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News and Views: Children's Rights

Government hopes new Tanzania constitution bans child marriage

October 21, 2013

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania(Thomson Reuters Foundation)--Tanzania is banking on the on-going constitutional review process of marriage laws to stop child marriages, according to a report in the government newspaper Daily News.

The marriage Act of 1971 allows girls as young as 14-years-old to marry with parental consent. On average, two out of five girls are married off before their 18th birthday, putting Tanzania among countries with the highest child marriage rates in the world.

Saudi Arabia: Sold for a Playstation and a Car

June 2, 2013

Twelve year old Fatima was sold into marriage to a fifty year old man in 2010. Her father Ali, who was unemployed and addicted to drugs, sold her into marriage for a sum of 40,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately £7,000), which he used to buy himself a car.

 

Turkey: One in every four marriages in Turkey involves child bride

May 17, 2013

One out of every four brides is a child as families are increasingly applying to the court to change the date of birth of their daughters so that they can legally marry, warned an association of Turkish female lawyers. 

Pakistan: Opponents of girls’ right to education violate Islam, ambassador tells United Nations

March 7, 2013

UNITED NATIONS: “Those who deny women and girls their right to education, violate Islam,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Masood Khan told an audience at the world body on Monday. He said the religion was for all men and women without discrimination.

He observed that the terrorist attack on Malala Yousufzai showed that “the forces of darkness” were afraid of the education that gave courage to girls to stand up for their rights.

UN Women: culture must not block progress on stopping gender violence

March 4, 2013

Commission on Status of Women opens in New York, but Iran, Russia and Vatican thought to be lobbying against key proposals.

Culture and religion must not be allowed to block proposals to eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls, the head of UN Women said on the eve of what is expected to be the largest global summit ever convened to discuss the issue.

Vatican, Iran resist UN effort fighting violence on women

March 4, 2013

The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts by a UN conference, which started Monday, to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.

More than 6,000 non-government groups are registered at the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, one of the biggest events held at the UN headquarters which regularly turns into a diplomatic battle.

"Traditional Values" vs Human Rights at the UN

February 18, 2013

A dangerous process is taking place in the UN system that threatens the universality of human rights by seeking to make them contingent on subjective ‘traditional values’ such as ‘responsible behaviour’.

Women’s rights and the rule of law: education and implementation

December 5, 2012

Legislative victories are important in changing society to eradicate injustices like forced child marriage, but such change is delivered because of and not without daring, challenging, transformative processes of education and action whether led by state, religious, familiar or civic actors. Trusting women, and trusting ourselves, can often be a moment of defiance

UK: Forced marriage phone app launched to help youngsters

December 18, 2012

A new smartphone app to help young people who may be at risk of being forced into marriage has been launched by a London charity.

It has been designed by the Metropolitan Police together with the Freedom Charity, which works to prevent honour-related violence.

The Freedom app provides young victims with essential access to help and all the information they may need on the issue at the touch of a button.

UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Circumcision

December 20, 2012

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility.

It has also been linked to religious and cultural practices, although Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

Although not legally binding, General Assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.

Egypt: The Day after the Referendum

December 13, 2012

It will pass… a draft of a constitution that doesn’t represent Egyptians or their dreams. A draft that did not engage them in the dialogue for change, which passed just two before the referendum, without giving Egyptians the opportunity to discuss it. When the revolution started, Egyptians looked forward to a time where they could evaluate their beliefs and values, discuss them, even change them and reflect it all in a document that recorded the whole process. But this never happened.

Blasphemy, Genocide and Violence Against Women: the case of Bangladesh

December 17, 2012

When Malala Yousafzai and her companions were shot by the Taliban, the whole of Pakistan expressed outrage. The attack on a young girl fighting for her right to education was shocking to many Pakistanis.  What was unusual about this event was, unfortunately, not the targeting of girls, but the fact that there was a national outcry.

