President Yahya Jammeh outlaws practice that affects three-quarters of women in west African country
The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice.
The president, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the government would draft legislation to enforce it.
FGM involves cutting female genitalia often when girls are young to remove their labia and clitoris, which often leads to lifelong health complications, including bleeding, infections, vaginal pain and infertility. More than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure in Africa and the Middle East.
The practice is widespread in many African countries, including the Gambia, where 76% of females have been subjected to it. The age at which FGM takes place in the Gambia is not recorded, but it is reported that the trend of practicing FGM on infant girls is increasing. By the age of 14, 56% of female children in the country have had the procedure.
Jaha Dukureh, an anti-FGM activist whose campaign to end the practice in the country has been supported by the Guardian, spent the past week meeting cabinet ministers in the Gambia and sent them articles from the newspaper to inform them about the issue.
Im really amazed that the president did this. I didnt expect this in a million years. Im just really proud of my country and Im really, really happy, she told the Guardian. I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention.
Jammehs announcement came late last night, as the president was visiting his home village on Kanilai as part of a nationwide tour. The announcement was unexpected for both campaigners and public.
The amazing thing is its election season. This could cost the president the election. He put women and girls first, this could negatively affect him, but this shows he cares more about women than losing peoples votes, said Dukureh.
Dukureh will return to the Gambia on Tuesday to thank Jammeh for the ban and to help with drafting the legislation that will enforce it.
A ban on FGM would be a significant development on an issue that has proved controversial and divisive in the Gambia, with some arguing that FGM is permitted in Islam, the major religion in the country.
Senior Muslim clerics in the Gambia have previously denied the existence of FGM in the Gambia saying instead that was is practiced is female circumcision. In 2014, state house imam, Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty told Kibaaro News, I have never heard of anyone who died as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM)… If you know what FGM means, you know that we do not practice that here. We do not mutilate our children.
Mary Wandia, the FGM programme manager at womens rights campaign group Equality Now said: The ban is an essential first step towards ending FGM and we commend President Jammeh on finally announcing it.
A law must now be enacted and properly implemented to ensure that every girl at risk is properly protected. The government needs to show strong commitment and prioritise this issue in a country where three quarters of women have been affected and reductions in prevalence have been slow to materialise.
Though support for FGM is widespread in the Gambia, reports have shown that public support for the practice has dropped in recent decades among women across all age groups.
Support for the continuation of the practice is strongest among the countrys richest women and varies dramatically in different ethnic communities, with 84% of Mandinka women supporting the continuation of FGM compared with 12% of Wolof women.
This year FGM was banned in Nigeria, which joined 18 other African countries that have outlawed the practice, including Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa.
Somalia, which has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world, has indicated it would like to end the practice, with a spokeswoman for the ministry for womens affairs saying it was committed to make this happen despite significant resistance in the country. Currently, 98% of girls aged between four and 11 are subjected to FGM in Somalia.
The Guardian launched a major campaign to end FGM around the world in 2014, with the support of the campaign petition website, Change.org.
The Guardian Global Media campaign works closely with local activists in the Gambia, Kenya and Nigeria to help them provide education and awareness on the issue and hope to expand the campaign to Sierra Leone, Senegal and Uganda next year.
Youd be hard pressed to find someone who doesnt like coconuts. They are furry spheres of deliciousness, after all. Coconut water though is pointless it doesnt have any clear health benefits and its just a saltier version of normal water.
Then theres coconut oil. Its the latest cooking fad, and people all over the Web are claiming that its much healthier than any other oil out there. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, coco-nutcases, but according to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is just as unhealthy as butter and beef dripping.
According to a key advisory notice published in the journal Circulation one which looks at all kinds of fats and their links to cardiovascular disease coconut oil is packed with saturated fats. In fact, 82 percent of coconut oil is comprised of saturated fats, far more than in regular butter (63), olive oil (14), peanut oil (17), and sunflower oil (10).
Saturated fat, unlike others, can raise the amount of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, which increases your risk of contracting heart disease in the future. It can be found in butter and lard, cakes, biscuits, fatty meats, cheese, and cream, among other things including coconut oil.
A recent survey reported that 72 percent of the American public rated coconut oil as a healthy food compared with 37 percent of nutritionists, the AHAs review notes. This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.
A meta-analysis of a suite of experiments have conclusively shown that butter and coconut oil, in terms of raising the amount of bad cholesterol in your body, are just as bad as each other.
