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Archive for June, 2015

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Maternal health funding ‘the right thing to do’ – but what comes next?

When Bhoke Peter was 14, her uncle married her off to a 55-year-old man. Her husband paid a bride price of 30 cows and set her to work in his field in a remote part of northern Tanzania, where he would whip her with a stick if she made a mistake. When they got home, he would beat her for not making his lunch fast enough.

He also raped her.

“I didn’t have much option because the bride price was already paid and the way the culture here is, once the bride price is delivered, you really have no choice but to obey your husband,” Peter told CBC News, sitting on a wooden chair in the shop where she now sews clothes with other former child brides.

When Peter was 17, she took the two children she’d had with her husband and ran away to her grandmother’s house. She eventually divorced him.

“I even heard that he is dead and I didn’t even go to his funeral because he was torturing me,” she said through a translator.

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Convictions for violence against women and girls in UK hit record high

New figures show England and Wales witnessed an alarming level of convictions for violent crimes against women and girls in 2014.

According to the figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service, 78,773 people were convicted of violence against women, up 16.9% from figures released in the previous year.

The cases include a wide range of sexual offences, child abuse, domestic violence and honor-based violence. However, a majority of those convicted were involved in domestic abuse (68,601)n followed by rape (2,581), sexual offences (7,591) and child abuse (7,469).

The data has also cited an increasing number of successful prosecutions. Accordingly, 107,100 gender related cases were prosecuted over the past 12 months. The majority, nearly 60% of the defendants were in the 25-59 age group. However, there were also defendants as little as 10 years old.

“I think what’s happening is that the society in terms of child protection reporting has really pushed up the number of prosecutions. The pressure on the authorities to actually address survivors’ account and children account has increased absolutely phenomenally in couple of years. So, what we are seeing now is the outcome of that pressure to get justice for survivors’, Liz Davies, Reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University told Press TV.

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How Australia can help end child marriage in Bangladesh

Rahela* married at age 13, about a year after both of her parents were killed by Cyclone Aila, which struck Bangladesh in 2009. “They had left me at my grandmother’s house. [Our house] was swept away. No one saw their dead bodies,” she said. Rahela went to live with her aunt and uncle but they were struggling to afford education for their own two children. “You know orphans don’t get education,” Rahela said. “My aunt and uncle asked me not to go to school— they said I should work in their house and look after their children.”

About a year later, her aunt and uncle arranged a marriage for her. “I can’t really blame them,” Rahela said. “They don’t have enough money to provide for their own children.” When Human Rights Watch interviewed Rahela last year, she was 17 and was struggling to care for her one year old son, saying she’s never recovered her strength after her pregnancy. “I really wanted to continue my education so I could get a job and stand on my own feet.” she said.

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Britain’s first forced marriage sentence: a lot more still to do

Last week, the British courts handed down its first ever sentence to a perpetrator of forced marriage. The perpetrator – a 34-year-old businessman from Cardiff – raped and imprisoned a woman, before forcing her to marry. It was just a year ago today that forced marriage became a crime in the United Kingdom.

What does this sentencing mean? Well, first and foremost, it will be a huge relief for the survivor, a young woman who had reportedly been dragged through the long and tortuous process of the defendant flip-flopping on his plea. This is all we can know about the case without putting the survivor at risk.

This unknown woman can now begin to try to put her life back together. Yet, she is the only one of an unknown number of victims living in this country to have been brought justice, those whose families – those who are supposed to support and love them no matter what – would often sooner see dead over shaming the family.

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First anniversary of law criminalising forced marriage

The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation has marked the first anniversary of the criminalisation of forced marriage.

A year ago today, forcing someone to marry against their will became a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. The law, designed to help people in England and Wales but also UK nationals overseas, was part of a move to protect against the devastating effects of forced marriage which can involve physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse including being held unlawfully captive, assaulted and raped.

This month saw the first conviction under the new legislation and the government has announced their intention to continue to work alongside police and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said, “We made forced marriage a crime to better protect victims and send a clear message that this brutal practice is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK. We also hope that criminalisation will act as a deterrent.

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Child accused of killing husband to be freed in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A child forced to marry at just 13 who then poisoned her 35-year-old husband and three friends is set to be freed in Nigeria, lawyers and a judge said Wednesday, amid fears for her safety and future.

 Human rights lawyer Hussaina Aliyu Ibrahim said she convinced the prosecutor to drop the case and on Tuesday a High Court judge in Gezawa ordered Wasila Tasi’u to be released from juvenile detention.

She can count herself lucky. Another 13-year-old who killed her 35-year-old husband remains on death row despite a ruling, exactly one year ago from the West African Community Court of Justice, that her sentence is illegal because she was a minor.

Forced marriage and child marriage are also against the law here, but widely practiced.

Both girls had become second wives in the Muslim northern part of Nigeria where polygamy and child marriage is common. Neither had ever been to school and couldn’t read or write.

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Forced marriage: ‘My father threatened to kill me’

The first sentence has been handed down under the new legislation to crack down on forced marriages.

A 34-year-old man from Cardiff, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was jailed after he admitted making a 25-year-old woman marry him under duress in September 2014, having threatened to kill her father unless she went through with the ceremony. He also pleaded guilty to charges of rape, bigamy and voyeurism and was sentenced to a total of 16 years in jail.

Courts have been able to issue civil orders to prevent victims being forced into marriage since 2008 but the new law brought in last year makes forced marriage a criminal offence.

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Forced marriage bigamist given 16 years in jail in landmark case

A businessman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for forced marriage and sexual offences. In what is believed to be the first case in the UK since new legislation was introduced in 2014 the 43-year-old man from Cardiff pleaded guilty to four counts of rape, one count of bigamy and one count of voyeurism.

Merthyr Crown Court heard the already married man systematically raped his victim for months before threatening to go public with hidden camera footage of her showering unless she became his wife. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, developed an “irrational obsession” with his victim and lured her to his home under the promise of a get-together with friends.

But when she arrived at his home in Cardiff, the woman found the property empty before the curtains were drawn and the front door locked. A judge then told of how the terrified woman – a devout Muslim – was bound and gagged with scarves before music was played loudly to drown out her cries for help.

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