"The Malala Effect" - Statement by UNHCHR on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 23, 2012

“Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights, eliminating discrimination and achieving gender equality lie at the heart of the international human rights system, starting with article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states unequivocally: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’

UPR of Pakistan: ongoing concerns include violence against women and blasphemy laws

October 31, 2012

Pakistan’s second review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on the 30 October 2012, and was attended by a large delegation led by Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and including the Advisor on Human Rights and the Advisor on Minorities.

 

South Sudan: Contraceptives give women the right to choose

November 14, 2012

JUBA - Cut off from development by five decades of civil war, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and high levels of infant mortality and morbidity. Large families struggle to get by in the war-ravaged new nation.

With the help of aid agencies providing family planning services to bolster a fledgling healthcare system, women and families are starting to choose life for the first time.

Lebanon: Media coverage of child sexual abuse is on the rise

September 30, 2012

Stories about child sexual abuse, and to a lesser degree sexual harassment of women in workplace, are finding their ways more and more into the Lebanese media.

The shocking story last June of the school teacher who was accused of sexually harassing 11 female students - aged between six and eight - in one of the most prestigious Catholic schools in Mount Lebanon, could have been the main driver behind the widening coverage on this subject.

In Lebanon, like in most Middle Eastern societies, sexual harassment is a taboo. 

Global: Women are the primary education financers for their families

September 10, 2012

"Educate a girl, and you educate a village," an African proverb goes, illustrating the ripple effect of educating women and the role that women play in making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Since its inception in 1996, Eduloan has granted over 620,000 loans. 52% of these have been awarded to women. What is notably interesting is that there has been a sharp increase over the last three years. When reviewing this period women account for 62% of the total base, either studying themselves or sponsoring a dependent. 

Saudi Arabia: Breakthrough feature film "Wadjda" narrates the story of a 10 year old girl breaking social barriers

October 11, 2012

“Wadjda” is not only one of the first films to come out of Saudi Arabia, even more significantly it is the first feature written and directed by a Saudi Arabian woman, the talented Haifaa Al Mansour.
Saudi Arabia’s first female director has made her debut at the Venice film festival, exploring the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh.

UN: First International Day of the Girl Child - 11 October 2012

October 11, 2012
Forced Child Marriage, Slavery Like Reality in Every Region of the World
Joint Statement* by a group of UN human rights experts to mark the first International Day of the Girl Child, Thursday 11 October 2012

 

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai's surgery successful

October 11, 2012

CNN Interview with Malala Yousafzai in 2011

Surgeons in Pakistan say they have removed a bullet from a 14-year-old girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in the Swat Valley.

Malala Yousafzai, a campaigner for girls' rights, is reported to be in a stable condition after the operation.

Pakistan: Malala, militante de 14 ans, "dans un état critique" après une attaque des talibans

October 9, 2012

Une Pakistanaise de 14 ans connue pour son combat contre les talibans et pour le droit des femmes à l'éducation a survécu miraculeusement mardi 9 octobre à une tentative d'assassinat perpétrée par les rebelles à la sortie de son école dans le nord-ouest du pays.

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai, 14 year old activist on girls education, shot in Swat

October 9, 2012

Gunmen have wounded a 14-year-old rights activist who has campaigned for girls' education in the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora, the region's main town.

She came to public attention in 2009 by writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban militants who had taken control of the valley.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the BBC they carried out the attack.

Returning to school after escaping child marriage

October 10, 2012

In recent years, the international community has begun to place increased attention on girls’ education generating a better understanding of the underlying causes and consequences of the disparities, and an international consensus on the need to address the issue. Much has been done to create awareness and demonstrate that change is not only necessary but also possible.

Congolese women stitching community back together

September 5, 2012

As documented in a new report from the Enough Project, which ranks electronics firms on their progress in cleaning up their supply chains of conflict minerals, there are glimmers of hope for eastern Congo despite ongoing violence there, which is driven partly by conflict minerals.

South Africa: Women are the primary education financers for their families

September 10, 2012

"Educate a girl, and you educate a village," an African proverb goes, illustrating the ripple effect of educating women and the role that women play in making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Swaziland: New Legislation Outlaws Child Marriage

September 10, 2012

MBABANE- Swazi men who continue to marry underage girls through the age-old Swazi custom kwendzisa will now be breaking the law.

