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African press review 8 March 2016

media DR

It's International Women's Day today, but that doesn't mean it's the only subject the African Press is talking about. A women's prison in South African, trade in East Africa and a ban on the niqab in Egypt are all on today's menu.

We start with Egypt where the country's parliament is now planning to ban women from wearing the niqab, or the full-face veil, in government institutions and public places according to The Egypt Independent.

The law is being prepared by Amna Nosseir, an MP. In explaining the reasons for the law, Nosseir said that the niqab is not requried by Islamic Sharia, and that it has non-Islamic origins, explains the paper.

The draft bill will probably be met with fierce opposition - one MP is already arguing that Sharia scholars all have agreed that Islam urges women to guard their modesty and that banning the niqab would be a blow for personal freedoms in Egypt.

Discussions surrounding the niqab are not a new thing in Egypt. Last month, the Cairo Univeristy banned Nurses and doctors from wearing it. The move followed another decision taken by the University last year that saw professors being forbiden from wearing the full-face veil.

The issue was also a hot topic during the rule of former presentent Hosni Mubarak, explains the paper.

Regional paper The East African reports on the World Trade Organisation (WTO). That's because WTO members have elected South Africa's Xavier Carim head of its dispute settlement body or DSB.

The paper describes the move as " yet another effort aimed at putting developing states at the centre of global trading system".

The East African has examples to back its claim: last December the international body picked "Nairobi as the first African city to host its ministerial conference".

"Brazil, India, China and South Africa had previously led developing states in championing the anti-domination protests against WTO" explains the paper. Developping nations have seen DSB's "long and tedious process among the barriers to their participation in the international trade".

Which is why, says The East African, the appointment of Carim is seen as good news for developping countries.

To mark the International Women's Day, The Mail & Guardian reports from a Women's prison.The paper decided to speak to five women, currently doing time at the Pollsmoor Prison in the Western Cape.

According to the paper, when we speak about the fate of women "an often overlooked group are women prisoners".

The paper says the Pollsmoor Prison is known for its extreme overcrowding – 300% above its capacity – which feeds into gang violence and poor sanitary conditions. About 740 of the inmates there are women.

The female prisonners the Mail & Guardian spoke to all describe of awful conditions.

There's for example Palesa, who was beaten by her cellmate a Palesa started drawing cartoons of her daily live, that the paper is running this morning.

There's also Melanie, who recalls "a practice called “toppers”" where "wardens would punish inmates by hitting the tops of their fingers with a broomstick".

"Poor sanitation and overcrowding has provided the perfect hotbed for the spread of communicable diseases in Pollsmoor, especially tuberculosis" says The Mail & Guardian.

In 2012 the prison was condemned by the South African Constitutional Court.

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