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Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalized

How did you find sex workers willing to talk about their work despite it being illegal in South Africa? It’s very difficult to gain sex workers’ trust without connections to people already actively supporting sex workers. For one, because their…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011
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I had already heard many disturbing stories of violence by the time I interviewed Mercy Maina, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy.  Even so, what Mercy told me was truly disturbing. She said she was raped during the post-…
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“Is there no justice for rape?” asked Jane, a young woman from Nairobi’s slums. “If police, who should be helping us, can just rape women and nothing is done to them, what will prevent men from continuing to rape us?” Jane (not her real name)…
Kenyan anti-riot police fire tear gas in Kisumu, Kenya, August 9, 2017. © 2017 Baz Ratner/Reuters
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President Uhuru Kenyatta two years ago announced a fund to help survivors of historical injustices in Kenya, including those who suffered gross human rights violations during the political violence of 2007-2008. Mr Kenyatta said…
Nafula K.,46, was gang raped together with three other women by four men in January 2008 while at an IDP camp.
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A year ago, the Kenyan government finally announced a fund to help survivors of the widespread violence in 2007 and 2008 tied to the disputed presidential election. It was the first sign of hope for the hundreds of women who were brutally raped…
Kamene F. stands outside her house in a slum in Nairobi with her 7-year-old son born from rape.
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Although it is more than eight years since hundreds of women were brutally raped during post-election violence in Kenya, the harrowing events of 2007/8 continue to affect survivors to this day. Destitute, in ill health and often…
Nafula K.,46, was gang raped together with three other women by four men in January 2008 while at an IDP camp.
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Obstetric fistula is a ‘disease of poverty’ that still affects thousands of women all over Africa. But if the causes are properly addressed, it is preventable. I grew up in a small rural village in eastern Kenya. Like most children in my village, I loved…
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It’s an occupational hazard when you work on women’s rights, to routinely face women who have been subjected to unspeakable violence, horrible beyond anything you could imagine.  As a young lawyer in South Africa in the 1990s, one of first my clients was…
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Nomsa, a 20-year-old woman from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, showed me a scar on her thigh. She said it came from a wound inflicted by a nurse at a community health centre in 2010. The nurse, Nomsa said, used a pair of scissors "to make me open my legs…
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United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a simple but profound message in her United­ Nations speech in Geneva last week. Her message: human rights are indivisible and governments cannot selectively withhold rights. “Because we are human…
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Dr. Eddie Mhlanga, South Africa’s chief director of maternal and women’s health, has movingly written about how he, as a conservative Christian, changed his mind on whether abortion should be a crime. When he was a young doctor, a colleague died in his…
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This week, different groups around the world are observing World AIDS Day and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, on December 1 and 3 respectively. Rarely have the two been observed together. At least until this year. Events hosted at UN…
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Somalis fleeing the violence in their own country can expect only beatings, extortion and overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya

Shot at and raped. Arrested and beaten. Detained and deported. Extorted and robbed. Threatened and insulted. Ignored and shunned. The treatment of hardened criminals in some far-flung police state? The fate of political opponents by a repressive regime?…
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Jacob Zuma was inaugurated as the new president of South Africa on 9 May, with his party, the African National Congress, having achieved a resounding victory in the recent elections. In what has been described as the most competitive election yet to take…
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The US-backed Ethiopian military has secreted away scores of "suspects" – including pregnant women and children – and fueled anti-American rancor in Africa

Ifo Refugee Camp, Kenya - Ishmael, a 37-year-old shepherd from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, looked at me with tears in his eyes. Ethiopian forces – who had already killed his mother, father, brothers and sisters – murdered his wife days after they were…
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For years now, women’s groups in Southern Africa have campaigned tirelessly to ensure that the Southern African Development Community adopt the Protocol on Gender and Development. Yesterday, the SADC finally took that historic step. Member states will be…
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Originally published under the title "Prophylaxis, Pronto"

Published in ThisDay South Africa The South African government has promised to provide universal antiretroviral drug treatment as part of its new HIV/AIDS plan. The government’s recent experience of providing such drugs to rape survivors provides…