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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In Bali the Mentally Ill Are Treated Like Animals

In Madagascar Twins Are Considered to Be Bad Luck

Bad luck babies: The twins abandoned in Madagascar because of black magic superstitions


Tiny babies are abandoned in villages because Amtambahoaka tribe believe twins are a curse that will bring death to their families

Eyes screwed up tight, she forces out a tiny weak cry as I cradle her. Weighing only 3lb, there is barely enough of this premature baby to fill the palms of my hands.
In the UK, her precarious start to life would be deemed unlucky even in the protective warmth of a UK hospital ­incubator with a loving family around her.
But here in Madagascar, an island haunted by black magic and taboos, this child’s sinister misfortune runs much deeper than that.
There is no incubator to protect her. Only a tatty mosquito net. There is no loving mum and family. Only flies circling her cot.
She is a Bad Luck Baby. Abandoned by her frightened mother simply because she was a twin – a quirk of nature seen here as a terrifying curse.
The elders of her Amtambahoaka tribe believe raising twins brings misfortune, even death, to their families.
In the past, newborn siblings were often taken out into the bush and left there to die. Today, civilisation has made some inroads into the remote south east corner of this island state off the coast of Africa.
Most end up in centres where they are put up for adoption. Many go on to start new lives in France, Italy, Sweden and Canada.
But the dark ages-old taboo out in the bush remains unbreakable. And as a mother, cradling this little victim whose sibling had already died, I want to find out how superstition can be stronger than the maternal bond to a child.
Orphaned twins in Madagascar
Orphaned: Twins in Madagascar
  That is why I am here with Channel 4’s Unreported World TV documentary team investigating the extraordinary story of the Amtambahoaka twins.
The nurse who handed the baby to me at a fly-blown hospital in the coastal city of Mananjary tells me the child’s mother lives in a village which is a a three-hour ride away on a bumpy speedboat down the Panagalanes canal.
When we get there, the villagers tell us the young woman who had given birth to twins was already back out in the fields planting rice.
Her name is Cecile, and she is 20 years old. She looks frightened when we approach her but Cecile, her husband Adreobert and her mother agree to talk at the tiny wooden hut that is their home.
Cecile tells us that, with no ante-natal care at all, she had no idea she was carrying two babies. “When they were born I was shocked,” she says.
“And scared for her life,” her husband Adreobert cuts in. While I was trying to understand her fear, I saw a tell-tale dark patch of leaking breast-milk growing on her T-shirt.
Just talking about the tiny babies she felt forced to give away was making her body produce breast milk.
“We want to keep our twins,” Cecile’s mother tells us. “But it is up to the chiefs. If it changes we will keep our babies. But if not, we will have to keep abandoning them.”
We are determined to meet the tribal chiefs responsible so we can ask them why they promote a taboo that tears families apart. But they don’t see it that way.
At a gathering of the senior elders of the Antambahoaka, one of the oldest tells me bluntly: “Keeping twins is like eating your own s**t.”
Yet villagers are starting to rebel. On the outskirts of Mananjary, we visit seven defiant families, all with twins. They live in makeshift tents after being forced to leave their villages as outcasts.
One mum there, Carolin, must be the unluckiest woman in Madagascar – she has three sets of twins.
She says: “We had to move over 30 times before we came here, because people think that even renting us a home with twins will bring bad luck.
“Most of my family would ignore me if they saw me on the street – but nothing will ever make me give up my babies.”
Across the city there is a centre for abandoned children where more than a dozen pairs of twins are currently being given shelter. Since it opened in 1987, hundreds of twins have passed through its doors. Julie Rasoarimanana, who runs the centre, tells me not a single parent has ever returned to reclaim their children.
A few days later, back at the hospital, we discover that our surviving Bad Luck Baby’s luck has changed. She has been adopted by Juliet, a local schoolteacher from a different tribe who named her Nvayo, which means “to rise”’.
On our last day in Mananjary, we visit Nyavo in her new home, where her new mother is gently rocking her to sleep.
For this twin at least, good fortune has defeated superstition.
  • Unreported World: The Cursed Twins is on Channel 4, Friday May 9, at 7.30pm

Monday, September 26, 2016

South Asia's 'disposable women'


  • 7 hours ago
  • From the section UK
Image copyright Getty Images
A new report has called for the practice of some British Asian men mistreating women and leaving them soon after getting married in South Asia, to be treated as a form of domestic violence.
Academics at the University of Lincoln have discovered that these men have been taking thousands of pounds from their new wife's family and using the women as domestic slaves for their in-laws.
These "disposable women", as the report calls them, are also often physically abused and then abandoned either once they have moved to the UK, or - more commonly - while still in India.
Some are brought temporarily to the UK but later taken on a pretend holiday back to India, where they have their passport taken away.
Many women hide the fact that this has happened to them, so academics spent more than a year finding 57 women in India who had experienced the phenomenon and would share their stories.

