Posts Tagged ‘attacks’

Child marriage campaigners in south Asia receive $23m cash injection

By the age of 17, Zeenat had been divorced three times after forced marriages. She first wed shortly after puberty to a man who abused her, an experience that recurred in her subsequent marriages.

She became so isolated that she did not go to the hospital or ask for help. Neither had she heard of India’s Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, which made her husband’s violent outbursts not just wrong, but illegal. Sadly, her story is all too common. Every year about 10 million girls become child brides, and one in seven girls in the developing world marries before the age of 15. BangladeshNepal and India have three of the highest rates of child marriage, with 68.7%, 56.1% and 50% respectively of girls married before the age of 18. Child marriage is not just a question of poverty – although that is a critical issue – but also of how girls are viewed in society.

MDG : child marriage in India

Child marriage rates in Nepal and India are among the highest in the world. Above: A 14-year-old girl on her wedding day in Bhopal, India. Photograph: Reuters

“Even with higher levels of income, there is the practice of child marriage,” said Care International’s gender director, Theresa Hwang. “It is an issue of status; girls are valued in a lesser way. In India, girls are not seen as ‘added value’. The issue is squarely tied to gender equality and social norms.” Care USA, the US arm of the anti-poverty NGO, and the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) this week received grants of $7.7m (£4.9m) and $15.3m respectively from the Kendeda fund to tackle child marriage in south Asia. Both organisations will use the money to support local NGOs.

Founded 10 years ago, the Kendeda fund worked initially on environmental sustainability in the US, but last year created a girls’ rights portfolio. AJWS will focus on India, Care on Nepal and Bangladesh.


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‘Honour’-based violence runs deep and wide

The issue must be seen in the context of violence against women and the inequality found throughout society.

On Sunday a Canadian court found three members of an Afghan family, the father, mother and son, guilty of killing three teenage sisters and another woman. The judge described the crimes as “cold-blooded, shameful murders” resulting from a “twisted concept of honour”. The prosecution argued that for father Mohammad Shafia, honour was everything – quoting him as saying “even if they hoist me up on to the gallows … nothing is more dear to me than my honour”.

This was undoubtedly a brutal and heinous crime. Yet is there a danger in simply condemning it as an “honour killing”, as so many in the mainstream media and government have? The concept of “honour” is notoriously difficult to define. At its most basic level, it refers to a person’s righteousness in the eyes of their community. It is often employed to ensure that people act morally. In this respect, if people follow what is considered socially good, they are honoured. If not, they are shamed. This most recent case in Canada is just one of many tragic examples that reveal its continuing influence. In the UK there was the recent, well-publicised murder of teenager Heshu Yones by her father for becoming “westernised”. The family had migrated to Britain to escape persecution by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraqi Kurdistan, and Heshu had developed a relationship with a Lebanese Christian man.

Yet, by focusing on the subject of honour, such violence is too often explained away by cultural stereotypes – allowing society to dismiss these cases as something that only happens in minority communities with their “outdated” notions of justice. This allows us to completely overlook that, first and foremost, these cases are of violence against women, and the concept of honour is being used to legitimate the continued oppression of women.

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Alarming number of ‘honour attacks’ in the UK as police reveal thousands were carried out last year

Nearly 3,000 so-called honour attacks were recorded by police in Britain last year, new research has revealed.

According to figures obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (Ikwro), at least 2,823 incidents of ‘honour-based’ violence took place, with the highest number recorded in London.

The charity said the statistics fail to provide the full picture of the levels of ‘honour’ violence in the UK , but are the best national estimate so far.

The data, taken from from 39 out of 52 UK forces, was released following a freedom of information request by Ikwro.

In total, eight police forces recorded more than 100 so called honour-related attacks in 2010. The Metropolitan Police saw 495 incidents, with 378 reported in the West Midlands, 350 in West Yorkshire, 227 in Lancashire and 189 in Greater Manchester. Cleveland recorded 153, while Suffolk and Bedfordshire saw 118 and 117 respectively, according to the figures. Between the 12 forces able to provide figures from 2009, there was an overall 47 per cent rise in honour attack incidents.


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