When was the last time you heard about the human rights issues in Africa? Hopefully, you can say right now with this article! We’ve done our best to cover these issues, and provide pertinent statistics. However, even with human rights violations s prevalent as they are on the continent, it’s every difficult to find facts, figures, and demographics. Here are three recent human rights issues in Africa:
- Gender-based Violence – Gender-based violence is a whole host of actions, including physical, sexual and psychological violence such as domestic violence; sexual abuse, including rape and sexual abuse of children by family members; forced pregnancy; sexual slavery; traditional practices harmful to women, such as honor killings, burning or acid throwing, female genital circumcision, dowry-related violence; violence in armed conflict, such as murder and rape; and emotional abuse, such as coercion and abusive language. Trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, forced marriage, sexual harassment and intimidation at work are additional examples of violence against women. All examples of gender-based violence are present in Africa, and in most cases is a result of cultural norms and genders. Sometimes, there are laws that exist but aren’t enforced. Other times, there aren’t any laws against some or all of these acts and there might even be laws encouraging these actions.
- Education – Primary school enrollment in African countries is among the lowest in the world, and there are a variety of reasons for this. Getting an education is incredibly tough for girls in Africa, and sometimes tough for boys as well. Poorer families can’t afford the schooling and don’t finish, while girls may be pressured to leave early to get married or are forced to drop out because of violence, or because a male sibling is going to get priority. Sometimes, resources just aren’t there. There is an average of 40 pupils per teacher in sub-Saharan Africa, but the situation varies considerably from country to country. In many countries, it is more than 60 to one. The continent also loses an estimated 20,000 skilled personnel a year to developed countries.
- Maternal Mortality – Maternal mortality is the weakest in Africa, as over half the women who die everyday during childbirth live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many don’t have access to the care they need to ensure a healthy pregnancy and labor, or don’t receive the right care. Gender-based violence also contributes to this problem, where female genital mutilation makes it harder for women to give birth, and younger brides increase the chance for premature births and complicated labor. Rape and incest victims also receive a lot of stigma and discrimination, making it harder for them to get care. However, there is good news. Between 1990 and 2008, maternal mortality decreased by 26% in the region.
Something important to keep in mind when it comes to these specific human rights issues in Africa is that they are interrelated. Gender-based violence profoundly affects the education of girls, while increased education leads to increased economic empowerment and a decrease in maternal mortality. Improving any one of these issues also fixes human rights issues that weren’t thoroughly discussed, such as poverty, food security, and political repression. Although many human rights activists and non-profit organizations may focus on one or two issues, working on one issue does make a difference on the others.