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Conscript pay is insufficient to support the conscript, let alone a family. An Eritrean refugee told Human Rights Watch he fled in after 18 years of service because there was no end in sight. In February, the government abandoned that proposal. Instead, President Isaias announced that conscript pay would be raised.
His finance minister said pay for conscripts working in the civil service would almost triple; he made no mention of increases for others. At time of writing, there is no evidence that pay had increased for most conscripts. Repression of Speech, Expression, and Association President Isaias rules without institutional restraint.
No national elections have been held since self-rule in Eritrea has had no legislature since The judiciary is subject to executive control and interference. A constitution adopted in remains unimplemented. Public space to question government policy does not exist. No domestic nongovernmental organizations are permitted. The government owns all media. In Septemberthe government closed all independent newspapers and arrested its leading journalists. None were brought to trial. They remain in solitary detention, with no access to family members.
Former guards have reported about half have died in detention. Less prominent citizens are also subject to arbitrary imprisonment. Very few are given a reason for their arrest. Few, if any, receive trials; some disappear. The length of imprisonment is often indefinite and conditions are harsh.
Although the government issued a new criminal procedure code inrequiring warrants for arrest, access to defense counsel, and other procedural safeguards, including the right to petition for habeas corpus, there is no evidence that any of these protections has been implemented.
Interference with Religious Practices The government persecutes citizens who practice religions other than the four it recognizes— Sunni Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran churches.
Culture of Eritrea - history, people, clothing, women, beliefs, food, customs, family, social
The government interferes in the practices of the four religions it recognizes. Authorities deposed the patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church inappointing a successor one year later.
The deposed patriarch remains under house arrest over 10 years later. A large share of trade and commercial activity is run by individuals from the Jeberti group Muslim highlanders. They were traditionally denied land rights, and had thus developed trading as a niche activity. Social Stratification Classes and Castes.
Eritrean society is divided along ethnic, religious, and social lines. Traditionally, there were low caste groups within many of the ethnic groups in the country. The last slave was reportedly emancipated by the EPLF in the late s.
The traditional elites were the landowning families. After land reforms both during and after the liberation struggle, however, these elites have ceased to exist. Generally, in the rural areas, the people live in scarcity and poverty and few distinctions between rich and poor are seen. In the urban areas, however, a modern elite is emerging, composed of high-ranking civil servants, business-people, and Eritreans returning from the diaspora in the United States and Europe.
Symbols of Social Stratification. In the rural areas, the better-off are able to acquire proper clothing and shoes. The rich may have horses or mules to carry them to the market. A sign of prosperity among the pastoral groups is the display of gold jewelry on women.
Eritrea is a unitary state with a parliamentary system. The parliament elects the president, who is head of state and government. The president appoints his or her own cabinet upon the parliament's approval. The new constitution, which was ratified in May but not put fully into effect, guarantees the freedom of organization, but it is too early to say how this will influence the formation of political parties.
Leadership and Political Officials. The president of Eritrea, and the former liberation movement leader, Isaias Afwerki, is the supreme leader of the country. In addition to serving as president, he fills the roles of commander-in-chief of the armed forces and secretary-general of the ruling party, the PFDJ. He is held in high regard among large portions of the population because of his skills as the leader of the liberation movement.
Former liberation movement fighters fill almost all positions of trust both within and outside the government. Social Problems and Control. With the coming to power of the EPLF, strong measures were used to curtail the high rate of criminality in Asmara. At the turn of the millennium, Eritrea probably boasted some of the lowest crime rates on the continent. The people generally pride themselves in being hard working and honest, and elders often clamp down on youths who are disrespectful of social and cultural conventions.
Growing tensions between the lowland minority groups and the Tigrinya—reinforced by the Muslim-Christian divide and Ethiopia's support for Eritrean resistance movements—may threaten the internal stability in the country. As a result of the — war with Ethiopia, Eritrea was characterized as a militarized society in the early twenty-first century. The majority of the population between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five had been mobilized to the war fronts, and the country's meager funds and resources were being spent on military equipment and defense.
Since Eritrea gained independence inthe country has had military border clashes with Yemen, Djibouti, and Sudan, in addition to the war with Ethiopia. This has led to accusations from the neighboring countries that Eritrea exhibits a militaristic foreign policy.
There are indications that the Eritrean government uses the military to sustain a high level of nationalism in the country. Social Welfare and Change Programs The government of Eritrea is concentrating its development policies on rural agriculture and food self-sufficiency. Few resources are available to social Women carrying water from a river two hours away from their homes in Adi Baren, Akeleguzay.
Reconstruction of destroyed properties, resettlement of internally displaced people, and demobilization of the army are huge challenges facing the government. Few national or international nongovernmental organizations NGOs are allowed to implement social welfare programs on their own initiative.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations The Eritrean government prides itself on its policy of self-reliance, rejecting development aid projects that are not the priority of the government. The majority of international NGOs were expelled from the country inalthough all were invited back later due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war with Ethiopia.
The government restricts the development of national NGOs, and foreign aid has to be channelled through governmental organizations. Since subsistence agriculture is the main production activity in Eritrea, the division of labor is influenced by custom. Women's input in agricultural production is vital but certain tasks, such as plowing and sowing, are conducted only by men.
