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Investigate Fikile Ntshangase’s Murder and Hold Killers Responsible

One year ago Fikile Ntshangase, an environmental activist from South Africa, 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. Today, members of her…
Activists from mining communities protesting at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 24, 2018, KwaZulu-Natal © 2018 Rob Symons
News

Civil Society Participation Key to Success at UN Climate Talks

At this month’s virtual climate negotiations several United Nations officials and governments highlighted the importance of civil society participation in climate action. Yet at the summit’s plenary session, time ran out before civil society…
Residents and environmental activists on Lamu island, Kenya, protest the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project on March 1, 2012.  © 2012 Reuters/Joseph Okanga
News

Environmental Groups Hope Case Will Force Government Action on Emissions

When you approach the town of Secunda in the coal-rich province of Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa, the toxic smell of air emanating from the cluster of coal-fired power stations hits you long-before before you see the town. I spent last week in…
Fence line communities near Duvha Power Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. 
News

Government to Pay US$12 Million in Compensation for Smelter Pollution

In a victory for environmental health, last week, a Kenyan Court awarded $1.3 billion Ksh (USD12 million) to residents of Owino Uhuru, a suburb of Mombasa, for damages related to pollution from a nearby lead smelter that recycled lead-acid batteries.…
News

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
News

Activists Opposing these Plans have Faced Threats and Harassment

Environmental activists in Kenya scored a unique victory last week. On June 26, the National Environmental Tribunal revoked a license issued to Amu Power Company to establish a controversial coal-fired power plant in Lamu. …
Environmental activists and petitioners listen to a tribunal ruling over the construction of a coal-fired power plant, at the supreme court building in Nairobi, Kenya
News

Proposed Reparations Bill Chance to Compensate Post-Election Rape Survivors

This weekend, I received the sad news that Chepkorir had died. Chepkorir, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy, was raped in December 2007. The men who raped her beat her badly and she had been struggling with poor health…
News

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
News

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.
News

South Africa’s Solution Needs to be Rooted in Respect for the Right to Water

Cape Town, South Africa has been plunged into a water crisis, and in about two months – a date known as Day Zero – the city will run out of water, and supplies to most suburbs will be cut off. Rationing will begin at 200 places across the city with…
Residents walk past a leaking communal tap in Khayelitsha township, near Cape Town, South Africa, December 12, 2017.
News

UN Pollution Meeting Should Embrace Child Rights in its Resolutions

Bhopal, Chernobyl, and Minamata – these environmental disasters shocked the world. Yet, pollution results not only from catastrophic accidents but also from years of silent exposure. Children’s developing bodies are particularly…
“My name is Amina and I am twenty years old. I grew up here in the town of Bagega. I had six children. Three have died. Each time one died, I was so distraught and I was very traumatized.” Amina, Bagega, Zamfara state, Nigeria, 2011.
News

More Protection, Support for Victims Needed

Human Rights Watch research confirms that, once again, there was sexual violence against women and girls during the most recent post-election violence in Kenya. I interviewed over 50 victims and witnesses in Mathare, Kisumu, Bungoma, and Dandora.…
Kenya
News

Protecting Children of Rape, the Invisible Victims of Conflict and Political Violence

Akinyi was only 11 years old when three men broke into her home in Kericho, Kenya, in December 2007, as post-election violence raged, and gang raped her and her mother. Akinyi became pregnant, but did not want anything to do with the baby girl she bore.…
Nafula K.,46, was gang raped together with three other women by four men in January 2008 while at an IDP camp.
News
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.
News
Today, on Earth Day, six grassroots environmental activists awarded this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize will be honored during a ceremony in Washington, DC. One of the six Goldman Prize recipients is Kenya’s Phyllis Omido, who stood up to…
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“We women must respect ourselves. You cannot stay with a man drinking until 3 a.m.” This was the response from Mary Wambui, a member of parliament, to recent protests by female legislators and women’s rights activists over accusations that Gideon Mwiti,…