Monday, March 19, 2012

Rape: Amina of Morocco kills herself? the IMF & Human Rights

Amina Filali, of Morocco, only 16 years old was supposed to be married off to a man who raped her. Instead she chose death in the month in which the women of the world celebrate International Womens' Day. A huge campaign against Morocco's article 475 started. It was alive on the streets and passionate. It was rolling off in tweets, fb and many social fora. But Amina Filali is no more. She committed suicide. Was it Amina Filali who killed herself or the rape supported by the law of Morocco in article 475? I understand her thoughts. The day is cursed and the soil of a land where this is practice. It is debasement of the highest order. Most of us condemn this situation in the strongest words possible, in all languages and including body language. Our memories are stirred deep for rape bestrides a so called progressive world, a global village. We shall not relent. The solutions must be global.

Rape. It does not matter where it occurs and to who, rape is a hideous crime. It cannot be 'rewarded' in any way and least of all with marriage as is done in some countries. Justice must be done and not delayed. To tolerate rape in families is criminal. To make a woman marry a rapist is to do that. There are many unspoken deeds of incest and rape. Experts say that rape is more commonly commited by those who are close to us and not strangers. No community should allow any custom to cover up rape. The solution to the problem should be close to us, just as the perpetrators are. Within family rape must be shamed and named. No violence is purely domestic. Rating high among abuses of human rights in the world, rape must also feature high on the global agenda in monetary terms. 

I cannot imagine how it is for women who have had to live with someone who violated their being. It is an ubearable thought but a certain reality in the Middle East and other parts of the world.  The strategies to overcome this henious crime should be visible to all  everywhere. The strategies should be perpetually alive and in many ways. They should be abuzz in social media where everyone seems to be after and during working hours, during travel and in dreams.

Silence came too soon after UN soldiers raped women they were supposed to defend in the DRC Congo in the intense rape zone of Kivu. Crimes committed by westners disappear like shooting stars from our media. Not that anyone holds the light in Darfur very persistently. Instead there is consistent scandal. 

In the last few months, anyone who has worked with human rights must have been truly concerned about the devaluation of rape in the world.  No one has forgotten the case of Julius Assagne, the accusations and the trivialisation of rape. For indeed when he was accused of rape in the storm of the Wikileaks things went into a surreal gear. This is not to say if he had been guilty he should not have been accused; but we all remember how everything was muddled up and then, the silent disappearance from the eye of the media and many being left wondering just what was what.

It was a deadly blow to the real survivors of rape to have had a man in the limelight accused of rape in the moment he was  being lionised by many for the Wikileaks. In the end it was more about rape being used and the Swedish law versus the UK law and the US law. This did not leave women and rape in a better standing. We firm unshakeable grounds on rape with balance sheets as real as  money is in the IMF. The West and Europe's leaders stay awake at night when the Euro is sick but not when Amina commits suicide because she like many women cannot live with rampant abuse and be said to be alive. Is there a real conviction for human rights?

Let us prod the recent past a little further. There is Dominique Strauss the boss of the IMF then. His swift arrest from a plane and the accusations caused a stir in the world of those informed. It was with baited breath that many waited. And then the unexpected happened. He walked away free. Many were saying, 'You see, these women are always after rich men and fixing them.'  The woman from the Gambia, his accuser, became a liar who had lived on the same lie of being raped happily, it was reiterated. We were told she enjoyed saying she was raped so that she could get to live in Europe. Many hung their head in shame.  What is missing in this picture?

I said to a friend that am prepared to bet that in the hospitality industry and in high society hotels women are part the service 'given', 'negotiated' or 'organised' for those who would. I hear that the Strauss is being investigated with connection to a prostitute ring connected to hotels.  Of course his wife might be right in saying he is innocent but such words have come from the lips of many wives.

 So nothing appeases the mind that wants to see rape addressed as it should be. If we cannot win on this for women and for a better society then essence is lost. There was a French journalist in the middle of the two events. Her case was against Dominique Strauss too and it was quashed. It is great that Dominique Strauss is no longer the head of the IMF and Christine Lagarde has taken over.