Because coconut oil increases [bad] cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil, the AHA conclude. In essence, there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by using coconut oil in cooking.
If you already have high bad cholesterol levels, then coconut oil is potentially quite dangerous to consume or use in acts of culinary creations. Swapping it out for olive oil, according to the AHA, will reduce your cholesterol levels as much as cutting-edge, cholesterol-lowering drugs.
So next time you see anyone claiming that coconut oil is good for you or that its pro-health and anti-everything bad! you can confidently tell them that theyre spouting bullshit.
Its important to remember though that a little bit of fat is definitely good for you, as fatty acids are essential for proper absorption of vitamins. Unsaturated fats are generally thought to be quite good for you in this regard; you can find them in avocados, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.
A goalkeeper for an Indonesian professional soccer team died this weekend from injuries sustained during a match in the country when he collided with another player, went down hard, and immediately started convulsing until first responders rushed on to the field to help him.
The goalkeeper, a 38-year-old veteran athlete named Choirul Huda, was pronounced dead not long after colliding with his own teammate, defender Ramon Rodrigues, and an opponent during a game between Huda’s team, Persela Lamongan, and the opponents Semen Padang.
While Huda was conscious immediately after the collision — and the collision itself doesn’t even look too out of the ordinary on video — he quickly collapsed and fell unconscious, and he was quickly taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The entire thing was captured on video, too (below) — but be warned, because it is pretty graphic and unsettling:
So scary — and what’s scarier still is the collision was a relatively common one that takes place in so many soccer games. For whatever reason, the impact led Huda to stop breathing, where he eventually suffered cardiac arrest.
His team, not knowing the extent of the injuries at the time, played the rest of the match before they all went to the hospital — and that’s where they found out their teammate had been pronounced dead.
The team honored Huda on Twitter after the match (below):
For people who might not have the physical ability or stamina to join Saturday’s massive public protest, disability activists created the Disability March an online movement that allows people with disabilities and chronic illnesses to participate virtually in the event.
The Disability March organizers invite people living with disabilities to submit their names, photos and a statement on why they want to “march.” The images and text will be uploaded to the website in time for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, creating a virtual archive of people showing solidarity with the main event in Washington, D.C.
“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching”
Sonya Huber, one of the organizers, was inspired to create the online movement after she realized attending the Women’s March wouldn’t be the best idea for her health. A disability rights activist and professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, Huber lives with a few autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid disease and Hashimoto’s disease. She also experiences some mobility problems.
“The march, combined with the drive, would have done a number on my immune system at the beginning of a busy semester,” she told Mashable.
But Huber knew she wasn’t alone, and she wanted to do something to help broaden access to the march for her community.
“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching even though the march will of course include many disabled people,” she said. “Since the disabled community is going to be so impacted by the Republican agenda, it seemed that giving people a platform to tell their individual stories was most appropriate.”
The Disability March is an all-volunteer effort, made for the disability community, by the disability community. It’s also an official co-sponsor of the Women’s March on Washington.
Huber said about 50 online “marchers” have signed up to participate in the virtual march so far, and she expects more people to submit their stories throughout the week.
Some images and testimonies of Disability March participants are already live on the movement’s website, but the bulk of photos and statements will be uploaded Friday and Saturday to coincide with the main march.
Disability March organizers are also coming up with activist-oriented tasks for participants, designed with various levels of ability and comfort in mind. While still in planning stages, the goal is to offer tangible actions for people to still make an impact.
“In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”
Huber hopes the online march will draw attention to the faces and stories of people who will be heavily affected by the Trump administration, especially the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and attacks on Medicaid.
“I hope that this small effort which rides the wave of so much other disability activism can help get the word out about the large number of people with invisible and visible disabilities who need an outlet for sharing their stories and who want to be active,” she said.
The Disability March also challenges other activist efforts to take inclusivity and different types of participation in social movements seriously.
“We are not a peripheral community,” Huber said. “In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”
If you want to join the Disability March, you can fill out the short online form here. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Jan. 20.
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens
Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. Im going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.
And I am biased, obviously and enormously: Im an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.
So Im biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.
And Im here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.
And its that change, and that act of reading that Im here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What its good for.
I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldnt read. And certainly couldnt read for pleasure.
