Archive for October, 2017

As Africa tackles child marriage, young survivors speak out

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Sitting on the floor and dressed in black, the 15-year-old held her baby as panicked tears welled in her eyes. Her husband, two decades her senior, could kill her if he found out she was telling her story, she said.

She was married at age 13 in the West African nation of Guinea because her parents feared she could harm her marriage prospects by having premarital sex. At the time, she said, she had not even developed breasts.

“I was given to a man that I didn’t choose before my body was even ready to have sex,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “I couldn’t even move for a week afterward because I was swollen and bleeding.”

Child marriage remains deeply entrenched in West and Central Africa, home to six of the 10 countries with the highest rates in the world. Rights groups and political and religious leaders from across the region gathered in Senegal this past week to seek ways to curb the practice.

Outspoken survivors of child marriage urged them on.

More than half of girls in Guinea are married before age 18. While the country recently banned marriage for those under that age, observers say the practice remains widespread. Some girls enter arranged marriages during times of insecurity or when families are under economic strain.

“This is a complex issue driven by poverty, cultural norms and families trying to do the best for their children,” said Save The Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt. “But until we break the cycle where the only way a girl can give her family honor is to marry and have children, then we will not change this.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-5026499/As-Africa-tackles-child-marriage-young-survivors-speak-out.html

 

Youngsters in Waltham Forest encouraged to use art to tackle extremism online

ASPIRING artists are putting their skills to good use by launching a project to tackle the threat of extremism online.

Arts Against Extremism is a youth-led project aimed at supporting people aged 16 to 21 to become activists, flooding social media with positive messages about their communities.

Created in partnership by the Arts Council, Waltham Forest Council and the Home Office, the project was launched on Saturday October 14 at Centre17 in Church Hill, Walthamstow.

Cllr Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said the aim is to give every young person in the borough the encouragement to become a “voice for social change”.

Anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner Hibo Wardere of Walthamstow praised the “pioneering project”.

She said: “It recognises the wider harms of extremism, including FGM, and aims to engage youths in becoming a positive voice that stands up against it. “I will be following the project’s every move online and supporting it wherever I can.”

The launch of the project follows the Home Office’s findings from March 2017 identifying 126,000 tweets containing extremist messages and the rise of ‘fake news’ and ‘trolling’ on social media.

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/15603977.Project_encourages_youngsters_to_use_art_to_tackle_extremism_online/

Killer takes detectives to woodland in TV hunt for body of murdered Teesside mum

Officers say they will never give up the search for Rania Alayed’s body after she was killed by her husband

Police have revealed details of their four-year hunt for the body of a murdered Teesside mother-of-three.

A television documentary this week showed how officers scoured the area the size of two football pitches where they believe Rania Alayed was buried.

They were taken to the spot by her killer – her estranged husband Ahmed Al-Khatib – who explained how he had buried her below the trees in a layby off the A19 .

Convinced they had the right spot, detectives brought in specialist LIDAR technology which searches from the skies for anomalies on the ground.

But despite it picking out 82 potential graves, their searches failed to find the body of the mother – hard to deal with for both officers and the family of Mrs Alayed.

Speaking on the BBC 2 programme The Detectives, Detective Sergeant Ian Shaw said: “Imagine if you build a 5,000 piece jigsaw and there was one piece missing at the end. It’s taken you ages to get there, it’s very intricate but you can’t complete it because it was missing one piece. That’s how a detective feels when you don’t get that last piece of the jigsaw. There are no words to describe how you feel.

“It’s people’s lives we’re talking about.”

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/killer-takes-detectives-woodland-tv-13758715

‘When David Cameron spoke on FGM our time had come. We can banish it by 2030

Nimco Ali helped launch the Standard’s campaign against female genital mutilation, bravely revealing her own experience of the brutal practice. Four years later, she  tells Anna Davis she is astounded at the progress being made to eradicate it

Attitudes towards the brutal practice have changed dramatically since she first spoke out and there have been global success stories. But nowhere is the change more evident than in her own family.

Revealing the moment she saw how deeply the anti-FGM campaign had permeated, she said: “I was with my mum and I saw a picture of Barack Obama and David Cameron at a summit together.

“I made a little joke and said the thing they have in common is they have both talked about my mutilated vagina.

“My mum just rolled her eyes — which is an improvement on being told that I should be ashamed.” This softening attitude is just one example of how she believes the tide is changing.

When Ms Ali, 34, first went public about her own FGM in 2013 she had death threats and suffered verbal abuse. Now she says that people who used to troll her for talking about FGM want to support her work.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/when-cameron-spoke-on-fgm-our-time-had-come-we-can-banish-it-by-2030-a3656101.html

We Talked to Students Whose Families Want Them in Arranged Marriages

our parents and Tinder are two things that should never be combined. But that’s what arranged marriages are like. Instead of an app, it’s your parents suggesting who you should hook up with (till death do you part, though).

