Egyptian court bans female virginity tests
In Egypt, a court has put an end to forced virginity tests on females detained in military prisons.
Judge Aly Fekry, head of Cairo's administrative court, ruled that the army could not use the test on women held in military prisons after protester, Samira Ibrahim filed a case.
Ibrahim accused the Egyptian army of forcing her to undergo a virginity test after she was arrested in Tahrir Square during a protest in March.
Fekry decreed that what happened to Ibrahim was illegal and any similar occurrence in the future would also be considered illegal.
The military said the tests were used so women would not later claim they had been raped.
Meanwhile, the trial of the ousted Egyptian president,Hosni Mubarak, has resumed following a delay of almost two months.
Mubarak, his two sons, the former interior minister and senior police officers face a range of charges including involvement in the deaths of hundreds of protesters and corruption during his three decades in office.
Mozambique to produce antiretrovirals
Mozambique is set to become the first African country to its produce its own anti-retroviral drugs. Health Minister, Alexandre Manguele announced that the drugs used to treat HIV/Aids will be ready by July 2012.
It will be produced in partnership with Brazil.
Both countries signed an agreement last week to build a factory producing antiretrovirals and other drugs in the southern city of Matola.
It is hoped that the factory will benefit thousands of HIV-positive Mozambicans in need of treatment.
One in three Yemeni children malnourished
In Yemen, a survey has found that nearly one in three children suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition. The survey conducted by Yemen’s ministry of public health and population, and UNICEF, found that nearly 60 per cent of children were underweight and more almost 55 per cent were stunted in their growth.
The UN says more than seven million people – a third of the population – go to bed hungry. The harsh economic condition in the country means it will probably need some form of assistance for two to three decades.
Aid workers hope the shocking figures will prompt donors to act immediately.
Nigeria's Christian body warns of religious war
Nigeria’s top Christian organisation has warned that a spate of bombings in the country could lead to a religious war. The warning from the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) came after the Islamist group, Boko Haram, launched a series of bomb attacks near churches in three different states on Christmas day, killing up to 40 people.
The secretary general for CAN, Saidu Dogu called on Muslim leaders to control their faithful, saying Christians will be forced to defend themselves against further attacks.
The spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar said that it was not a conflict between Islam and Christianity.
India passes anti-corruption bill
The lower house of India's parliament yesterday passed an anti-corruption bill after hours of debate. The 'Lokpal' or watchdog bill was passed by a majority of the lawmakers present, however a portion of the bill that aimed to amend the constitution and make the watchdog a constitutional body was rejected.
The legislative showdown is the culmination of months of angry political debate and public protests that brought tens of thousands of middle-class Indians to the streets. The bill must now be passed by the upper house and signed by the president before it comes into effect. Critics say the watchdog will be ineffective without constitutional backing.
Giant escalator for Colombian slum
ritics say the watchdog will be too weak without constitutional authority.
Officials in Colombia's second-largest city on Monday have installed a giant, outdoor escalator for residents of one of its poorest slums.
For generations, the 12,000 residents of Medellin's tough Comuna 13, which clings to the side of a steep hillside, have had to climb hundreds of large steps which, authorities say, is the same as going up a 28-story building. Now they can ride an escalator, in what the mayor of Medellin said is the first massive, outdoor public escalator for use by residents of a poor area.
Officials say the $6.7 million escalator will shorten the 35-minute hike on foot up the hillside to six minutes.
Researchers predict drop in frankincense production
Dutch and Ethiopian researchers have predicted a 50 per cent decrease in the production of frankincense in the next 15 years due to the falling population of frankincense trees.
A study of Boswellia trees in Ethiopia found that their numbers could drop by 90 per cent in the next 50 years if the trees are not protected from fire, grazing and insect attacks. The aromatic resin — which is used in incense and perfume, and is one of the gifts that features in the Christmas story of the Nativity