Posts Tagged ‘child brides’

Is there hope for the child bride accused of murder in Nigeria?

As a 14-year-old girl faces a possible death sentence after allegedly poisoning her husband, campaigners argue that forced child marriages in Nigeria must end

Wasila Tasi'u and her lawyer
14-year old Wasila Tasiu with her defence counsel during her trial in October Photograph: Aminu Abubakar/AFP


Today, Wasila Tasi’u has her day in court, though she may struggle to see over the witness box. Aged just 14, Tasi’u is accused of lacing food prepared for a celebration two weeks after her wedding with rat poison, killing her 35-year-old husband, Umar Sani, and three others.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty if she is convicted at Gezawa High Court in northern Nigeria. Four Nigerian men were hanged in 2013 – the first known executions in the country since 2006. 1,233 Nigerians are currently under a death sentence, according to The Death Penalty Worldwide.

Hussaina Ibrahim, a senior lawyer at the Kano branch of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) who representing Tasi’u says the teenager has “no business” being on trial.

“We are against the trial. The whole process violates her fundamental rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says she should be in education. She should be in school,” she says.


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Toll of kids missing from school

More than 2,600 children as young as three have disappeared from Scottish schools for prolonged periods of time and some never found, according to new figures obtained by the BBC.

In some cases, children are marked as missing because they have moved house and failed to tell the school.

Agencies say others disappear for more “sinister” reasons including abuse and forced marriage.

In the past five years, 2,619 children aged three to 16 have gone missing.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, include 719 children going missing in the past year.

Children are categorised as “missing in education” if the authorities are unable to track them down from four weeks or more – or two to three days in the case of vulnerable children .

Some 24 children were never traced – in the main because authorities say they moved abroad.


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How One Young Woman Escaped Childhood Abuse and a Forced Marriage

Nashwa el-Sayed grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, in a violent home. Her father and stepmother both beat her, and she was forced to become a maid in her own house. She grew up believing her biological mother had died after abandoning her as a baby. Then at the age of nine, everything changed.

Nashwa returned home after a particularly horrible day at school, and found her father standing with someone, a “foreign looking woman.” Nashwa’s father told her, “this is your mom.” As it turned out, Nashwa was not from Alexandria. She wasn’t even from Egypt. She was a native New Yorker. She had spent her early years in Queens, where her father had physically abused both her and her mother. Even after Nashwa’s mother filed for divorce and gained custody, Nashwa’s father was still allowed to see his daughter, unsupervised, which was how was able to abduct her and take her to Egypt. Nashwa was shocked. It was as if a door to an alternate universe, free of abuse and harsh restrictions, had opened. “I learned that I have another place that I belong to,” she explains.

Even though her mother had to leave, they stayed in touch. With her mother’s help, Nashwa became conversational in English. She began watching American television and listening to American pop music, including the Backstreet Boys and Madonna. Following the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, Nashwa decided that she wanted to leave home after high school to study international politics. But as high school came to a close, her father made an announcement that hit Nashwa like a thunderbolt. He had found a husband for Nashwa, and she was to be married within four months. “It destroyed me,” she says, “because all my dreams depended on me leaving. They were crushed in a second, and I had to marry this person.”

All you’ll see in this video, Nashwa had to make a decision whether to accept this life or take matters into her own hands (with a little help from the FBI). Nashwa wants more people to hear her story because, as she says, “There are two kinds of people who go through this. Some accept it and are in love with the idea of not being able to plan their own life. And there are some who are in disagreement about it [but] can’t do anything. People are scared of failure, which is why they don’t go after their own happiness.”


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Rotherham: As a Pakistani woman, I’d welcome a police force that didn’t rely on imams

Like everybody else, I read Professor Alexis Jay’s report in the systematic failure to protect young girls in Rotherham, with disbelief and anger.

It’s simply awful. But, for me, it struck a note of personal horror somewhere deep down.

