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New law brings hope to abused Tunisia women

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After years of “manipulation” by her husband, mother of two Sameh is filing for divorce, thanks to a new Tunisian law broadening the definition of violence against women.

The law, passed in July, entered into force on February 1, finally providing Sameh with the tool she needs to divorce her husband who she says has been psychologically and financially abusing her.

For the past 15 years, Sameh, a teacher and 45-year-old mother of two teenage girls, has been forced to hand over her entire salary to her husband.

She said it took her that long to realize that he had been “manipulating” her, but when she woke up to the reality she decided to act.

But since then, her husband has started provoking her, she said during a meeting at a help centre for women victims of violence set up by the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (AFTD).

“He wants to drive me crazy,” said Sameh, who declined to give her full name.

Her husband would whisper insults into her ear to try to make her snap in front of their teenage daughters.

Her eldest daughter has sensed the tensions and lately began to hurt herself by lacerating her skin.

“I am psychologically exhausted,” said Sameh, adding that she has been taking anti-depressants.

Sameh said she had tried to file for divorce two years ago but her husband refused, and she was afraid of being separated from her daughters and of ending up penniless out on the street.

“It’s very difficult to prove psychological abuse and even then, there was a risk it would not be accepted,” as a cause for divorce by the authorities, she said.

But the new law has changed all that for Sameh, and other victims of domestic abuse.

“When I heard about this law I said to myself, ‘This will bring me justice’,” she said, adding she would file for divorce on moral and financial grounds.

The law considerably widens the definition of unacceptable violence against women.

It recognizes physical, moral and sexual abuse as well as abuse in the form of financial exploitation.

“It is real progress… that could change lives,” said Ahlef Belhadj of the AFTD association.

She said the July law was the result of 25 years of campaigning by Tunisian human rights activists.

Tunisia is seen as a pioneer of women’s rights in the Arab world.

The North African country, birthplace of the Arab Spring protests that ousted several autocratic rulers, adopted a new constitution in 2014 which guarantees equality between men and women.

Article 21 of the constitution states: “All citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination.”

A Personal Status Code adopted in 1956 abolished polygamy, by which a Muslim man can have up to four wives, and repudiation, or the man’s right to terminate a marriage unilaterally.

Nevertheless, in Tunisia one woman out of two has been the victim of abuse, according to official estimates.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Belhadj.

The new law is seen by many as a landmark step to protect women’s rights because it criminalizes sexual harassment in public places and the employment of children as domestic workers.

It also slaps fine on employers who pay women less than their male counterparts.

However, Belhadj said there is still a lot left to be done and that more funding needs to be allocated to carry it through.

“It’s not enough to pass laws, we must make sure of the conditions of their implementation.”

Human Rights Watch said the law stipulates the creation of shelters for women victims of violence but does not provide for a mechanism to fund them.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s interior ministry has set up two units tasked with investigating violence against women.

Radhia Jerbi, president of the National Union of Tunisian Women, said the next steps were to spread the word about the new law across the country and to persuade sceptics.

“The problem is our mentality,” she said.

Finance

Expect sack over N30,000 minimum wage -Governors warns

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Nigerian governors have rejected the proposed increase of N30,000 minimum wage,  unless the organised labour wants its members to be sacked.



Adding that, the 36 States rejected it because they will run bankrupt if they accept to pay the workers that amount. 

On Wednesday, The chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ summon its members on emergency meeting in Abuja calling on the Federal Government to agree to their demand by reviewing the national revenue allocation formula.

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The chairman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, told the newsmen that a new committee would be raised to meet with President over this issue.

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The committee members who are nominated to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari includes governor of Enugu,Bauchi,Akwa Ibom,Plateau,Kebbi,Lagos and Kaduna.

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Yari said, he hopes the committees engagement with  President will make everybody happy if an agreement is reached.

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Motherland News

Social media in frenzy over high school student’s height.

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Ghanaians have severally reacted to a photo showing an extraordinarily tall high school student. Name unknown, the teen is already been touted as a potential basketball player because of his height.



The state-owned Daily Graphic was among the first portals to share his photo sandwiched between his headmaster and a teacher. The photo attracted lots of comments and shares especially on Facebook.

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He is a first-year student at the Swedru Secondary Business School, SWESBUS, a school located in the country’s Central Region.

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Already, a sports journalist is on record to have said a Serbian varsity had contacted him on the possibility of getting the boy to be trained as a professional basketball player.

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