Posts Tagged ‘Child Marriage Act’

Dramatic Video Shows Stark Contrast Between Life As A Child Bride And As A School Girl

Girls give up a lot when they are forced into marriage.

A video produced by UNICEF highlights how different life is for a child bride as compared to a girl who can access an education.

The PSA — which focuses on child brides in Chad — begins with a girl who died during childbirth. It follows the girl’s life in reverse, reliving each step that preceded her death, before revealing how her life could have unfolded, had she avoided marriageand gone to school instead.

It ends with the girl happily attending class and meeting new friends.

“Girls who are married before their 18th birthdays are not only denied their childhood, but are often socially isolated and subjected to violence and limited opportunities for education and employment,” Bruno Maes, UNICEF representative in Chad, said, according to the organization. The humanitarian group notes that, in Chad, a girl is more likely to die giving birth than to attend secondary school.

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Canada collaborates with Nigeria to end child marriage

Canada and Nigeria are collaborating to end child, early and forced marriage in the country, the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria said on Thursday.

A statement issued by Ezinne Uluocha, Public Affairs Officer of the Canadian High Commission in Abuja, said a significant reduction in child marriage would ensure a better society.

The statement said the High Commission was collaborating with Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, a Nigerian NGO, to highlight the worldwide issue of child marriage as it affects Nigeria.

“The Canadian High Commissioner, Mr Perry Calderwood is collaborating with Ms Amina Hanga, Executive Secretary of Nigerian NGO, Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative.

“The NGO forms part of the “Girls Not Brides” network, which was awarded the Government of Canada Diefenbaker Human Rights and Freedom Award in Ottawa in November 2014.

“Ms Hanga, along with a representative from an India-based sister organisation, and a member of the Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of Girls Not Brides.”

It said child marriage hindered the achievement of the six Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is expected to be met by all countries by the end of this year.

According to it, ensuring that child marriage is meaningfully included in the post-2015 global development agenda is a top priority for Canadian government.

“Child, early and forced marriage has hindered advancement of six of the eight MDGs. The six MDGs are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; combat HIV and other diseases.


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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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Playwrights explore trauma and psychological damage of FGM

The poster is stamped with the statement that 137,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of genital mutilation. But for the team behind the play Little Stitches, opening at a London theatre on Friday it is the individual stories behind the statistic that really matter.

Kenya rally against FGM 2007


The four writers of the play, opening at Theatre503, in Battersea, spent months talking to those affected by FGM, or female genital mutilation, as well as to campaigners, doctors and teachers. Each of the four – Karis Halsall, Raul Quiros Molina, Bahar Brunton and Isley Lynn – used verbatim interviews and accounts to write a piece tackling the issue, and, as the director, Alex Crampton, said, to give FGM a “living breathing presence that makes it hard to ignore”.

The decision to tackle the issue came from Melissa Dean, the founder of BAREtruth theatre company which is staging the play. She said theatre was a powerful vehicle that could break through the taboos and secrecy surrounding FGM and bring real-life stories to an audience who might otherwise be at some distance from the issue.


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British Police Failing to Record ‘Honor’ Violence

(BBC) — One in five UK police forces is failing to properly record cases of so-called honour violence against women, according to a support group.

It said there was a “postcode lottery” when it came to recording such crimes. The report, from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), also highlighted a lack of proper risk assessment of victims. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said “significant progress” had been made by forces. The report follows the 2006 killing of Banaz Mahmod, who was murdered by her family because they disapproved of her boyfriend.

Since Miss Mahmod’s murder, police forces are supposed to have had a sharper focus on all honour-based crime, including beatings and death threats. But failings identified in the report included in some areas with communities in which honour-based violence is most likely to occur.

Derbyshire Constabulary, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Staffordshire Police were among those with the most significant failings, according to the report, as well as half of all Scottish police forces before they amalgamated into Police Scotland last April. Diana Nammi, executive director of IKWRO, said there may be only one chance to protect someone at risk from a so-called “honour killing”. ‘Not acceptable’


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Syrian refugees forced to let Lebanese landlord marry their 14-year-old daughter because they cannot afford the rent

A 14-year-old girl who escaped the bloody fighting in Syria is being forced to marry a 44-year-old stranger in exchange for her family’s safe refuge across the border.

Hanifa Amar’s parents say they can no longer afford the $250 (£150) monthly rent at a house they fled to in neighbouring Lebanon. The landlord has agreed to let them stay, but only if Hanifa becomes his second wife.Wiping away tears, Hanifa told Al Jazeera: ‘My whole life is destroyed. I don’t want to marry him, but if I do my family can stay in this house.’

The teenager had hoped to marry her 22-year-old cousin, but he died fighting in Syria last year. Instead, she now has to take desperate measures to help her family survive after they were threatened with eviction. Her mother, Mysa, says they cannot risk moving into a tent because her husband suffers from heart problems and she fears her asthmatic son could die in the bitter cold.

Her other son, who is 12, earns the little money they have by helping a mechanic, but this is barely enough to pay for food. Mrs Amar said: ‘No mother wants to hurt her child, but we have no choice.’

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Three expat sisters refuse to board plane to avoid forced marriage

The girls told the police they were born and lived in the UAE and were scared that their newly married father would force them to marry in Mauritania. 

Three young Mauritanian sisters who refused to travel to their home country because they feared being forced into marriage, were put up in the Dubai Women and Children’s Foundation after the General Department of Human Rights intervened.

