popular
(Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Moroccan Journalist Jailed for Alleged Abortion Receives Pardon

Independent journalist Hajar Raissouni, who received a prison sentence for an alleged abortion that she claimed was a political setup to censor her writing, has been pardoned by the King of Morocco.

UPDATE (October 16, 2019): King Mohammed VI of Morocco has pardoned Hajar Raissouni today, as Al Jazeera reports. The news was given via the justice ministry who said that the King's involvement was "an act of compassion and mercy." In addition to Rasissouni, her fiance, her doctor and two medical professionals were also pardoned.

In the court proceedings, Raissouni and her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, said they had already been wed in ceremony, but not legally. The reporting states that the fact that Raissouni and her soon-to-be husband had wanted to begin their family as a married couple—which is to say legally—had an impact on the decision.

Continue for original story:

Following protests outside her trial, a Moroccan court in Rabat has sentenced journalist Hajar Raissouni, 28, to one year in prison for having an abortion and sex outside of marriage. Raissouni, however, claims she had no such abortion and that this sentence is retaliation for articles she has written criticizing the government of the North African country. The events have left many dismayed and feeling that this is part of a political strategy to minimize women's rights and stifle free speech.


Raissouni had been arrested after leaving a clinic on August 31st. She stated in court that she was being treated for internal bleeding—not an abortion—which her gynecologist confirmed.Two clinic staff members told investigators they had performed a routine procedure to remove a blood clot, according to The Guardian. Following her arrest she was required to undergo a vaginal examination against her will to determine whether or not she had received an abortion. Detained along with Raissouni was her Sudanese fiancé, professor Rifaat al-Amin, the doctor who is said to have performed the abortion, an anesthetist and a medical assistant. In addition to Raissouni's year sentence, today the court gave her fiancé and the anesthetist a one-year sentence, the doctor received two years and the medical assistant is to serve eight months as reported by Al Jazeera.


The events have sparked much debate and outrage. It led to a manifesto signed by 490 Moroccan women and published in major news outlets in which the women deem themselves "outlaws" for having sex out of wedlock and being complicit in abortion activities. People also believe that, due to the harshness of the sentence and the frequency of abortions, this case is more about an attempt to censor Raissouni's journalism. Here are some more reactions from people and women of Morocco from today's court decision:




popular
KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images

Nigerian Activist Omoyele Sowore Has Finally Been Released from Prison

The journalist and organizer of the #RevolutionNow protests was released Tuesday once the attorney general ordered his release on bail.

Nigerian human rights activist and journalist Omoyele Sowore has been freed from prison Tuesday, Reuters reports.

He was released on bail by the attorney general finally recognizing court orders after the Nigerian government was faced with growing pressure—nationally and internationally.

Keep reading...
popular
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Watch Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, on 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'

Miss Universe 2019 speaks to Trevor Noah about how she's had to deal with online abuse as well as wanting to raise awareness around gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa.

Last night, the recently crowned Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

It was a South African dream—the boy from Soweto interviewing the girl from Tsolo. A week into her reign, Tunzi sat down with Noah to speak about a number of issues she's encountered thus far, both good and bad.

Keep reading...
popular
Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading...
popular

University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

Keep reading...

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.