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Guinea: Heaven or Human rights! 0

Dec1

My father told my mother one day that men will go to heaven only if God will not ask their wives how they behaved towards them on earth. Yet, a Muslim, having never gone to school, he had no chance to have learned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Foresight or sense of guilt? We will never know it, because he was killed, probably in 1971, by the first dictatorship regime which ruled Guinea for 26 years. However his vision is, fortunately, still valid.

Violence against women within families is one of the most widespread practices and manifests itself in several ways throughout the world. This is one of the worst forms of violation of human rights.

In rich countries, it is prevalent in all strata of society, mainly because of the abuse of alcohol, in Muslim countries it is reinforced by tradition and a mixture of traditions and wrong interpretation of Islam. Everywhere, it is often hidden because of the economic weakness of women, the “omertà” in the families and their environment.

The only way to fight it is education and the of use legal means. The male must know that he cannot violate the fundamental rights of his companion, and remain unpunished.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Message for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November 2009, stated: “In the 10 years since the General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the circle of engagement has widened. More groups and individuals, including men and boys, are getting involved in efforts to prevent and address this heinous violation of women’s human rights. There has also been significant progress at the national level as many countries have adopted laws and comprehensive action plans.”

In Guinea, largely a Muslim country, where many women were raped recently during the army attack on a peaceful political rally, there are some interesting initiatives to end violence against women in families.

Mamadou Bineta writes in a correspondence from Conakry for the Syfia Guinée website: “For a year, Guineans dare to complain against their husbands who beat them. Attitudes are gradually changing under the influence of NGOs whose message is relayed by the media. Next step: get a law specifically condemning the violence.

Sylla, 38, mother of four children, complained during October, against her husband for assault and battery. The process is ongoing in a court in Conakry even if a judge dealing with the matter said at the end “we will find an amicable solution for the welfare of the family.” N. S., resident in Coyah, about 50 km from the Guinean capital, also sued her husband three months ago, she lost the trial. “The judge ruled that my client had been the first to lay hands on her husband,” said her lawyer.”

The report says that these two women are part of the ten Guineans, who have dared to complain in the past year against their husbands. This initiative shows the changes that are underway in Africa, even in Muslim majority countries like Guinea, where more than 80 percent of the population claims a belonging to this belief. The subordination of women is acknowledged even within intellectual couples. The traditional behaviour is still stronger than the modern. There is widespread conviction among the population that it is the Holy Quran itself which says that woman is not equal to man and the husband has the right to beat his wife. Women have to accept these mistreatments for the good of their children and for the promise that by respecting their husband, they will go to the heaven. Apparently this vision is no longer shared by some women. They are trying to have their basic human rights respected.

Answering to a reporter from the popular website guineenews.com, Boiro Nanfadima Magassouba, President of the Guinea National Coalition for the Rights and citizenship of women (CONAG-DCF) said: “I’ll answer simply that we have the most beautiful texts of the world! And Guinea has ratified all international conventions relating to women and children. Unfortunately, the problem lies in application. It is entirely lacking. I think that there is no reason that ratified conventions and international and internal, it does not apply. It is very shame! The last thing dated is the decline that occurred in the appointment of women in the last reshuffle.”

UNICEF, UNFPA and a number of NGOs are working within the civil society to create awareness among women and responsible males for prosecution against violent husbands based on the international legal framework signed by Guinea. The Information Centre for proximity (CIP), a Guinean NGO, for instance, is specialized in promoting human rights and has received technical and financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “In one year, the CIP has provided, via a toll free phone number advice to over 300 battered women”.

The website aminata.com published on November 25 a feature about a series of conferences organized at the beginning of November by the Association of women researchers, CFGA, in partnership with the Association of Graduates and Volunteers for Progress in Guinea and the Association for support and progress of Guinea, in the region near Sierra-Leone and Liberia. The subjects included socio-economic political and civil rights, the electoral law, citizenship, good governance, solidarity and unity were developed.

Better informed women will be in better position to stand up for their rights instead of continuing to accept all kinds of abuses in the hope that they will go to heaven, after their death.

By Abdoulaye Bah – Afronline

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