Kwendzisa is a process where the parent or guardian marries off a girl child to an adult male without her consent.

Afghanistan: End trend of Women Jailed for ‘Running Away’

September 18, 2012

(Kabul) – High-level Afghan government officials have for the first time publicly confirmed that it is not a criminal offense for women and girls to “run away” from home, Human Rights Watch said today. The officials also confirmed fleeing violence or running away was not a basis for women’s detention or prosecution.

Jordan & Lebanon: Citizenship rights for children

July 27, 2012

In Jordan and Lebanon, women married to foreigners are taking to the streets to fight for their children's citizenship rights.

In both countries, women who marry non-nationals are unable to confer nationality on their child or spouse, rendering their families foreigners in the eyes of the law, and denying them rights and access to key public services. In contrast, men from those countries who marry foreigners face no such obstacles.

UN: Harmful Traditional Practices - statement by Rashida Manjoo, UNSRVAW

June 27, 2012

Throughout the world, there are practices that are violent towards women and girls and harmful to their well-being overall. Young girls are circumcised, bound by severe dress codes, denied property rights or killed for the sake of honour in the family. Although these and other practices constitute a form of violence, they have often avoided national and international scrutiny because they are seen as traditional practices that deserve tolerance and respect. This highlights how the universality of human rights is often denied when it comes to the rights of women and girls, and how cultural relativism can be wrongly used to allow for inhumane and discriminatory practices against women.

South Africa: Bride abductions 'a distortion' of South Africa's culture

July 12, 2012

When cows are traded for an unwilling bride, rural Zulu women lose their freedom, and more. Called thwala, the practice is often abused, activists say.

 NORTHWEST OF HOWICK, South Africa —

— She was named Democracy in Zulu, at a time when her country had none.

A few years later, the constitution born of the historic South African election that ended apartheid made Nonkululeko "free" and "equal." But the eight cows paid for her as a bride price mean that she is neither.

UN: Sierra Leone’s health minister to serve as UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict

June 22, 2012

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Zainab Hawa Bangura, currently the Minister of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, as his new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

She will replace Margot Wallström, a Swedish politician with a long history of defending women’s rights, who had served in the position since it was created two years ago.

Lebanon: Boys do cry

June 21, 2012

“Feeling stressed, agitated, over the edge?” These are the slogans you read on billboards across the country. These expressions aren’t new to Lebanon’s urban dictionary – however it may be the first time they are being used constructively. The banners depict men mostly from the working class in aggravating circumstances. One billboard shows a taxi driver, raising his arm in disdain at the traffic (or so it seems), the slogan heading the picture reads: “feeling like you’ve reached the end of your line? Don’t vent out your anger on others, or your family. Call us, we are ready to listen.”

Sierra Leone: Fighting for women’s right to land

June 22, 2012

FREETOWN - Shortly after her father died, Sia Bona’s husband’s family took over her father’s oil-palm plantation and rice paddies, and drove her and her mother from their home. “I came from riches, but now I am poor,” said the 45-year-old teacher from Koidu town in eastern Sierra Leone. 

Syria: Rights Group Reports Sex Assaults by Syrian Troops

June 18, 2012

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are using sexual violence against men, women and children in detention and during raids in opposition strongholds, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Friday.

NEPAL: The hidden costs of early marriage

June 18, 2012

KATHMANDU - Thousands of Nepali girls leave school every year to get married, missing out on their education, the government says. Parents are often unaware of the impact that trying to save the money spent on education can have on the future of their daughter. 

NÉPAL: Le coût caché du mariage précoce

June 18, 2012

KATMANDOU, 18 juin 2012 (IRIN) - Des milliers de jeunes népalaises abandonnent l’école chaque année pour se marier, ce qui leur bloque l’accès à l’éducation, selon le gouvernement. Les parents, qui ont recours à cette pratique pour économiser les frais de scolarité, n’ont souvent pas conscience de l’impact que cela peut avoir sur l’avenir de leurs filles.