Dream wedding

Marriage for Sunita, not her real name, began how she had always dreamed it would in a grand venue in India's Punjab region, with hundreds of guests and a beautiful red dress.
"Everything was great," she says, as she runs through photos of her big day on her phone.
After the wedding, her new husband stayed with her for a month in India before returning to his home in the UK. Sunita expected him to come back to India shortly afterwards and take her back to live with him there, but things then started to go wrong.

"It was coming up to a year and he still didn't return," she says. "I asked him many times 'Come back to India, when are you coming?' but he would just say 'Not now, another time'.
"He demanded a lot from me too. At times 'give money' and at other times 'give furniture'."
Sunita's husband eventually stopped talking to her on the phone. She hasn't seen him since and has also since found out he was already married to another woman in the UK.
As is common in India, and some other countries in South Asia, Sunita's family had given her husband's family almost £3,000, as well as around £4,000 in gold as a dowry - money or goods given by the wife's family to the husband's when they get married.

Find out more

The Victoria Derbyshire programme is broadcast on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

Sunita says her husband and in-laws were also physically abusive towards her.
"When I used to question if he had a wife [in the UK], and why did he marry me - they would beat me just for asking."
Her family is not rich and her father is watching on as she speaks, clearly devastated by what has happened. He spent thousands of pounds on a marriage he thought would give his daughter a happy future.
"I'm very upset. I'm finding it hard to talk about. He made [sexual] relations with me, my life is ruined," she says.
 Dr Sundari Anitha
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dr Sundari Anitha says the stigma surrounding abandoned wives is "massive"
Researchers point out that this problem also exists in Pakistan and Bangladesh - countries where marriages to people living in the UK, the US, Canada, and other nations with a large South Asian diaspora are common.
Dr Sundari Anitha, from the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lincoln, spoke to women personally affected on a number of trips to Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat in India.
She met women who had paid as much as £25,000 in dowry before being abandoned, women raped by their new husbands, some who were used to have a child and then abandoned and others left in India to act as carers and domestic slaves for their in-laws.
She says patriarchal culture in South Asia means being abandoned can ruin a woman's life.
"The stigma is massive and it even has an impact on other people in the family. So a woman's sister will find it harder to get married. She will find it harder to get a job, she faces financial insecurity and she's seen as damaged goods - primarily because the assumption is she's had sex."
The report recommends that the British state recognises abandonment as a form of domestic violence and offers protection to women "disposed of" by British men, even if they never travel to the UK.
Pragna Patel
Image caption Pragna Patel says recognising abandonment as domestic abuse will improve legal rights
Pragna Patel, director of campaign group Southall Black Sisters, worked with academics on the study and says this would offer recourse to some sort of justice for women who at the moment have none.
The group says that the constituent parts of abandonment - such as blackmail, fraud, emotional abuse, financial abuse, controlling and coercive behaviour and domestic servitude - can be prosecuted under existing laws, but that "few, if any, perpetrators face any consequences".
The victims may be unaware of their rights or feel too ashamed or frightened to report their abuse, it is suggested.
Ms Patel explains, however, that "once it is recognised as domestic violence then all the legal avenues that should be open to women either to seek protection or prosecution, or other legal remedies, would be available to abandoned women".
She says that in the last month, staff at Southall Black Sisters have encountered a case in which a man had married and abandoned five different women - each time profiting financially.
"It's like a business for him," she says. "The perpetrators are British nationals. If the British state turns a blind eye or is indifferent to this abuse then it is contributing to this culture of impunity - these men are not held to account by anyone.
"We have to wake up to the fact that violence in transnational spaces is a new and emerging form of violence against women."
Read more:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Paedophile jailed after being found with a missing 5 year-old girl

International Business Times

Trevor Hughes was jailed for 12 monthsfor breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Trevor Hughes
Trevor Hughes was jailed for 12 years after breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.Merseyside Police
A paedophile has been put back behind bars after he was caught walking off with a missing five-year-old girl in Liverpool.
Trevor Hughes, 66, of Knowsley Road, Bootle, was jailed for 12 months on Friday for breaching an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order which prevents him from being with children unsupervised.
Liverpool Crown Court heard her frantic mother saw him with her daughter near a leisure centre after giving the girl some bubbles as a birthday gift.
She had started a search for her daughter with the help of her neighbours.
Addressing the court Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said: "It is every parents' nightmare that their child playing will be grabbed by a sex offender and that is exactly what happened here."
The court was told, according to the Liverpool Echo, that since the incident the girl has nightmares and "wakes up screaming".
Hughes had previously been jailed for two-and-a-half years in June 2013 for possessing indecent images of children and sexually assaulting a girl he had groomed.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mental health: An artist's struggle to help others overcome self-harm


Reporter's NotebookMental health

 Al Jazeera meets someone who finds comfort in talking openly about self-harm, and a researcher who has written a guide for parents.

Megan Dallat used to self-harm and believes talking openly about it is important in overcoming the condition [Al Jazeera]


Journalist at Al Jazeera English.
Note: Al Jazeera is publishing this piece on World Suicide Prevention Day. If you are affected by any of the issues it raises, please visit IASP's website. 

