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Archive for September 1st, 2012

Prostitution rampant in Oslo: Norwegian male sex-buyers in the rise

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2012

REPUBLISHED DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND: Posted by African Press International for the first time on October 14, 2010

Norwegian law-makers passed a law over a year ago that forbids prostitution in the country. When the law came into force, many prostitutes from Eastern European countries and Nigeria in Africa reduced drastically. Most of them left the country, travelling back to their country of origin in Eastern europe, while those from Nigeria moved to Italy and other Western European cities.

Those opposed to prostitution in Norway were happy now that the prostitutes had gone out of the country. The law was enforced by the police and that kept the prostitutes away from the streets. Many women of African origin who live in Norway permanently with their families were happy when the Nigerian prostitutes left because they could then regain the respect they always had in the country as decent family women. This is so because when the Nigerian female prostitutes are in the country, the predominantly Norwegian white male sex buyers are unable to differentiate on who of the women are prostitutes and this causes a lot of problems for African women in the country who do not sell their bodies.

But from January this year, the police relaxed in their work of enforcing the law and the prostitutes are back in large numbers again flooding the streets and drinking places in the city of Oslo.

The law makes it an offence to buy sex, but is not keen on those selling it. If one is found buying sex, such person is arrested and fined heavily. Those who do not pay the fine are taken to court. Most Norwegian male sex buyers, however, prefer to pay the fine rather than be taken to an open court. By avoiding being taken to the courts they manage to shield themselves from being known by their families. Most of the male sex buyers are married white Norwegian men and some holding high positions in society. It is therefore important for them that the public does not get wind that they are involved in prostitution.

When you talk to some of the male sex buyers, they narrate how their wives do not give them sex at home. They blame their wives of treating them as slaves in the house, because some of the men have wives who demand they share house work at all times, and whenever they do not help in the house, they are denied sex forcing them to stray away from home and go to bars, restaurants and the streets buying sex from prostitutes in order to satisfy their needs.

Some of the men who buy sex come from outside Oslo city. Most of them are men who come to the capital from other towns in the country. They travel to the city in connection with their jobs and some are in the city attending conferences and seminars away from their cities up-country. When they are not attending the conference and seminars, they are out in the bars and streets soliciting sex from prostitutes and most of them prefer sex with foreigners. When asked why, they say they find them exotic and exiting than their white women at home. This however, is very sad because most of them do not use condoms and end up taking diseases to their wives. The prostitutes allow them to have unprotected sex as long as they pay more.

If prostitution is to be stopped in Oslo, the male sex buyers must be punished heavily. They should not only pay the fines but be taken to an open court for trial and handed heavy punishment. Those holding high positions in the society should be striped of such positions so that they lose the money they earn – monies that enables them to buy sex.

Another important thing is to punish landlords in the city who provide rental apartments to prostitutes who in turn use such premises as sex bordel.

End

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CNN Journalist Encounters Racism at Republican Convention

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2012

Patricia Carroll a camerawoman at CNN traveled to Tampa Florida to cover the Republican National Convention which was held on Tuesday night. As she carried on with her job, the 34- year- old was pelted with peanuts and called an animal by two Republican National Convention attendees.

Patricia Carroll was flabbergasted but choose not to react. She remained calm and carried on with her work professionally.

“I hate that it happened, but I’m not surprised at all,” she told the Maynard Institutes blog for journalism.

Miss Carroll who is from Alabama, explained: “This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South. You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don’t think we should do.”

The horrific scene has sparked heated debates on the social websites. Leading media networks such as MSNBC and CNN were quickly informed of the incident. CNN confirmed the incident but withheld the details, it released a statement saying the incident had been handled.

“CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at our employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon,” the statement read. “CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”

Both attendees who were responsible for this act were thrown out of the convention. Which rises the question of how serious do the Republicans take racial issues in America? Many African Americans suggest that the level of racism directed towards them especially since Barack Obama became President is overwhelming. Republicans have had great leaders of African American heritage such as Colin Powell who was the 65th United States Secretary of State, he was the first African American to serve in that position. He has served his country diligently and is still active in diplomatic matters. Condoleezza Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state. Both leaders despite their African American heritage, were strong supporters of George Bush.

