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Sarah Everard’s death prompts men to join groups trying to halt male violence

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Sarah Everard’s death prompts men to join groups trying to halt male violence

The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa could mark a turning point in men taking responsibility for male violence against women and girls, experts have said.

Groups led by men that work to end violence against females have experienced a surge in interest from other men, but organisers say if the momentum is not harnessed the opportunity will be lost.

Beyond Equality had 150 men come forward in the two weeks after Everard’s death, asking to volunteer at the charity. Previously the average was two men a week. The surge in interest has been sustained: more than 80 schools booked workshops with the group in the past week, compared with an average of three inquiries a week previously.

“It’s a sign of how badly our work is needed that it takes not just the death of two women at the hands of men – because women are killed by men all the time – but the wall-to-wall coverage that these two murders received, for men to contact us in these numbers,” said Dr Daniel Guinness, the managing director of Beyond Equality.

But whatever the motivation, Guinness said increasing numbers of men were realising that protecting women is not just about being a good person themselves. “All men are responsible for the violence,” said Guinness.

“I have never met a man who hasn’t condoned a dialogue by joking along or staying silent where misogynistic or sexist comments were made. But by not challenging those attitudes, you’re giving your tacit approval to the misogynist making the comments, which leads to the normalisation of those attitudes, which ultimately leads to the abuse of women,” he said. “It’s a continuum.”

Michael Conroy, the founder of the community group Men at Work, agreed. “I might be a good guy who would never hurt a woman but this isn’t about me: this is about men, plural,” he said.

Conroy, who also said his company had received much more work since the murders of Everard and Nessa, pointed to Philip Allott, North Yorkshire’s police commissioner, who said Everard “never should have submitted” to arrest by her killer. “All men are in this up to their necks in one way or other, so it’s up to all men to work actively to dismantle it,” he said.

Davy Thompson, the campaign manager for the charity White Ribbon Scotland, said. “Many men realise they shouldn’t walk behind a woman late at night because it scares her,” he said. “But it’s not enough to just change your route: men need to change the atmosphere where simply being a man in a woman’s vicinity at night is a source of fear for her.

“That starts with men squeezing the social spaces in which sexist men feel their misogyny is condoned until those men are left with no spaces in which they feel their attitudes are normal,” he said.

The organisation What Can I Do? was set up by the musician Mark Hegarty in the wake of the murders. “I’m just a normal bloke who had thought this issue didn’t affect me. But then I started talking to the women around me and I realised that male violence affected every single one of them,” said Hegarty, who co-founded the group with Rachel Williams, a survivor of domestic violence.

“This is a really pivotal moment,” said Dr Stephen Burrell, a trustee for White Ribbon UK, which was contacted by the Wunderman Thompson consultancy after Everard’s murder to advise on a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage all men to take responsibility for male violence towards women.

But this “sea change” could ebb away if not harnessed, he warned. “For real, meaningful change, we need to see much more action from governments and other organisations as well, including the police, schools, universities and workplaces.”

The group Engage will hold what it says is the first male-led, international pro-feminist online conference in November. While the event was arranged before the murders, organisers have said male interest in it has increased dramatically since.

But Chris Green, the founder of Engage, said that while the increased interest was good, it was not enough. “We’re still a long, long way from engaging men in a mass way,” he said.

Green is worried by what he said were powerful forces working to reverse any progress made by anti-violence groups, including the “massive juggernaut” of online pornography and the ongoing failure of four UK parliaments and three UK prime Ministers to ratify the Istanbul convention, an international treaty protecting women’s rights that is already law in 21 European countries.

Darshan Sanghrajka, the co-founder of the Being ManKind project, said he feared the increase in online misogyny would undo any advances made. “Over the last couple of years, the internet has become increasingly toxic,” he said, pointing to Facebook’s own researchers who found that 64% of all extremist “group joins” were due to its recommendation tools.

“Algorithms quickly suck you into an echo chamber where groups are increasingly extreme,” he said. “You end up in an alternate reality where your feelings of being slighted by women can easily get manipulated into a determination to revenge yourself against them.”

However, James McCann, a co-founder of the Feminist Man Project, said men had no choice but to plough on. “It can be easy to feel overwhelmed but we fight for change because we must. We have to aspire to a better quality of life for everybody, always.”

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.

Backstory

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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