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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #313

We’re in this together: End violence against women

Thank you for taking the time to open Farm Radio Weekly. We hope that the stories and other resources in issue #313 give you pause for thought. We hope that they will encourage you to raise the subject of violence against women and the right of women to be free from all forms of harassment and fear.

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and Farm Radio Weekly is dedicating this issue to the subject of gender-based violence. We bring you the story of an abused Ugandan widow, raise the issue of women’s right to self-expression, and profile a transsexual from Lesotho who is leading efforts to raise awareness and increase acceptance of those who self-identify differently.

A Ugandan man beat his wife regularly. By the time of his death, the beatings had left her permanently scarred, both mentally and physically. But a neighbour’s kindness has allowed her to farm and provide for her three children. She is nor forging a new life for herself.

Many African men feel they have the right to tell women how they can dress. When men don’t like what they see, they often “slut-shame” women they believe are not dressing modestly. In Nairobi recently, some men went too far. And now the women of the city are fighting back.

It is not just women who are exposed to violence and intolerance. People who choose their sexual partners or their gender identity differently are also targeted. But In Lesotho, a young, articulate transsexual is starting to make a difference!

As usual, FRW brings you resources and events: in this issue they are related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Keep broadcasting!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Uganda: Widow recovers from violent marriage (by Geoffrey Ojok, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Tears of anguish roll down Sidonia Akello’s cheeks as she remembers the agonies she suffered during her marriage. But her life is different now that her husband is dead.

In hushed tones, Mrs. Akello sings a Luo funeral song to her one-year-old daughter, who she has rapped securely in a shawl on her back.

The 32-year-old mother of three endured a life of sorrow in her home village, Te-Oburu, about 400 kilometres north of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.

In June 2013, villagers were stunned by the sight of Mrs. Akello standing before the village court bleeding from a gash on the side of her head. Her husband, Denis Oyar, had demanded she have sex with him. When she refused, he flew into a rage and cut off her ear. She had given birth only two weeks earlier and was still recovering from labour.

Mr. Oyar was often drunk and regularly beat his wife senseless. On the night in question, after beating her, he picked up his machete and cut off her right ear. The two older children ran out into the dark, screaming for someone to come to their mother’s aid.

David Okao is the village chief. He says, “Oyar committed an offence. We punished him and made him provide medical care to his wife.”

Mr. Oyar died six months later. But Mrs. Akello’s misery didn’t end. Her brother-in-law accused her of denying him his inheritance. She was sentenced to 60 lashes, and forced to sell a goat in order to pay a fine of $18 U.S.

But when all seemed lost, fortune smiled on Mrs. Akello. Her neighbour Ismael Omara had noticed the widow’s plight. The 79-year-old stood up in front of the village chief and publicly gave Mrs. Akello half a hectare of land as a permanent gift.

With this small gesture, Mrs. Akello’s life changed for the better. She now grows cassava on the plot of land she received from her neighbour. The widow feeds her children with her harvest, and sells whatever is left over. She explains, “I grow cassava because [of the] high demand in this region. Besides, I don’t need to buy insecticide and weeding expenses are minimal.”

She earned $230 U.S. by selling her last cassava harvest at the market. Mrs. Akello says, “I used the money I got to pay fees for my two [older] children [to go to] primary school. I bought food with the surplus money, and now we are happy.”

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Kenya: Nairobi residents take to the streets after woman is stripped and beaten in public (The Guardian)

Hundreds of women took to the streets of Nairobi to defend their right to wear what they choose after a woman was stripped and beaten for wearing a miniskirt.

The woman was attacked at a busy bus stop in Nairobi’s Central Business District. Dozens of men surrounded the woman, tore off her clothes and forced her to the ground. According to local media, the men said the woman was “indecently dressed,” and accused her of “tempting” them.

A bystander filmed the attack, and video footage of the incident later emerged online. It shows the men calling the woman “Jezebel” as she cries for help. Kenyans have condemned the attack on social media, using the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice.

