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Female Genital Mutilation in African Countries: The Harmful Traditional Practice

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Female Genital Mutilation Stats

Female genital mutilation has been around for 2,000+ years. Some African communities perform the practice to uphold tradition and religious values, prepare girls for womanhood, meet family expectations, preserve virginity and purity and even for social & community acceptance.

Just recently, a group of Kenyan doctors moved to the court, wanting the FGM ban lifted, terming it as unconstitutional. They argued that it’s discriminatory to stop women from undergoing circumcision, yet men are allowed to.

“Banning the FGM practice is as good as embracing the Western culture and viewing the local traditions as inferior,” said Dr. Kamau, who has been practicing medicine for about three decades. “All citizens have freedom from discrimination and the right to equality. The Act doesn’t give a chance to the females who wish to undergo the cut even to maintain their culture and beliefs,” she concluded.

This leads us to the question, why are communities still practicing female genital mutilation?

As it is, the reasons for FGM vary from one community to the next. The most commonly cited include:

  • It’s association with cultural ideals of modesty and femininity – the idea that girls are beautiful and clean following the removal of body parts that are believed to be male-like, or unclean
  • The rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood – as preparation for marriage
  • It’s seen as a way to uphold virginity, and marital fidelity – the cutting of clitoris minimizes the libido, and can, therefore, aids the woman in resisting sexual advancements.
  • Social norm – girls are forced to conform to the pressure since everyone around them is doing so. They do this for fear of rejection.
  • Family expectations and upholding family honor.

The World Health Organization identifies four types of Female Genital Mutilation.

  1. Infibulation: Involves stitching of the vaginal opening, without cutting the clitoris, to prevent sexual intercourse.
  2. Excision: Is where the clitoris and the labia minora and the labia majora are partially or entirely removed.
  3. Clitoridectomy: Is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. In rare circumstances, they remove the prepuce.
  4. Other harmful processes: Refers to all other procedures that cause harm to female genitals for non-medical reasons. This includes incising, pricking, cauterizing and scraping.

If you thought female genital mutilation was a tradition of the past, well, you are wrong. Many girls in Africa are subject to genital mutilation.

According to statistics, over 200 million females are affected by FGM, while three million girls face the risk of going through the painful procedure each year. The practice is prominent in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

 

Women’s

Health Risks of FGM

Girls and women who undergo FGM are exposed to both short and long-term health risks. Organizations like WHO, UNFPA and World Vision oppose to all forms of FGM, regardless of who executes the practice.

Short-term risks

  • Swelling of the genitals due to local infections or inflammatory response
  • Bleeding due to accidental cutting to the clitoral artery
  • HIV through sharing of the same unsterilized surgical instruments
  • The shock from bleeding, infection or pain
  • Problems passing urine as a result of injury or discomfort to the urethra or tissue swelling
  • Psychological consequences of the trauma, pain and physical force
  • Some cases of bleeding, tetanus that cause shock can result in death

Long-term risks

  • Pain from tissue damage and scarring which cause unprotected or trapped nerve endings
  • Infections including chronic tract infections, chronic genital diseases, and urinary tract infections
  • Obstetric complications –the practice is associated with painful labor, post-partum hemorrhage, the risk of C-section, prolonged labor, instrumental delivery, recourse to episiotomy, obstetric lacerations and more.
  • Painful urination from recurrent UTIs and urethral obstruction
  • Keloids
  • Menstrual problems
  • Perinatal risks
  • Obstetric fistula
  • Sexual problems like decreased sexual pleasure and desire, lubrication, and penetration.

What can you do to end FGM?

Heard of the cliché “change begins with you?” There’s a lot you can add to the fight against this harmful practice. Start by talking to your family, friends, and colleagues. Tell everyone who cares to listen and insight that urgent actions must be taken.

The practicing communities have complex reasons for doing so. Shouting “It’s wrong, it’s wrong,” won’t cut it. You can take part in community outreach or support the people who do that so that these groups are sensitized on the dangers associated with FGM.

This article was written by Olivia Kibaba of http://oliviakibaba.com/. She is passionate about the rights of women and children in Africa, and around the globe.

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Life Hacks

3 Life Hacks to Help You Survive our Post-Modern World

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Raindrops

We currently live in a world that is plagued by regional conflicts, the threat of conflict, trade wars, rising violent crime levels, severe weather events due to climate change as well as the increasing cost of living while our wages stagnate. Therefore, it suffices to say that navigating our way through life is not easy.