You see, I’m a Pakistani woman born and raised in Scotland, as part of a Muslim family. And, at the age of 12, I relied on the help of police and local authorities to help me escape from honour abuse and the threat of forced marriage. As a result of my experiences, I now dedicate most of my spare time to raising awareness of these issues. I’m currently working to establish a free mental health service for those who have suffered similar abuses.

Victims are treated like criminals

Throughout the course of my work, I’ve come to understand a few things. If you are a rape victim, you can generally expect to be dismissed, disbelieved and made to relive your terrifying experiences in great detail in order to convince a courtroom that justice should be served on your attacker. Your behaviour and character will be dissected to deduce how irresponsible and, therefore culpable, you are.

And, after all that is over, you can expect little support in recovering from your ordeal and rebuilding your life. While some may believe that the handling of rape and sex abuse cases has become more effective in recent years, it’s now clear that this is simply not the case.

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Child marriage for Syria refugees on the rise

BBC speaks to child brides who say their wedding day “was a sad day”

Child marriage is on the rise in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon housing the growing stream of refugees from Syria, recent UN reports revealed.

A report from last year by the UN Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Organization showed that a quarter of marriages that take place in the refugee camps involve girls under the age of 18.

The BBC recently spoke to some of these young brides in the Zaatari Camp, many of which are already mothers.

One young girl who was carrying an infant called her wedding day “a sad day”. “I did not want to get married at this age,” she said.

Another girl, donning a black hijab, told the BBC that she was 14 when she had to marry a 50-year-old man from Kuwait.

She says that “Everyone was telling me to smile or laugh but my feeling was fear, from the moment we got engaged.”


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Activist filmmaker will shoot controversial movie about child marriage in Bay Ridge

The picture is about a Yemeni girl who is forced to marry an old man and later raped by members of his family. Filmmaker Christhian Andrews hopes to use it as a teaser to raise money from the United Nations for a longer film on forced marriage and child abuse.


It must have been his lucky day.

A filmmaker who was searching for a young actress to star in a potentially controversial and difficult movie ran into the right person at the right time.

Christhian Andrews was literally walking the streets of Bay Ridge last month, approaching Arabic speakers and asking them whether they had a daughter who wanted to be in a movie.

As fate would have it, the second man Andrews approached was Saeed Alabsi, a restaurant worker who spent years working at ADRA International, an agency operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church to provide education, development assistance and disaster relief around the world. “We were very lucky,” said Andrews, 24, who is set to begin filming his picture about a Yemeni girl who is forced to marry an old man and later raped by members of his family, next week.

Alabsi said he took an immediate interest in the project and decided he wanted to help. “I’ve seen this with my own eyes,” said Alabsi, 56, who became sensitive about the issue after seeing girls married to men who were sometimes 60 years their senior.

He went home and told his 15-year-old daughter Nadya, who accepted the lead role in the film. “I want people to get educated,” said Nadya, who came to Brooklyn with her family five months ago from Yemen. “I want people to understand that what they’re doing is wrong.”


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17-year-old girl forced to marry six times

INDIA: Married six times in the past six years.

This was what happened to a 17-year-old girl from Hafeezbabanagar, India who was forcibly married off by her parents, reported Malaysian Nanban. The girl was married off by her father, Mohammed Akhbar who owned a pawnshop, together with the help of his third wide Niloufer, sister Mehrun-nisa and a marriage broker for Rs30,000 (RM1,600) to a man named Basheer in 2012.

Three months later, Basher abandoned her, and girl was married off to a London-based man in Pune for RS30,000 (RM1,600).

Her third and fourth marriage last year were in Mumbai to Saudi sheikhs for amounts ranging from Rs 50,000 (RM2,668) to Rs1 lakh (RM5,337) where the victim spent three months with each of her exploiters.

Her fifth marriage was in Hyderabad to a Bahrain national for the sum of Rs1 lakh (RM5,337).

On February 14, the girl was married off to a 50-year old man from Sudan, but managed to escape and approached the Hyderabad police with the help of a representative from a non-governmental organization on Wednesday.

