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GERMANY: The European Commission announced on November 20 that it is to take Germany to the Court of Justice of the European Union, accusing it of failing to comply with rules on financial transparency in the rail sector.The Commission claims that Germany’s current arrangements do not exclude the possibility of public funds intended for infrastructure and public service obligation trains being used to cross-subsidise passenger and freight services which are open to competition. This could give an unfair competitive advantage to bodies receiving the public subsidies. The Commission considers that Germany has failed to comply with key provisions of the First Railway Package on financial transparency (directives 91/440/EEC and 2001/14/EC now replaced by the Rail Recast 2012/34/EU): by failing to ensure that accounts for the infrastructure and operations are kept in a way which reflects the prohibition on transferring public funds for infrastructure to transport activities; by failing to ensure that access charges may only be used to fund the business of the infrastructure manager; by failing to ensure that public funds paid for the provision of passenger transport under public service obligations are shown separately in the accounts. Separately, the Commission has told Italy to establish a permanent body to enforce passenger rights within two months or face referral to the court. Spain has been instructed to bring its national rules in line with EU legislation on railway interoperability including Directive 2008/57/EC.
Young activists at the “She Decides” march against sexual violence in Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 2, 2020. Alice McCool/Thomson Reuters Foundation Dozens of women took to the streets of Malawi’s capital on Monday to protest against sexual violence after a series of alleged police assaults on women last year.About 90 protesters, most of them women, marched through Lilongwe in silence to mark She Decides Day – a global movement launched in 2017 after organisations that talk about abortion were barred from receiving U.S. government funding.“I’m here because I am against men raping women each and every day,” said Eunice Kachimela, a 13-year-old student from Lilongwe.“My friend was raped and we took the case to court, which made me so passionate. We need to speak up so things can change.”Young activists at the “She Decides” march against sexual violence in Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 2, 2020. /Alice McCool/Thomson Reuters Foundation.Chimwemwe Mlombwa, one of the organizers, said some of the protesters chanted a traditional saying that translates as “every girl has a right to decide, don’t ruin her future simply because she is a girl”.The march comes amid a rise in feminist activism in Malawi, where rape is widespread, but rarely reported due to stigma, lack of access to the judicial system and cultural normalization of sexual abuse.But the issue burst into the open last year when a number of women and girls accused the police of sexually assaulting them during violence that followed a disputed presidential election in May.Malawi’s Women Lawyers Association has filed an application for a judicial review, arguing that a “failure to investigate promptly and take action against perpetrators violates the women’s constitutional rights”.Related Somalia Sexual Violence Somali Women Join Global Campaign To End The Violence Against Women Egyptian Protesters Denounce Sexual Violence Against Women