Algeria: A new trailblazer for women in politics

May 13, 2012

Now that Algeria has the largest proportion of women lawmakers in the Arab world, workmen at the national assembly building have some urgent modifications to make.

While the men's washroom just outside the debating chamber is clearly marked with the silhouette of a man, there are so far no signs for the women's. On the opening session of the new parliament on May 26, two of the newly elected female members had to ask for directions to the rest-room.

Mali: Students flee Sharia in northern schools

May 22, 2012

BAMAKO - Strict Sharia, or Islamic religious laws, imposed by the Islamist rebels controlling vast swathes of northern Mali are driving thousands of students out of schools. Dress codes have been imposed, boys and girls are forced to learn separately, and subjects deemed to promote “infidelity” have been struck off the curriculum.

Outraged parents are transferring their children and some students are opting to miss examinations rather than learn under these conditions.

Togo: Délivrer les enfants handicapés des traditions paralysantes

June 21, 2012

LOMÉ - Au nom de la peur, de la honte et de croyances anciennes bien ancrées, les enfants handicapés du Togo sont souvent la cible de railleries, ils vivent cachés dans leur maison pendant des années et sont négligés, mis à l'écart de la vie de la communauté, ce qui aggrave leur situation.

« On m'a dit que j'étais une bonne à rien. Même mes frères et sours m'ont dit que j'étais inférieure à eux, et ils se sont moqués de moi », a dit Sofia Adama*, 18 ans, qui a contracté un handicap suite à une injection mal faite lorsqu'elle était bébé.

Egypt: Campaign in response to potential lowering of marriage age for girls

May 3, 2012

Plan is deeply concerned at new proposals by the Egyptian parliament to reduce the legal age for girls to marry to 14 – just 4 years after a successful campaign increased the age limit to 18.

Early marriage can have a devastating impact on girls’ lives – they are more likely to be forced out of school, live in poverty, have early pregnancies and endure health complications or die during childbirth.

Legal protection

India: Stop Child Marriage Entrapment

May 28, 2012

Punitive measures against girls forced into child marriages should not find a place in government policies, programmes and practices.

Pakistan: Parler ou ne pas parler des abus sexuels à l’égard des enfants

June 7, 2012

LAHORE - Sidra Bibi* a subi des abus sexuels alors qu’elle n’était qu’une jeune fille et qu’elle vivait avec ses parents et ses frères et sœurs dans la ville pakistanaise de Lahore. Les années ont passé, mais le traumatisme est resté.

Pakistan: Coming clean about child sexual abuse - or not

June 7, 2012

LAHORE - Sidra Bibi* was a young girl living with her parents and siblings in the Pakistani city of Lahore when she suffered sexual abuse, and the trauma has lived with her over the years.

“My mother, my father, my aunts and my uncles all connived to protect my paternal grandfather, who was abusing me, my sister and our female cousins since we were six or seven years old,” Sidra, now 30 and married, told IRIN. The grandfather, she added, asked the girls to masturbate him, then committed anal penetration on Sidra and her cousin.

Uganda: Changing attitudes to widespread early marriage

June 7, 2012

I’ve been working to defend children’s rights since way back. Growing up in rural Uganda I was always aware that many of my friends were denied the chance to fulfil their potential.

Eventually you find that very few friends you started school with complete it with you, and when you look back and think why, you realise it is often because their rights weren’t fulfilled – or protected.

South Africa: Campaign tackles myth of girl brides as fabled HIV cure

May 27, 2012

KwaCele, South Africa - The landscape of the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa has a haunting beauty. A myriad of round turquoise huts scatter across the land in a series of endless villages.

Yet these villages are also home to a terrible and devastating traditional practice that destroys children's lives and tears families apart.

In these villages, girls as young as 12 are kidnapped by older men and forced to 'marry.' It is accepted as part of the Xhosa people's culture. It has continued unabated for decades.

