#037: Women at Work, Babies for Sale

  • Women at work, babies for sale

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Last week, the Nigerian police rescued 19 pregnant women and 4 children from "baby factories" in the country's economic capital, Lagos, where the women were held with the purpose of birthing children for sale. According to the police, male babies were sold for NGN 500,000 ($1,400), while female babies were sold for NGN 300,000 ($830).  

The young women, ranging from ages 15 to 28, were first lured to Lagos with promises of work as domestic workers, but were then abducted, often raped, and forced into child-bearing for sale. Since the police raid, they have been rehoused and are undergoing a rehabilitation programme. Two untrained nurses who worked in the baby factories have been arrested, while the "Madam" in charge of the entire operation remains on the run. 

Read for: "Another victim told the BBC that she was held against her will and prevented from leaving when she discovered her baby was going to be sold. Another said that her phone and money were taken from her and she was told she could not leave the home to seek medical help"


  • Thirty Three Percent

In line with Rwanda's constitutional directive to ensuring at least 30% female representation in decision-making levels of government, women now hold 33% of mayoral seats in the country. Since sweeping the mayoral by-elections in late September, women now occupy 10 of 30 district mayoral seats across the country.

According to the Minister for Local Government, this has been the "highest ever" level of female representation in district mayorship. Rwanda remains a model of how affirmative action can effectively ensure increased female participation in government at all levels.

Read for: "The development means women now occupy 33 percent of the 30 district mayoral seats nationwide, up from 23.3 percent early September, a new feat in the country's efforts to ensure gender equality"


  • Article 490

Moroccan journalist, Hajar Raissouni, has been sentenced to one year in jail for allegedly having sex outside of marriage and having an abortion. Under Article 490 of Morocco's penal code, pre-marital sex and abortions (unless the mother's life is in danger) are illegal. According to activists, Ms. Raissouni is being targeted for criticizing the government and writing for Akhbar Al Yaoum, an independent paper which speaks out against the state.

Ms. Raissouni denies having an abortion and insists that she visited a clinic to get treatment for a blood clot. According to the prosecution, the gynecologist she visited had been under investigation for performing illegal abortions and Ms. Raissouni's medical exam showed signs of having undergone a late-term voluntary abortion. Her fiancé was sentenced to one year in jail for engaging in pre-marital sex, while the gynecologist was sentenced to two years in jail.

Read for: "[Raissouni's] lawyers told Human Rights Watch that after her arrest, police took Raissouni to a hospital where 'staff subjected her to gynecological examination without her consent'."



  • Oscar Firsts

Nigeria and Ghana have each put forward their first-ever Oscar submission - both of which are feature films with strong female leads. Ghana's submission, Azali, tells of a teenage girl's escape from an arranged marriage to an elderly man; while Nigeria's submission is Lionheart, the Netflix-acquired movie which tells of a Nigerian transportation empire heiress who fights to save her father's company from bankruptcy. Both movies were submitted to the Best International Feature film category of the 2020 Oscars.

Similarly, Algeria's Papicha, Kenya's Subira, Morocco's Adam, and Senegal's Atlantique represent Africa's 2020 Oscar submissions with female leads. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on February 9 2020.

Read for: "Foreign film markets have not had interest in African films beyond those that show war, extreme poverty or white saviors and this has also largely limited the creative voice and, of course, income. But things seems to be changing as more Africans embrace their local dialects. This will strengthen the identity of African cinema"


CAPE TO CAPE: The remarkable women who are clearing the land mines left over from the Angolan civil war; Chimamanda Adichie's novel, Americanah, to debut as series on HBO Max; Sudanese women demand repealing of laws limiting freedoms; Daughters of Chibok, documentary on the Nigerian Chibok girls, wins award at the Venice Film Festival

You Should Know

  • Small Wars & Insurgencies: Worth many sins: Al-Shabaab's shifting relationship with Kenyan women

  • World Bank: Addressing the needs of women and girls in contexts of forced displacement

Business Roll Call

Ecobank has appointed Aissatou Djiba Diallo as Senior Fintech Advisor

Mitwa Kaemba Ng'ambi, former CEO of Airtel Tigo Ghana, has been announced as new CEO for MTN Rwanda,

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Nneoma Nwankwo