Even though Racism is a global issue, the racist incident at the Republican Convention should serve as a wake-up call to the Republicans and their supporters. Since the election of President Obama the USA should pave way to become a post-racial country, meaning, race should no longer be significant or important in the USA in the 21st century.

Although Miss Patricia has received several requests for interviews,she hopes the interest in her story goes away so she can move on with her life. She also hopes that what happened to her will not be used for political gain, but that can not be guaranteed. The Democrats will definitely take a swing at Mitt Romney in their campaigns.

It is now clear that the ongoing campaigns might just lean towards a "black" and "white" thing.

By Elizabeth M. Koikai

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Safe water critical to health of HIV-positive people

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2012

Handwashing with soap has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by over 40 percent, according to UNICEF (file photo)

ADDIS ABABA,  – Beletu Hailemariam, 32, is HIV-positive and knows she should avoid contracting opportunistic infections that could further compromise her immune system. But she lives in one of poorer suburbs of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and has to share a toilet with dozens of people and walk long distances to access clean water. A year ago, she was diagnosed with typhoid.

“At that time, I didn’t know how an easily curable disease like that… put my life at risk. The doctors told me it has to do with me having the virus in my blood that makes me too weak to cope with the disease,” the mother of seven told IRIN/PlusNews. “They told me to be cautious and make an effort to avoid other opportunistic infections for a second time.”

Opportunistic infections reduce one’s quality of life and can speed the progression of HIV to AIDS, resulting in premature death.

Since her recovery, Hailemariam says she is being “extra careful” not to contract another illness. However, her access to safe water and sanitation has not improved, leaving her at continued risk of waterborne diseases.

“The nearest communal toilet and water points are several minutes’ walk away… Twenty-seven households share this dirty toilet, while 11 families share the communal water point,” she said.

Beletu is too weak to work, and her husband’s US$16-a-month pension is insufficient to pay for the construction of a private latrine or for piped water.

“Health workers have taught me how to protect myself using a simple but efficient way,” she said. “I clean my hands with soap after using the toilet. I always treat the water my family drinks… I know not doing this could risk me getting diarrhoea and other opportunistic diseases.”

Health workers say a lack of information on the prevention of common opportunistic infections means many Ethiopians living with HIV continue to contract easily preventable diseases.

“Most of them reach our hospital’s emergency outpatient department after opportunistic diseases – such as diarrhoeal diseases and typhoid fever – have compromised their immune system,” Daniel Teshome, a public health officer at Zewditu Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, told IRIN/PlusNews. “They have little knowledge of what caused it, though.”

Access to water

According to the NGO Wateraid, people living with HIV are often unable to access community water sources or latrines because of stigma and discrimination.

Although patients usually recover with treatment, many will get repeat infections unless their access to safe water is improved. A 2009 assessment of the water and sanitation situation of HIV-positive home-based care clients in Addis Ababa found that only 62.5 percent had access to improved sanitation, only 6.9 percent had access to bathing facilities and only 4.3 per cent had access to hand-washing facilities near latrines.

The assessment found that the water, sanitation and hygiene needs of home-based care clients were not met, and that safe water, sanitation and hygiene should be essential components of basic preventive care packages for home-based care clients at policy, service provision and community levels.

Experts say HIV-positive children are particularly vulnerable to waterborne infections. “HIV-infected children are at higher risk of getting infectious diseases often associated with poor hygiene and sanitation conditions,” said Muhammad Irfan, a water sanitation and hygiene specialist with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia.

More than 180,000 Ethiopia children are infected with HIV, according to Ethiopian government statistics, and according to the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), about 60,000 children under the age of five die due to diarrhoea every year in Ethiopia.

Safe water is especially important for people on life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. According to Wateraid, ARVs must be taken with at least 1.5 litres of safe water a day to be effective.

Read more
 Five-year plan to halve new HIV infections
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 HIV prevention services for those most at risk

“By reducing risk factors for diarrhoeal diseases, people living with HIV retain more nutrients, allowing ARVs to be more effective,” a Wateraid factsheet indicates.

