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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Letter from Africa: Anger, fear and 'Afrophobia' in Zambia


  • 8 hours ago
  • From the section Africa
A foreign national who has fled his home in Zambia - April 2016
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many of the 700 foreigners who have fled their homes took refuge at a church in Lusaka
In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo considers the implications for Zambia of recent riots.
Six bodies of murdered citizens have turned up in the Zambian capital Lusaka in the last month.
It was widely reported that the victims had been mutilated and were missing their hearts, ears and private parts.
At the heart of the matter lay the darkness of ritual killings - when people are murdered for their body parts in the malevolent belief that in the hands of powerful sorcerers, these organs can be employed as charms to enhance political ambition and improve the lot of individuals in the pursuit of business and money.
While no African imagination is bereft of these tales, the practice of ritual murder has been shocking because of the frequency of its occurrence.
Albinos have borne the brunt of it in Burundi, Tanzania and now Malawi - where just this week police arrested 10 men for allegedly killing a 21-year-old albino woman.
Other cases of ritual killings have been reported from Nigeria to South Africa.
As a short cut to riches and influence, ritual murders have never been proven to work or they would have long replaced the tried paths of education, ambition and sweat.
What they do instead is polish "Heart of Darkness" labels for constant use on a continent awaking to her full potential and the promise of a 21st Century free of superstition.

Hunger and unemployment

The consequences of these murders were to prove far more serious for President Edgar Lungu's Patriotic Front (PF) government.
The residents of Lusaka's townships of Zingalume, George and Matero - where the bodies were discovered - attacked the police with stones for not doing enough to protect them from the ritual murderers.
A Zambian policeman arresting a rioter in Lusaka - April 2016
Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 250 people have been arrested by police sent out to stop the looting
But far more insidious enemies have been stalking Zambia's poor - hunger and unemployment.
The collapse of the Zambian copper trade as well as the kwacha currency and the onset of the southern African drought could easily be detected in the motives of the subsequent riots which saw xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Lusaka's high-density suburbs.
The rioters took what they could to eat and blamed foreign shopkeepers for the ritual murders.
The "foreigners" under attack had spilled over the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and then into Zambia after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
They were mainly Hutu refugees who had stayed on in Zambia, despite the UN refugee agency declaring Rwanda a safe destination for their return back in 2013.
There is nothing glamorous about being a refugee - for 22 years some 6,000 Rwandans have wondered stateless in Zambia without passports and legal status.
They then mingled with the locals in townships just like Zingalume, which are by no means upmarket addresses, and set up little shops to trade and survive.
Zambian police patrol near the Chawama Compound where residents attacked and looted foreign-run shops in Lusaka - 19 April 2016
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Troops have been patrolling the streets of some suburbs
It is in xenophobia's nature to point the finger of blame at those foreigners who own something, who show evidence of money where there is none to be found.
The former Rwandans found themselves seeking shelter in churches and assurances for their safety from the Zambian government with more than 700 displaced after two days of rioting.
In the short and dangerous history of xenophobia in South Africa and now Zambia, the word "foreigner" invariably refers to black Africans, not to the Portuguese escaping Lisbon's meagre prospects for the oil fields of Luanda, or the Chinese who run Zambia's copper mines, supermarkets and chicken farms.
Afrophobia is our xenophobia; it appears to be as African and as regular as ritual murders and deserves to be shunned.

Freedom fighters welcomed

Zambia's history of welcoming Africans without a home is legendary.
South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) was based in former President Kenneth Kaunda's Zambia as they fought apartheid, as were Zimbabweans fighting white-minority rule in what was then Rhodesia.
3 March 199: South African anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress (ANC) member Nelson Mandela (L) and Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda (R) wave to the crowd as they arrive at a mass rally in Lusaka
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A month after his release from jail in 1990, Nelson Mandela visited Zambia to thank the country for its help in the fight against apartheid
At the centre of President Lungu's dilemma is the economic crisis now gripping Zambia as copper mines fold and the rains refuse to fall.
Youth unemployment and a rising cost of living seems more likely to be the roots of future riots, not ritual murders.
A Global Hunger report has grouped Chad, the Central African Republic and Zambia as the "three most hungry countries on the global hunger index".
Mr Lungu became president in January 2015 following a rushed poll necessitated by the death in office of Michael Sata.
Zambia's gloomy economic outlook has him trying to put out fires on many fronts as the country prepares for general elections due in August 2016.
The move to deploy soldiers to the townships is being seen as a calculated government plan towards voter intimidation, not a means to restore security.
It is unlikely that any amount of soldiers on the streets will make this an easy ride for the PF government.
The ritual killings may have left six citizens dead and mutilated, hundreds of refugees displaced and soldiers on the streets; but as long as the economic crisis continues to grip Zambia, further riots may come to Lusaka sooner than the rains.

