Human rights activists are calling for a change to Mauritanian law so that women and girls who have been raped will not be prosecuted for sexual relations outside marriage.
Rape survivors are reluctant to file complaints in the west African country in case they are then charged, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Adultery is known as “zina” and, in theory, is punishable by flogging, jail terms, or death by stoning if the offender is married or divorced. Mauritania does not as a rule carry out corporal punishments, so flogging and death by stoning can transmute into being imprisoned indefinitely.
One case cited by HRW involved a 15-year-old girl who was imprisoned after being repeatedly gang-raped by four men who held her captive for two weeks, because one of the men – whom she knew – said he would marry her.
In another case, a prosecutor was reported as asking a rape survivor: “If you didn’t consent, why didn’t you tell your parents?” When the survivor said she knew the man who raped her, the prosecutor said: “All the things you are saying are lies, you did this willingly.”
Government statistics are not freely available, so it is impossible to know how many people are in jail for zina, but girls as well as adults are thought to have been imprisoned for the “offence”.
“Women and girls should not run the risk of jail or further stigma for reporting sexual abuse,” said HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson. “To combat sexual violence, Mauritania should require law enforcement and public health systems to stop treating victims as suspects, support them in seeking justice and recovery, and prosecute the perpetrators.”
HRW called for the government to decriminalise and stop prosecuting and detaining people for zina, as well as to pass a law defining rape and criminalising all other forms of sexual violence.
The Mauritanian government responded at length to the report, saying that most incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence were against minors or adolescents. “Perpetrators are often individuals close to the victims or family members who exploit the innocence and immaturity of the above mentioned people to sexually abuse them,” the government statement said.
Life is not easy for many Mauritanian women and girls. The prevalence of female genital mutilation is 67%, some ethnic groups see domestic violence as a sign that a husband loves his wife, and many girls are sent away to “fat camps” in the desert to be force-fed, so that they put on large amounts of weight and fit Mauritanian notions of beauty.
Africa’s ‘youngest billionaire’ Dewji abducted in Tanzania
The man said to be Africa’s youngest billionaire has been kidnapped by masked gunmen in Tanzania’s main city Dar es Salaam, police say.
Mohammed Dewji, 43, was abducted outside a swanky hotel gym where he was going for his routine morning workout.
Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident and two of the abductors were believed to be foreign nationals, police added.
The motive for Mr Dewji’s abduction is still unclear.
Financial magazine Forbes puts his wealth at $1.5bn (£980m), and has described him as Tanzania’s only billionaire.
In a 2017 report, it said Mr Dewji was Africa’s youngest billionaire.
Mr Dewji is also a major sponsor of one of Tanzania’s biggest football teams, Simba.
He promised in 2016 to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes, Forbes said.
Mr Dewji, locally known as Mo, is credited with turning his family business from a wholesale and retail enterprise into a pan-African conglomerate, reports the BBC’s Athuman Mtulya from Dar es Salaam.
His company, METL, has interests in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in at least six African states.
Mr Dewji served as a ruling party MP for a decade until 2015. He told the BBC in a 2014 interview that this possibly made it easier for him to meet top politicians, but it did not give him an unfair advantage, as other businessmen also had access to them.
‘I felt the bus swerve from one side to the other.’ How 55 people died in Kenya bus crash
Fifty-five people were killed when their bus left the road, rolled down a slope and crashed in western Kenya, an official said Wednesday, with the roof of the bus ripped off.
“The information we have is that the driver lost control,” Kericho County police commander James Mugera told The Associated Press.
“I felt the bus swerve from one side to the other and then I found myself in the middle of nowhere,” passenger Joseph Obonyo told the AP. “There was a body near me and people were being thrown out of the bus, flying out of it like airplanes, and where we were thrown that was it. … I am only able to say that God saved me and I am truly thankful.”
The bus had been traveling from the capital, Nairobi, to the western town of Kakamega when the accident occurred around 4 a.m., Rift Valley regional police boss Francis Munyambu said.
The bus was not licensed to operate at night and its owners will face charges, regional traffic police boss Zero Arome said. “It is very unfortunate what has happened and action will be taken,” he said.
According to government statistics, around 3,000 Kenyans die every year in road accidents. In the 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the World Health Organization said Kenyan roads are among the most dangerous in the world, claiming around 29.1 lives per 100,000 people.
Murder of Nigerian: South African court grants 8 alleged killer-cops bail
The eight South African police officers arrested in connection with alleged brutal murder of a Nigerian in 2017 have been released on bail by that country’s Magistrate Court.
Adetola Olubajo, President of the Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA), confirmed the latest development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Pretoria on Monday.
Olubajo said that South Africa’s Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID) had indicted the eight cops for the torture and murder of Mr Badmus Olalekan Ibrahim on Oct. 10, 2017.
“The eight police officers (six men and two women) were released Monday on bail of R3,000 (about N72,000) each among other conditions by the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate Court.
“One of the bail conditions is that the released police officers should not in any way interfere with witnesses.
“The eight police officers made application for bail at the magistrate court today (Oct. 8) with three lawyers representing them,” he told NAN.
Olubajo said that IPID, an independent unit outside the South African Police Department, had opposed the bail application through the IPID Principal Investigating Officer, Mr Tulani Makagula.
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He said the magistrate granted the wish of the defendants and adjourned the matter until Nov. 13 for further hearing.
“The court premises and room were filled with members of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, who were in solidarity with their members indicted for torture and murder of Ibrahim.
“The police union have thrown their weight behind their accused members, pledging legal support for them.
According to unofficial sources, up to 800,000 Nigerians mostly young people reside in South Africa.
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