News / Africa

UN Urges African Nations to Protect Sexual Rights

FILE - A volunteer from Simelela, an organization dealing with sexual violence, uses a doll to teach children about inappropriate touching and sexual abuse, at a pre-school in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township.
FILE - A volunteer from Simelela, an organization dealing with sexual violence, uses a doll to teach children about inappropriate touching and sexual abuse, at a pre-school in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township.
African countries have been called upon to accept "sexual rights" as an integral and inalienable part of basic human rights and remove all barriers preventing women and girls from claiming such rights. 

The youth sing songs during the Sixth Africa Conference on Sexual Health in Cameroon to draw the attention of the continent's leaders to the need to eliminate violence against women, girls and boys.

Among them is 18-year-old University of Yaounde 1 student Mbassi Antoinette who says she was sexually harassed by her lecturer.

She said it started with the lecturer promising to help her.  After that he started harassing me and asking for sex, intimidatingly saying that if I refuse, he will make sure that he gives me a fail mark in my exam, she said.

Gender-based violence, rape and sexual harassment appear to be increasing in many parts of Africa.  Professor Ahmadou Bouba told VOA a study he conducted shows alarming violence in Cameroon as one of the main hindrances to quality education in Africa.

He said cases of sexual harassment have increased in universities, as male lectures harass female students and in some cases, female lecturers harass male students.

The U.N. Population Fund said Africa has more people under age 20 than any place in the world, and the continent's population is set to double to two billion by 2050.

The youth's share of the population makes them integral to the continent's economic take-off.  But Christine Boutegwa from Ghana said this is compromised by inadequate laws when it comes to sexual and reproductive issues. "They do not see adolescents as sexual beings.  The policies that are there are not right for boys and girls," she explained.

Uganda conference representative Sarah Mokossa said there is a culture of silence around sex and sexuality on the continent.  "We still practice child marriage, we still practice female genital mutilation, we still view it as acceptable that young women and young men should not be educated on their sexual and reproductive health and rights even though we know that they are sexually active and usually that sexual activity is not by choice," she stated. "It is one in which they are forced by older men in the case of young girls."

A similar situation in Zimbabwe is enabled by the absence of strong legislation to punish those who carry out abuses, said Ndana Tawamba who represented the country at the conference. "The justice systems in the countries we are coming from are pretty much lacking behind in terms of  what it is that they can do in terms of seeing to it that those girls that are being married at early ages get the kind of recourse that they deserve," she said. "Getting the justice that they deserve after being raped particularly."

The conference ended with a call from U.N. Population Fund Deputy Director Kate Gilmore for African leaders to end all barriers that prevent women and girls from attaining their sexual and reproductive health capacities.

"We need every leader in Africa to insist that human rights for, with and by Africa be at the heart of the next development agenda, which the international community will define this year," she stated. "We have to reprioritize health and education as the magic formula for realizing young people's potential."

About 550 people representing 55 countries took part last week in the Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More