However, the challenging geopolitical and socio-economic living conditions are not an excuse to give up. They are a reason to learn coping skills to live as healthy a life as possible.

Ways to live a healthy life in our crazy, modern world

Thus, here are three essential life hacks to help you learn the coping skills you need to live a full, successful, and healthy life:

Serve others

Helen Keller, one of the USA’s leading educators and humanitarians in the 20th century, stated that  “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

As an aside, it is worth noting that she was left deaf and blind after a devastating illness at two years old. As a result, it would be understandable if she was cynical and bitter throughout her life. However, the opposite is true. She went on to live a life of service to others and, in 1920, she ultimately co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU).

Additionally, Chad Cooper highlights “the importance of being in service to others for your own success” in his article on Medium.com. The salient point here is that if we serve others, we focus on others and forget about our misfortunes. Thus, we end up stronger people, better able to cope with the challenges that each day throws at us.

Thus, it makes sense to try and emulate Keller’s and Cooper’s example.

Mindfulness: Stay in the present

Mother Theresa, who also spent her life in service to the most impoverished communities in Kolkata, India stated: “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” It is vital to not let past events contaminate the present and the future. Therefore, treat each moment of each day as a separate, isolated event.

Imagine, a moment, raindrops falling on a surface. Each droplet can be equated to a moment in time. Depending on how hard it rains, how big the drops are, and how level the surface is, the individual drops will either run together to form a raging river, or they will dry up when the sun comes out. Thus, in our scenario, it is vital to ensure that the raindrops do not form a raging river, no matter how hard it rains. The trick is to keep our emotional surface as level as possible.

Spend time outdoors

Making a weekly date with nature is vital. It doesn’t matter whether you visit an inner-city green space, walk along the beach, or hike forest and mountain trails. Nature is therapeutic. Exercise is also extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, can you imagine the benefits of combining exercise and spending time outside?

Final words

The fact that our modern, crazy life is challenging to say the least. However, as mentioned above, it is possible to thrive by spending time exercising and in nature, living a life of service to others, and by treating each moment of each day as a unique opportunity to do good.

 

 

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Blockchain

Top Blockchain Applications Making Waves in Commercial Real Estate

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Top Blockchain Applications Making Waves in Commercial Real Estate

The commercial real estate (CRE) industry is comprised of many different types of service providers, including property management, brokerage firms, banks, and other types of lenders. When a CRE transaction takes place, there are various operators involved, requiring extensive sharing of official property documents, and financial information which need to be validated. The requirements for validating all information across all parties slows down the speed of each transaction, which can take weeks and months to complete. Many CRE firms have turned to blockchain to speed up execution times, decrease error and increase transparency in each transaction.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain technology is a way to store and transfer information in an encrypted manner by distributing data instead of copying it in a central location. Blockchain does so through a cloud, peer-to-peer network that eliminates the need for a third party, which ultimately reduces transaction fees. A digital ledger is then created and updated with each financial transaction in blocks.

There are plenty of benefits to making transactions and transferring data using blockchain as the technology is not controlled by one central entity, such as a central bank. This means that breaching these blocks is extremely difficult, maintaining the sanctity and transparency of its transactions and data.

Blockchain is the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which offer speedy and low-cost ways of sending and receiving money.

Faster Transactions

One of the most exciting ways blockchain is disrupting the CRE world is in the form of smart contracts. The industry currently relies on an inefficient system of old-school verification of property ownership by conducting research to ensure the property belongs to the party who is selling it.

Blockchain can reduce the speed in which the chain of custody regarding CRE properties takes place as a property’s title would be stored on a public ledger. This would remove the need for another central repository, thus reducing transaction, state, city and legal costs. The same principle would apply for leases that would be recorded via blockchain.

More Transparent Deals

Blockchain can also ensure that real estates assets are more liquid and the terms of the agreement are fully understood by both sides as every piece of data regarding a property would be stored publicly. This includes data surrounding former owners, construction done on the property, past maintenance costs and records regarding former inspections.

Having all this information available would give the investor a more comprehensive idea of the property they are investing in. Blockchain essentially ensures that everyone is on the same page and both sides are fully aware of what they’re getting into as every piece of information is out there for anyone to access.

Digital Paper Trail

Another challenge with the CRE industry is the fact that public records can be outdated, unreliable or not available. Following a property’s paper trail can be time-consuming and frustrating as a lot of this information is lost due to poor organizational skills from industry workers and legacy systems that lose data when updated.