The Facebook group Kilimani Mums organized a “miniskirt protest” in central Nairobi to defend a woman’s right to wear what she chooses.

On the event page, Kilimani Mums wrote: “This morning we as Kilimani Mums met and decided that we shall hold a peaceful procession to Accra Road. This is our chance to stand together as women and deliver a message to our country that sexual violence will not be tolerated.”

Reports say that over 200 people attended the march. But as the protesters walked from Uhuru Park toward the site of the attack, they were confronted by men declaring that they would “continue to strip women who are dressed skimpily.”

Police Chief David Kimaiyo appealed to the victim of the attack to lodge an official complaint so that the police can investigate.

Campaigners say that in Kenya’s conservative society, women’s rights are often abused. Winnie Kabintie is a correspondent for KenyaForum.net. She writes: “It doesn’t matter whether or not the woman was indecently dressed; after all, what’s the benchmark for what is considered decent? Furthermore, how did stripping her bare aid in enhancing her decency?”

The issue of what a woman chooses to wear is not only a Kenyan problem. Ugandan police issued a public warning against “indecently dressed” women in February 2014. The country’s State Minister for Ethics and Integrity proposed a ban on miniskirts. Women mobilized on social media, using the hashtag #SaveTheMiniSkirt. A year earlier, Namibian authorities also attempted to ban miniskirts. Police arrested forty women, claiming that revealing clothes “are not African.”

Dan Moshenberg is Director of Women’s Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He writes: “Women [understand] that the issue of their clothing [is] nothing more or less than an attack on women’s autonomy.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, Kenyans protest after woman is beaten and stripped in public, go to: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/17/kenya-mydressmychoice-protest-woman-stripped?CMP=twt_gu

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Lesotho: Making trans rights matter

Tampose Mothopeng is a human rights defender from Lesotho. He is also young, idealistic, and transsexual. Mr. Mothopeng says, “There’s a lot of stigma in the general population.” He says the transgender community in Lesotho is tackling violence and bullying in schools, a lack of access to health services, and a high rate of unemployment.

Trans people define themselves as those who have a different self-identity than their physical gender. They face employment barriers because of their gender identity and expression. They often drop out of school because of family- or school-based violence.

According to Mr. Mothopeng, without education or employment, many are forced into sex work just to get by.

But despite these and other challenges, there is a vibrant trans movement in Lesotho working at both the grassroots and national levels. Mr. Mothopeng is the director of the Matrix Support Group, an organization which raises awareness and combats discrimination.

Matrix engages with traditional leaders, teachers, and government officials. Its members speak on radio and television talk shows. The group runs campaigns on bodily autonomy, and hosts community dialogues.

When the Government of Lesotho develops national strategic plans, Matrix pushes the government to include the perspectives of minority groups: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender and Intersexual people, or LGBTI; men who have sex with men, and other key populations.

Mr. Mothopeng says: “We’re sensitizing and educating teachers about gender identity and human rights, and working with the Ministry of Education to develop a new module for high school students.”

Mr. Mothopeng points out that medical care can be particularly problematic for the trans community. He explains, “We cannot access health services. They don’t seem prepared to help us.” In response, Matrix released its own study on trans health this year. Mr. Mothopeng says the study was important because most research focuses on men who have sex with men only.

In May 2014, Matrix organized a march through Lesotho’s capital of Maseru to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The group uses days like this and the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 to publicize issues that trans people face, and hold community-building activities such as movie screenings and group discussions.

He credits his recent Mandela Washington Fellowship experience in the U.S. with sharpening his leadership and problem-solving skills. Mr. Mothopeng says, “I now know when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes.’ I don’t just rush into things. I look into things and prioritize before getting started.”

Mr. Mothopeng says he is proud of the partnerships Matrix has made. He also stresses the diversity within the organization’s management and leadership programs.