Megan Dallat shows me her series of three photographs of women hanging in a downtown Belfast art gallery. Each of the women has a violent streak of red paint running across their bodies.
They are disturbing images, particularly given Dallat's history of self-harm.
The arts blogger first cut herself when she was 14, on her left forearm with a pin. She progressed to fishing knives and razor blades on her upper thighs. The cutting continued until last year when, at 23, she got the help she needed and stopped self-harming.
"Back then if I was to cut I would know that I was going to do it throughout the day. I would feel a building frustration and there was nothing that I could do to help myself, or nowhere I could turn.
"It was so frustrating and then it was almost exciting to get ready to do it, and then doing it was a release of, I don't know, an up emotion,'' said Dallat, who has a small sunflower tattooed on one ankle and a tiny heart tattoo, barely visible in white ink on her wrist.
Mental health workers estimate that 10 to 15 percent of young people self-harm; cutting and pill overdoses are the most common forms. Most, like Dallat, learn other ways of coping and outgrow the destructive behaviour by their mid-twenties, but 1 to 2 percent end up committing suicide.
Mental health professionals say that a majority of people who do kill themselves have self-harmed at some point in their lives.
Parents of young people who self-harm are often blind-sided when they learn their carefully nurtured child is harming themselves. Dallat's parents learned their daughter's secret from a teacher.

Warning signs

Now, there is help available, in the form of a 12-page booklet entitled, "Coping with Self-harm; A Guide for Parents and Carers". It's been translated into Flemish and Icelandic and other languages may follow.
I went to Oxford to the university's Centre for Suicide Research to meet the guide's author.
Anne Ferrey consulted 42 parents in putting together the guide. It's clearly written with tips on what parents should look for: a child refusing to swim, covering their arms with long sleeves, or bangles and bracelets - more than the usual teenaged withdrawn behaviour.
Ferrey explained that self-harm does seem to release endorphins, positive chemicals that bring short-term relief.
"For some people it just helps them feel more in control of their life. So, young people will say, 'I can't control anything else … but I can control how I treat my own body'.
"Although it does help them in the moment feel like it's improving the way they're feeling, overall it's quite negative and it's not something you would want to continue," she said.
Ferrey's office in the Department of Psychiatry is tucked behind the Warneford Hospital, built in 1826 as the Oxford Lunatic Asylum. Just the change language shows how far we've come in accepting mental illness.
It's difficult to find people willing to talk about mental illness. Most don't want to expose themselves to ridicule – to be considered a "freak". And those who've stopped cutting want to forget their unstable period and move on.
Dallat is a rare, brave voice willing to buck the stigma and talk about her difficult history.
"The more people talk about it the more you feel you can open up without being judged," Dallat told me as rain pelted the large windows in her Belfast studio.
"I can talk about [self-harm] because I am completely over it, and if there's anything I can do to help other people stop, I want to do it.''
Click here to view Dallat's personal website.
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Yes, Climate Change Does Kill People of Color More


Black Lives Matter are right: climate change is much worse for minorities worldwide.