With blockchain, every piece of information on a property would be available in the same place rather than in multiple physical and digital domains. Blockchain would also help to eliminate the type of fraud that sometimes exists in the industry as deeds and titles can be counterfeited easily.

Buying Property With Cryptocurrencies

As previously mentioned, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that relies on blockchain to complete financial transactions online in a matter of seconds. Some investors and real estate firms have started adding Bitcoin to the industry, including Ivan Pacheco, who bought a two-bedroom condominium in Florida for $275,000 in Bitcoin.

In the residential space, you can buy a condo on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Bitcoin. Meanwhile, some apartments in New York City are allowing their tenants to pay for rent using Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies have been historically volatile and they’ve been on the decline since peaking in December 2017, but some investors believe that the future of real estate will be closely tied with Bitcoin and other digital coins.

Nevertheless, blockchain’s role in the CRE industry is becoming more prevalent each day. The technology’s potential to speed up transactions with smart contracts, its ability to add transparency to a deed or title and the fact that it dramatically decreases the chance for fraud suggest that more investors will flock towards firms that use blockchain for CRE transactions.

 

This article first appeared on RealAtom.

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Business

5 Tips to Help You Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

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Content is King

High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online. – Kristina Halvorson

The age-old adage: “Content is King” is more relevant in the global digital media marketing world that it has ever been before. Statistics generated by Newscred.com show the following:

  • 71% of consumers are turned away from a brand by direct sales pitches.
  • 40% of consumers prefer emails that are content-rich and not promotional.
  • 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising.
  • 2017 statistics show that 615 million mobile devices have installed adblocker technology.
  • 2017 statistics show that 84% of people expect brands to create content.

It should be noted at this juncture that we are talking about high-quality, informative, authoritative content. Publishing run-of-the-mill spun content is counterproductive and can harm your brand’s reputation as a leader in its field.

Finally, 2016 studies have shown that circa 75% of brand marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets to allocate a more significant slice of their overall marketing budgets to content strategy and content marketing.

Implementing a content strategy

From the figures mentioned above, we can see that designing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a vital part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. And it should not be avoided or downgraded to a very low priority. Therefore, here are five tips to help you with your content strategy:

Work with a reputable agency

It is vital to partner with a digital marketing agency that has years of experience writing high-quality, informative content. Additionally, it’s a good idea for this agency to keep up to date with the changes to Google’s ranking search engine algorithms to ensure that their clients’ brands continue to rank up in the top three to five brands on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Identify your brand’s target audience

Let us assume for this article that you own a business that designs and manufactures Merino wool jackets for the athleisure and casual outdoor market. It is vital to describe each persona-type that will be interested in purchasing this jacket. For example, someone that is interested in only wearing high fashion and is not interested in spending time outdoors hiking is probably not going to wear this jacket. Therefore, there will be very little ROI if you market your brand to this persona.

Identify the type of content that will add value to your brand

Different content types suit different brands. It depends both on the brand’s products and the target audience. Once again, if we look at our Merino wool jacket, we can see that the following content types are suitable:

  • Instagram and Pinterest posts with high-quality photos showing how the jacket can be worn.
  • Long-form articles that are related to the jacket and how to care for the jacket.
  • Informative emails that provide links to the long-form articles as well as links to new products.

Consistency is critical

Consistency is a cornerstone of all content marketing strategies. Regular content gets ranked higher on Google (or other search engines) because of its consistency. It does not matter what the time frame of each post is. What matters is that if the content strategy states that a guest blog post will be published three times a week, the brand marketer must stick to the plan. On the other hand, brands that do not post regular content do not keep on “reminding” Google that they are essential, and they add value to their target audience’s lives.

Content builds trust

High-authority, informative content builds trust. For example, let us go back to our Merino wool jackets. It is natural to assume that the brand’s target audience will ask what temperature can the jacket be worn at, whether the jacket is waterproof or not, how to wash the jacket, and how should the jacket be stored when not in use.

The best way to answer these valid questions is, not only to add this information (in bullet point form) to the jacket’s description but to write and publish an informative article on the value of a Merino wool jacket and how to care for it. As a result, the brand’s target audience will see the brand owners as knowledgeable. Additionally, they will assume that the brand cares about its customers.

Final words

This article does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to the mastery of content strategy. For more information, talk to Firecrab Digital Media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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