Pakistan: Little justice for victims of acid attacks

May 29, 2012

FAISALABAD, Pakistan— The cherub-faced 10-year-old girl was standing at a bus stop, saying goodbye to visiting relatives, when her mother noticed two motorcycles approaching, one coming down the street and the other from a graveyard behind them.

She recognized someone on one of the motorcycles: her older daughter's former fiance. He was clutching two liter-sized metal jugs.

Iran: Imprisoned mothers fear being forgotten

May 14, 2012

Tehran, IRAN: Built in 1971 Evin prison, in Iran’s capital city of Tehran, is a place where incarceration for prisoners brings with it depression, frustration and isolation. Prisoners who are mothers often have a secret, and haunting, fear of ‘being forgotten’ by the children they have left behind at home.

Egypt: Brotherhood mobile FGM convoys condemned by women’s group

May 14, 2012

CAIRO: A number of Egyptian human rights groups have submitted a communication to the Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud against the Muslim Brotherhood`s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to investigate the complaints of people in the village of Abu Aziz in the Minya governorate, south of Cairo, over the existence of a large medical convoy organized by the party that wanders streets and does medical examination on people, including female circumcision, or female genital mutilation, in violation of Egyptian law, conventions and treaties signed by Egypt.

Is There Ever a Good Reason for Child Marriage?

May 7, 2012

As activists and researchers who have worked for many years to support and protect girls across India, we were dismayed to read a recent DoubleX article describing a mass wedding and betrothal ceremony of underage girls and boys as a “welcome event.” The article went on to compare child marriage to the prostitution of girls, describing child marriage as “the lesser of two evils." What a shameful rationalization!

Annual Updates from Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre

May 8, 2012

Welcome to Shirkat Gah’s 2nd E-Newsletter! This covers most of the happenings at Shirkat Gah and elsewhere that we have been a part of during July 2011 - March 2012. It also highlights our efforts at national, regional, and international levels. We hope you will enjoy this snapshot of our work towards accomplishing women’s empowerment.

Turkey: Women See Worrisome Rise in Domestic Violence

April 25, 2012

ISTANBUL — Gokce, a soft-spoken 37-year-old mother of two, has lived on the run for 15 years, ever since her abusive husband tracked her down, broke down her door and shot her in the leg six times after she refused to return to him.

Not victims of tradition: Women speak out and advocate for girls facing abusive fates

May 2, 2012

The two women met for the first time last week at a sleek Georgetown hotel, where they were speakers at a glittering charity dinner. They shook hands and hugged across a vast gulf of culture, geography and faith: one a devout Muslim from West Africa with her hair carefully hidden under a tight scarf, the other a gregarious South Asian in a stylish sari and costume earrings.

Bangladesh: Three Stories of Child Marriage

April 21, 2012

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 20% of girls becoming wives before their 15th birthday, even though 18 is the minimum age allowed by law. Why?

"It is the new kind of slavery," says Mirna Ming Ming Evora, who's the country director for the NGO Plan International.

"Here girls are a burden, they don't earn income in this culture."

UK: Female British Muslims are finding their voice

April 28, 2012

Anyone who has worked in British Muslim communities will tell you the very notion of women's rights is still considered a taboo subject. Like many women who have spent years challenging gender-based discrimination, I know how much resistance there is to equality.

Indonesia: Change in attitudes, laws and police training needed to stop sexual violence

April 10, 2012

JAKARTA - Survivors of sexual violence in Indonesia face an uphill battle in recovery as a result of an inadequate legal system, police inaction, and prevailing societal attitudes that tend to be suspicious of victims, say activists.

Why do they hate us? - Mona Eltahawy

April 23, 2012

In "Distant View of a Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to depriv

USA: The marginalized pay for the church's ideological battles

April 11, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.

Join VNC for 2 events April 21st at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey

April 8, 2012

Join VNC for two events on 21 April 2012, at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. We'll be hosting a talk show on "The Nexus between Culture, Gender and Other Identities: Resisting Discrimination and Reclaiming Space", as well as a workshop on "Visioning Cultures Free from Violence: Transnational Advocacy and Communications using Visual Arts and Digital Media". Full details below.

