School ban on pregnant teens divides Equatorial Guinea

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“Pregnancy is neither a crime nor a mental illness,” insists Imelda Bosuala, a 15-year-old who was turned away by her school in Equatorial Guinea after falling pregnant.

When the school term began last month, the government had put in place a new rule — in order to enrol, all teenage girls must take a pregnancy test.

And a positive test means no more education.

Speaking on state television, deputy education minister Maria-Jesus Nkara said the tough new measure sought to encourage schoolgirls to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies.

A month into the new term, it is still too early to tell how many girls have been affected by the ban in a country where teenage girls come under heavy pressure to start a family.

World Bank figures show that in 2014, the birth rate among Equatorial Guinean adolescents aged 15-19 was 110 in 1,000.

The figure is substantially higher than the global average of 44 per 1,000, but lower than in other African nations such as Niger (204), Mali (175) and Angola (167).

Rights organisations have criticised the authorities for violating the right to education, slamming the measure as another example of repression in this tiny oil-rich nation whose president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has ruled with an iron fist since seizing power in a 1979 coup.

Illegal abortion fears

But opinions within the country are divided.

“This is a good decision,” said 13-year-old Sabina in the playground of Bioko Norte high school in the capital, Malabo.

“Coming to class while you’re pregnant shows a lack of respect.”

Even Bosuala herself is in two minds. “Pregnancy is also not a good example to set in the school environment,” she admits.

But French teacher Gerardo Ndong believes the decision was “foolish”.

And Trifonia Melibea, a sociologist and teacher at the National University of Equatorial Guinea, was also dismayed by the decision.

“These adolescents are being deprived of the fundamental right to education. That’s an insult,” she said.

She also warned that the measure could push teenagers into seeking abortions in “inhuman conditions”.

In the former Spanish colony of 800,000 people, pregnancies can be legally terminated only if there is a threat to the health of the mother and with the authorisation of the spouse or parents.

Daughters as ‘trade items’

Efua, whose 14-year-old daughter is expecting a baby, believes the government should open a dedicated school “especially for young pregnant girls” so they can keep up their studies.

Early pregnancies are most common in poor families, where adults might even consider sending a daughter out as a sexual offering.

“Some parents use their daughters as items of trade, asking them to go out with rich men to help the family survive,” said 19-year-old Ana Rita.

Sociologist Martin Ela pointed to increasing pressures from consumerism since oil production began in the 1990s.

“These little girls go out with someone who is able to give them a smartphone because they want to be on Facebook or WhatsApp,” Ela said.

Melibea said teenage girls were particularly vulnerable to pressure.

“In Equatorial Guinea, if a girl reaches the age of 18 without having a child, everybody starts saying she’s barren,” she said.

The high number of teen pregnancies can also be linked to the absence of legislative protection for minors against sexual harassment, meaning abusive men can operate with impunity.

‘Devastating consequences’

Sierra Leone introduced a similar ban on pregnant teens last year, prompting a sharp reaction from Amnesty International.

“Excluding pregnant girls from mainstream schools and banning them from sitting crucial exams is discriminatory and will have devastating consequences,” the London-based rights group said in a study released in November 2015.

“Education is a right and not something for governments to arbitrarily take away as a punishment.”

The report said the prohibition, which was sometimes enforced through “humiliating physical checks”, was likely to affect an estimated 10,000 young girls and risked destroying their future life opportunities.

The ban has yet to be lifted.

Source:Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) (AFP)

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MISS WHITNEY TAI IS NABA LIFE FOUNDATION AMBASSADOR

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Whitney Tai, an emerging singer, songwriter, entertainer and designer from New York City has signed as the ambassador for NABA LIFE FOUNDATION, a registered non-governmental organisation in Ghana.

Whitney is an artist looking to give back to the community and help people from around the world gain inspiration and motivation to achieve their deepest, most personal goals.

In January 2014, Tai released her first pop single in collaboration with Sunfreakz, “To Be Loved,” and a remix by Adrian Buster shortly after. The song received Hot Shot of the week on two FM stations in the country of Holland gaining her recognition from DJ’s and producers worldwide.

In April 2015, Whitney dropped her first debut pop alternative album, “Metamorphosis,” written and co­-produced with Billboard chart topping composer, Sunfreakz.

Whitney Tai has been working extensively to give out the best in the music career to her fans all over the world. Her newest EP of 2016, “Forever”, was produced by Billboard producer Spencer Garn, engineered by Morgan Ray Garcia of Upstairs Records.

The entire Board and Management of the foundation wish to say “Ayekoo” to Miss Whitney for joining the team to promote a good cause in helping young people in the country and beyond.

Source: NABA LIFE FOUNDATION

 

Angolan court frees 17 jailed activists

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An Angolan court on Wednesday ordered the conditional release of 17 young activists, including a well-known rapper, three months after they were jailed for rebellion against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Most of group were arrested during a book club meeting in June last year where one of the books on the line-up was about non-violent resistance to repressive regimes.

The activists maintained throughout their trial they were peaceful campaigners for the departure of dos Santos, who has been in power since September, 1979 and rules the oil-rich country with an iron fist.

“Release warrants under house arrest were issued on behalf of 17 applicants to be executed from the present day,” the Supreme Court in Luanda said in a statement.

The ruling overturns sentences ranging from two to eight years in prison, which were handed down at the end of a lengthy trial in March amid complaints about political repression.

One of the accused, rapper Luaty Beirao, went on hunger strike for over a month last year to protest against his detention.

Defence lawyer Francisco Miguel Michel said Wednesday he was “very happy”.

“Any court concerned with the application of justice would have ruled the same,” he said, insisting his clients “committed no crime”.

Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado told AFP the ruling was “long overdue”.

“The order should have been given immediately after the verdict in March… I am satisfied that the Supreme Court is upholding the law of the country,” she said.

AFP

World Toilet Day: Open Defecation in Ghana has not ended

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Journalist capturing someone defecating

World Toilet Day (WTD) is a United Nations (UN) observance, on November 19, to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet despite the human right to water and sanitation.

The purpose of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the lack of sanitation in parts of the world (especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where access to improved sanitation is very low), and to encourage the policies that increase sanitation access among the poor.

The World Toilet Organization (WTO), have promoted World Toilet Day for years; hence, In 2013, the United Nations(UN) officially recognized November 19 as World Toilet Day in a bid to make sanitation for all a global development priority. It deemed the practice of open-air defecation as “extremely harmful” to public health.

According to United Nations (UN), the provision of proper toilets could save the lives of more than 200,000 people in the world. The countries where open defecation is most widely practiced are the same countries with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities.

“Equality and Dignity” is the theme of World Toilet Day 2014; thus, the campaign will inspire action to end open defecation and put spotlight on how to access improved sanitation.

Ghana began marking the day in 2009 even when the United Nations (UN) had not officially recognized to celebrate such day.

Last year’s commemoration brought together government institutions, the private sector, NGOs, Development Partners, children and youth of Ghana to discuss and build consensus on issues of sanitation in Ghana.

This situation of open defecation has been in existence for a very long time and still going on in this 21st century: with the aim of celebrating World Toilet Day, intensive campaigns to provide more toilet facilities to put an end to such activity are embarked upon.

Moreover, over one billion people defecate in the open due to lack of proper toilet facilities. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls because they lack access to a toilet that offers privacy.

However, the situation has become very appalling upon which young people are losing their lives as a result of defecating near a big gutter or in a bush at night where wild animals can cause harm.

People especially those in the rural areas are suffering due to the absence of toilet facilities or few toilets facilities serving more people in an area.

Read this (Man dies during “free range” http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/regional/artikel.php?ID=332414)

After pondering on the existence of the WTD celebration and the ongoing open defecation activity, these questions came to mind: “What is the significance of celebrating World Toilet Day? What are the strategies or measures government is putting in place to end open defecation as far as the WTD is concerned?”

Open defecation can end when the government together with NGOs concerned engage in a massive project to construct more toilet facilities to each household in the country especially to those in the rural areas.

In addition, more seminars and public education must be organized to involve all the citizens on sharing ideas on how to provide possible means to ensure proper sanitation in the country as part of celebrating the World Toilet Day.

I think the media should give more publicity on the celebration to create the awareness to the public to also observe such a day by keeping the environment including the toilets clean and avoid open defecation to ensure sanitation in the country.

 

Written by Dorcas Aba Annan

Feature/Opinion: Investigate and Punish

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There is a real crime here; it is called “Voting Fraud.”
Electoral Fraud.” Or “Election Fraud.” This is the proverbial elephant in the room, as members of the U.S. intellectual community are wont to say. And yet, this is what even the leaders of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are curiously refusing to discuss or talk about. Instead, they simply want the current Voters’ Register thoroughly scrapped and replaced with a new one.

Hopefully, this new register will not be compromised by the 76,286 Togolese citizens whose photo IDs and vital statistics appear on Ghana’s Voters’ Register. You see, you cannot claim to love justice and fair play and not want the culprits to be brought to justice.

In other words, what Messrs. Akufo-Addo and Bawumia and their associates ought to be fighting for is to have whoever wilfully participated in this epic scam to be promptly brought to justice. There is absolutely no reason to expect that this massive fraud will not be reprised, unless those engaged in it, irrespective of sociopolitical status, are brought to justice. Attempting to make an ethnic or tribal issue out of the Ketu-South scandal would not work. So far, the latter instance appears to be the most serious of all the uncovered cases of massive voter fraud in the country, because the criminal syndicate that orchestrated such fraud had crossed international boundaries to commit such heinous act of criminality. It is tantamount to a foreign occupation, whereby non-Ghanaian citizens are made to determine the choice of who succeeds to the presidency.

Indeed, many of us have always suspected that the leaders of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by President John Dramani Mahama, were in cahoots with some of our ECOWAS neighbors to hijack and prejudice our country’s democratic culture. Now it appears we were always on the side of the truth, as painful as this may come to those of us proud of our inviolable Ghanaian identity, dignity and sovereignty. The devious attempt by Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the General-Secretary of the NDC, to play the tribal/ethnic card expediently against his own Akan ethnic group will not wash. It will not wash because it is patently irrational and politically motivated.

For starters, it was not only the Anlo-Ewe constituency of Ketu South, in the Volta Region, that was forensically examined and exposed by the Bawumia-led team of NPP biometric-technology experts; other predominantly Akan constituencies such as Ga-West, Adenta Municipality, Kpone and Katamanso, all in the Greater-Accra Region, were spotlighted and highlighted. Then also, Nzema-East, Suaman, Amanfi-East and Sekondi were also determined to have Voters’ Registers jam-packed with ineligible voters, largely minors.

Mischievous political operatives like Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, alias General Mosquito, who find it convenient to play the tribal card, had better read what Mr. Chris Bukari Atim’s “Letter of Resignation” addressed to the then-Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), dated December 3, 1983, in which the former Rawlings cabinet appointee extensively details the intrinsically “Ewe-Duopoly” that was the Rawlings-Tsikata-dominated PNDC and draw their own logical conclusions.

Source: Read more at: http://www.modernghana.com/news/638253/1/investigate-and-punish.html