from a guy you refused to date. It is an untold story of countless women who live with the trauma and guilt of sexual violence. There is simply no good reason or justification for a man to put his hand on a woman. And no women should go through this in the 21st century. But there are few guarantees.

A wakeup call

Hanna’s story received scant attention from the government-run media. Hanna’s story saw the light of day thanks to social media. So far only a handful of Ethiopian outlets carried the story, offering a brief account of Hanna’s kidnapping and rape. Last week, the Ministry of Women's Affairs held a press conference and pledged to assist with the investigation. However, the Ministry is a political instrument for the country's rulers and lacks the power and necessary resources to address the pervasive violence against women in Ethiopia. The officials spend more time ballyhooing the government’s record on gender equality to donors while ignoring the normalized sexual and physical violence against women. Independent human rights work is severely restricted. There are no community-based initiatives that can deal with the culturally sanctioned harassment, abuse and discrimination against women.
Hanna’s horrific death should serve as a wakeup call for all Ethiopian women. Sexual and physical violence does not discriminate. Educated or not, teenage or fully-grown women — every woman in Ethiopia is a potential victim. As Sahilu rightly noted, “rape is not about sex,” it is about traditional notions of power. Our society shames and disempowers victims while the rapists are let off the hook under the cover of culture and traditionalism. Nothing could ever bring back Hanna but her death is an opportune moment for Ethiopian women to unite and fight to end gender-based violence. It is the least we can do to honor Hanna.
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The South African Women Standing Up To Sexual Violence

Lebanese man arrested for kidnapping, raping Ethiopian woman | News , Lebanon News | THE DAILY STAR

BEIRUT: The Internal Security Forces arrested Sunday a Lebanese man who raped an Ethiopian woman after kidnapping her from the area of Dawra near Beirut, a statement said Monday.
The suspect, 31, identified by his initials M.A., abducted the Ethiopian woman Sunday after impersonating a security official.
He told the woman she was being detained for not carrying legal documents, and transported her to the northern town of Chekka where he raped her, and took naked pictures and videos of her.
The suspect also made her call her friends to send prepaid mobile credit valued at $250 to his mobile phone in return for deleting the videos.
The suspect admitted to the crime, the statement said.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Modern slavery sees up to 36mn Nigeria and Ethiopia appear to be major source immigration — RT News

Reuters / Desmond Boylan

Reuters / Desmond Boylan
Nearly 36 million people across the world are involved in some form of slavery, from forced labor to forced marriage, a survey by a global human rights organization has revealed, describing modern slavery as a "hidden crime" and "big business."
Modern slavery contributes to the production of at least 122 goods from 58 countries worldwide, according to the report by the Australian anti-slavery campaign group Walk Free. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates the illicit profits of forced labor to be $150 billion a year.

"From the Thai fisherman trawling fishmeal, to the Congolese boy mining diamonds, from the Uzbek child picking cotton, to the Indian girl stitching footballs, from the women who sew dresses, to the cocoa pod pickers, their forced labor is what we consume. Modern slavery is big business,"
 Walk Free states in its report, claiming it has found evidence of slavery in all 167 countries it surveyed.
The 10 countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery as a proportion of population are Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic.

For the second year running, India has turned out to be home to the greatest number of slaves, with over 14 million people in its population of 1.25 billion labeled as victims of slavery, spanning from prostitution to forced labor and making up nearly 40 percent of people in slavery worldwide.
Reuters / Nozim Kalandarov

Reuters / Nozim Kalandarov

The other nine countries with largest estimated numbers of people in modern slavery are China (3.2 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), Russia (1.05 million), Nigeria (834,200), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (762,900), Indonesia (714,100), Bangladesh (680,900) and Thailand (475,300). Taken together, these 10 countries account for 71 percent of the total estimated 35.8 million people living in modern slavery these days.
Nigeria and Ethiopia appear to be major source countries for migration overseas. Women and children from Nigeria are trafficked for sexual exploitation through organized crime rings to Europe.

"In Italy in particular, some Nigerian women are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage in the sex industry, with little hope of clearing €50-60,000 [$65-75,000] debts owed to their exploiters," the authors of the report say.

For Ethiopians, lucrative employment opportunities in the Middle East draw thousands to migrate for jobs in the construction and domestic work sectors. However, once in the destination countries, they are subjected to harsh working conditions instead.

The authors of the report assert that the strength of organized crime has aggravated the problem. People are lured into accepting tempting job offers overseas, which instead turn out to be sexual exploitation and forced labor.
Reuters / Jayanta Dey

Reuters / Jayanta Dey

Uzbekistan, a Central Asian nation whose economy mostly relies on production and export of cotton, has the highest prevalence of people enslaved in the region. Almost 4 percent of the Uzbek population (approximately 1,201,400 people) is subjected to slavery during the annual cotton harvest, the survey has showed.

Qatar, the small Gulf state known to engage significant numbers of foreign workers, has an estimated 1.4 percent of the population involved in modern slavery.

All countries, with the exception of North Korea, have domestic legislation which criminalizes some form of modern slavery. Among the countries with the weakest responses to modern slavery are Iran, Syria, Iraq, Eritrea (a country in the Horn of Africa), the Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo and Uzbekistan.
The survey has showed that conflict had a huge impact on the spread of slavery.

"Statistical testing confirms the relevance of modern slavery to conflict situations as we have seen this year in Syria and the horrors perpetrated by the terrorist group Islamic State,"
 it reported.

For the first time, governments were also rated on the adequacy of their response to slavery.

According to Walk Free, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Britain, Georgia and Austria had the strongest responses to the problem.

