1-19-21 Egyptian woman arrested for baking 'indecent' cakes
A woman in Egypt was briefly detained after being accused of baking "indecent" cakes, local media say. The cakes, topped with genitalia and underwear fashioned out of fondant icing, were eaten at a birthday party at an exclusive Cairo sports club. After photographs went viral, the baker was arrested and later released on $319 (£234) bail. There are reports that the partygoers may face legal action too. A top religious body warned that such baked goods were forbidden by Islam. Dar al-Ifta wrote on Facebook that products featuring sexual representations were "an assault on the value system and a crude abuse of society". The ministry of youth and sports is reportedly looking into the involvement of the club that hosted the private gathering. Human rights lawyer Negad El Borai tweeted that the incident confirmed "there is a segment of society, with support of the state, that wants to eliminate any space for personal freedom in Egypt under the pretext of safeguarding Egyptian family values". He drew parallels with the cases of several young Egyptian women accused of morality-related offences in connection with videos posted on TikTok and other social media platforms. Last Tuesday, an appeals court overturned the two-year prison sentences handed to two influencers - Haneen Hossam, 20, and Mawada al-Adham, 22 - who were convicted in July of "undermining family values and principles" and publishing "indecent" photos and videos. But days later it emerged that the public prosecutor had ordered the women's continued detention pending an investigation on human trafficking charges. The prosecutor alleged that they had exploited teenage girls by encouraging them to post similar videos to theirs. A lawyer for the women said they would appeal against the move.
1-11-21 Pope Francis backs women's roles in Catholic services
Pope Francis has formally changed the law in the Roman Catholic Church, allowing women to administer communion and serve at the altar. But the ordained priesthood will still be the preserve of men, he stressed in the decree. It is official recognition of roles already performed by women in some Catholic services, especially in Western countries. The Pope said women were making a "precious contribution" to the Church. The announcement is expected to force conservative Church leaders to accept greater involvement of women in the liturgy. On the more reformist wing of the Church, Pope Francis has tried to present a more welcoming image through his rhetoric, the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Rome. But last year, after a synod to decide whether to allow women to become deacons able to preside over some Church services, the Pope refused to make the change, frustrating some who had hoped for more fundamental reform during his pontificate. The Pope changed a clause in canon law from "lay men" to "lay persons", specifying that they can perform "the ministries of lector and acolyte" in Catholic services. His decree, called a Spiritus Domini, was accompanied by a letter explaining "the urgency... to rediscover the co-responsibility of all of the baptised in the Church, and the mission of the laity in a particular way".
1-3-21 Racism in ballet: Black dancer's 'humiliation' at racist comments
Chloé Lopes Gomes says she has faced racial harassment while being a ballet dancer. The French performer is the first black female dancer at Berlin's principal ballet company Staatsballett. Ms Gomes claims she was told she did not fit in because of her skin colour, and was asked to wear white make up so she would 'blend in' with the other dancers. The company has responded by saying her allegation "deeply moves us" and an internal investigation is underway into racism and discrimination at Staatsballett.