Cuba police ‘arrested’ African women activists

Africa is the only continent that still holds a total ban on female circumcision, known as female genital mutilation (FGM)

Cuba has restricted access to a protest camp for women activists who have been camping out in Havana for two weeks.

The camp, which began on 13 August, was opened up on Tuesday after it was condemned as an incitement to terrorism by authorities.

Videos from local media shows activists being snarled up by locals, who chanted and held up their mobile phones.

Police escorted the participants to safety on Tuesday evening.

Videos posted to social media show protesters being watched by police officers while being dragged from their tents.

Residents also appeared to have blocked off the entrance to the camp before they had been made available.

Police officers were stationed in groups of three on the perimeter of the camp.

Cuba has now totally restricted access to the protest camp. The police were pictured allowing local residents to easily enter.

FGM is a long-standing and deeply held cultural practice in Cuba, but the authorities say they have lifted the total ban imposed in the 1990s as part of its effort to reform its social values.

The practice is illegal in much of Africa but still goes on in the Caribbean, particularly among the local Afro-Cuban and Malay communities.

African community leaders have complained that authorities have used “pressure tactics” to intimidate, threaten and punish them for making petitions.

Activists say they have been invited to Parliament and offered jobs at the police or military.

But Cuban Communist party officials say their views are simply “crude misconceptions”.

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