Influential Woman: Fatou Bensouda

Muslim women were well represented in the Time Magazine list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World this year. Samya wrote yesterday about three of the women, Samira Ibrahim, Manal al-Sharif and Maryam Durani, who are portrayed as women fighting against oppression and in wider media coverage are clearly identified as Muslim women, coming from “Muslim countries.” However the faith of Fatou Bensouda, who will take over as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) this June, and who was also included in Time’s list, is rarely mentioned in media coverage of her, despite her clearly identifying as Muslim and coming from The Gambia, also a Muslim-majority country. [Read more...]

Who Will Defend the Defenders? Gambian Activists Face Smear Campaign

Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho are two prominent women’s human rights defenders in the Gambia. They are the executive director and program coordinator of the Gambia Committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), which has been active in fighting for the promotion of gender rights, mainly fighting against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Recently, both women were arrested and imprisoned by the Gambian government. They were recently released on bail and stand trial soon. Arrested on bogus charges of embezzlement, their arrest represents the contentious debate surrounding FGM and the Gambian government’s animosity towards human rights defenders.

GAMCOTRAP has been accused of misappropriating 30,000 euros from another NGO in Spain called Yolocamba Solidaridad. A panel organized by the government has been investigating the matter, thus leading to their prosecution. A conflict between two NGOs is not usually the place for a government to step in. Even the leader of Yolocamba has called for their release, stating that the problem is administrative, rather than criminal. While this issue has received a great deal of attention from international organizations, I have yet to see it be covered in the mainstream media.

[Read more...]