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Australia: Forced Underage Marriage Is Common

Forced marriages of underage girls might be commonplace in certain communities in Sydney, according to the NSW Minister for Community Services, Pru Goward, who spoke yesterday following the arrest of a 26-year-old man charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. The man, who for legal reasons cannot be named, allegedly met the then 12-year-old in the Hunter region in 2012 and became involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with her, with the pair then allegedly moving to a house in Sydney’s southwest.

Australia - Forced underage marriage is common

Police claim the man and child were married in a religious ceremony last month. Appearing in court yesterday speaking through an Arabic-language interpreter, he made no application for bail, which was formally refused. It is believed that the case came to light when the girl went to Centrelink seeking assistance for the man to obtain a visa.

Centrelink notified the Department of Community Services and the police and the girl was removed and put into care. Ms Goward said she was horrified by the case. “I think we are all extremely distressed, and I expect the full force of the law will be brought in this case.

“The message is very simple. Whatever the cultural practice, whatever the religious practice, there is no law in Australia above Australian law.

“In this country, little girls have rights, and in particular they have the right to their childhood free of this sort of abuse.”

Ms Goward said there were a significant number of unlawful, unregistered marriages to underage girls in NSW, underage forced marriages, but it was difficult to say how many as the practice was kept secret. “This is not an unknown practice and indeed might be quite common in particular areas of southwest Sydney, western Sydney and the Blue Mountains,” she said.


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Focus on child marriage in Australia

The issue of forced marriages is back in the spotlight in Australia, following reports that an imam in New South Wales allegedly married a 12-year-old girl to a 26-year-old man. The imam’s been charged with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person, while the 26-year-old has been charged with multiple counts of having sex with a child.

But as Erdem Koc reports, it highlights the complexity of the dealing with the issue. While child marriage is often associated with countries in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, it’s also a custom which is practised in some communities in Australia.The case of a New South Wales imam being charged with marrying an underage girl to an adult male has prompted calls for more awareness to be raised about the issue.

Authorities say the girl has been placed in foster care, and the man, who is of a Lebanese background, has been refused bail. New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell has welcomed the charge against the imam.

“I’m delighted charges have been laid against the celebrant who allegedly solemnised this wedding that was clearly illegal. We have rules in this country, in this state, about those who celebrate marriages, whether they’re religious celebrants or civil celebrants, and those rules say people have to be over the age of 18 unless a court has decided otherwise.”

In 2013, the federal parliament passed legislation making the coercing of someone into marriage a serious crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

The change was welcomed by child advocacy groups, but they say it still doesn’t go far enough.

The chief executive of the Australian Childhood Foundation, Joe Tucci, says the message needs to be communicated clearly.


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A new law which explicitly categorises forced marriage as a crime represents a crucial milestone in efforts to protect women’s human rights

The debate around criminalising forced marriage was waging amongst feminist scholars and activists long before David Cameron announced his government intended to make the act of a forcing a person to marry a crime. In 2005-2006, the (then) Labour government’s public consultation on forced marriage gave rise to an often heated and polarising discussion, which centred largely on notions of deterrence. Those in favour of criminalisation argued that a new law would unequivocally convey to relevant parties that forced marriage is wrong and so heinous as to warrant criminal prosecution, while those against held that it would prevent victims from coming forward for fear of getting their families into trouble.


Back then, proposals for criminalisation were defeated largely on the grounds that a new offence would lead to ‘racial segregation’ and create a ‘minority law’. These claims, as I have suggested elsewhere, point to the privileging of multicultural ideals over the protection of women’s rights that often occurs in Western states. The expected passage this month, however, of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill – which includes a section criminalising forced marriage – means that feminist debate on this topic is more intense than ever. Echoing earlier debates, a number of prominent women’s organisations, activists and feminist theorists are opposing the legislation, claiming that it will deter victims from seeking help and legal redress.


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