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A new buzzword has entered the development lexicon: 'Knowledge Society' – the Information Age is the Age of Knowledge, we are told. There is a danger that the wisdom of the ages is now going to be another piece of jargon. And like all the extinct buzzwords that preceded it, 'knowledge' will end up in that dusty shelf where all past development clichés are stored.

Blaming underdevelopment on lack of knowledge has two other dangers. It may make us overlook the fundamental economic factors that keep the poor poor, widening disparities between and within nations.

South Africa's rape victims, having survived one ordeal, face the harrowing possibility of death through AIDS. Their one hope is an expensive drug treatment, which the government denies them.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to crunch the numbers: as many as 1.5 million rapes occur every year in South Africa and the World Health Organization believes one in every nine adults in the country may be infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Clearly, rape carries a potential death sentence for those who survive it.

The Zimbabwe Supreme Court has shocked equal rights campaigners recently, by relegating African women to the status of 'junior males' within the family. More than six months later, many Zimbabweans are beginning to wake up to the reality of the ruling. They are worried about its long-term impact, particularly on women's reproductive and other rights.

"There's nothing left of the gains women's rights have made in the past 20 years," Welshman Ncobe, the country's leading authority on constitutional and family law, warned after the ruling in a case involving inheritance rights.

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