The flight on which the girls were to travel on Tuesday was delayed as they refused to board the plane, but the situation was later resolved after the girls agreed that they would be accompanied by their estranged mother to their home country to live. Dr Mohammed Al Murr of the General Department of Human Rights said that an employee of the Immigration Department at the Dubai Police informed the Women and Children’s Protection Department of the Dubai Police about the three girls, aged 21, 15, and 12, who were allegedly being forced to travel back home to stay with other family members there.

The three girls told the police they were born in the UAE and spent their life here and were scared that their father would force them to marry in Mauritania. Their father, who has been in the UAE for 30 years, tried to send the girls back to their home country as he had recently married a new woman in Dubai, and said he couldn’t cope looking after her children as well as his own. Upon refusing to board the plane, the girls said they did not know their father’s family well enough and were scared to go and live with them.

The girls’ mother, who the father had divorced some years back, was living in Tanzania where she too married another man, but later divorced him.

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Forget cultural practices – forced marriage is abhorrent

In 2012, the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 1,485 cases. 13 percent of those involved victims under 15 years old; 22 percent involved victims aged 16-17.

Under a section of the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, now going through the House of Lords, parents who “coerce, pressure or abuse” their children into marriage could face prison sentences.   In November, The Times reported that two anthropologists had warned the Home Office that the law is doomed to fail women, because brides who send their relatives to jail will be rejected by their South Asian families. Their report criticised the new law for demonising other cultures.


The authors, Roger Ballard, Director of the Centre for Applied South Asian Studies, based in Stalybridge, near Manchester, and Fauzia Shariff, a School of African and Oriental Studies academic, called supporters of the law “ill-informed pedlars of ‘improvement'”. Their report said the new law would be widely viewed as an effort to undermine minorities’ cultural traditions, in favour of “superior” Euro-American practices.  The authors — while not defending forced marriage (which, in a chillingly Orwellian manner, they refer to as “myopically arranged marriages” or “ill-judged familial initiatives”) clearly believe criminalisation will do more harm than good, and instead recommend policy initiatives “supporting efforts to resolve intra-familial contradictions on the basis of ‘traditional’ processes of renegotiation” – whatever they might be.

We can all be sensitive to the idea that other cultures have ways of living that may be as valuable as the “Euro-American” model — a happily and consensually-arranged marriage may be at least as good an environment for children as a household of multiple divorces. But we should profoundly object to the moral relativism implied in the attack on the Bill. Forced marriage reflects a worldview in which women cannot act individually and cannot have agency over their sexual behaviour without bringing shame, and thus must be forcibly prevented from being autonomous. It reflects a culture where women do not have the freedoms accorded to men.

In a Times column criticising Ballard and Shariff, David Aaronovitch wrote: “We criminalise forced marriage because, as a society, we believe it is wrong and we stand on the side of the victim.” As a young woman in 21st-century Britain, I look back through history in horror at a time when I might have been bundled off to marry someone, perhaps much older than me, against my will, whom I did not love. Luckily for me that bleak prospect is a thing of the past.

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Progress in tackling honour-based violence

Protecting women and girls in Scotland from honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) requires action in a number of ways, but the first major step is to increase awareness among those at risk that help is available.

Scotland has not yet got to grips with these problems but the latest figures do at least show that progress is being made. Reporting of incidents is up. For instance, police have dealt with 19 cases of honour-based violence and six cases of forced marriage this year in Edinburgh alone, while officers across Scotland have also dealt with nine cases of FGM this year, compared to none last year. Work to increase awareness is bearing fruit.

These are crimes that typically take place behind closed doors in ethnic minority communities that can be hard for police and social workers to reach. In the past, when police have been called to disturbances where honour-based violence is involved, they may have sometimes failed to identify what has been going on, recording the incidents as domestic disputes or abuse instead. Change is afoot.

It is heartening to hear from DCS Gill Imery of Police Scotland that the amalgamation of Scotland’s eight police forces has helped the service improve and standardise its approach, through training.

Some forces had developed a degree of expertise in dealing with honour-based violence and forced marriage, but clearly women and girls have a right to expect that police will take the same approach wherever they happen to live in Scotland. The police are not the only ones who are facing up to the need to improve their handling of such incidents. Last month The Herald reported how families have brought their daughters to Scotland to undergo FGM because the country is seen as a “soft touch”. A majority of Scotland’s health boards are unable to say how many cases of FGM they have encountered and fewer than one-third of the country’s 32 councils have local guidelines on FGM as they should.


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Afghan landmark law failing to protect women: UN

Kabul — The UN mission in Afghanistan on Sunday criticised authorities for poor implementation of a landmark law to protect women, 12 years after the repressive Taliban regime was ousted from power.

Donor nations, led by the US, point to the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law as a prized symbol of the success of the international effort in Afghanistan since 2001. But a report released by the UN said that prosecutions and convictions remained low under the 2009 law, which criminalises child marriage, forced marriage, forced self-immolation, rape and other violence against women.

“Implementation has been slow and uneven, with police still reluctant to enforce the legal prohibition against violence,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said. “Afghan authorities need to do much more to build on the gains made so far in protecting women and girls.”

The report comes amid fears that as the NATO-led military mission prepares to withdraw by the end of next year, religious conservatives are seeking to increase their influence and undermine advances in women’s rights. The report said that of about 1,670 registered incidents of violence against women in 16 provinces, only 109 cases — seven percent — went through a judicial process using the EVAW law.

Many cases were resolved through informal mediation, which often fails to protect women from further violence, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

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