Some people really don't like facts, preferring to be swayed by feeling, hearsay, assumption, and whatever comes along to affirm their own world view. It would be interesting if it didn't have so much capacity to do damage.
Friends of the Earth were called racist and all sorts of things yesterday by the keyboard warrior contingent for supporting the Black Lives Matter protest at City Airport.
Get the magazine, the app and full web access from $1 a week Facts may not be very good at changing people's minds but we are not yet so deeply into a post-factual society that we shouldn't at least consider them. Here's an honest to God, straight up and down fact:
We have just witnessed a record-breaking 14 consecutive months of the hottest global temperatures since records began, with vanishing Arctic sea ice and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef just the latest reality we have to face. Scientists say we have to go back 120,000 years before we find hotter temperatures than those currently recorded and are now predicting sea level rises of 10 feet by 2065. Think of some of the largest cities in the world and where they are—Rio, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Shanghai—to realize what sea level rises will mean.
Climate scientists, governments, civil society and anyone else thinking rationally recognize that the impact of our carbon pollution will mean failing agriculture, greater food insecurity, more intense droughts and floods, record-breaking super typhoons and hurricanes, increased water shortages, more extreme weather. These elements lead to the forced displacement of people, and an increase in conflicts, and this is happening now.
Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013, left 7,000 dead and 2 million homeless. Floods in Pakistan in 2010 affected 20 million people. This year's heatwave in India and Pakistan hit 51°C, while in the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa) drought has affected 23 million, and left 3.5 million displaced. Just one tropical storm, Erika, which hit the Caribbean island of Dominica last year, put back development gains by 20 years. And all this is happening at an average temperature of increase of 1°C.
It's hard to put an accurate estimate on how many lives are lost each year to climate change, or how many communities destroyed. Some figures suggest up to 700,000 additional deaths per year, although climate change fans every existing inequality in the world.
Who are these people who are dying, and who is responsible? It's the greatest injustice of climate change, that those who are the least responsible for causing the climate crisis, are the first to suffer. The poor, the marginalized, the indigenous communities are on the frontline—and they are overwhelmingly people of color in developing countries. And where it is richer, more developed countries dealing with wildfires, such as those in Australia, the U.S. or the floods in Europe, they invariably have more resources to deal with the impact.
Here are some more facts—just 10 percent of the world's population are responsible for 50 percent of emissions, while the poorest 50 percent are responsible for only 10 percent of emissions. No guessing where most of that first 10 percent live. The reality is that rich countries in the West have grown wealthy from burning fossil fuels, and now other countries are using the same dirty development pathway to do the same. An average citizen in the U.S., with just 5 percent of the world's population, still has a per capita income of $41,064 and pollutes 17.3 tonnes of CO 2 . India, with 18 percent of the global population have average of $3,148 per capita income and its citizens are responsible for 1.4 tonnes. The world's poorest countries—the so-called least developed countries—constitute 11 percent of the global population but have only a per capita income of $1,461, and the average CO 2 output across Africa is 0.9 tonnes.
Political decisions are being made for those whose voices are listened to, and it takes protesters such as those in Black Lives Matter to advocate for those whose voices are ignored.
The ink on the Paris Agreement isn't dry, but politicians agreed to keep temperature increases to below the critical 1.5°C guardrail. To prevent a breach of that, we can only pollute at the same rate as we are doing for another six to 10 years. In a fair world, rich countries in the West would have decarbonized decades ago. But the harsh truth is that it's incompatible with preventing a breach of 1.5°C and even the 2°C guardrail to build new airports, or to progress more dirty energy sources such as fracking.
So the Black Lives Matter protestors were absolutely right to say that climate change is killing black people. They are absolutely right to put the spotlight on airport expansion. Globally aviation emissions increased by 71.6 percent between 1990 and 2012, the same volume as the CO 2 emitted by Germany. If aviation was a country, it would be the world's seventh largest emitter. That's why the protest happened, and that's why we need to listen to their message.
Asad Rehman is a climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The "Blacks" of El Gosbah: Exile in Tunisia


Collecting babouch, Tunisian clams

Last updated: March 18, 2016

Banner Icon Photo Essay Vanished from the maps, the village of El Gosbah or the village of the “blacks” is situated in the remote southern parts of Tunisia. Despite its population of five thousand inhabitants, one witnesses the absolute lack of infrastructure (roads, transport, water supply etc.) and complete absence of state institutions.


A primary school, a small hospital where a doctor comes once per week, tiny groceries with small quantities of seasonal goods, three mosques built at the community's expenses and two coffee shops accompany a scenery of a handmade, sparsely populated village where one can find nothing but the extremely necessary. The men of El Gosbah spend most of the year in unemployment, waiting for summertime when they hunt seasonal jobs, usually as bodyguards, in the island of Djerba.
Still perceived as slaves' descendants by their compatriots due to their black skin, men of Gosbah blame racism for unemployment and they often have to migrate for work to Libya. Lacking alternatives, youngsters kill their time drinking coffee, playing cards or in Publinets, connected on Facebook. School dropout consisting a common phenomenon, women of all ages become the main providers of the family as the majority of them embarks on a 15-kilometre daily journey to the beach in order to collect babouch, as Tunisians call clams, gaining 2-7 euros for six hours’ manual labour. At the end of their long day, women prepare the meal and gather to drink tea and watch Bollywood soap operas.
Doors are always open and the sense of collective life lies in the heart of the community. Faraway from the urban centres, some people in Gosbah ignore completely what elections are while some households have not paid electricity bills since the Tunisian Revolution in 2011. People of Gosbah feel “exiled and unwanted”, yet they are very attached to their land which they often call janna, 'paradise' in the Tunisian dialect.
Social exclusion, economic marginalisation and a life inscribed in the narrow frontiers of a world full of divisions; locals sing about their experiences through a local music genre, Tayfa, a unique self-taught style which only passes from generation to generation among the men of the village. The Tayfa leader is the only one who can read and write and the rest of the band, being illiterate, have to memorise the lyrics.
A modern “Romeo and Juliet” drama occurred a decade ago when a “white” daughter fell in love with a “black” shepherd, triggering a war of hatred between “white” and “black” neighbours. That story still haunts the locals' narrations about El Gosbah. Thus, geographic and social isolation, lack of education and racism regularly leads to consanguineous marriages. Having lived for some time with the locals, women often silently portrayed to me what words were unable to convey: their suffering due to their darker skin colour and the destiny that this same colour would reserve for their daughters.
Jenny Tsiropoulou
Jenny is a freelance journalist currently based in Tunisia. She has studied Law in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and holds a Master's Degree on "Global Media and Postnational Communication" from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. She speaks Greek, English, French, Spanish and collaborates with Greek and international media. Contact:

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Tunisia's Dirty Secret



Five years after the revolution, Tunisia's black minority has yet to experience the freedoms enjoyed by other citizens.