Let’s clear up that arranged marriages aren’t necessarily forced marriages. Arranged marriages feel like your parents are holding your hand when you decide whether or not you want to swipe right. Some parents grip a little firmer than others. A forced marriage is when they grab the phone out of your hands and swipe for you. But that’s illegal in Canada, the United States, and a bunch of countries in Europe.

VICE: How have your parents tried to set you up?
Sokalan: Ever since I was a kid, my parents would do this thing where when I would say, “I want to be an astronaut,” and ten years later they would turn that into, “You said you wanted to study rocket science.” They did that with marriage, too. They would ask me if I like girls, and obviously, I was really young so I would be like “Gross, no.” So they would say, “OK, so we’ll pick your wife. Is that OK?” and being really young, I was like, “Yeah, sure.” Ten years down the line, that turned into, “You agreed to this. You have to go through with it.” So this summer, my parents want me to go back to Sri Lanka to meet some people. “People” being the keyword. They have a whole roster of girls laid out for me.

Women Under 25 Account For About Half Of All Sex Offence Victims

Young women under the age of 25 were victims in about half of all sexual offence cases brought by the Crown Prosecution Service last year, while women aged 24 and under also made up a quarter of domestic abuse victims.

Statistics on victims’ ages in cases of violence against women and girls have been released for the first time, as it was revealed that these crimes now account for one-fifth of all prosecutions brought by the CPS in England and Wales.

Leading women’s charities have welcomed the rise in convictions, but have said there is still more to be done to tackle violence against women, particularly as convictions and prosecutions for domestic abuse fell significantly over the past year.

The data was revealed in the Crown Prosecution Service’s 10th Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report, released the day before the International Day of the Girl.

The report outlines a huge increase in rape convictions since the data was first published a decade ago, but while domestic abuse convictions had also been rising, they have now started to fall following a drop in referrals from police.

Domestic abuse cases make up more than 80% of violence against women cases prosecuted by the CPS, with crimes including sexual offences, rape, “honour-based” violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, human trafficking for sexual exploitation, prostitution, pornography, stalking, and harassment making up the remainder.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahalothman/women-under-25-account-for-more-than-half-of-all-female-sex?utm_term=.oyDka7wk#.cfKrPD2r

Fifth of CPS cases are alleged sex crimes or domestic abuse

Alleged sex crimes and domestic abuse offences now account for one in five cases pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service, it has been revealed.

They made up nearly 20% of the organisation’s caseload in 2016-17, compared with less than a tenth a decade ago after a huge surge in the categories, new figures show.

The rise tallies with a sharp jump in reports of sexual abuse to police seen in recent years in the wake of high-profile investigations launched after the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Authorities are also mounting increasing numbers of investigations involving the internet, including child sexual abuse, harassment and revenge pornography cases.

An in-depth report from the CPS details how more defendants than ever before are being prosecuted for sexual offences in England and Wales. The number of rape prosecutions completed rose from 4,643 in 2015-16 to a record 5,190 in 2016-17.

Prosecutions for sexual offences excluding rape also reached a new peak of 13,490 in the latest financial year. Together with domestic abuse cases, the alleged crimes made up 19.3% of the CPS’s caseload, compared with 7.1% a decade ago.

There were year-on-year falls in prosecutions for “honour-based” violence and forced marriage, the report shows, while there were no prosecutions for female genital mutilation.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/10/fifth-of-cps-cases-are-alleged-sex-crimes-or-domestic-abuse

FGM and disability also hinder girls’ education

Your sponsored roundtable on educating girls (Society, 4 October) is to be commended both for laying bare the critical need to address this issue in general, and for acknowledging the complications and taboos around menstruation as a severe obstacle to progress. It is difficult to understand, however, why the painful topic of female genital mutilation was not also a focus of discussion. One required element in some communities of the lengthy initiation ceremonies to “adulthood” mentioned is that girls must undergo FGM. This cruel initiation, often at or just before puberty, is the marker by which potential husbands (often already owners of other wives) are in traditional thinking assured of their soon-to-be purchased wife’s virginity. Raising a girl and paying for her FGM is expensive – ceremonies are often held around harvest time when there’s more money – and bride price is increased if the girl-woman is “pure”.

Until girls are no longer perceived as chattels for exchange on the open market, the practices of FGM and early “marriage” (child rape) will continue. As your commentators acknowledge, FGM and early marriage will only be abandoned once men and women alike see these practices as patriarchy incarnate, the literal imposition of men’s power on female bodies. Assumed patriarchal entitlement remains to be challenged in many parts of the world, but nowhere more than in places where its imposition actually precludes young women even receiving an education which will empower both them personally and their wider communities.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/06/fgm-and-disability-also-hinder-girls-education

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