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Compassion In Kenya

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Compassion CBO

Compassion CBO, was formed to eradicate poverty through education and sustainable development among women living in the slums and rural areas of Kenya and to rehabilitate orphans and vulnerable children.

Survivors In DR Congo

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COFAPRI

COFAPRI is registered in Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Rupublic of Congo The organisation empowers women through encouraging income-generating activities such as the rearing of livestock.

Grassroots News

Safe World Field Partner, work directly with issues such as poverty, health-care, marginalisation, FGM, child marriage, and education.

Asha Leresh

How Asha Survived the Unnecessary Cut

Asha’s luck came when Samuel Siriria Leadismo, the Director of Pastoralist Child Foundation and his team visited her village, creating awareness about female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual reproductive health....
Handwashing

Washing Hands to Improve Health in Rural DR Congo

COFAPRI organised handwashing sessions for school children and mothers in rural villages, with the aid of educational DVDs kindly supplied by Thare Machi Education. The word has begun to spread as neighbours are now prompting each other to wash their hands.
Safe Spaces

Safe Spaces Crucial for Women's Self-Reliance in Rural DR Congo

Increased security helps women become self-reliant and less financially dependent on their husbands. This improves the situation for the whole family and also means the women are less vulnerable to abuse.
Towards womens empowerment

DR Congo: Men's Inclusion in Women's Empowerment Benefits Everyone

It remains very important within communities for men and boys to be educated regarding the rights of women and girls, including their proper, fair and respectful treatment. When the women and girls become empowered, it is the whole community that benefits.
Margaret from Kiambu Support Group

Nairobi cancer survivor has hope at last

Margaret is among many women Compassion CBO trained in 2015. She has survived breast Cancer 2 times.

New Womens Magazine for Cameroon

The first edition of the Women for a Change Magazine is now available.

News, Interviews and Blogs

Under-reported issues affecting women and children. Exclusive interviews, articles and blogs by Safe World Correspondents and Content Partners

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The Need for Victim Compensation Programmes - Pakistan and Globally

Globally, victim compensation programmes play a significant role in providing assistance to the victims of violence... however, in Pakistan we are lacking any such programme. It is high time to take serious note of the issue and develop a strong referral…
Lizzy and Victoria

Peace, Dialogue & the Ripple Effect: #RISING16 Global Peace Forum

Perhaps the most inspiring session for me came towards the end of the two days and was entitled ‘Bring back our girls – the forgotten victims of conflict’... We heard the CEO of International Alert, Harriet Lamb, and Victoria Nyanjura - who was kidnapped by…
Olutosin 2

Olutosin Adebowale: To America With Love

Once upon a time in my country, Nigeria, there was a ruler who was dreaded by many... We resisted and said No to every oppressive action or word to any weak or voiceless Nigerian... This is the time to stand firm on what has held the world together - Love.
Berlyne Ngwalem Ngwentah

Berlyne Ngwentah: 'The Biggest Cheerleaders of Women are Women'

All the most prominent, biggest community and feminist movements to alleviate the sufferings of women and girls and support women’s involvement in education and leadership have been championed mostly by women...
Jen 9

Promoting Misogyny, Zenophobia, and Bullying... is.... Nasty

I cannot ever vote for anyone who promotes misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, zenophobia, homophobia... It would be a mockery of my life... dishonoring my elders who have endured the many injustices of racial animosity, my friends who've experienced the same...
Women united

Women United for a Better Community in High Andean of Peru

“Women United for a Better Community” is a new group of grassroots women in the Ayacucho Region at the South High Andean of Peru, recently created by Estrategia, a National Grassroots women's organization. The grassroots women require to be heard and get the…

Shabana

Remembering Shabana, the Dancing Girl from Swat Murdered by the Taliban

By N Yousufzai | Pashtun Women Viewpoint (VP)

On a freezing cold January night in 2009, residents of Green Chowk, the central square in Mingora, a major town in Swat, Khyber Pashtunkhwa, heard the screams of a woman begging for her life as she was about to be killed in the most horrendous way imaginable.

The ill-fated woman was a well-known singer and dancer, Shabana, and her killers were none other than the local Taliban who had just a few months back captured the Swat valley and imposed their strict version of Sharia. Women outside their homes, singing, listening to music, and dancing fell under the category of  “criminals” who were to be punished in the strictest way possible under the newly imposed Sharia law in the valley.

Shabana was found guilty of all these “crimes” at the same time, as she was a dancer, a singer, and an entertainer. She had adopted this profession from her childhood, earning a living and supporting her family by entertaining men and families, mostly from the middle and upper middle classes in the valley.

Shabana and her family were not alone in making their living through the entertainment profession, as thousands of other women and families from the lower middle class have adopted music and dancing as a means of earning their livelihood, a means that is inherited from past generations.

The brutal murder of Shabana sent shockwaves throughout the city and beyond the valley. The screams of an innocent, helpless woman being dragged on to the street, killed, decapitated. and then left for the seeing of ordinary citizens as an example. was a turning point for the residents of the valley who started emigrating in large numbers to neighboring districts .

“I was in my room getting ready to go to sleep around 9 pm. The Pakistani army had imposed night curfew. No one was allowed to violate the law. I heard a women screaming. She was begging someone, saying, ‘I quit, I won’t sing again, leave me for God’s sake, I am a Muslim, I am fasting. Don’t behead me.' And my mother and I started crying. Next day early in the morning, I asked my brother to check on who was killed last night and he told me after visiting the site that Shabana, a girl from Bannr, is killed,” says Ghazala, a resident of Green Chowk.

Ghazala’s brother also explains the scene in his own words: “I went to Green Chowk to see who was beheaded today. When the Taliban would behead someone, they would leave the dead body for a few hours with a note: ‘a U.S. agent deserves this treatment.’ I went closer and saw people, children among them, standing around Shabana’s dead body, I heard a man saying, “Yes, this is Shabana, a dancing girl.”

The Taliban might have committed the atrocious murder of Shabana, but our male-dominant society at large, obsessed with honor and considering women private property, has a fair share of responsibility in the death of Shabana and many other women in the entertainment sector. As the saying goes in Pashto, “Pashtuns love music, yet despise musicians”. Entertainers like Shabana keep all sorts of family gatherings warm throughout the year, be it weddings, engagements, birth of a child or even electoral wins. Music, singing, and dancing by these artists are an important part of the daily lives of all the Pashtuns, truck drivers, students, teachers, tribal elders, men, women, and children, but the term used for these entertainers is not artist but Dumm - a derogatory word that the lowest of the low in the society would refuse to be known by.

Shaheen Buneri, a journalist who has conducted research on Swat and specially on Swat’s music and dancing girls, says, “In my opinion, people take killing of female singers and dancers as for granted. When they are alive, majority considers their talent as immoral and something against their so-called religious values. They use the title of ‘dumm’ for them; ‘Dumm’ is someone without honour and respect. This is sad. The Swat society is traditionally divided between landowners (Khans) and landless (Faqir). Singers and dancers are not only landless; they are also affiliated with artistic pursuits, considered immoral by the radicalized society. Some have fun in their company but care nothing if they are killed or die.”

While the horror of Taliban’s short but brutal rule continues to linger in the air, tens of thousands of men in uniform from the Pakistani military, whom many suspect as the supporters of the Taliban, roam the city streets, countless notable residents of Swat murdered by the Taliban cannot be remembered due to fear of the Taliban’s wrath. This anniversary of the Shabana’s murder also passed by mutely, and she will perhaps never be remembered in the times to come.

Article first published by Pashtun Women Viewpoint (FP) website

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