Papua New Guinea: Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women calls for accountability for gender violence

March 26, 2012

PORT MORESBY (26 March 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo called* on the Government of Papua New Guinea to reinforce legal and support mechanisms in its fight to eradicate violence against women. At the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country, Ms. Manjoo also urged the authorities to address some of the traditional practices that are harmful to women.

Pakistan: Pro-women laws take hold

March 26, 2012

Women in Pakistan have faced formidable challenges in their efforts to achieve gender equality and address gender-based violence in their country, with particular problems posed by elements among customary norms and practices.

Yet throughout the past few years, breakthroughs in pro-women legislation have shown that both the efforts of Pakistan’s government, and the advocacy of groups working toward women’s empowerment in the country, are taking effect.

UK: Violence against women is an issue for men too

March 26, 2012

For too long women have stood alone. When it comes to violence against women, too many of us still think it's "just" a women's issue. In particular, it is about time MPs took this seriously. Here's why.

Sexual and physical violence at the hands of a man affects a staggering 45% of women in England and Wales sometime in their lives. That's one-quarter of British voters. Voters. People who give our politicians their jobs.

UK: Early/Forced Marriage in London

January 30, 2012
Islington - The forced marriage of under-age girls is prevalent in many countries, with an estimated 25,000 young girls forced into marriage each day. The issue is becoming an increasing concern in the U.K., and in the London Borough of Islington.
 

Kuwait: Egyptian teen attempts suicide to avoid forced marriage

March 20, 2012

Kuwaiti police has launched an investigation into the attempted suicide of an 18-year old Egyptian girl who threw herself off the balcony of an apartment building to avoid a forced marriage.

She survived the fall but suffered multiple fractures.

While recovering at a hospital, the girl told the police that her mother and brother had unexpectedly introduced her to a man and told her that she was his wife and should start “spousal relations” according to a report in Kuwait’s al Rai newspaper.

USA: Bishop urges change in 'church teaching concerning all sexual relationships'

March 16, 2012

BALTIMORE -- At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for "a new study of everything to do with sexuality" -- a kind of study that he predicted "would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."

"If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change," he said.

Morocco: Rape-Marriage Law Will Be Amended

March 15, 2012

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco on Thursday said it would amend a law allowing rapists to marry their underage female victims after the suicide of a teenage girl raised doubts about the effectiveness of reforms to women's rights in the country.

Sixteen-year-old Amina El-Filali killed herself last week near the northern city of Larache by swallowing rat poison after a six-month forced marriage to the man who raped her.

Local human rights activists say the law violates women's rights and was created to avoid damage to the reputation of the victim's family.

Morocco: Amina Filali, Rape Survivor, Commits Suicide After Forced Marriage To Rapist

March 21, 2012

RABAT, Morocco -- The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco's internet activists and calls for changes to the country's laws.

An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

2012 International Women's Day: Connecting Girls, Inspiring futures

March 8, 2012

The 8th of March of every year is a day set aside by the United Nations as International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a day to recognise, celebrate and honour women’s struggles and achievements in the past years and to call attention to other areas of concerns that are critical to women’s life in particular and the society in general.

Ugandan LGBT Activists File Case Against Anti-Gay U.S. Evangelical in Federal Court

March 14, 2012

Lawsuit Charges Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively with Persecution. Lively Also Connected to New Anti-Gay Bill Passed in Russia
 

Pakistan: Abducted and forced into a Muslim marriage

February 27, 2012

KARACHI - Sixteen-year-old Ameena Ahmed*, now living in the town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, does not always respond when her mother-in-law calls out to her.

“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.

Pakistan: Senate Unanimously Passes Domestic Violence Bill

February 20, 2012

VNC sends a warm congratulations to our partners Baidarie Sialkot and Shirkat Gah, along with all other civil society groups and women's human rights activists who have been campaigning over the past few years to pass this bill!

