“She has little chance of a fresh start” – child prostitution in South Africa

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Jounreymanpictures: Child prostitutes in Johannesburg

A gritty video  here focusing on the overstretched Child Protection unit in Johannesburg in South Africa. This documentary is two years old but still relevant and poignant and terrifying and shocking. It shows young sex workers addicted to drugs, driving off with customers, shouted at by pimps, lying about their age – and yet still trying to escape from rehabilitation homes and help centres to get back on the street.

The girls in this video talk about being raped, taking drugs, being abused and harming themselves as if they were discussing the weather. They don’t get much help, and they don’t expect anyone to care. Those who do mobilise to help are fighting an overriding tide of poverty, corruption and misogyny.

Ongoing rumours and concerns that the centre will be closed down have been denied and then have re-emerged  in a constant concern over what is really government’s intentions for the centre and its policies for women and children. It is, after all, a country where 78% of men admit to some kind of violence towards women, and where many believe using prositutes is a “call of nature”.

Incidentally, the producer of this video, journeymanpictures on YouTube, is home to some brilliant videos from all corners of the world, including the one in my previous post on child marriages in Yemen, and is well worth a look on YouTube.


Sudan defends the flogging of “indecent” women

December 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

YouTube image: A woman is flogged in Sudan

It’s legal to flog women in Sudan. Whipping women is allowed under the country’s Sharia Criminal Code for “indecent behaviour” – adultery, running a brothel, or worst of all, wearing trousers.

Even with that in mind, there is no explanation for the video of a woman being flogged in a car park. YouTube have now taken the video off – but I’ve watched it, and it’s really not nice. The woman is fully covered in accordance with Sudanese requirements, and seems to be pointlessly whipped by police officers in the midst of a group of men in a dusty car park while she cries and calls for her mother.  Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time – and realising they are being filmed only makes the policemen play up for the camera more. Images are all over the internet – I’ve included one here mainly because I think it’s important not to shy away from the truth. Before being lashed 53 times, the young woman is told she will be jailed for two years if she does not sit down on the ground and allow herself to be whipped.

According to the Sudanese authorities, a “mistake was made in the way the punishment was carried out”.  According to comments on the web, this sort of attack happens “all the time” and so one can only imagine the “mistake” Sudan meant was not the flogging, but the way the video has captured them in this act of cruelty , and how it has now gone viral worldwide.

Reports now are that dozens of women have been arrested for trying to protest at these laws which humiliate women. Attempts by them to hand over a letter of protest were denied, and reports suggest they have all been arrested and take into the police station – where their lawyers have not been allowed access.

This is a stark reminder of what happens in a country where misogynistic attitudes and violence towards women is condoned – you are left in a country ruled by bullies with half the country as potential victims.

“This horrendous footage provides a chilling reminder that flogging continues to be used as a form of punishment in Sudan. The law which enables flogging to persist is discriminatory and inhumane. Flogging of this kind amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and in some cases can constitute torture.
No one should be subjected to such treatment.”

Mike Blakemore, Amnesty International


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