TUNIS : Algerian actresses angered by murders and violence against women have launched a campaign of fight back. But not everyone has welcomed the initiative.

After the gruesome rape, torture and murder of a 10-year-old woman sparked angry demonstrations earlier this month and calls for a return to a capital punishment, 22 actresses published a photo of themselves dressed in black.

''WE, Algerian actresses unite today to say 'enough' to violence and killings of women. We are calling for more awareness and a general mobilisation to stop this,'' said a statement by the stars, many of them household names in Algeria.

The North African country, like its neighbours Tunisia and Morocco, does not publish official nationwide figures on murders of women.

But campaign group Femicides Algeria recorded 75 such killings in 2019, with a further 41 so fat this year. The group says the actual figures is much higher.

And while the government registered some 7,000 complaints of violence against women last year, activists say it has done little in response, prompting the actresses to launch their own initiative. 

''This campaign is aimed at everyone, men and women. It's not to accuse Algerian men but to make everyone responsible., said Salima Abada, a celebrity who is among those involved.

She said it was already having an impact. ''There's debate, anger. People are fed up but it's already a beginning.''

But a video of one of the actresses has already triggered a bitter backlash on social media.

Mounia Benfeghoul published a clip on Instagram early this month, following the aforementioned killing of the 10-year-old, identified as Chaima.

In an angry monologue, Benfeghoul slammed people who had made excuses for the killer : ''There are no excuses for rapists! It was a rape! She didn't consent!''

Well-known as a TV presenter, Benfeghoul said she was against the death penalty but favored castrating sex offenders. She also criticised a culture of street harassment and called for children to be provided with ''a good example''.

The artist's outburst set loose a wave of insults on social media, with men mocking her dress and one man publishing a video in which he threatened her with physical violence.

Those reactions were simply ''because she's a woman,'' said Abdellah Benadouda, founder of the US-based Radio Corona International. ''She said nothing new. She confirmed what we already know :

That taboos in Algerian society are at the source of silence of the silence at the source of the silence around rape, incest and paedophilia,'' he wrote on Facebook. 

''The truth hurts.'' [AFP]


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