Rape and murder of woman in Algeria sparks outrage

Activists rally in Algiers on Thursday to denounce the brutal murder of a 19-year-old woman and those of the 38 other women killed this year. (AFP)
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Updated 09 October 2020

Rape and murder of woman in Algeria sparks outrage

  • Chaima’s mother said the man was an acquaintance of the family, against whom the young woman had previously pressed rape charges in 2016.

TUNIS: The rape and murder in Algeria of a 19-year-old woman sparked cries for action on gender-based violence in the North African country and calls to bring back capital punishment.
The body of the young woman, identified as Chaima, was found in early October at a deserted petrol station in Thenia, 80 km east of the capital Algiers.
She had been beaten, raped and burned alive, according to local media. The suspect, who has reportedly confessed, is being charged with “rape and voluntary homicide with premeditation and ambush, using torture.”
Chaima’s mother said the man was an acquaintance of the family, against whom the young woman had previously pressed rape charges in 2016.
The killing set off a wave of outrage on social media in Algeria, where internet users condemned the “heinous” crime and demanded justice, with many calling for the death penalty, under moratorium in the country since 1993.
A message shared widely online reads: “I am Chaima, I was raped in 2016 and I had the courage to press charges in a conservative society. I am still Chaima, it is 2020 and I have again been raped by the same rapist, who stabbed and burned me. #IAmChaima.”
In a video that circulated on social networks and was picked up by local TV stations, Chaima’s mother directly addressed Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and demanded the execution of
the perpetrator.
Many Algerians also took to social media in support of reinstating the death penalty.
“Execution should be applied to the killer, to be an example for all those who think of doing the same thing,” one Twitter user wrote.

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The suspect, who has reportedly confessed, is being charged with ‘rape and voluntary homicide with premeditation and ambush, using torture.’

Another said: “We must open the debate on the death penalty, the monster who killed her has no place in society or in prison.”
But others in the country rejected execution as the best way to deter femicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls.
Femicides Algeria, a group that tracks such homicides, said: “It is not through the death penalty that we will give her (Chaima) justice, it is rather the law that must be changed and applied.”
The activists have counted 38 femicides in Algeria so far this year.
They recorded 60 in 2019, noting on their website that with so many cases going unreported or unconfirmed, the actual number “is
much higher.”
Hassina Oussedik, director for human rights group Amnesty International in Algeria, told AFP that “the death penalty is not a deterrent.”
“It is discriminatory and does not protect the most vulnerable.”
She added it was necessary to “change mentalities and the judicial system for the psychological and legal care of victims, launch national awareness campaigns, open shelters and train the various institutions.”
The Free and Independent Women’s Collective of Bejaia, a city on Algeria’s northeast coast, said Chaima’s killing “adds to the long list of femicides, which continues to grow in the face of complicit silence, the justification of violence and the absence of real measures.”
To “break the silence,” the collective called for a protest on Thursday in Bejaia.
The calls for action and solidarity have spread across the country.
The Algerian Women for Change Toward Equality group also organized a rally on Thursday, in Algiers, to “denounce the heinous crimes” that led to Chaima’s death and those of the 38 women killed this year.


Lebanon, Israel end second round of maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon, Israel end second round of maritime border talks

  • The delegations met for around four hours for a second day straight at a base of the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in the Lebanese border town of Naqura
  • The talks have been shrouded in secrecy, with little information emerging about any progress being made

NAQURA: Lebanon and Israel, still technically at war, wrapped up a second round of maritime border talks Thursday under UN and US auspices to allow for offshore energy exploration.
The delegations met for around four hours for a second day straight at a base of the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in the Lebanese border town of Naqura, Lebanon's National News Agency and Israel's energy ministry said.
The talks have been shrouded in secrecy, with little information emerging about any progress being made.
"At the end it was determined that another round of talks will take place during the coming month," the Israeli energy ministry said.
A Lebanese source close to the negotiations said they would resume on November 11.
A first round of talks had been held on October 14, and the second had started on Wednesday.
After years of quiet US shuttle diplomacy, Lebanon and Israel this month said they had agreed to begin the negotiations in what Washington hailed as a "historic" agreement.
The announcement came weeks after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
But Lebanon has insisted the negotiations are purely technical and do not involve any political normalisation with Israel.
Lebanon, reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades, is hoping to settle the maritime border dispute so it can continue exploring for hydrocarbon reserves in the Mediterranean.
Exploration is on hold in an area off its coast named Block 9, as a section of it is located in an 860-square-kilometre (330-square-mile) area claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.
NNA said the Lebanese delegation carried with it "maps and documents showing the points of contention and the Israeli enemy infringing on the Lebanese right to include part of Block 9".
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling for oil and gas in Block 9 and Block 4 with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Lebanon in April said initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves.
While the US-brokered talks look at the maritime border, a UNIFIL-sponsored track is also due to address outstanding land border disputes.
UNIFIL head Major General Stefano Del Col welcomed Tuesday what he called "a unique opportunity to make substantial progress on contentious issues along" the land frontier.