| Racism, Tunisia, Middle East, Human Rights, Arab Spring
As the celebrations of this remarkable achievement began to quieten down, people got ready to enjoy the benefits of liberty - especially those to do with fairness, human rights and equality.
And indeed, many of those benefits did follow; even though many Tunisians continue to feel economically marginalised and the country faces security problems, for the most part the repression that was such a feature of the Ben Ali years has gone. Tunisia is widely regarded as one of the few successes of the Arab Spring.
But not all Tunisians would agree. Five years on from the revolution, the country's large black minority - roughly about 15 percent of the population - say they have yet to fully experience the freedoms that their fellow citizens enjoy. They say that racial abuse and discrimination are still widespread in a society that is supposed to have done away with inequity and prejudice - and that the authorities are failing to take action.
People & Power sent filmmaker Nada Issa to investigate.

By Nada Issa
Racism is, to varying degrees, a problem for almost every society in the world.

In the West, Islamophobia appears to be on the rise, fuelled by public anxiety over the influx of refugees into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa.

In the United States too, politics appears to be ever more polarised. A year which has seen Donald Trump's highly controversial and, some would say, openly xenophobic views edge him ever closer to the Republican Party's presidential nomination has also borne witness to numerous reports and leaked videos of alleged police brutality against members of the country’s black community.

But what sets Tunisia apart from these examples is the fact that racism, though clearly evident at almost every level of society, is rarely, if ever, publicly acknowledged. In Tunisia, racism is shrouded in a blanket of denial that rarely permits anyone to see it with clarity. A desire to remove this shroud and shine a spotlight on this deep-seated intolerance gave me the impetus to make this film.

As our investigation would reveal, discrimination is a shockingly everyday occurrence for black Tunisians. Although no official statistics exist, around 15 percent of the country’s population is believed to be black, while the majority of the remainder regard themselves as "white". To some outside observers, this labelling might appear strange given the country’s unique and rich African-Arab identity, but it is part and parcel of the way Tunisians think of themselves and, apparently, compartmentalise those around them.
 Five years on from the revolution, the country's large black minority say they have yet to fully experience the freedoms that their fellow citizens enjoy [Al Jazeera] 
In 2011, Tunisia shook the world as daily street protests eventually led to the toppling of the government, a vanguard for the other Arab Spring protests that erupted successively in countries across the region. Black and white Tunisians stood shoulder to shoulder on the streets calling for the fall of the Ben Ali regime, demanding democracy and a new, more inclusive political chapter in their nation’s history.
But though revolution may have brought about change for many white Tunisians, the rights and freedoms of black citizens seem to have been forgotten - or at the very best to have been selectively granted and protected.

Among the legislative reforms of the past five years was Act 21 which states that all citizens are "equal before the law without any discrimination."
On the face of it, this might appear to guarantee equal opportunities for all Tunisian citizens irrespective of racial and ethnic heritage, but many black critics argue that it falls woefully short in protecting them from prejudice.
They believe an additional constitutional or legal coda to criminalise racism, which remarkable is currently not defined in law, is now the only way to bring an end to widespread discrimination in public life - as well as silencing the casual racism which pervades the streets of towns and cities across the country. The lack of such a law, they say, means that perpetrators of hate crimes, even when such cases are reported, are never brought to justice.

Black Tunisians have long lived on the margins of their society. Although it was one of the very first territories in the world to abolish slavery and provide legal emancipation in 1846, traces of the slave trade's legacy linger on. This is perhaps most visible in the south of the country, where many black families still bear the names of their ex-slave owners preceded by the term "Atig", meaning "freed from".

While filming in Tunis, we heard rumours that even cemeteries in the rural south were divided along racial lines. In one town in Djerba, for example, we were told that the graveyard for black Tunisians is known as the cemetery of the "Abeed", meaning slaves. Meanwhile, the final resting place of the local white community is referred to as "Ahrar", meaning free. It was also alleged that, in parts of the south, segregation along racial lines was so extreme that entire towns were designated exclusively for whites and others allotted only for occupation by black families.
Racism is shrouded in a blanket of denial that rarely permits anyone to see it with clarity, the author explains [Al Jazeera] 
To investigate just how accurate these claims were, we travelled to the region with one of our contributors, a prominent Tunisian anti-racism campaigner. Approaching the town of Sidi Makhlouf, we met fierce resistance from the local police who had somehow heard we were coming and clearly did not want us to document the realities of life in their community.

Once we managed to get past them, we soon discovered why. Hard though it is to believe, we found that in this town separate buses were used to transport white and black children to school – a practice that seems more reminiscent of 1950s America or even apartheid-era South Africa. Members of the local community we spoke to said this practice had begun some years ago when a local mixed-race couple got married and aroused the fury of the area's "white" majority. Now they don't want their children to mix with those from black families.
But this isn't just a rural phenomenon. In the capital, Tunis, many of our black contacts told us that racism was evident in everything from "the looks people give you" to the menial jobs most black people were offered. On a number of occasions we ourselves witnessed white Tunisians addressing black citizens using derogatory terms such as "Wasif" (servant) or "Kahlouch" (blackie) - which are equivalent to the "N" word used by racists in the West, in their expression of bigotry and contempt. These words often weren't muttered quietly either - in one football match we went to see, the black referee was unashamedly subjected to a loud barrage of deeply offensive racist insults from watching supporters.