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate on Monday passed a bill that makes violence against women and children an offence carrying jail terms and fines, state media said.

Afghanistan: "Baad" Abduction of Girls for Elders' Misdeeds

February 16, 2012

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls that they complained, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.

It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.

South Asia: Focus of Global Activism Against Child Marriage

February 10, 2012

NEW DELHI, Feb 10 - Scores of South Asian charities struggling to curb high child-marriage rates are backing a global movement spearheaded by South African peace icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu to end the practice affecting millions of girls and women worldwide.

Representatives from charities in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka gathered in New Delhi last week at the regional launch of the "Girls Not Brides" alliance – created by Tutu, 80, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for speaking out against white minority rule in South Africa.

Kyrgyzstan: Efforts to Tackle Bride Kidnapping Hit Polygamy Snag

February 11, 2012

BISHKEK - Legislation designed to discourage the controversial practice of bride kidnapping fizzled recently in Kyrgyzstan's parliament.

The bill lost support because a key provision could also be used to crack down on the ostensibly illegal, yet quietly tolerated practice of polygamy, according to a member of parliament.

'The Elders' Take a Stand Against Child Marriage

February 13, 2012

The idea first took shape in conversations between two old friends, musician Peter Gabriel and inventive entrepreneur Richard Branson. What the world needs now, they decided, is a nucleus of wise elder statesmen and women to grapple with seemingly intractable global issues that governments and international institutions overlook or have failed to correct. Gabriel and Branson sold the concept to Nelson Mandela, and in July 2007 The Elders were launched by Mandela at a ceremony in Johannesburg.

Egypt: Salafi religious conservatives to lead education reform

February 9, 2012

CAIRO: If religious conservatives have their way, educational reform in Egypt will reflect their strict and literalist interpretation of Islam.

This will include separate programs for girls to teach them their “special roles and God-given obligations.”

A member of the ultra-conservative Islamist Salafi Al-Nour party, Shabaan Abdel Aleen, will be chairing Parliament’s new education committee.

From Malabo to New York: Support the UNGA Resolution Banning FGM Worldwide

February 6, 2012

WELCOME REMARKS BY

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GAMCOTRAP

ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF

ZERO TOLERANCE TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION:

FROM MALABO TO NEW YORK: SUPPORT THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BANNING FGM WORLDWIDE.

 

February 6th 2012

Honorable Minister of Health and Social Welfare

The National Assembly Members

Her Excellency the U S Ambassador to the Republic of the Gambia

India & Pakistan: Women Expose Genital Cutting Rite

January 30, 2012

KARACHI - "It was a dark and dingy room, where an elderly woman asked me to take off my panties, made me sit on a low wooden stool with my legs parted and then did something…I screamed out in pain," recalls Alefia Mustansir, 40, of her childhood experience.

Her friend, Sakina Haider, remembers "putting up a good fight" before she succumbed. "I was told by my grandmother that I was being taken to the doctor to address burning in the genital area when soap went there while bathing!"

Pakistan: Taliban Continue to Attack Girls' Schools

January 4, 2012

PESHAWAR - Suicide bombing is down, bomb attacks are fewer, but the Taliban are keeping up attacks on girls’ schools. In retaliation, a growing number of girls are going for school education – without school buildings.

The Higher Secondary School at Kumbar (in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of northern Pakistan) is one such school that has yet to be repaired after it was damaged heavily in a bomb explosion in May 2009.

Israel: Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud

January 19, 2012

IS it possible for a religious demand for modesty to be about anything other than men controlling women’s bodies? From recent events in Israel, it would certainly seem that it is not.

Afghanistan: The Battle for Schools - the Taleban and State Education

December 13, 2011

The report traces the different contestations around state education with a special focus on the past decade. In 2002, opening and building schools and getting Afghan boys and girls educated was a priority for the new government and its international backers. For the Taleban, one of the main tactics of their campaign against the government was to attack schools. The violence peaked in 2006, with dozens of students and teachers killed and hundreds of schools burned or forcibly shut down. However, there was a backlash.

