Posts Tagged ‘Child Marriage Act’

Watch: Islamic scholars say forced marriage claims ‘exaggerated’

Last week, Yle reported claims that some immigrant families in Western Finland were sending their underage daughters abroad for forced marriages. Islamic scholars say such cases are not about religion and girls should have more information about their rights.


Attendees at the weekend Islam Expo in Helsinki were clear about Islam forbidding forced marriages. None were aware of a single case in Finland. Many suspected reports to be merely rumours.

Faduma Mohammud of Helsinki speculated girls may have been sent abroad after straying from treligious strictures and misbehaving:

According to Islamic scholars – not even bad behaviour would justify a forced marriage.

Imam Annas Hajjar says forced marriages are not a part of Islam at all – when marrying both parties have to answer “yes”.


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Op-Ed: We must stop child marriage

The simple principle that a woman should be able to choose whom and when to marry is an absolute given in this country. But the sad reality around the world is that millions of girls as young as eight or nine years of age are forced into marriage every year. Some suggest the number could be as high as 38,000 per day, which adds up to a staggering 9.5 million a year. This is utterly wrong, and we have a duty to say so.

Op-Ed: We must stop child marriage

Our government has made it a priority to fight the scourge of child, early and forced marriage. You could see this in the speech from the throne when we outlined the priority that our government places on protecting the rights of all girls and helping them fulfil their potential. Not only is this in line with Canadian values, but we believe that it is ultimately in every nation’s self-interest to do so.

On Thursday, Canada will introduce the first-ever stand-alone resolution on child, early and forced marriage at the United Nations General Assembly. The resolution reaffirms commitments to protect children’s rights and calls for further action in the General Assembly to address this barbaric practice.


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Female Genital Mutilation Campaign In Sudan Slammed For ‘Not Getting Message Across’

In 2007 U.N. organizations, civil society groups and other institutions working to stop female genital mutilation got together and brainstormed a campaign to end the practice in Sudan.

The result was Saleema, a word that translates to complete, to signify that a girl should remain the way she was born. The campaign has been ramping up recently in its fight against FGM, as the practice is called (it’s also referred to as female genital cutting), with extensive media outreach, opening a new dialogue about this once-taboo issue in Sudan. Still, activists here criticized the campaign as being presented in such a way as to appease conservatives and to avoid clashes. “The name, Saleema, is a vague name in itself in my opinion and this reflects that the campaign is trying to avoid clashes with the extremists who do not want to see FGM eradicated,” said Sana Mekkawi, who works at Salmmah Women’s Resource Center in Khartoum. The billboards covering the streets of Khartoum, for example, show celebrities and respected individuals and have the slogan “She is born Saleema, let her grow Saleema,” but they do not mention FGM.

female genital mutilation sudan

“The concept is straightforward, saying no to FGM, but the slogan ‘Let every girl born Saleema grow Saleema’ does not get this message across,” Samah Osman told Women’s eNews, adding that the campaign should have referred to FGM in the advertisement. Osman, a recent chemical engineering graduate, is one of many youth who took to Twitter to express their opinions on the campaign as part of a heated day-long discussion that took place on the social media outlet on July 23, during the holy month of Ramadan, when the television advertisements of the campaign are at their peak.


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Human rights student reporter of the year on life after forced marriage

The winning entry in Amnesty International UK’s annual competition, in conjunction with the Observer and the NUS, is by Lauren Wilks of the University of Edinburgh


A still from a film made with actors by the Forced Marriage Unit.

Parents, family, friends – I left everyone because he was after me and my daughter,” says Tehmina, explaining how she came to leave Pakistanin 2002 and claim asylum in the UK. “It was an arranged marriage, but when I married him he turned out to be another person. I was beaten and abused for 10 months.” After escaping, Tehmina was rejected by almost everyone in her family. While her father was sympathetic, he told her that she and her daughter no longer had a life in Pakistan. She received death threats from her brothers and the police ignored her cry for help, saying it was “her own matter”. “The situation in Pakistan is very difficult,” she says. “It’s impossible to live as a single woman or single mother … honour killings are everywhere.”

Within the UK, confronting the issue of forced marriage is not new. Campaigners have long called for greater attention to the issue; and in recent years policymakers have pushed aside claims of cultural difference and introduced a range of measures – aimed at both the UK and overseas – to work towards ending the practice. However, tougher laws and awareness campaigns, while important, fail to address the needs of those living in, or trying to escape from, a forced marriage. For women such as Tehmina, running away is not an end to the trauma. “It’s an uphill struggle; very often as bad as the forced marriage itself,” says Angela Voulgari of Saheliya, an Edinburgh-based organisation that supports black and minority ethnic women. Voulgari wants to see more intensive support to protect those trapped in and escaping from forced marriages. She says that fleeing a marriage can mark the beginning of another, more frightening chapter.


