What’s Going On: Death toll rises in SA, Egyptian court cracks down on female influencers & more

notable headlines from around the continent

“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That.

Egyptian court cracks down on female social media influencers

Earlier this week, an Egyptian TikTok star named Haneen Hossam was sentenced to three years in prison after charges were brought against her for exploiting young girls on video sharing platforms. She was initially sentenced to ten years, but this verdict was later cut short with an additional fine of 200,000 Egyptian pounds ($10,740) being levied against her by the Cairo Criminal Court.

This is not the first time that Haneen Hossam will be arraigned in relation to exploitation and trafficking. Hossam was first arrested in 2020 and, along with another influencer named Mawada al-Adham, was sentenced to two years for “attacking society’s values” in online videos. She was detained after posting a video on Instagram explaining how women could earn up to $3,000 by broadcasting videos using the video creation platform Likee, which authorities interpreted as promoting women selling sex online.

Authorities have been cracking down on female social media infleuncers for some time now, with Hossam being the latest in the line of viral stars to face jail time. In recent times, several belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted over online content deemed too racy or suggestive. Egypt has over the past few years enforced strict internet controls through laws allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers. Last year, Amnesty International shared, “Women TikTok influencers are being punished for the way they dress, act, influence on social media, and earn money online,” said Amnesty International researcher Hussein Baoumi. “This is part of the authorities’ attempts to control cyberspace by policing women’s bodies and conduct.”

Death toll rises from SA floods

KwaZulu-Nataal is healing from one of the worst floods South Africa has faced. A state of disasteer has been declared as the government has deployed over 10,000 troops to assist the victims. The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government estimates that billions of rand worth of damage has been caused to properties and infrastructure, describing the heavy rains as unleashing untold havoc. Some communities have been completely cut off as major the roads to the port of Durban, one of the busiest in Africa, are impassable after the swollen river washed mud and debris onto the roads.

At the beginning of the year, the area was hit by two tropical storms and three cyclones in six weeks resulting to gigantic damage with 230 reported deaths. Currently the rainfall has eased up but the amount of rain which fell was equal to about 75% of South Africa’s average annual precipitation.Weather experts have said that climate change may be contributing to changing patterns and making such extreme events more frequent. The government is urging citizens to move to higher grounds and avoid building homes close to water bodies.

Nigerian authorities warn over viral schoolgirl video

This weekend, disturbing reports surfaced on the Internet after management authorities in Chrisland School VGC reneged on their duty of care to protect students during a school trip in Dubai. According to reports, in March, 76 students between the ages of 10-15 were selected to represent their school in the World School Games. During their trip, two underage students, both male and female (11 and 10 respectively) were performing sexual activities on each other, which was then recorded and circulated around the school.

At some point, school authorities caught wind of the video and allegedly subjected the young female student to three pregnancy tests without consulting her parents. According to the mother’s report, her underage daughter was also verbally abused and bullied with death threats if he told her parents what had transpired during the school trip. Shortly after news reached the media, Lagos State authorities swiftly moved to close down all branches of the Chrisland School franchise within the country. Following the closure, Chrisland authorities released a statement sharing that the case was being investigated by the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the Ministry of Education, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ministry of Justice and the Lagos State Domestic & Sexual Violence Agency, whilst the criminal allegations have been escalated to the Commissioner of Police.

Since news broke out, many have irresponsibly and illegally shared the clip containing child pornography online. While the case was shared on social media, the sensitivity of the matter at hand means that the identity of the victim must be protected. The Lagos State authorities have now warned against sharing or receiving child pornography as it carries a 14 year jail term. The Lagos State government have ordered for the immediate close of Chrisland school pending further investigation. Meanwhile the school is denying of any wrong doing stating they have suspended the male student involved.


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UN warns about drought in East Africa

The World Food Program has issued a drought warning in East Africa. Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are the driest they have been for 40 years and the rains have failed to materialise almost a month into the current rainy season. They are experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began.

As a result, as many as 13 million people are currently experiencing acute food and water shortages and a projected 25 million will face a similar fate by mid-2022.Despite several warnings of the disastrous drought, funding has not been made available as the war in Ukraine has resulted to rise of shipping costs and fuel prices thus affecting wheat supply.

In November 2021, scientists at the Famine Early Warning System Network sent out a warning that an unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa was impending if poor seasonal rainfall continued into 2022. Tragically, their prediction is turning out to be prescient.

Featured image credits/The Guardian