The detention of a lawyer in China or harassment of another lawyer in Iran has been reported. On the other hand, the same media hardly inform about a number of women’s rights activists in other countries, some of whom have been fighting for equal rights for years or even decades and have been subjected to at least as much Repression. In the current year 2019, the following women from Afghanistan, Sudan, Uganda and South Africa should have made headlines.
Use under risk of death
Ihsan Fagiri: as the co-founder of the women’s rights organization “no to Women’s Oppression”, the doctor has been campaigning against discrimination against women in Sudan for years. Her commitment to women who were victims of rape as a weapon of war in the Civil War is considered particularly courageous. Fagiri works under threat of death and was already in prison for political reasons. She is considered one of the key figures from civil society who contributed to the overthrow of long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir in the spring. Their commitment to women’s rights has since become no less dangerous, as a leading member of the ruling military council is one of their most dangerous adversaries. In autumn, the city of Weimar awarded the courageous woman the human rights prize for her tireless commitment to women’s rights. In the laudatory speech it was said that the prize should give Fagiri “a certain protection by the great public”.
Zarifa Ghafari: the 26-year-old was one of the first women in Afghanistan to run for mayor in the spring. Your task is to convince people of women’s rights and the spirit of women, she wrote on Twitter. “I will prove that women are not weak.“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had appointed her mayor nine months earlier. But on her first day at work, a Mob of men broke into her office and threatened her with stones and sticks. Paramilitaries rescued them. “Don’t come back,” the male Mob yelled after her. But months later, heavily guarded, she took office. The Conservative provincial chief, whom Ghafari suspected was behind the men’s Mob, had resigned. Ghafari is threatened with death by ISIS and the Taliban, she recently told The New York Times. But she is more afraid of criminal syndicates involved in the lucrative and highly corrupt trade in Land. One of them came to her office and threatened her with death if she stayed. Ghafari: “I will stay here and try to change society.»
Women’s rights activists in prison
Stella Nyanzi: the lecturer in medical anthropology has been working for women’s and Human Rights in Uganda for years. In the summer, she was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for accusing long-term President Yoweri Museveni of dismantling “all morality and professionalism” in Uganda’s institutions. Two years ago, Nyanzi was already in prison once for insulting the presidential couple. The reason was that Museveni had promised free bindings for schoolgirls and an educational campaign for girls during the 2016 election campaign, but remained inactive after winning the election. Both are central demands of women’s rights activists, as many girls do not go to school during their period because they cannot afford monthly hygiene. Nyanzi was finally released on bail after international protests. Now she wants to stay in prison, British media report. She feels safer there, can train young women and give them a voice.
In contrast to Stella Nyanzi, major media outlets gave us detailed information about Nasrin Sotoudeh from Iran: the lawyer was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in an unfair trial in Iran earlier this year. The charge was, among other things, to “conspiracy to endangering national security”, “incitement to corruption and Prostitution”, “appear in Public without a headscarf”, “disturbing public order” and “Rouse public opinion”. Together with a verdict from another trial, her prison sentence amounts to a total of 38 years. According to Iranian law, she must serve a minimum of 17 years, writes “Amnesty International”. Most recently, Sotoudeh worked on the defense of women who had publicly protested against the headscarf coercion last year and ended up in prison. Sotoudeh has been repeatedly sentenced to long prison terms for her commitment to women’s rights.
Criticism of governments
Lucinda Evans: the women’s rights activist from South Africa has been campaigning against sexual violence against women and girls for years with her non-governmental organisation “Philisa Abafazi Bethu”. Evans publicly criticises the government for doing too little to stop the rampant violence against women. She last spoke at a rally in Cape Town in the autumn in front of thousands of women. “I ask the ministers: when Will you finally hold these men to account who have been failing for so long?»
Unlike Lucinda Evans, Guo Jianmei in China made it in the headlines of our media: The lawyer received in this fall, even the Alternative Nobel prize “for their pioneering and persistent work to secure women’s rights in China”. Guo Jianmei founded the first legal advice centre for women in 1995. The first sponsor was Beijing university, later a non-governmental organization. Victims of sexual assaults, migrant workers and employees in discrimination proceedings received legal advice and assistance from the centre. For poor women, these were free of charge. In 2016, the government closed the center without justification. When the domestic violence Protection Act came into force in the same year, Guo Jianmei criticized the lack of implementing provisions. The progressive law will therefore never be applied. The now 58-year-old had already pointed out at a young age that although women in China are legally largely equal, the corresponding laws are too rarely applied. Guo Jianmei could not accept the Alternative Nobel Prize in person, as the government apparently refused to allow her to leave.
We see how the Western enemy image is fed with Iran and China while actions of Africans do not find much Echo, it is the one has brought this time again to The Hague.