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Revenge pornography victims as young as 11, investigation finds


  • 5 hours ago
  • From the section England
Image copyright Daviles
Children as young as 11 are among more than 1,000 alleged victims of revenge porn who reported offences in the first year of the new law coming into effect, it has been revealed.
In April 2015, it became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject's consent.
The BBC analysed Freedom of Information requests from 31 forces in England and Wales between April and December.
Online safety charities said victims were left "hugely damaged".
Revenge porn refers to the act of a partner or ex-partner purposefully distributing images or videos of a sexual nature without the other person's consent.
Our analysis shows:
  • There were 1,160 reported incidents of revenge pornography from April 2015 to December 2015
  • Three victims were 11 years old with some 30% of offences involving young people under 19
  • The average age of a revenge porn victim was 25
  • Around 11% of reported offences resulted in the alleged perpetrator being charged, 7% in a caution and 5% in a community resolution
  • Some 61% of reported offences resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator. Among the main reasons cited by police include a lack of evidence or the victim withdrawing support
  • Facebook was used by perpetrators in 68% of cases where social media was mentioned in reports. Then came Instagram (12%) followed by Snapchat (5%)
Explore the full dataset here.
The new law was introduced after campaigners lobbied MPs to make it a criminal offence.
Previously, convictions for this type of offence were sought under existing copyright or harassment laws.
It covers images shared on and offline without the subject's permission and with the intent to cause harm. Physical distribution of images is also covered.
Laura Higgins, of the Revenge Porn Helpline, said being a victim was a "hugely distressing, damaging and violating experience".
She said: "The effect on victims is often pervasive and long-lasting.
"Whilst they have been the victim of a crime, often individuals internalise feelings of guilt and shame, which can negatively affect an individual's sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
"Victim-blaming attitudes only exacerbate these feelings. Some feel so isolated and overwhelmed they consider suicide."
Image copyright Thinkstock

Who has been prosecuted?

  • Jason Asagba, 21, of Romford, east London, shared intimate pictures of a woman on Facebook and was handed a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months. He first threatened to post the pictures three days after the new laws came into force
  • David Jones, 53, of Wallasey in Merseyside, was jailed for 16 weeks for posting sexually explicit photographs of a woman on social media. The woman said she felt "complete terror" when the photos appeared online
  • Luke King, of Aspley in Nottingham, shared an explicit photo of a woman using the messaging service WhatsApp. He was jailed for 12 weeks for harassment. The woman, from Derbyshire, told police she was "disgusted" and "really upset"
Ms Higgins said the new legislation was flawed because it did not ensure the anonymity of the victim; it did not cover historical cases; and it did not cover images that had been altered via Photoshop.
The English Regions data unit analysed data from police forces in England and Wales. Some 31 responded - Dorset, Hampshire and Lincolnshire denied the request on cost grounds, while responses from Avon and Somerset, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Cleveland, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Dyfed Powys and Gwent Police remain outstanding.
There were wide variations in the charge rate among police forces. Nobody had so far been charged in Lancashire, Devon and Cornwall or Cumbria, for example. In the West Midlands, 25% of reported offences resulted in a charge, while in Staffordshire, the rate dropped to 3%.
Simon Kempton, the lead on cyber crime for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "While some officers have had training in the new legislation across the board, there have been some inconsistencies, and there may be some officers who are yet to be given a full awareness and understanding of the new offence."
Mr Kempton said the federation welcomed the new legislation.
"Any sexual offences, including revenge porn, can have a devastating effect on victims. Until the new offence was enacted, police officers were often unable to show a criminal offence had taken place," he said.
Facebook logo reflected in eye
Image copyright PA

How social media giants tackle revenge pornography

  • Facebook said the sharing of non-consensual images had absolutely no place on its site. But with more than half the UK population using Facebook, the law of averages meant at times its service would sometimes be abused
  • It said it had built up an extensive infrastructure for people to report offences, which were investigated by a team of experts across the globe, 24/7. The team pays special attention to non-consensual sharing, and removes offending photos as quickly as possible
  • This year it teamed up with Google to host an EU Child Safety Summit, bringing together experts to discuss how the industry could keep young people safe online. It works with safety experts including Women's Aid, The Revenge Porn Helpline and Spunout to improve the way it tackles sharing of non-consensual images
  • Instagram and Snapchat said they encouraged people to follow their community guidelines and if someone was threatening to share something intended to be private it should be reported. They both said reviewers check these reports 24/7 and move to remove any content or shut down accounts, which violate its guidelines
A petition urging a change in the law to give victims the right to anonymity has been launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, and a revenge-porn victim.
Media outlets routinely withhold the names of victims.
The Crown Prosecution Service was contacted for a comment, but has not yet responded.
Additional reporting: Sandro Sorrentino

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