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Forced marriages: School holidays prompt warning

Teachers, doctors and airport staff need to be alert to the problem of forced marriages over the school holidays, the government has warned. Ministers said there were concerns about teenagers being taken abroad thinking they were going on holiday but being forced into marriage instead. Figures suggest cases are particularly common during the summer break. The government’s Forced Marriage Unit received 400 reports between June and August last year.

Recent estimates suggest more than 5,000 people from the UK are forced into marriage every year. More than a third of those affected are aged under 16. The government is calling for increased awareness, and is promoting an advice line and information cards aimed at potential victims to explain how they can get help.

Councillor Sameem Ali

Sameem Ali was forced into a marriage aged 13

Tougher action

Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds said: “The school summer holidays are the time when young people are at the highest risk of being taken overseas for a forced marriage.”Our ‘Marriage: It’s Your Choice’ cards highlight that people who are at risk of forced marriage know they can turn to our Forced Marriage Unit for support, whether they are at home or are already abroad.” Ministers said it was wrong that teenagers who should be thinking about their exam results found themselves lured into a life of fear and subservience instead.

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Government warns of forced marriage risk during school holidays

The UK government today issued a warning to teachers, doctors and airport staff to be alert to forced marriages over the school holidays. The summer marks a peak in reports of forced marriage cases, when youngsters can be taken on “holiday”, unaware of the real purpose of the trip. Between June and August last year, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint operation by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, received over 400 reports.

This year the Unit is handing out “Marriage: it’s your choice” cards, to provide help and information to potential victims, signposting them to confidential advice. The cards also remind young people to speak to police or airline staff if they find themselves at an airport with nowhere to turn. Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said: “The rise in forced marriage reports over the school holidays is shocking. Teenagers expecting their GCSE or A-level results should be embarking on a bright future, not condemned to a marriage with someone they have never met and do not want to marry. This is a serious abuse of human rights and that is why we are legislating to make it illegal My message to young people who feel they are at risk is please come forward; you do not have to suffer in silence; there is help available and it can be stopped.”


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Nada’s Escape From Forced Marriage Highlights Child Marriage Epidemic

Nada Al-Ahdal must be one of the bravest people alive today. This 11-year-old Yemeni girl managed to escape the fate that befalls so many girls of her age: a forced marriage.

Her story is harrowing. Nada, one of eight children, lived with her uncle in Saudi Arabia since she was three. According to Nada, her uncle, Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, was the only thing standing between her and life as a child bride.

Nada’s Escape From Forced Marriage Highlights Child Marriage Epidemic

Abdel Salam told NOW:

“When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’ I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.”

According to NOW, the groom then ended the engagement. When he told Nada’s parents that he did not want to marry their daughter anymore, they were disappointed since they would no longer receive the bride price.

Despite her tender age, Nada is no stranger to arranged marriages. Her 18-year-old sister has been engaged several times, and her maternal aunt committed suicide by self-immolation after being forced to marry an abusive man. Even though Nada made her preferences very, very clear, her parents tried to marry her off again. That’s when Nada made this haunting video.

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More Afghan women jailed for ‘moral crimes’, says HRW

The number of women and girls in Afghanistan imprisoned for “moral crimes” has risen by 50% in the past 18 months, a rights group says.

Human Rights Watch says many are jailed for running away from home, often from forced marriages or domestic violence. Others are behind bars as a result of alleged adultery, in truth often involving rape, it said. The government should “get tough on abusers of women and stop blaming women who are crime victims”, said HRW.

A woman at Badam Bagh, Afghanistan's central women's prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan - where manyinmates have been convicted of so-called "moral crimes"

It said 600 women and girls were now imprisoned for “moral crimes” – the highest since the US-led overthrow of the Taliban 12 years ago.

About 110 of those were girls under 18.

Virginity tests

Human Rights Watch’s alert comes just three days after angry scenes in the Afghan parliament forced a halt to a debate about reinforcing a law to prevent violence against women. The law banning violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages was passed by presidential decree in 2009, but did not gain MPs’ approval.


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Poverty, ignorance force parents to marry off their daughters early

“I was not interested in marriage at all. But my mother and grandmother forced me to accept. I do not like the bridegroom. I am happy that the district administration has stopped my marriage because I was only around 16,” says a girl from Melapuliyur, who is one of the 167 girls in Perambalur district whose marriage was stopped under the Child Marriage Act 2006.

In most of these marriages, the bridegroom was the relative of the girl, more often than not a cousin. Another common strain is that the parents were hardly educated.

Asked whether they were aware that getting married before the age of 18 was illegal and physically it could lead to complications when marrying at such a young age (even resulting in death at the time of childbirth), most of the girls either confessed ignorance or chose to keep silent.

Similar was the response from the parents too when asked whether they were not risking the life of the girl if she was to be married at a young age. Most of them remained downcast admitting they were at fault. However, a woman said: “I also got married when I was less than 16 and I am perfectly all right. I had no complications at all.” Her worry is “who will marry my daughter whose marriage has been stopped after the betrothal?”


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