Yet perhaps this is the moment when the shroud of denial is finally begin to lift. Racism in Tunisia has recently gone from something to be denied and ignored to becoming the subject of regular street protests.
Discrimination permeates school life, the workplace and the street, but there is now at least a glimmer of hope as Tunisia's small but increasingly vocal civil rights movement gains momentum. Indeed we followed one group as they delivered a plea for help to Tunisia's human rights minister. His promises to act - though a little light on detail - were at least a sign that some in authority are now beginning to listen.

Source: Al Jazeera

Tunisia's dark history of racial discrimination

The New Arab Logo

Tunisia's dark history of racial discrimination Open in fullscreen

The rights of black Tunisians have gone unaddressed since the revolution [Getty]
Date of publication: 10 June, 2016

Comment: Transitional justice in Tunisia should extend to those who continue to be excluded from society, writes Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Something is rotten in the state of Tunisia, although you wouldn't know it without digging deep. On the surface, Tunisia is seen as a shining example of democratic evolution in the Arab world.

It is true that Tunisia has made great strides since its 2011 revolution. Rival political parties, Nidaa Tounes and Ennahdha, are governing as a coalition based on compromise. Tunisia's constitution is also the most progressive in the region.

However, some areas of the country's progress have stagnated. One in particular - minority rights - needs a major boost, as the rights of black Tunisians have gone completely unaddressed since the revolution for citizenly dignity. Without an honest examination of racial discrimination and attempt to improve treatment of its black citizens, Tunisia will be selling itself short in the years to come.
Munathara debate kicks off conversation about birth certificates
The Munathara Initiative, a pan-Arab debate program, recently hosted a debate in Tunisia about minority rights in the Arab world. Tunisia is the perfect venue for such a debate, as in 1846, it became the first Arab country to abolish slavery.

Two teams jousted back and forth, debating minority rights. The most notable moment came when Rania Belhaj Romdhane, director of Mnemty, an anti-racism NGO in Tunisia, produced the  birth certificate of a black Tunisian.

Rania, who is black herself, showed the certificate to Abdelbari Atwan, who was debating against her as part of the anti-minority rights side. Atwan, a journalist with celebrity status in the Middle East, originally hails from Gaza and not Tunisia.
On the certificate, the word chouchane which in Tunisian Arabic translates to "owned by" is written next to the name "Hamrouni". In other words, it reads "property of Hamrouni".

Without an honest examination of racial discrimination and attempt to improve treatment of its black citizens, Tunisia will be selling itself short in the years to come
Abdelbari told Belhaj Romdhane that if such a practice of racial discrimination exists, then he would raise the issue with President Beji Caid Essebsi. Belhaj Romdhane declined the offer, stating that she could handle the matter herself.
Despite her rejection, Atwan still obtained a copy of the document. Speaking to The New Arab, he said, "I consulted with four journalists and found nothing racist in the document." Atwan visited Essebsi and spoke about "the economic situation and the call for a national unity government." However, he never raised the issue of the document because he saw "no discrimination in it".
When asked if racial discrimination is a problem in Tunisia, Atwan refused the claim, "Maybe there are a few cases of racism, but it is not generalised. It is being exaggerated."
Bigger problems to deal with
Atwan believes that there are "much bigger problems in the Arab world" and this is a common opinion among policymakers in Tunisia. Of course, there are major problems. As President Essebsi said recently, the three main problems are "corruption, unemployment and terrorism". It is hard to disagree; yet those like Essebsi who are saying this, have never experienced racism in their lives.
This begs the question, is Atwan correct? Is the birth certificate discriminatory or is racism just an exaggerated problem?
A history of slavery in Tunisia
Birth certificates like the Chouchane Hamrouni one are held by many black Tunisians. Not all black Tunisians hail from slave ancestry, yet those with the "chouchane" format have ancestors who received this name when they were purchased by slaveowners in Ottoman Tunisia. White slaves also existed, as criminals and kidnapped Europeans were often forced into slavery.
Najwa Younes, a journalist and researcher of the history of black Tunisians, helped clarify the ambiguity surrounding names of former slaves. Younes, who identifies as "brown-skinned", told The New Arab:

"Upon emancipation, white slaves dropped the names of their previous owners: They just kept the last names abid meaning slave or atig meaning former slave. Other emancipated white slaves even kept the last names of their owners, such as "Mamlouk", without the possessive preceding it. Many black slaves, however, were forced to keep "property of" plus the name of their previous owners."