Rape. Norwegian newspapers are still reporting that the year 2011 had the highest number of rapes in a long time. The sad thing is that one does not see a visible anti-rape campaign in Norway. One does see an ocassional poster against spitting with a huge ugly mouth. I have seen some TV debates on the topic but I have not seen as I used to see in Nairobi any sign posted to indicate dangerous grounds for women. Yes, I have heard there are escorts and that girls have been adviced not to drink late and walk through parks. But this reminds me that it is clear that the victim is often seen as the perpetrator. Debunk the myths.

The latest headline I saw in Aftenposten about this topic screamed that only one man had been judged out of 96 cases of rape in courts. Many are incensed by the slow pace in this but they are continue saying it to the media in a country where one has got to wonder about the percentage of the readers of newspapers. There is no activism in the air.

But Amina Filali, and between her and the few mentioned cases there are thousands of women, is dead. At 16 she chose to die. I saw a demonstration in Rabat in the wake of her death. I am not seeing it taking the dimensions of the Arab Spring. Perhaps the revolution in the Arab speaking world does not touch the women?

Amina Filali reminded me of Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia. But I look and see that women are far behind in these days of the Arab Spring. Where is the revolution that will cast out laws like law 475 in Morocco? How can a 16 year old get married to a man who raped her or any man for that matter? Is this tenable in our days? In1946 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published in Europe. Has it reached the Middle East? Is this Declaration  where our money is?

 I was watching Christine Lagarde on a BBC documentary. No doubt a formidable woman. She said she was no longer French nor for that matter European because the IMF is a global concern. I am glad to note that I can therefore say that Christine Lagarde is Moroccan and also Mexican? Christine Lagarde also stated that she is happy to see women in high positions obviously because she is a woman and secondly because if women are absent we cannot talk of democracy. And true even when one watches global channes such as CNN and BBC one has to wonder where the gender balance is even in interviews. Count the number of women interviewed versus men on any show and publish the statistics.  On one of these channels men sat around the table by themselves discussing leadership! That is just unbelievable.

I go back to Christine Lagarde and the IMF and rape. For I think it is very urgent that we put our money where our mouth is. I am disappointed to find old articles which are reminding the IMF that money must be connected to human rights more seriously. I am sad because it would appear that this has been a concern for many for years. I am not talking about sanctions just now even though that should apply in some instances. I am talking about the Head of the IMF going to Mexico and other countries in search of money because the European economy is shaken. Lagarde in that documentary is asking Mexico for money. Of course IMF may ask for the money where she will.  But I am thoroughly disappointed to see that the journalists interviewing Christine Lagarde do not ask her how the IMF could take money from Mexico and not talk about the rampant abuse of human rights in Mexico. Why? How many journalists die in Mexico for daring to probe rights issues?

It would appear strange to me that the IMF considers sanctions or some form of punishment for the non-compliant but will on the other hand take money where it is to be found and that includes Mexico, without a warning to the giving government regarding  human rights abuses.

One of the article I read about IMF and human rights quotes 'Development is Freedom'by Armayrta Sen. It states that freedom of expression is a fundamental basic for the fight against poverty. This is a  clear idea which one can easily understand.
In my view, we cannot speak to Mexico only about supporting Europe and not insist at the same time that human rights violations to cease. For accountablity for the many writers and journalists who have been killed in Mexico in recent memory is our duty and the West must come out strongly or forget about human rights ever being taken seriously by some governments.

I am convinced that for things to work for women as Christine Lagarde says she would like to see, we must essentially change our ways of working. The Human Rights agenda must not be something we say for the screen. It must be real. We must put good money in for Human Rights. We need to act fast on this for if not, in countries like Morocco, there will be no change at all. Young women will continue to  commit suicide to escape the shackles of outdated laws and Dafur, Kivu and other parts of the world will bleed to death. I would like to see the key turning both ways. I would like to hear the IMF speak clearly and strongly condemning human rights abusers. I would like to hear the IMF speak out against rape and tell member countries that this an urgent matter which should be discussed whenever a chance arises I would like the IMF not to beg money from countries that have it and have made it whilst abusing human rights.  

  We cannot do business with dictators or people who have unjust laws and say we are working for global stability. Commitment must be real and organising has to be many notches higher.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. I hope that rich people avoid Morocco until Article 475 is abolished. Hey Morocco Judges, it is now 2012. Get off your donkey and smell the roses. What a jackass piss-ant country. I want to be clear.