Taking steps

Experts are calling for water and sanitation issues to be addressed by the country’s HIV care and treatment programmes and the country’s national HIV policy. “Integrating these special needs of people living with the virus in various policies is critically important now,” said Mahider Tesfu, a water and sanitation expert with Wateraid.

The Ethiopian government appears to be doing just that. It has laid out ambitiousplans for water, sanitation and hygiene through its Universal Access Plan II, which seeks to reach 98.5 percent of its population with access to safe water and 100 percent with access to sanitation by 2015.

The country is also drafting a document called “Guidelines to Integrate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene into HIV Programmes”, which lays the groundwork for incorporating safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices into all HIV care services being delivered at all levels.

According to UNICEF, the implementation of simple steps such as treating water and washing hands with soap can have a significant impact on prevention of waterborne diseases. “Handwashing with soap has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by over 40 percent,” said UNICEF’s Irfan.

bt/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Recognizing the African woman farmer

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2012

Photo: CIMMYT
Not alone any more

JOHANNESBURG,  – Boys learning new ideas of masculinity around campfires in rural Africa and “sisterhoods” formed to provide a common voice to women are starting to change attitudes about African women farmers, say the authors of a forthcoming book about gender and agriculture. But it will take many more such efforts to support women food producers, who make up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. In some countries, that number rises to 70 to 80 percent.

Despite being a major presence in agriculture, women “usually produce less than male farmers because of their limited access to land, credit and other production inputs,” said Melinda Sundell, a senior research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute. Sundell is co-author of the book Transforming Gender Relations in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: Promising Approaches, which was discussed at a side event today at World Water Week in Stockholm.

“A study in Kenya found that tools owned by female farmers were worth 18 percent as much as tools owned by male farmers,” she added. “Women’s lack of assets impacts directly on human development outcomes. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has shown that countries in which women lack any right to own land have on average 60 percent more malnourished children.”

Policies supporting women farmers are “vital to help create the enabling environment” needed for women food producers to thrive, but “changing attitudes is paramount if policy is to become a reality on the ground,” explained Cathy Farnworth, another of the book’s co-authors.

Although people are aware of the key role women play as farmers, their “’empowerment’ is often seen as a win-lose game – men lose out and women gain. Nowhere is this more clear with land, where typically men govern women’s access rights to land,” Farnworth told IRIN via email.

Grassroots advocacy

''All too often, men think that work on gender means that they will lose out, and historically it is true that programmes focusing on women only have ignored men’s real needs''

But years of grassroots lobbying and advocacy are paying off. Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS) Kenya, a network of women’s self-help groups and community organizations, helped create a formal base for women’s voices to be heard during the constitutional debates that led to the new constitution in 2010.

That year, Kenya enacted “one of the most exciting and progressive constitutions on the continent with regard to ensuring women have equal rights to own, control and manage land,” said Farnworth.

“Women networks in Kenya were instrumental to this outcome – but it is going to be a real challenge to convince men and traditional leadership/gatekeepers in the rural areas that women are equally entitled to inherit land from fathers.”

Transforming gender relations

Transforming gender relations will be essential to this process. “All too often, men think that work on gender means that they will lose out, and historically it is true that programmes focusing on women only have ignored men’s real needs,” Farnworth said.

Instead, efforts to effect change must target both women and men within households. “These work to transform how decisions taken regarding how to run the farm, and how to allocate money earned, and who benefits. The results have been really very impressive because women and men see the gains to cooperation so quickly – it can take only months to change patterns of behaviour that have existed for generations.”

Change also depends on the involvement of men at all levels, she said. “This is true particularly in the case of adapting technologies and integrating into market value chains. Our findings show that promoting methodologies that encourage cooperation between women and men farmers reap productivity dividends as women and men share resources across the farm and maximize the efficiency of their decision-making.”

Role models

The authors also spoke to traditional leaders in Zambia’s patrilineal communities who were trying to get women involved in key decision-making bodies.

“We talked to the Zambia Men’s Network, which is working to transform male behaviour towards women through organizing campfires where men gather in villages to talk through violence against women, and also work to support women for leadership positions. The Men’s Network is also working with boys in schools and boys’ campfires,” added Farnworth. The initiative aims to develop male role models who will work on gender equity issues.