He says: “In Africa in general, most organizations have been struggling to sustain partnerships with other human rights groups or with the government itself. We don’t lose our partners. We’re a youth-led organization run by LGBTI activists.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, A movement that matters: Trans rights in Lesotho, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randal-mason/a-movement-that-matters-t_b_6177810.html

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FRW news in brief

1-Ghana: MP justifies ‘stoning to death’ for women who commit adultery

A Ghanaian Member of Parliament, Nelson Abudu Baani, is calling for women who commit adultery to be stoned or hanged to death.

His comments have attracted severe condemnation from women rights activists and the general public, who have called for his resignation. But Mr. Abudu Baani said stoning or hanging unfaithful women to death would serve as a deterrent to other women.

He says: “That is my view. I just want [Parliament] to institute punishments for women who would be adulterous … if other people have any other punishments, they should bring it.”

Mr. Abudu Baani dismissed critics who described his suggestion as backward, saying the threat of punishment would only help women to remain faithful to their husbands.

To read the full article, go to: http://m.starrfmonline.com/1.1897376 More reaction to the story is available here: http://thisisafrica.me/stone-adulterous-women-death-says-ghanaian-mp/

2-Tanzania: Forty thousand Maasai to be evicted from Serengeti to make room for Dubai royal family

Forty thousand Maasai will be evicted from their homeland by the end of the year after the Tanzanian government reportedly backtracked on a promise to leave the pastoralists alone.

Last year, the Tanzanian government appeared to have resisted a land purchase by the Dubai royal family, proposing instead a “wildlife corridor” dedicated to hunting near Serengeti National Park. But the deal to sell the land for a private hunting reserve is reported to have gone through, and the Tanzanian government says the Maasai will have to leave.

Samwel Nangiria is the coordinator for a local civil society group called Ngonett. He says: “I feel betrayed. [Compensation of] one billion [Tanzanian shillings – $578,500 U.S.] is very little and you cannot compare that with land. It’s inherited. [Our] mothers and grandmothers are buried in that land.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.salon.com/2014/11/17/tanzania_will_sell_masai_homeland_to_dubai_royal_family/ For further background information, see: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/news-brief-tanzanian-maasai-to-lose-land-to-%e2%80%98green-land-grab%e2%80%99-agencies/

3-Ethiopia: Abortion law reduce maternal deaths

Ethiopia decriminalized abortion in 2005 in an effort to lower high maternal death rates. At least a third of these deaths were due to botched abortions.

Dawit Argaw owns the Blue Star Clinic in Addis Ababa. He believes that safe abortions save women’s lives. He adds, “In my religion, it is forbidden. But for me as a human being, I accept it [as necessary], so that is why I do it.”

Increased access to contraceptives also improves women’s health, and the number of unwanted pregnancies is declining as more women choose to use birth control.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100463/ethiopia-s-game-changing-abortion-law

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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change.”

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Day is the starting point for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which leads up to Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10.

Why is there a need for these international days of observance and for a campaign to end gender-based violence? Primarily because violence against women is so prevalent, and because it’s a violation of human rights. Gender-based violence is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.

Violence against women also impedes progress in many areas, including the eradication of poverty and the fight against HIV and AIDS. In some countries, up to 70 per cent of women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime.

But violence against women and girls is not inevitable. You can organize and broadcast programs on your station to raise awareness. For more information about the Day, and online resources, go to: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

For more information about the 16 Days of Action, go to: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women

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Take back the tech!

Take Back The Tech! is a collaborative campaign that will take place during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which runs from November 25 – December 10.

The 2014 campaign is titled Violence silences: Document. Challenge. Reclaim women’s right to expression. It is a call to everyone ― especially women and girls ― to take control of technology to end violence against women.

The Internet is an increasingly important public space, and online violence is a real threat, narrowing women’s capacity to participate in and define the space. Violence against women restricts freedom of expression. Online violence, often referred to as cvberbullying, makes it difficult for women to participate in the public sphere and contribute to culture and decision-making, and makes women afraid to critique policies and systems.

