FGM criminal conviction in Cairo

By Merna Thomas

CAIRO (01/26/2015) — An appeals court, on Monday, handed down what officials said was Egypt’s first criminal conviction for the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), sentencing a doctor to more than two years of hard labor for committing manslaughter while performing the procedure on a 13-year-old girl.

FGM was outlawed in Egypt in 2008, but remains widespread and widely accepted. More than 90 percent of Egyptian females between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to the procedure, according to UNICEF.

The victim, Suhair el-Batea, a girl from a small village in the Nile Delta, died after being subjected to the procedure in June 2013.

At a trial last year, her doctor, Raslan Fadl, told a lower court that he had only treated her for warts and that she had died of an allergic reaction.

Her father, whom prosecutors accuse of ordering the procedure, declined to press charges and backed up the physician’s account. Last November, the lower court acquitted the doctor.

On Monday, however, an appeals court overturned that ruling. The court sentenced Dr. Fadl to two years in prison for manslaughter and three months for committing FGM. Ms. Batea’s father was given a suspended sentence of three months.

Vivian Fouad, an official of the state-run National Population Council, said in an interview that her organization and others had persuaded prosecutors to appeal the acquittal because of the apparent collusion between the doctor and the family, both of whom sought to settle the case.

Ms. Fouad said her organization had trained more than 300 prosecutors to “understand the scientific, medical, historical and cultural context” of the practice, stressing that it constitutes an act of violence against women and has no basis in religion or Islam.

[This article edited for space]

 

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To bring peace in South Sudan

This letter, written by the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS) and signed by 38 groups and 51 individuals, was delivered to the White House. The letter urges President Barack Obama to ask former President George W. Bush to meet with South Sudan’s leaders immediately to discuss a way forward:

January 20, 2015

Dear Mr. President:

We the undersigned South Sudanese, South Sudanese Americans, and friends of South Sudan write regarding a matter of extreme urgency.

As the second year of conflict in South Sudan begins, we note that the current IGAD-sponsored efforts to bring peace have been ineffective, thus we greatly fear an escalation and an expansion of violence as all sides are well armed and demonstrate a commitment to a military rather than a political solution despite their talk of peace.

The United States has a special relationship with South Sudan.  Americans have welcomed Lost Boys and Girls, refugees, and asylum seekers into their homes and lives.  Many have become citizens of our nation.  For decades, U.S. tax dollars have provided desperately needed humanitarian aid to war affected populations in Sudan and now South Sudan.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the war between Sudan and the SPLM/A exists, in large part, because the United States decided to partner with Norway and Britain to revive failing peace talks – a decision that was backed by the U.S. public, Congress, and in particular, the Congressional Black Caucus and Evangelical Christians.  And, it was former President George W. Bush who was the first American president to engage personally with the late Dr. John Garang, the former Chairman of the SPLM/A, in order to achieve peace.

Because of this long history together and because of the ongoing support your Administration has provided in upholding South Sudan’s right to self-determination and the countless resources that the US has invested in building the capacity of the leaders and citizens of this brand new country, we believe the United States has tremendous and perhaps even untapped influence over South Sudan’s decision makers.  For example, we believe, given his special historical role, that former President Bush could help accelerate a peace process that would ultimately save the precious lives of our family and friends.

Additionally, achieving peace in South Sudan, an important ally, would be consistent with your efforts to prevent the collapse of the country and the resulting spread of radical Islam into central Africa.

We, therefore, respectfully urge you to ask former President George W. Bush to meet with South Sudan’s leaders immediately to discuss a way forward. Thank you for considering our perhaps unusual request given the politics of the day; however, we believe that peace in South Sudan and peace on earth require a commitment by all leaders to prioritize humanity before politics.

