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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Friday, 6 August 2010

North Africa And Women's Issues

This is not how I wanted to be able to showcase the North of the continent but today two articles came up on my homepage, which is set to BBC News Africa, to make sure I'm kept up to date while on foreign soil.  Unfortunately, two stories came up that are not happy stories, but at least one of them comes with a silver lining.

I'll start with the worst one, don't want to end the post badly ;).  19 Sudanese men were flogged for cross-dressing and breaking Sharia law.  They were too womanly, leading people to think that they were gay.  Right now I am very mad at people who make irrational conclusions about sexuality and gayness from the most random of evidence.  The average gay person does not going around dressing like a woman.  Most gay men I know are nothing like me, I have never thought that any of them are trying to be womanly or like me.  Even the ones who act effeminate don't seem womanly to me either.  These men weren't even given the chance to defend themselves either.  They could have been a drag troupe or dressing up for a fancy dress party or a play.  We will never know.  However these sentiments are not just Muslim, even Southern Sudan and other devoutly Christian areas of Africa do not tolerate what are considered overt and blatant gay actions.

The second is an encouraging development from a terrible situation.  An Eygptian woman came forward on television to speak up about her rape by policemen.  This is a very big step, albeit having to be made with her completely covered from head -to-toe in black so as not be identified.  I cannot for the life of me find the YouTube video that people have been able to watch of her appearance :(. Instead, here is a video of Eygptian women debating with a man over the way rape is treated in their country.  The issue they are talking about is very serious and polarised views clash, but I must also warn you of other clashes.  Your eyes may not be able to reconcile the rather suspect blond wig adorning one of the ladies' heads so as to hide her hair in place of a hijab.

The good news is that there is debate going on about the injustices that are being sanctioned by religion and that women are trying to take control of their lives and their bodies.

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