'People in the cities don't see racism as a generalised problem because they identify blacks as sub-Saharan foreigners' says Myriam Amri
In other words, the names of black Tunisians solely indicated them as property of prominent families. The black Tunisians who submitted these certificates to Mnemty wanted to both change their official names and raise awareness that this practice still exists.
Atwan was not aware of this practice, nor the fact that in certain towns in southern Tunisia, public school buses are segregated, one bus for whites and one bus for blacks. In response, Atwan said, "They should be thankful. They are lucky to have two buses."
Should black Tunisians really be thankful?
Black Tunisians comprise up to 15 percent of the population, but only one black Tunisian serves in parliament. According to Rania Belhaj Romdhane, in certain parts of the country, such as the small town of Gosbah in Medenine, wesfan or slaves are separated from ahrar or freedmen in racial segregation.
It is worth noting that these egregious examples of racial discrimination are by no means widespread. They only exist in small communities in southern Tunisia. In fact, Article 21 of Tunisia's constitution "guarantees freedoms and individual and collective rights to all citizens".
However, without a specific article guaranteeing equality to all people regardless of race, more insidious racism, like the issue of names, will continue to exist throughout the country.
Insidious forms of racial discrimination
In "Tunisia’s Dirty Secret", a short Al Jazeera documentary showing racism in Tunisia, a black Tunisian named Hamza walked a day in the streets of Tunis wearing glasses with a hidden camera. In the footage, one man walks by Hamza and asks, "Slave, have you been kicked out from your house?" while another walks by saying "have a shower you lazy bastard".
In fact, words like chouchane or kahloush - a derogatory way to refer to black people - are still used quite frequently, either in jest or as actual labels. For many black Tunisians, chouchane represents not just a name, but a form of constant humiliation.

Tunisia can and should be a leader in the fight to attain racial equality
Speaking to Al Jazeera interviewers afterwards, Hamza says that he hears many racist insults in the streets of Tunisia. "It's like someone's piercing your heart", he admits.
Myriam Amri, a graduate student at the School of Anthropology at LSE, believes such racial discrimination is by no means exceptional. "People in the cities don't see racism as a generalised problem because they identify blacks as sub-Saharan foreigners. They don't see it as a problem between one Tunisian and another. Black Tunisians almost don’t exist."
Hope for a future of equality
In the future, Tunisia can and should be a leader in the fight to attain racial equality. Across the world, people look to it as a role model. Transitional justice in post-revolution Tunisia does not just extend to those who were explicitly persecuted under the regime, but also to the individuals and communities who were and continue to be excluded from society.
Tunisia first needs an article added to its constitution, specifically preventing discrimination based on race. On top of this, it should be possible for individuals with such names to change them easily.
Belhaj Romdhane remains hopeful. "We need to guide people to learn to become more accepting. Parents can start by teaching their children to appreciate differences."

Conor is a journalist based in Tunisia. His work has been published in the Huffington Post, Middle East Eye, and Al-Monitor. He also works in the Tunisian education field to promote cross-cultural understanding.

Follow him on Twitter: @ConorMichael28

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.
Racism, Tunisia, Ennahdha, equality, slavery, Essebsi, minority rights

باب البحر /العاصمة :هذه تفاصيل هلاك إيطالي بعد إرتباطه بعلاقة جنسية بشاب تونسي القتل بالسكين

القتل بالسكين

باب البحر /العاصمة :هذه تفاصيل هلاك إيطالي بعد إرتباطه بعلاقة جنسية بشاب تونسي

تونس-النهار نيوز

القتل بالسكين

أذنت السلط القضائية بالمحكمة الإبتدائية بتونس مؤخرا إلى اعوان الإدارة الفرعية للقضايا الإجرامية بالقرجاني بمهمة مواصلة البحث في ملف قضية تتعلق بموت مستراب فيه لإيطالي كان عثر عليه ميت في المنزل الذي كان يقيم به في لافايات بالعاصمة
و وفق صحيفة الأخبار الأسبوعي فقد أبلغ جيران الشيخ الإيطالي البالغ من العمر 70 سنة عن عدم خروجه من المنزل منذ أيام من دخوله هناك
و تولت الوحدات الأمنية إقتحام المنزل ليعثروا عنه جثة هامدة تمت معاينتها من قبل مساعد وكيل الجمهورية و أحد قضاة التحقيق بالمحكمة الإبتدائية بتونس و قد وضعت الجثة على ذمة الطبيب الشرعى بمستشفى شارل نيكول بتونس العاصمة لفحصها و الكشف عن سبب الوفاة و حسب نفس المصدر فقد تم فتح بحث تحقيقيا في الغرض من أجل القتل العمد
و أمكن لأعوان مركز نهج كولونيا من ضبط شابيين كانا على علاقة بالهالك و يقيمان معه في شقته و قد إعترف أحدهم بأنه على علاقة مريبة مشبوهة بالهالك نافيا أن يكون قد أزهق روحه.

Tunisian Blacks are a “Silent Minority” who Suffer “Social Isolation”.


