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.


Cairo International Book Fair postponed due to COVID-19

Updated 25 November 2020

Cairo International Book Fair postponed due to COVID-19

  • The committee discussed developments in the world over the pandemic and its impact on other book fairs

CAIRO: The Supreme Administrative Committee of the Cairo International Book Fair announced that this year’s fair will be postponed to June 30, 2021, due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The committee, headed by Enas Abdel Dayem, Egypt’s minister of culture, also decided to add an additional four days to the delayed festival schedule, seeing it run until July 15.

Greece was set to participate in the festival, and arrangements are being made to ensure continuity for next year’s event to celebrate the depth of historical and cultural relations between the two countries. According to an official statement, the committee discussed developments in the world over the pandemic and its impact on other book fairs, which has led to multiple other cancellations and postponements.

The meeting discussed the participation of international institutions and Arab and foreign publishers, who are expected to face difficulty traveling between countries due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Saeed Abdo, president of the Egyptian Publishers Union, said that the decision was inevitable.

“We are linked to foreign publishers, not just Egyptians, and there is great difficulty in traveling between countries, so we decided to postpone it until June,” Abdo said.

“The postponement will not affect those involved in the fair, but will provide the opportunity for the participation of a larger number of people,” he added.