#034: Held in High Regard

  • Held in High Regard

In a spectacular gaffe in the official policy note regarding trafficking of women from Nigeria, the UK Home Office noted that victims of sex trafficking could return to Nigeria “wealthy from prostitution” and “held in high regard”.

The comments were met with outrage from human rights advocates, MPs, and the public alike – rightly concerned that the remarks oversimplify the complexity of human trafficking and could be used as rationale to refuse asylum to victims of trafficking. Although the Home Office has defended the guidance in the policy note, an official spokesperson conceded that the text would be assessed and reviewed “to avoid it being misinterpreted by decision-makers”.

Read for:"The paragraph read: 'Trafficked women who return from Europe, wealthy from prostitution, enjoy high social-economic status and in general are not subject to negative social attitudes on return. They are often held in high regard because they have improved income prospects'"


  • Another Day, Another Niqab Ban

Following a deadly terrorist attack in Tunis last week, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed signed a government memo “banning access to public administrations and institutions to anyone with their face covered”. According to the Tunisian government, the proscription of the niqab is crucial to anti-terrorism measures to obviate any possible use of the garment as a disguise.

Government officials maintain that the decision is justified but provisional, and will be repealed once a “normal security situation” is re-established in the country.

Read for: "They have the right to prohibit the niqab given the events we are currently witnessing...but in the end, it remains an individual freedom"


  • There Must Be Something In the Government

In thelast issue ofEmpower46, I covered Kenyan MP, Rashid Amin’s violent attack against a female colleague, who he slapped in the parliament car park in Nairobi. Well, it’s almost like there might be a gender violence problem with men inpoweracross the continent (read: around the world), because over in Nigeria, the country’s youngest senator, Senator Elisha Abbo, was caught on video assaulting a young woman.

In a CCTV video, captured in an adult toy shop in Abuja, the senator is seen repeatedly slapping a woman, while an armed police officer looked on and later attempted to arrest the victim herself. After the video went viral, Senator Abbo was charged with one count of criminal use of force and one count of criminal assault but has since pleaded not guilty. The Nigerian Senate has also set up an ad-hoc committee to probe the assault. He is currently awaiting trial, after posting bail which was set at NGN 5 million (USD 14,000).

Read for: "[The President of the Senate] said that it would be unfair on the Senator and the assaulted lady if the Senate should pass judgement immediately based on the viral video clip. He, therefore, asked the ad-hoc committee to probe the issue critically by inviting both parties and submit its report within two weeks"


  • Chickens Come Home to Roost

Yesterday, July 8 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was convicted of 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity including rape and sexual slavery.

He was charged for war crimes he committed as the deputy chief of staff of the Union of Congolese Patriots in 2002 and 2003. For what it's worth, he was the first person to ever voluntarily surrender to the ICC, when he handed himself in at the US Embassy in Rwanda. The ICC will hand down his sentence in a few weeks - but Ntaganda has the liberty to appeal the court's ruling.

Read for:"Every day of the seven years that Ntaganda freely roamed the streets of Goma after the International Criminal court issued his arrest warrant increased the torment that victims and their families had to endure - to the shame of the DRC authorities and the international community"


CAPE TO CAPE: Nigerian author, Lesley Nneka Arima has won the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, Skinned; Catherine Hara makes history as the first-ever female speaker of parliament in Malawi; Disgraced ex-President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, claims that rape accusations levied against him are "aimed at tarnishing the good reputation of Gambia's legendary and visionary leader"

You Should Know

  • Brill Journals: "People Insult Me - Oh My!": Reflections on Jola's women's story-songs in Rural West Africa

  • World Bank Gender Innovation Lab: Making it easier for women in Malawi to formalize their firms and access financial services

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Nneoma Nwankwo