Sincerely,

Gideon Abraham, Denver, CO USA

Rev. Amos Ademola Aderonmu, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

African Soul, American Heart, Debra Dawson, President, Fargo, ND USA

Hamid Eltgani Ali, Cairo, Egypt

American Friends of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, Richard Parkins, Executive Director, Washington, DC USA

Gwendolyn Andress, Lexington, SC USA

Bill Andress, Lexington, SC USA

Anyuak Recovery Trust (ART), Noah Omot Omot, Peace Mobilizer, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Jacob Thon Atem, Gainesville, FL USA

David and Marion Atkins, Columbia, SC USA

Dr. Charles Bakheit, Muscat, Oman

Mary Jean Baxley, Columbia, SC USA

John Becker, Redwood City, CA USA

Mary Anne Bennett, Brainerd, MN USA

Rev. Debbie Blane, Louisville, KY USA

Stephen Braaksma, Madison, WI USA

Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan, Laura Limuli, Coordinator, Brooklyn, NY USA

Rev. Sylvia Carlson, Greensburg, PA USA

Robert Cely, Columbia, SC USA

Abraham Chol Chan, Jacksonville, FL USA

Church Alliance for a New Sudan, Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director, Washington, DC USA

Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan, Khor Gai, Co-Founder of CASS, Omaha, NE USA

Rev. Helen Harrison Coker, Lexington, SC USA

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, Edmund Yakani, Executive Director, Juba, Central Equatoria, South Sudan

The Baroness Cox, House of Lords, Westminster, London, UK

Darfur Action Group of South Carolina, Richard Sribnick, MD, Chairman, Columbia, SC USA

Darfur and Beyond, Cory Williams, Co-Founder, Phoenix, AZ USA

Darfur Interfaith Network, Martha Boshnick, Co-Chair, Washington, DC USA

Darfur People’s Association of New York, Mohamed Haroun Ebead, President, Brooklyn, NY USA

Elizabeth Davis, Ridgeway, SC USA

David Dawson, New Wilmington, PA USA

Dialogue on South Sudan and Eyes on Sudan, Reuben Garang, Winnipeg, MB CA

Jackie Diguiseppe, Johnstown, PA USA

Equatoria South Sudanese Comm. Assoc. USA, Kwaje Lasu, President, Winston-Salem, NC USA

LeAnna Gates, Canton, GA USA

Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan, Sarah Rial, President, Beverly, MA USA

Miriam C. Gwin, New Castle, PA USA

Investors Against Genocide, Eric Cohen, Chairperson, Boston, MA USA

Jewish World Watch, Natalie Blake and Vaughan Meyer, Co-Chairs of  Advocacy Committee, Peter Marcus, Chair of Policy Task Force, Encino, CA USA

Jews Against Genocide, Eileen Weiss, Co-Founder, New York City, NY USA

Joining Our Voices, Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director, Baton Rouge, LA USA

Jonglei Peace Initiative North America, Paul Manyok, Chairman, Nashville, TN USA

Hagazi and Carolyn Kebede, Culpeper, VA USA

Collins Kepa, Ottawa, ON CA

James Kimble, MD, Birmingham, AL USA

Charnet Koch, Johnstown, PA USA

Deng Bol Kuir, Johannesburg, South Africa

Rev. James Duol Kwek, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Wudu Lado, Toronto, ON CA

Amute Francis Lobalu, Human Rights Officer, South Sudan Human Rights Commission, Juba, Central Equatoria, South Sudan

Rev. Barbara and Paul Lucia, Douglassville, PA USA

Massachusetts Coalition for Darfur, William Rosenfeld, Director, Boston MA USA

Ernest McCutcheon, Columbia, SC USA

Rev. Heidi McGinniss, Denver, CO USA

John Metcalfe, Murrysville, PA USA

Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church, Susan Keaney, Chair of Outreach Ministry, Murrysville, PA USA

Rev. Karen Newsome, Columbia, SC USA

New York Coalition for Sudan, Neiki Ullah, Communications Director, New York City, NY USA

Nuba Christian Family Mission, George Tuto, Founder/President, Denver, CO USA

Othow Okoti Onger, Pochalla, Jonglei, South Sudan

Operation Broken Silence, Mark Hackett, Executive Director, Memphis, TN USA

Our Humanity in the Balance, Dr. J. Austin Watson, Member, Hendersonville, NC USA

Persecution Project Foundation, Brad Phillips, President and Founder, Culpeper, VA USA