Ireland and Iceland sit at 166 and 167 in the 2014 Index with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery

Monday, November 17, 2014

Andargachew Tsege faces death penalty in Ethiopia -BBC

London man Andy Tsege faces death penalty in Ethiopia

3 hours ago
The family of a north London man who is facing the death penalty in Ethiopia has said the government should be doing more to help get him home.
Andy Tsege, from Islington, who opposes the Ethiopian authorities, was seized in June and has been in solitary confinement ever since, his family says.
The Foreign Office says he is not being held "illegally".
BBC London's Charlotte Franks spoke to Mr Tsege's partner Yemi Hailemariam, Maya Foa from human rights organisation Reprieve, and Andy's sister Bezu Tsege.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Family of dead maid accepts blood money |

Four men, who were sentenced to death for rape and murder, were bailed
  • By Aghaddir Ali, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:00 November 10, 2014
Sharjah: Four men facing the death penalty for raping, killing and dismembering an Ethiopian maid five years ago have been bailed after blood money was paid to the victim’s family.
The Sharjah Appeals Court dropped the death penalty, according to a ruling announced on Monday by presiding Judge Abdullah Yousif Al Shamisi,
The court reversed the death penalty and reduced the prison sentence to three years each.
The Emirati men, who have now spent more than five years in jail, are now out on bail, according to their lawyer
Salem Obaid Bin Sahoo, the men’s lawyer, told Gulf News that the ruling announced on Monday follows payment of Dh100,000 by the convicted men.
“We received a pardon from Ethopian authorities through the Ethiopian consulate in Dubai and we were told that the victim’s family had accepted the blood money and dropped the demand for the death penalty,” he said.
“The amount of Dh100,000 has been deposited in the safe of the court and they were bailed on this basis,” he said.
The approval by the family is a complete reversal from its original refusal to pardon the killers during the early days of the case.
In 2010, the Sharjah Court of First Instance issued the death penalty to A.M., 35, S.R., 32, H.A., 33, and A.J., 30, for the gruesome murder in what became known as the “Al Dhaid murder”.
The original verdict was handed down by Judge Yaqoub Al Hammadi and two other judges on the bench, Hussain Al Asoufi and Ahmad Awdh.
Sharjah Police had earlier said it was one of the gravest crimes of its kind as it included rape, alcohol and murder.
According to court records, the four kidnapped an Ethiopian maid in Khor Fakkan, taped her mouth, pushed her into their Land Cruiser and took her to the desert in August 2009.
They raped her in Khor Fakkan, dragged her into their vehicle again, before driving to Al Dhaid mountains where the act was repeated.
Prosecutors said after raping her in Al Dhaid the men ran their SUV over her head and battered her with rocks before attempting to hide her body.
According to the police, in 2004, one of the killers had raped and killed a 13-year-old Pakistani girl with two other accomplices. They were all sentenced to death, but he was forgiven by the victim’s father.
Cases involving capital punishment automatically go to appeal.
Representatives from the Ethiopian consul attended the session and followed up the case with the court on the behalf of the family.
The next hearing is scheduled for December 22.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Family of Upper Holloway man tell David Cameron: ‘Do more to free kidnapped Andy’ | Islington Tribune

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege with Yemi and children
Published: 7 November, 2014

THE partner of a British man kidnapped by the Ethiopian government in June and facing execution has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of not doing enough to free him because of the African nation’s central role in the fight against terrorism.
Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, 59, a father of a 15-year-old daughter and ­seven-year-old twins who lives in Upper Holloway, was “rendered” by the Ethiopians while travelling through Yemen on his way to Eritrea in the summer. 
He has not been seen since, except in a brief appearance on Ethiopian television in July in which he confessed to crimes. According to human rights organisation Reprieve, screaming can be heard in the background of the video.
Mr Tsege, a naturalised British citizen who has lived in London since 1979, is a respected and outspoken critic of the Ethiopian regime and a member of the exiled opposition group Ginbot 7. He has spoken about Ethiopia’s poor human rights record in front of the US Congress and the EU’s Committee on Human Rights.
The jazz fan was on his way to an opposition conference in Eritrea.
The UK Foreign Office has established that, after being taken in Yemen, he has since been removed to a prison in Ethiopia, but his exact location is unknown. The Ethiopians have so far denied any consular access to Mr Tsege, except for one visit.
His partner, Yemi Hailemariam, told the Tribune that she believes the UK government is not putting enough pressure on Ethiopia, a key ally in the war of terror. 
“He came here in 1979 as a political refugee from the military dictatorship,” she said. “In 1991 the government changed, so he went back and was working with them for a couple of years. Then he realised they were no better so he returned to the UK.
“He was going to Eritrea transiting through Yemen on June  23 when he was kidnapped at Saana airport and rendered to Ethiopia. We are very, very worried about him.” 
She added: “The UK has bilateral agreements with Ethiopia, which receives more UK aid than any ­other country. The UK doesn’t want to upset Ethiopia as it is the only ‘friendly’ nation in that area. The Ethiopians passed the death penalty in absentia in 2009, and in 2012 sentenced him to life in prison. There is no clemency, there is nothing at all. 
“Ethiopia is an elected dictatorship, a repressive regime, but a staunch ally in the UK and US war on terror. It’s next to Yemen, next to Somalia. The UK is not applying the right kind of pressure. They are not outraged. They are just politely asking for consular access.”
A spokeswoman for the Ethiopian embassy said that Mr Tsege had been charged with terrorist offences for trying to overthrow the government. But Reprieve countered that Ginbot 7 is a “peaceful political opposition organisation dedicated to the promotion of democracy”.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We remain deeply concerned about Andargachew Tsege’s welfare and our lack of consular access to him since August 11. We continue to seek consular access, and are raising this at the highest levels.”