Its not one to one: you cant say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, its a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if its hard, because someones in trouble and you have to know how its all going to end thats a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, youre on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
I dont think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of childrens books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. Ive seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.
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In America, we’ve achieved something incredible:
Virtual freedom from the dangers of predators. Nature’s most vicious animals are no match for humans.
But one danger still haunts us. Something stuck with us that we can’t fight off.
In fact, it’s killing more Americans than any other cause of death.
Here’s a glimpse of what Americans are suffering from:
Heart attacks and strokes that immediately end the lives of people we love.
Back and joint pain that keeps you stuck on the couch and ruins your mood from the moment you get out of bed.
Plus diabetes, liver failure, sore muscles, arthritis, and other ailments that cost thousands of dollars in prescription medication every year.
Even our children are suffering the consequences.
My Daughter Was Thin, But She Was Suffering from My Weight.
When I was overweight, I thought, “You know, it’s not so bad. I can live with this.”
But then one day, my chest started to ache, my breathing intensified, and I thought I was having a heart attack.
In that moment, my daughter looked up at me with the most terrified expression I’ve ever seen.
I knew I couldn’t leave her behind, so I decided to look into the real causes of my weight gain.
I Was Spending 20 Hours a Day Gaining Fat, Even if I Ate 3 Meals a Day.
I was shocked when I found out that our bodies can only be in one of two states.
Either we’re burning fat… or we’re gaining it. There’s no in-between.
And many Americans are unknowingly spending 20 hours a day stuck in the fat-gaining mode, especially those that are overweight.
20 hours a day!
And the only time they’re actually burning fat… is when they’re asleep.
That’s when I realized that no matter how much exercise I did, no matter how healthy I ate, it wouldn’t matter unless I could fix that problem.
I had to find a way to force my body into fat-burning mode for more than 4 hours a day.
Finally, a friend introduced me to a new system that works with nature’s big secret to keep my body in fat-burning mode for 12 hours a day or more… and I lost over 12 pounds in just 2 weeks!
I Burned Over 8 Pounds of Fat in 2 Weeks By Working With Nature, Not Against It.
Your body has a natural ability to burn fat.
In fact, with the right strategies, you can burn a surprising amount of fat in a few short weeks.
So what are they?
Well, the plan I made works in 3 phases, and they’re incredibly easy to follow.
Basically, here’s how it works:
It shifts your body into fat-burning mode for 3 times as long. By multiplying your fat-burning time, you make weight loss easy and cancel the need for difficult workouts.
Plus… it showed me how to make my workouts easier and more effective.
Finally, I dropped over 1 pound daily, and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.
At the end of 2 weeks, I had lost over 8 pounds of fat.
I kept it up and continued to lose more.
And yes, I look amazing.
But what really mattered wasn’t the weight loss.
I made a change for my daughter.
I’m Going to Live to Watch My Grandchildren Grow Up.
I may not be old enough to have grandchildren yet… but I’m no longer worried that I’m going to die before my daughter is ready to have kids.
We’ve really connected again, going out to the park and playing games like we used to. I can even go shopping all day long without aches and pains in my back!
So I shared these strategies with some of my friends who wanted to lose a little weight, and they were also shocked at their results.
In fact, some of them lost more weight than I did… up to 16 pounds in 2 weeks!
So my friends told their friends… who told their friends… and eventually, the secret got out.
I couldn’t believe it when complete strangers started emailing me, asking for my diet.
I had no idea it was going to become such a big deal!
That’s when I realized that I had to package my system for anyone who wanted to start burning fat and looking their best.
So I decided to put together all the information I had on this strategy and put it online.
The only problem is…it costs a lot of money to do this.
I was a little overwhelmed by how much I had to pay to build a website and package it all up in a nice little ebook.
So yes, I have to charge people for these strategies.
But when people are losing 8-16 pounds per week, I’m not hearing any complaints!
You can click here to get your copy of The 2 Week Diet right now.
I’m Going to Save You $20 on These Fat-Burning Secrets.
When I showed my website to a friend, he told me I was crazy for making my book so cheap.
“You should be charging twice as much, at least. I’ve seen books like yours for $60 or more.”
He works in marketing, so he thinks everything should be expensive. (Sorry, Dave.)
I just couldn’t do that. I really wanted people to be able to afford this book and use it to change their lives.
So I did the math and figured out exactly what I have to charge to get my money back on this whole thing, and that’s how I chose the price. I’m not trying to maximize my profits. I don’t care to find out the top price that I can get you to pay.