And Ghana’s former Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, Alima Mahama, provided the book with case study about her work in gender-responsive budgeting – government planning and programming that advances gender equality. Her efforts have encouraged government departments to plan and spend according to the needs of women, men, boys and girls.

“She managed to get gender-responsive budgeting adopted by four ministries, including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Education and Health,” said Farnworth.

Programmes like these are critical, not only for women but for their broader communities as well. “We have seen a common theme throughout the different case study experiences – namely, that improving gender equity can contribute directly to increasing agricultural productivity,” said Sundell.

jk/rz
http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Palestinian refugees from Syria feel abandoned

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2012

The Palestinian refugee camp Sabra in Lebanon is overcrowded
5,000 Palestinians flee to Jordan and Lebanon
Destabalization fear
Palestinians cite discrimination
UNRWA lacks resources

RAMTHA/BEIRUT/DUBAI,  – In Jordan and Lebanon, the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has registered nearly 5,000 Palestinian refugees from the 17-month conflict in Syria. As both countries are already home to large Palestinian refugee populations, the newly arrived have become a political issue – with Palestinians feeling they are treated unfairly.

“It has been quite bad living like a prisoner, especially when you see other people come and go but you are trapped,” said Samir, a Palestinian at a dormitory-style facility known as Cyber City, 90km north of the Jordanian capital Amman.

When Samir arrived in Jordan five months ago, Syrian refugees could move and work freely within Jordan with the signature of a Jordanian guarantor, while Palestinians, many of whom have family in Jordan, were prohibited from leaving the camp to visit or stay with relatives. This month, the Jordanian government discontinued the sponsorship system for Syrian refugees.

Samir’s wife Hanah could have left the camp because she is Syrian. “Can you imagine such discrimination?” she asked IRIN. “I will not leave them.”

Palestinians said they were not allowed to move more than 30m from the building. The camp is 12km from downtown Ramtha and is not served by public transport.

UNRWA told IRIN only 185 Palestinians without a valid visa – i.e. those who were smuggled over the border, or who had to leave their papers behind – have been sent to Cyber City, while another 770 live outside the camp. Refugees IRIN interviewed at the camp said Palestinians not holding Syrian or Jordanian nationality had been sent to the camp.

Palestinians at Cyber City told IRIN that family members trying to flee had been turned back at the Jordanian border, a phenomenon also noted by Human Rights Watch.

Reacting to the allegations, Samir Maaytah, minister of state for media affairs and communications, told IRIN: “Each country has the right to protect its sovereignty. At some point, we did not allow some Syrians to enter Jordan via air, for example, because we have the right to check who is coming in. Jordan should not be questioned over its sovereignty rights. Turkey, for example, had recently said it needs to regulate how many Syrians are entering its borders. No one has given a reason for it or questioned it.”

Most of those at the camp are Palestinian Jordanians who had their citizenship withdrawn years ago in a Jordanian attempt to discourage Israeli transfers of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan.

“I was born in Jordan, but moved with my family to Syria. In 1995, they withdrew my citizenship from me and my brother. Although it is my country, I cannot move freely inside along with other people,” said Samir, who showed his Jordanian birth certificate to IRIN.

Maaytah told IRIN: “Whether it is Palestinians or not, those who came without Jordanian or Syrian nationalities. will be given basic rights but any additional benefits are not Jordan’s responsibility. These people came to Jordan seeking security and Jordan gave it to them.”

But Jordan’s fears might go deeper. While Palestinians are estimated to make up more than half of Jordan’s population, the Hashemite dynasty relies on its non-Palestinian tribal support base for power. Since “Black September” in 1970 when Jordanian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces battled for control over the kingdom, the issue of how many Palestinians reside in the country has become taboo. During the second Gulf war, when scores of Palestinian expat workers fled to Jordan, the country found itself in a similar position as today.

“Jordan has experienced 500,000 Palestinians coming from Kuwait in 1992. It changed the way our society functions. In a country of just three million people, 500,000 refugees [are a lot],” a government employee, who preferred anonymity, told IRIN in March. “As Jordanians we are worried for the interests of our country.”

Lebanon

Similar dynamics are at play in Lebanon, which hosted 455,000 Palestinians before the Syrian crisis.

