More displaced women and girls - some as young as 13 - are turning to sex work to get by in Mali where 14 months of occupation and conflict have forced 475,000 people from their homes in the north, according to NGOs.

When armed Islamist fighters arrived in the northeastern Malian village of Haribomo near Timbuktu, one of the first things they did was sip sweet tea with the local imam. They then told him how they expected the village women to behave.

“The Islamists met with the imam and they said, ‘Let us tell you our rules’,” said Adane Djiffiey Djallo, a coordinator at Aide et Developpement au Mali, a Timbuktu-based non-governmental organisation. “They said women would no longer be allowed to go to work, to the market or wash in the river.”But the imam turned to the Islamists and said: “‘Let me tell you my rules’”.

La guerre au Mali ne se limite pas à mettre fin au terrorisme ; c’est une lutte pour défendre une société tolérante et laïque.

Avant même que ne commence l’intervention française au Mali, 412 000 personnes avaient déjà quitté leurs maisons au nord du pays, fuyant la torture, les exécutions sommaires, le recrutement d’ enfants-soldats et la violence sexuelle envers les femmes aux mains des intégristes. A la fin de l’année dernière, en Algérie et dans le sud du Mali, j’ai interviewé des dizaines de maliens du nord, y compris nombre de ceux qui avaient fui récemment. Leurs témoignages confirment les horreurs que les radicaux islamistes, autoproclamés guerriers de dieu, ont fait subir à leurs communautés.

BEFORE the recent French intervention in Mali began, 412,000 people had already left their homes in the country’s north, fleeing torture, summary executions, recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence against women at the hands of fundamentalist militants. Late last year, in Algeria and southern Mali, I interviewed dozens of Malians from the north, including many who had recently fled. Their testimonies confirmed the horrors that radical Islamists, self-proclaimed warriors of God, have inflicted on their communities.

“This occupation is the cruelest one that the Malian people have had to undergo, nowadays women are deprived of all liberties and even the choice of a husband is dictated to them by the occupying forces,” says a displaced woman* living in Bamako and originally from Timbuktu – a city occupied by armed groups today. “Even worse, the woman is married to several men against her will. Nowadays our children can no longer go to school,” she added.

Dans le nord du Mali, contrôlé par des groupes islamistes, des femmes sont à vendre pour moins de 1000 dollars. C'est l'un des témoignages rapportés par le Sous-Secrétaire général de l'ONU aux droits de l'homme, rentrant d'une visite de 4 jours dans le pays.

Local officials say unmarried pair killed in public in Aguelhok, in the first reported sharia killing since occupation.Islamists occupying the northern Mali town of Aguelhok have stoned an unmarried couple to death in front of about 200 people, two local government officials said.

Nous, membres du Forum féministe sénégalais, souhaitons exprimer tout son soutien au peuple malien et en particulier aux femmes qui sont  malheureusement très peu représentées en ces moments critiques de la vie politique du pays.

We, members of the Senegalese Feminist Forum, would like to express our full support for the Malian people and especially to the women who are woefully underrepresented in these critical moments of the country's political life.

BAMAKO, 22 June 2012 (IRIN) - Strict Sharia, or Islamic religious laws, imposed by the Islamist rebels controlling vast swathes of northern Mali are driving thousands of students out of schools. Dress codes have been imposed, boys and girls are forced to learn separately, and subjects deemed to promote “infidelity” have been struck off the curriculum.

Outraged parents are transferring their children and some students are opting to miss examinations rather than learn under these conditions.

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