Part of the speakers of ADAM Association seminar on Black TunisiansTunisians from all social categories gathered in gathered in Maison de la Culture Ibn Khaldoun, in downtown Tunis on June 12 to attend “Blacks in Tunisia: We Are All Tunisians. We are Children of Adam.” The event was organized by the first Tunisian black association called “ADAM Association for Equality and Development.”The conference is the first of its kind in Tunisian modern history to address the issues surrounding the black community. The history and challenges met by the community include denial of their role in Tunisian society, a lack of recognition, discrimination and racism.The speakers at the conference discussed ways of addressing the issue of racial discrimination in Tunisian society. Chawki Tbib, the head of the Tunisian Lawyers Association urged black Tunisians to report about racist incidents or discriminatory acts against them to any Tunisian lawyer.ADAM reiterated its support for the upholding of fairness and development among Tunisians irrespective of race. They strive to work towards achieving the equality of black Tunisians with their “white Tunisian” counterparts.Taoufik Chairi, chairman of ADAM, highlighted the need for the recognition of blacks in Tunisian culture and society.Chaouki Tbib, the head of the Tunisian Lawyers Association and president of the Tunisian Association for Citizenship admitted the presence of racism against blacks in Tunisia. “Racism is pervasive in Tunisian society: it exists in our jokes, traditions, dance, customs and even the refusal of mixed-race marriages,” Tbib stressed.On the other hand, Tunisia has an official history of working against racial discrimination. In January of 1846, Tunisia abolished slavery, becoming the first Arab nation to take the step. Tunisia has also signed international treaties to combat racism, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fight Against all Types of Racial Discrimination in 1948. In 1958, Tunisia signed an agreement criminalizing racial discrimination.“Tunisian law does not discriminate between Tunisians on the basis of race,” Tbib said.Tbib went on to urge black Tunisians as civil society members to be more active in cases of racial discrimination by reporting any racial incident to a human rights association, organization or lawyer. He also warned of the danger of “the trivialization of racism and racial discrimination in Tunisian society” and suggested committees to defend black Tunisians in the same vein as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the USA and SOS Racisme in France.Abdelhamid Larguèche, a Tunisian historian who worked extensively on the black presence in Tunisia also spoke. Larguèche co-authored the Tozeur Declaration in 2009  with Martinique poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant, and Salah Trabelsi, a French-Tunisian historian based in France. The book condemns slavery in the Arab and Muslim world and remembers the dark past of Arab and Muslim countries, who were involved

3 Horrifying TRUE Human Trafficking Stories

Sold by their mothers: Shining a light on the child sex trade in Cambodia

The fight to end child trafficking 07:04
The CNN Freedom Project wants to amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life.
(CNN)When Kieu was 12, her mother asked her to take a job. But not just any job. Kieu was first examined by a doctor, who issued her a "certificate of virginity." She was then delivered to a hotel, where a man raped her for two days.
In 2013, the Freedom Project went to Cambodia with Oscar-winning actress and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador against Human Trafficking, Mira Sorvino. The result was "Every Day in Cambodia: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary," which looked at child sex trafficking in the country.
In Svay Pak, a notorious child sex trafficking hub in Phnom Penh, Sorvino met Kieu, who was then around 14 years old. She had been rescued from sex trafficking by Agape International Missions (AIM), a non-profit for trafficked and at risk children and teenagers.
Kieu told of how she had been sold aged 12 by her mother to a Khmer man of "maybe more than 50" who had three children of his own, Sorvino explained in her Cambodia journal: "The price set in advance for her virginity: $1,500, though she was ultimately only given $1,000, of which she had to give $400 to the woman who brought her to the man. Her mother used the money to pay down a debt and for food for the fish they raise under their floating house -- their primary income source.
"Beforehand, Kieu said, 'I did not know what the job was and whether it was good for me. I had no idea what to expect. But now I know the job was not good for me.' After she lost her virginity to the man, she felt 'very heartbroken.' Her mother supposedly felt bad too, but still sent her to work in a brothel. Kieu said she did not want to go, but had to. She said, 'They held me like I was in prison.'"
She was kept there for three days, raped by three to six men a day. When she returned home, her mother sent her away for stints in two other brothels, including one 400 kilometers away on the Thai border. When she learned her mother was planning to sell her again, this time for a six-month stretch, she realized she needed to flee her home.
Her story is all too common in Svay Pak; she was just one of the girls whose stories were told in the film. Fast forward to 2015 and "Everyday in Cambodia" was named "outstanding documentary" by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, winning a Gracie Allen award.
Sorvino says the film has raised awareness of the issue of child sex trafficking in Svay Pak and Cambodia, helping to raise funds for AIM to build a school that, when completed, will offer hope for more than 1,000 children in the region.
"Primary and especially secondary education is extremely important in preventing trafficking," she says. "It allows children to develop critical thinking skills to be able to defend themselves from traffickers and to have the skills that will enable them to have gainful employment to be able to support their families in other ways than being sexually exploited."
AIM also now works with an "incorruptible" police SWAT team to raid brothels where children are working.
But Sorvino adds that it's not just about helping the victims. "The demand side really needs to be addressed," she says. "If people weren't trying to buy child sex it wouldn't be being sold."