I simply want my highly-effective system to spread like a healthy wildfire and pay its own bills.
If you can help me cover my costs, I’m more than happy to give you these secrets at the bare minimum price.
So click this link to get full access to these fat-burning tricks, and I promise…no, I guarantee…you will lose 8 to 16 pounds in 2 weeks!
Creator of The 2 Week Diet & Weight Loss Consultant
Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave
Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.
As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no shorts werent permitted under the schools uniform policy.
When they protested that the girls were allowed bare legs, the school no doubt joking said the boys were free to wear skirts too if they chose. So on Wednesday, a handful braved the giggles and did so. The scale of the rebellion increased on Thurday, when at least 30 boys opted for the attire.
A third, tall boy said he was told his short skirt exposed too much hairy leg. Some of the boys visited a shop on their way to Isca the name the Romans gave to Exeter to pick up razors to make sure they did not fall foul of any beauty police.
The school said it was prepared to think again in the long term. The headteacher, Aimee Mitchell, said: We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.
Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.
It was too late. The revolution was picked up by media organisations across the globe, and Devon county council was forced to help the school out with inquiries. A spokesperson said: About 30 boys arrived at school this morning wearing school skirts. None of the boys have been penalised no one was put in isolation or detention for wearing a skirt.
The mother of one of the boys who began the protest said she was proud of him. Claire Lambeth, 43, said her son Ryan, 15, had come home earlier in the week complaining about the heat. He said it was unbearable. I spoke to a teacher to ask about shorts and she said it was school policy [that they could not be worn]. I did say this was exceptional weather, but they were having none of it. If girls can wear skirts, why cant boys wear shorts?
Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt, so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day as did five other boys. Then this morning I didnt expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan. I think it was a great idea.
Another mother said: My 14-year-old son wanted to wear shorts. The headteacher told them: Well, you can wear a skirt if you like but I think she was being sarcastic. However, children tend to take you literally, and because she told them it was OK, there was nothing she could do as long as they were school skirts.
A third mother said: Children also dont like injustice. The boys see the female teachers in sandals and nice cool skirts and tops while they are wearing long trousers and shoes and the older boys have to wear blazers. They just think its unfair that they cant wear shorts in this heat.
There were signs that the revolution might be spreading. The Guardian has heard of at least one more school in Wiltshire where one boy turned up in a skirt, although it did not go down quite so well with his friends.
And schoolboys were not the only ones making controversial dress choices because of the heat. Michael Wood, who works as a porter at Watford general hospital, claimed he was facing disciplinary action from his employers Medirest for rolling his trousers up to try to cool down. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the case, but said: The health and safety of our colleagues is always our number one priority.
What happened to summer school uniforms? Matthew Easter, managing director of the schoolwear supplier Trutex, said they had become less popular for reasons of economy. Its really up to the individual school to decide, but the headteacher is in a difficult position. A decade or so ago, summer wear was more popular, but theres been a change recently to try to make uniforms as economical as possible. Summer uniforms are only worn for a matter of weeks.
If parents havent bought uniform shorts, then some children may feel disadvantaged, so perhaps the decision in this case is simply down to fairness.
It may be that the weather will solve the problem for the school. The Exeter-based Met Office situated up the road from the school predicts pleasant, but not searing, temperatures over the coming week.
As we get older it’s extremely important to stay fit to stay in good health.
But let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t huge fans of exercising. It’s boring, it’s a hassle to get someone to join us, or we just don’t know what to do. Spain was among the first place to implement playgrounds for seniors which features equipment designed for low-impact exercise. It seems to be catching on as they’re spreading to the United States now. Besides good health, it’s FUN, and you make some new friends while at it. It’s a win-win. Who wouldn’t want to feel young again?
Watch the video below and SHARE if you think we need more of these in your area!
I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school.
During her evaluation, she asked about my coursework. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.
Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of “You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, its teens like you who scare me a lot.”
When we see depression and anxiety in adolescents, we see teens struggling to get by in their day-to-day lives. We see grades dropping, and we see involvement replaced by isolation. But it doesnt always look like this.
And when we limit our idea of mental illness, at-risk people slip through the cracks.
We dont see the student with the 4.0 GPA or the student whos active in choir and theater or a member of the National Honor Society or the ambitious teen who takes on leadership roles in a religious youth group.