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Archive for March, 2015

Women call for laws to fight forced marriage in U.S.

Mariam was a sixth-grader in Toronto when her family started pressuring her to get engaged. They sent her on a summer trip to their native Pakistan, ostensibly to study but actually to meet a fiance chosen by her aunt. When she protested after returning home, she said, her mother kept insisting and wearing her down.

“She cried a lot. She prayed loudly to God that I would change. She refused to speak to me for days. She told me the family’s honor was at stake,” recounted Mariam, now 20, who asked that her last name not be published. “I wanted to finish school and go to college, but at times I almost said yes, just so she would stop crying.”

Finally, when she turned 17, Mariam decided to leave home — an unthinkable act in her culture. With encouragement from a women’s rights group, she slipped out early one morning, taking a small bag. No shelter would accept her, because she had not been physically abused, and she felt wracked with guilt and loneliness. Eventually, though, she found housing, friends and a measure of emotional independence.

Today, Mariam is active in a growing movement in the United States and Canada to promote public awareness and legal protections for victims of forced marriage. She visited Washington last week as part of a nationwide tour organized by the Tahirih Justice Center, a legal aid and advocacy group in the Virginia suburbs that helps immigrant women facing abuse.

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Law firm Makin Dixon says child sex abuse grooming ‘massive issue’ for Huddersfield

Child sexual abuse grooming is a ‘massive issue’ for Huddersfield, a law firm has said.

West Yorkshire law firm Makin Dixon, which has offices on Queen Street, says it has been dealing with a marked increase in cases of girls being groomed for sex by older men.

The company has been working to obtain injunctions to prevent perpetrators contacting their victims, some of whom have children to their abusers. Makin Dixon partner, Jane Campbell, says victims and their relatives have become more willing to report abuse, which also includes ‘honour’ violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. But much of it still passes ‘under the radar’.

Ms Campbell, who works at Queen Street, says the company deals with hundreds of cases of ‘honour’ violence each year, together with about 100 cases of forced marriageacross West Yorkshire.

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I help women get out of arranged marriages

One day in March 2011, Fraidy Reiss went to her lawyer’s office to close on a house. The prosaic routine of paperwork somehow diminished her sense of accomplishment. Not even the seller was present to hear what she yearned to say.

She was only buying a small patch of lawn in a blue-collar neighbourhood. Yet she and her two daughters had already named the place “Palais de Triomphe,” palace of triumph. The house symbolized her liberation from an arranged marriage, threats of violence at the hands of her estranged husband, and indeed the entire insular community of stringently Orthodox Jews among whom she had spent her entire life.

In that moment of emancipation, Reiss also felt the sudden, unbidden summons of obligation.

“The house meant that I’ve gotten to the other side,” she recalled. “I wanted to do something to give back. I wanted to use my pain to help others in the same situation. And, selfishly, I thought that would help me heal.” Four years later, on a blustery morning early this month, Reiss, 40, stood in a classroom at Rutgers University in Newark telling her story to three dozen lawyers. She spoke with well-practiced pacing and emphasis – childhood in Brooklyn, coerced betrothal in her teens to a man she barely knew, and then the harassment and stalking and death threats, all of it documented in court papers. Finally, there was college and therapy and, after 15 years of marriage, divorce.

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Halo celebrating International Womens Day at Middlesbrough Town Hall

Halo Project at Middlesbrough Town Hall for the “Make It Happen’ Event

#IWD #Haloproject



International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements throughout history and across nations.  The theme, ‘Make It Happen’, seeks to recognise the social, political and economic advancements of women, while highlighting areas that still need to be addressed. Its aim is to raise awareness locally and to engage with women and families in the Teesside area and offer women, and particularly young women, true equality of opportunity.

Saturday, 7th March 10am-3pm is ‘Make It Happen’ Middlesbrough Town Hall

A HOST of inspirational speakers have been confirmed for this year’s Teesside International Women’s Day. Local women, including judges, vice-presidents, local business and community activists are among those who will be making presentations at the free event. The theme of the celebration taking place at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Saturday, March 7, between 10am-3pm is ‘Make It Happen.’

Guest speakers for the free event will include: –

Yasmin Khan, Citizen of the Year and HALO Project Director, Judge Gillian Matthews, Jane Atkinson, Vice President SembCorp Utilities,  Carli-Jayne McNaught, Olde Young Tea House and winner of Nation’s Favourite Independent Business, Lucie Fleming, Asylum & Refugee Activist, Justice FirstPlus a possible special guest!

#haloproject, #forcedmarriage, #internationalwomensday

UN, Malaysia Groups Seek to Repeal Fatwa Requiring FGM

In 2009, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Committee, the nation’s top Islamic council, required all Muslim women in the country to undergo female genital mutilation, otherwise known as female circumcision.

A recent study indicated that nearly all Muslim women in the country have had the procedure. But now the United Nations is working with the Committee to repeal ruling that made it mandatory.

Government health officials who are in negotiations with Malaysia’s National Fatwa Committee say the ruling by the country’s top religious authority requiring female genital cutting for all Muslim women may be overturned.

The World Health Organization defines any type of invasive procedure in the female genital area as mutilation, and subdivides practices into four types of increasing severity. It has banned them all.

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