Pochalla Parish Development Agency, John Philip Omot, Chairperson, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Puro Literacy Project (PULP) South Sudan, Puro Nygoni, Founder/General Manager, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Presbytery Mission Committee, Redstone Presbytery (PCUSA), Southwest, PA USA

Dr. Daniel Rickett, Roswell, GA USA

Cathy Ritter, Johnstown, PA USA

San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, Mohamed Suleiman, President, San Francisco, CA USA

Carlene L. Schleider, Corpus Christi, TX USA

Roger Schneider, Murrysville, PA USA

Society for Threatened Peoples, Sharon Silber, US Director, New York City, NY USA

South Sudan Volunteer Initiative (SSVI), Joseph Stewart, Sr., Founder, Oslo, Norway

Southern Sudanese Community Center, Chuol Tut, Executive Director, San Diego, CA USA

Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Dr. Eleanor Wright, Moderator, Birmingham, AL USA

Sudanese Community Association of Illinois, Peter Magai Bul, Member, Chicago, IL USA

Rev. James Tang, Columbia Heights, MN USA

Alice Tondora, Johnstown, PA USA

Steve Tondora, Johnstown, PA USA

Gabriel Tor, San Jose, CA USA

Trinity South Sudan Ministry, Dr. Mac Brown, Moderator, Lexington, SC USA

Jane Triplett, Rock Hill, SC USA

Richard A. Vandiver, Sr., Ridgeway, SC USA

Voice for Change (VFC), Lona James Eliai, South Sudan

Carol Watson, Hendersonville, NC USA

Prof. John H. Weiss, Ithaca, NY USA

Leland and Cornelia Williams, Columbia, SC USA

Roger Winter, Woodbine, MD USA

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Prayer request for 38 jailed Christians

Church members pray at disputed property (Source: Morning Star News)

Please pray for 38 Christians in jail in Bahri (Khartoum North)

  • Pray for wisdom to prevail on how to handle the situation
  • Pray for the church as a whole, that they would work together to resolve this issue 
  • Pray that God would use these situations for the glory of His kingdom

Police forces entered the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Bahri November 17-18, destroying the church’s north wall. They took possession of the property, including a pastor’s home. Thirty-eight Christians have been arrested for refusing to surrender the church property to the Sudanese authorities. One court has issued a ruling that each person will be fined 100 Sudanese Pounds. The church is in a discussion about paying the fines. Wisdom is telling them that they should not pay as this will be received as an admission of guilt and the case will have no further hearing.

See: http://morningstarnews.org/2014/12/police-in-sudan-attack-worshipping-congregation-arrest-38-christians/

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CASS at six months

The Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan marks its accomplishments at the half-year  milestone:

  • We have name recognition as that element of the diaspora which seeks peace
  • We collectively represent much of the South Sudanese population
  • We have established credibility with the U.S. State Department and the faith leadership at the talks in Addis.
  • We have opened communication channels to the U.S. State Dept., the faith community, IGAD principals, as well as SPLA I/O and possibly the GoSS
  • We have attracted the interest and attention of Washington leadership

The next goal is to re-energize our base through increased membership. CASS is reaching out to all of you in the diaspora community who desire peace for South Sudan. 

To express your interest in CASS membership, please contact the facilitator, Bill Andress at: billandress@ureach.com

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SSWEN sends team to Rwanda for leadership training

 

SSWEN Staff and women leaders from across the three regions of South Sudan are traveling for an exchange visit to Rwanda.This will serve to bring together diverse organizations working in the fields of human rights and gender to build upon collective experience, through capacity building, and knowledge sharing from Rwanda. The project will aim to develop strong partnerships with the various governance structures; will spread advocacy trainings and materials, engage in capacity building of women leaders and representatives from 10 states, along with engagement and partnership with media to create awareness.#fundsfromUNDEF

 

SSWEN staff and the South Sudan women leaders that traveled to Rwanda for the exchange visit met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, they also met with the Commissioner of Gender Monitoring Office, the Director of National Women Council of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwanda police Anti-GBV and Child Protection Directorate.

