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Investigate Mama Fikile’s Murder and Bring Those Responsible to Justice

It is almost five months since an environmental activist, Mama Fikile Ntshangase, was gunned down in her home in Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal province, after raising concerns about a coal mine in the area. No arrests have been made. Mama Fikile had received…
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Environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase was killed after her refusal to withdraw legal challenges to existing and future mining operations. While shocking, the killing of environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase is not surprising. …
Activists from mining communities protesting at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 24, 2018, KwaZulu-Natal © 2018 Rob Symons
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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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Left Destitute and Sick, Communities Defy Police Abuse and Threats to Assert their Rights

What changes for a community once a mine starts operating? Most mining in South Africa takes place in rural areas, where people live off the land and their livestock. Mining often forces people to leave the land they use for farming and grazing…
Coal mine in Somkhele viewed from Ocilwane village in Fuleni, KwaZulu-Natal. © 2018 Rob Symons
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Activists in Lamu Challenge Power Despite Threats

Tell me about Lamu and the activists you spoke to. Lamu county is a beautiful, scenic tourist destination with long white beaches lined with palm trees and hotels and cafes catering to foreign and domestic tourists. The mostly-Muslim…
Residents and environmental activists  protesting against  lack of consultations and government failure to address environmental concerns in respect ofo the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project in Lamu island, Kenya, March 1, 2012.
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The South African Human Rights Commission has released a scathing report on the damage mining in the country is posing to human rights. The conclusion paints a dark picture: "[T]he mining sector is riddled with challenges related to land,…
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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.
News
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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Turkana County, Kenya

As delegates converge on Paris in November for the UN Climate Change Conference, the urgency of the need to address the human rights impacts of climate change is clear: the world’s marginalized communities—populations that are already vulnerable to human…
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  This remote region in Kenya’s north-west is known as the cradle of humankind. But it is a case study in how climate change forces people off their land. It was in Kenya’s Turkana County, near the border with Ethiopia, where one of the…
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The New Brics Bank is an Opportunity to Learn Lessons and Ensure Every Infrastructure Project Protects Human Rights

The emerging Brics economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – struck an agreement this month to establish a development bank with an initial capital of $100bn. The Brics want the bank to mobilise resources for…
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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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"The soldiers would say, 'Tell me about this sugarcane.' If we do not say something good, they beat us. They have truncheons, guns, and stun devices. They come every day." These are the words of a Mursi man, an indigenous pastoralist in southern Ethiopia…