“The Lebanese have made it clear they don’t want to see more than a certain number of people coming here,” a high-ranking aid official told IRIN on condition of anonymity.


Photo: Areej Abu Qudairi/IRIN
The Cyber Camp is 90 km north of Jordan’s capital Amman

Some 4,000 Palestinians have registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, many of them in the last month. Many more may not have registered because of their “vulnerable” status there, said Roger Davies, acting director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon.

According to Palestinian-Syrian journalist Nidal Bitari, the problem in receiving Palestinians is rooted in the Lebanese civil war and the long-standing tensions between the Lebanese government and Palestinian factions.

Most of the Palestinians fleeing from Syria to Lebanon have gone to one of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps, but the camps in Beirut are overcrowded slums. With limited opportunities for Palestinians to find jobs and leave, many of these settlements have become breeding grounds for extremism. Fear that the new refugees might be recruited by armed Palestinian fractions such as Fatah al-Islam is influencing government decisions, thinks Bitari.

Forced to pay

Officially both Jordan and Lebanon are keeping their borders open for all refugees from Syria. But unlike Syrians, who can freely enter Lebanon for up to six months, Palestinians receive only a one-week residency permit. Once that expires, they must pay 50,000 LBP (US$33) each month to renew it.

“There is a clear distinction between Palestinians from Syria and Syrians from Syria,” said Davies.

For some of the Palestinians, the fee is hard to afford: “My son arrived on 18 July and is still here [without a permit]. Where do we get the money from?” said Umm al-Khayr, a sick woman in her sixties from Damascus. “Why don’t they just give us six months like the Syrians?”

Corruption is also a problem: “I saw a Palestinian woman at the border, who did not know anyone in Lebanon and she was forced to pay $300 in bribes, $40 for each child,” said Darim, a teenager from Damascus. Palestinians who want to leave Syria still need permission from the Syrian government. While UNRWA said the procedure has been eased, NGO worker Rawan Nassar told IRIN that people have been asked to deposit large sums of money to obtain permission from the Syrian authorities, or have even been forced into providing sexual favours by border officials.

According to Palestinian sources close to Fatah, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is expected to visit Lebanon shortly to negotiate better conditions with the government.

Costly, cramped camps

In Lebanon, already poor conditions in the camps are affecting the Palestinians. But even in these camps, rents remain high. Refugees complain that even when they pay $200, the rooms they get are in an awful condition. “In Sabra there is another family of 12 and they are all sleeping in one room without any mattress,” said Abu Ahmad, an old man bearing the hallmarks of the Syrian intelligence’s brutality: broken teeth and bullet wounds on his arms.

Jordan’s Cyber City, visited by IRIN, houses about 400 refugees, both Palestinians and Syrians.

Families are given separate rooms; singles have to share. “The room is too small for a family. I feel awkward walking to the bathroom with so many strange men around. We are nearly 40 people on this floor,” said Hanah.

Refugees who have to share kitchens and bathrooms with 30-40 people complained about unsanitary conditions in the camp.

“It is quite smelly here. Some of the mattresses had bugs. People caught skin infections and head lice,” said Hanah.

Betrayed?

Many Palestinians feel betrayed, and blame the government and aid agencies. While Syrian refugees receive assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Palestinians fall under the mandate of UNRWA, with its smaller relief budget.

“UN agencies turned their backs on us,” said a refugee in Jordan who did not give his name. Refugees in Lebanon had similar stories to tell: “There is a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy who arrived two weeks ago with four kids and so far she hasn’t received anything from UNRWA,” said Umm Ahmad, Darim’s mother.

UNRWA Jordan told IRIN that while funds are limited “we acknowledge all Palestine refugees registered with the agency. Those who live in the agency’s five areas of operations are eligible for its services.”

UNRWA is providing primary health care free of charge, but has only limited additional funds for the new refugees. The extra strain that refugee children might put on UNRWA’s schooling system is of special concern. UNRWA has appealed to donors for an additional $27.4 million for its consolidated regional plan, but so far has only received $4.71million.

“We do not know our future,” said one of the refugees. “People come and take pictures and speak with us, but they all leave at the end.”

aa/ag/kb/ha/cb source http://www.irinews.org

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