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“One Big Step Together”

Listen to three minutes and eight seconds of hope! Dance to lyrics of peace and reconciliation! Believe in one tribe: South Sudan. Artist is Chol Matuekz Ajing. Follow the link to video: http://youtu.be/hp4K2g2uk20

Song writers, photographers and others are spreading the message of reconciliation and unity in South Sudan. South Sudanese around the world are invited to compose a song as a message for peace, paint a picture of a united South Sudan, share a poem or a short story. Upload your songs, photos, videos, poetry and short stories here: http://mytribeissouthsudan.org

 

 

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The women of “A Step Together”

During October, 24 women leaders among a group of 76 participants from all ten states and the Abyei Area are receiving training that addresses the core causes of the current political conflict. The participants will be equipped with the skills for each to train a further 50 persons in their states. All 500-plus will travel to communities across South Sudan to document community narratives and needs, as well as local reconciliation initiatives.

“We are 60% of this nation. We must have a strong voice in our future, and mobilize the women in our communities so that we (men and women) are all working towards true reconciliation,” said Mary Nginzo, State Chairperson for Western Equatoria.

“We must have as many women as possible within our process. They are in the frontline of our suffering, and therefore should be at the frontline in reconciliation,” said Rev. Dr. Bernard Suwa, Secretary General of the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation (CNHPR). The independent committee was formed 18 months ago and is conducting this three-year, people-to-people process as a prelude to the development of a people-driven National Reconciliation Agenda.

For more information: http://www.reconciliationsouthsudan.org

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NGOs’ response to UN meeting on South Sudan

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Where are the women?

Women work. Women speak out. Women plan. All the while the African women take care of their families and pray for a voice for themselves, for lives free of famine, sickness and violence. Women are organizing for better policy and effective action.

Tumekutana

The upcoming Tumekutana gathering of women leaders from 22 African nations takes place in Accra, Ghana October 25-31, 2014. Tumekutana is Swahili for “We have come together.” The invitation is open to the women of African partner churches, but are regional women leaders who are to discern regional solutions for the most excruciating needs of African children able to afford the cost of the conference? Few have the $400 registration fee. Contributions toward the average total cost of $1,750 per woman are gratefully accepted by the organizers. Please pray for and consider contributing to Tumekutana. Contact Christi Boyd: christi.boyd@pcusa.org

Women and Genocide in the 21st Century: The Case for Darfur

Darfur Women Action Group, in partnership with Genocide Watch, presents the 3rd annual “Women and Genocide in the 21st Century – A National Action Symposium” in Washington, D.C.

For the past six years, the Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) has worked with its allies to bring awareness to the magnitude of the genocide in Darfur, and particularly, its impact on women. On October 25-26, DWAG, hundreds of anti-genocide activists, women’s rights advocates, artists, celebrities, survivors, experts, and concerned leaders will come together in Washington, D.C. to build strategies for sustainable change for Sudanese people. Standard Fee (8/31): Students: $20, 
 Non-Students: $60, hurry up for early bird rate.   *Financial aid is available for the first 200 students, volunteers and those in the Sudanese diaspora. Contact: info@darfurwomenaction.org

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South Sudan food crisis: Surviving on water lilies

It is early morning in Reke village, a settlement of about 3,000 people displaced by fighting between government and rebel forces in the oil-rich Unity state. There were heavy rains overnight and the village, about 650km (400 miles) northwest of the capital Juba, is only accessible with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. With the rainy season, many roads have been cut off and food is hard to come by.

In Reke, people depend on food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP), but they say deliveries are rare. Getting that help to remote villages is anything but easy. The people in Reke are now surviving on water lilies from a nearby river. They collect the seeds, grind them and mix them with water, and then cook them for a meal.

More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by the clashes and the UN has warned that South Sudan is on the verge of a famine. The UN says at least 4 million people are facing starvation after farmers missed the planting season. Experts have warned that South Sudan will most probably face a severe famine by the end of the year or early next year. The children’s agency Unicef has warned that up to 50,000 children could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive help.

(Emmanuel Igunza, BBC September 8, 2014) For full article, follow link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29113819

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