Animals are generally herded by young boys, while young girls assist in fetching water and firewood for the household. The Relative Status of Women and Men. Since Eritrean society is still highly influenced by customary principles, the status of women in many communities is inferior to that of men. The war of liberation, where female fighters served side by side with men, was believed to have changed the status of women.
The EPLF culture of gender equality, however, did not penetrate deeply into the Eritrean patriarchal culture. Nevertheless, with the government's policies of modernization and gender awareness, changes are slowly occurring in the status of Eritrean women. Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage.
Eritrean resistance steps up pressure on President Isaias Afewerki
Customary rules of marriage vary among the ethnic groups. Generally, girls marry at an early age, sometimes as young as fourteen. A large share of the marriages in the rural areas are still arranged by the family groups of concern. Generally, people live together in nuclear families, although in some ethnic groups the family structure is extended.
The man is the public decision-maker in the family, whereas the woman is responsible for organizing the domestic activities of the household. Inheritance rules in Eritrea follow the customary norms of the different ethnic groups. Generally, men are favored over women, and sons inherit their parents' household possessions.
The nuclear family, although forming the smallest kin unit, is always socially embedded in a wider kin unit. With the exception of the Kunama who are matrilineal, all ethnic groups in Eritrea are patrilineal, that is, descent is traced through the male line. In all ethnic groups, children are raised under the strong influence of parents and close relatives, as well as neighbors and the kin group.
While conducting domestic chores or working in the fields, mothers usually carry the infants on their backs. Child Rearing and Education. From an early age, both boys and girls are expected to take part in the household's activities: An increasing number of children is joining the formal educational system, although education sometimes conflicts with the children's household obligations.
In some of the nomadic and seminomadic communities, children might be unable to regularly attend classes in the formal educational system. In some ethnic groups, circumcision is used as an initiation ritual into adulthood. The majority of both Eritrean men and women are circumcised. Female circumcision, or female genital mutilation, is carried out both among Christians and Muslims, although the type of circumcision differs from clitoridectomy to infibulation the removal of the labia and partial closing of the vagina by approximating the labia majora in the midline.
The institutions of higher education in Eritrea are few, and the only university, Asmara University, admits a limited number of students.
In the rural areas most people take up farming, which does not presuppose any formal education. The better-off families and those with relatives abroad try to send their children to the United States or Europe for further education and work. Eritrean men have traditionally been considered the family decision-makers. Etiquette Eritreans pride themselves on being hard working and resilient, and they show great social responsibility.
Respect for elders and authority is deeply rooted. Compared to the urban population of Asmara, the peasantry keeps a tighter social discipline in relation to open, public affection between two people of the opposite sex.
Boys and men, however, are frequently seen holding hands as a sign of friendship. All traditional foods are eaten using the right hand only and without the use of silverware. The left hand is considered impure. The population is almost equally divided between Christians and Muslims, with the number of Christians being slightly larger. In addition, there are some followers of traditional beliefs among the Kunama group. The Orthodox Christian tradition in Eritrea stretches back to the fourth century, and Orthodox Christianity forms an integral part of the Tigrinya cultural expression.
Catholicism and Lutheranism are also represented. Some syncretism with traditional beliefs is found among both Christians and Muslims. The government has been criticized for discriminating against and persecuting the country's Jehovah's Witnesses. All Eritreans are either Christians or Muslims except a few followers of traditional religion among the Kunamathus the religious practitioners are the formalized clergy and ulama, respectively.
Since the rural Eritrean community is deeply religious, the clergy and ulama have an influential position in the everyday lives of their followers. Rituals and Holy Places. Since Christianity and Islam are equally recognized by the state, the main religious holidays of both faiths are observed, including both Christian and Muslim celebrations: Death and the Afterlife.
The beliefs and practices concerning death, funerals, and the afterlife follow some of the norms of the two religions—Orthodox Coptic Christianity and Islam. Funeral practices, however, may vary among the ethnic subgroups who follow Islam. Medicine and Health Care The formal health care system is poorly developed. Poor sanitary conditions in the rural areas and lack of tap water create a high rate of infant mortality.
Traditional medical beliefs are widespread in the rural areas. Secular Celebrations Upon gaining independence Eritrea changed its calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian. But the reckoning of time according to the Julian calendar exists unofficially and is known as the Ge'ez calendar. The official state holidays are: The Arts and Humanities Because of the protracted war of liberation, the development of arts and humanities has been hindered.
Some new artists in postliberation Eritrea are emerging, however, with an artistic focus on the country's struggle for independence. Support for the Arts.
Since the Eritrean society is extremely poor, the government needs to prioritize its funds for development efforts, leaving little for the arts.
World Report Eritrea | Human Rights Watch
However, some support is given to cultural shows and exhibits that portray the cultural variety of the Eritrean people. Support is also given to exhibits and shows that display the hardships and sacrifices of the thirty-year war of liberation. The State of the Physical and Social Sciences The Eritrean government gives priority to building academic capacity within scientific fields that relate to the reconstruction of the war-torn country.
Priority is also given to research into the environment and agricultural production, in order to secure food self-sufficiency. A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution, Ras Alula and the Scramble for Africa: Ethiopia and Eritrea —, To Fight and Learn: The Eritrean Struggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, Nationalism, —, Races and Tribes of Eritrea,