Exercising the right to freedom of expression is critical to ending violence and promoting other rights. This change can be brought about by speaking up, making violence visible, exchanging information, and building solidarity through communication.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Take Back the Tech! invites people to help focus the conversation about violence against women on violating a woman’s fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

Find out more at the Take back the tech! website: https://www.takebackthetech.net/page/about-campaign

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Tackling Ebola at ground zero: African singers and artists unite to record Africa Stop Ebola

A collective of African artists has united to record a song to raise awareness about Ebola. This song will raise funds to support the work of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in West Africa.

Africa Stop Ebola is now available for download through all major online music retailers. The song features West African artists Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, and Barbara Kanam, rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus and Mokobé, and musicians Sekou Kouyaté (electric guitar, bass, and electric kora) and Ludovic N’Holle (drums).

The song gives citizens information on what they can do about Ebola, and provides hope that this epidemic can be stopped. It is performed in French and in other languages widely spoken across the region. This ensures that the message will be understood regardless of the listener’s level of literacy or education.

A video clip of the song is being promoted on TV and local websites throughout West Africa, with the support of a team of local music promoters and community organizations. Africa Stop Ebola has also been distributed to radio stations across the region, with support from AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio Stations.
MSF is providing independent medical aid and emergency relief to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, and has deployed more than 3,300 dedicated health workers in the field.

A video clip of the song is available at:

Editor’s note: If you are a West African radio broadcaster and would like to play the song on your airwaves, listen to the audio file here: https://soundcloud.com/africastopebola/africa-stop-ebola

For more information, please email africastopebola@gmail.com.

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Farm Radio Weekly spotlights African farm broadcasters

Farm Radio International knows that farmer radio programs help farmers voice their concerns and share their lives through the airwaves. We want to celebrate the hard work of the farm radio broadcasters who serve these farmers.

Starting in December 2014, we will be profiling an African farm broadcaster in many of our weekly FRW editions. We will be collecting stories about farm radio broadcasters from all over Africa.

We want to build a better understanding and an appreciation for what African farm broadcasters do, and spotlight how their work improves the lives of small-scale farmers and farming communities.

Do you or your station want to be featured in Farm Radio Weekly? Do you want to nominate another broadcaster you think FRW readers should hear about?

Get in touch with us by emailing nbassily@farmradio.org and proberts@farmradiotz.org.

In your email, tell us:

why you think your work and the work of your radio station should be highlighted;

how your farm radio programs are put together; and,

how you interact with your farming audience.

Whether you are nominating yourself or another broadcaster, please email us with responses to the questions above, along with your contact information (name and phone number) or the contact details of the broadcaster you are nominating.

We will follow up with you or the person you are nominating –and get your stories published!

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How to establish and manage successful radio listening groups

Our script of the week is from our latest Resource Pack, #99.

It is a broadcaster-how-to document which presents a tried and true method of establishing and managing radio listening groups, based on many years of experience in Zambia. The document is designed as a guide to forming and maintaining radio listening groups rather than a strict “blueprint” to follow, regardless of the situation. The basic principles of establishing and managing radio listening groups are well-established and do not vary greatly.

The document touches on the disadvantages of traditional radio listening, the advantages of listening to the radio in listener groups, ways of organizing listening groups, training listening groups, supporting listening groups, and monitoring and evaluating the success of radio listening groups.


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Call for stories: Red Elephant Foundation wants to hear from human rights defenders

The Red Elephant Foundation is an initiative built on the foundations of storytelling, civilian peace-building and activism for gender sensitivity.

The initiative records and highlights stories that must never be forgotten, stories that show courage and hold profound lessons that the world should always remember. Red Elephant Foundation aims to create awareness and open channels of communication in order to create tolerant, peaceful and equitable societies.

The Foundation is calling for real stories from all over the world ― stories of survival and rising above adversity in conflict; of surviving gender-based violence; of peace-making and change-making; of surviving domestic violence, and; stories of those who defend human rights.

You do not have to be a writer to submit a story. If you have a story to share, contact the Foundation at info@redelephantfoundation.org. They will arrange a time for an interview. Let them help you use your voice to broadcast the truth.

This call for stories has no deadline.

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