Yemen: Child Marriage Spurs Abuse of Girls and Women

December 8, 2011

(Beirut) – Widespread child marriage jeopardizes Yemeni girls’ access to education, harms their health, and keeps them second-class citizens, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government of Yemen should set 18 as the minimum age for marriage to improve girls’ opportunities and protect their human rights.

Canada: BC Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Polygamy

November 23, 2011

A BC judge has upheld Canada's ban on polygamy, calling it constitutional and infringing on religious freedom only a little.

Pakistan: Girls Defy Taliban School Bombings

November 16, 2011

Seven-year-old Marwa cried and shook uncontrollably at the sight of the rubble and shattered glass remnants of her classroom. The Taliban had bombed yet another girls' school in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia: Why is No One Protecting Child Brides?

November 8, 2011

Atgaa, 10, and her sister Reemya, 8, are about to be married to men in their 60s. Atgaa will be her husband's fourth wife. Their wedding celebrations are scheduled for this week and will take place in the town of Fayaadah Abban in Qasim, Saudi Arabia.

India: Increasing Gender Imablance

October 30, 2011

Dr Neelam Singh is on the front line of India's battle to save its girls. Modern medical technology - specifically ultrasounds for determining the baby's sex - coupled with ancient cultural values which give preference to boys, mean that hundreds of thousands of girls are never being born.

Somalia: Women Lobby for Law Against FGM/C

November 3, 2011

Women's groups in the Somali town of Galkayo are lobbying the authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland to enact a law banning female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), saying the practice was becoming widespread. Activists say FGM/C causes serious health problems to the women and is against their religion.

Senegal: Progress in Movement to End Genital Cutting

October 16, 2011

SARE HAROUNA, Senegal — When Aissatou Kande was a little girl, her family followed a tradition considered essential to her suitability to marry. Her clitoris was sliced off with nothing to dull the pain.

Pakistan: Child Expelled For 'Blasphemous' Spelling Error

October 10, 2011

There’s no shortage of reminders nowadays of how dangerous Pakistan has become. Kidnappings are rampant, suicide bombers strike crowded markets, and sectarian violence is commonplace. Even sitting for a school exam comes with risks.

In the Pakistani village of Havelian, a Christian Grade 8 student named Faryal Bhatti has been accused of blasphemy after making a spelling mistake on a test, a miscue that has had drastic and life-changing consequences for her whole family.

Chad: Women Activists Against Gender-Based Violence

September 7, 2011

LAI, Chad, 7 September 2011 – A brave mother, Hadjara Oumarou, sat under a tree with her estranged husband, Oumar Sidik, outside their local village courthouse here in Chad’s Tandjilé District. Their 10-year-old daughter Amira (not her real name) sat between them.

They were at the courthouse because Mr. Sidik had sold Amira for the equivalent of $120. When the man who ‘bought’ her visited Ms. Oumarou to demand his bride, she refused to give her up, insisting that she attend school before she marries.

In the same district, a shocking number of young girls have been raped.

Child Marriage: Laws Against Must Be Enforced

October 3, 2011

Millions of girls across the world end up as child brides, despite the practice being outlawed in many countries. But some girls are defying their families' attempts to marry them off.

Some 10 million girls a year are married off before the age of 18 across the world, according to a Unicef report released this year.

Australia: Court Action Against Forced Marriage of Girl

September 30, 2011

An Australian court has placed a 16-year-old girl on the airport watch list to prevent an arranged marriage taking place in Lebanon.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, applied to the Federal Magistrates Court for an order to restrain her parents from taking her out of Australia to marry a man she had met only once.

The girl, given the pseudonym Ms Madley by the court, approached the Legal Aid Commission after her parents organised the wedding despite her telling them that she did not want to go to Lebanon and did not want to marry the man.

Indonesia: FGM/C Regulations Mistaken As Endorsement, Experts Fear

September 1, 2011

WEST JAVA, 1 September 2011 (IRIN) - Guidelines on how to perform female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) issued by the Indonesian Ministry of Health could cause an increase in the practice, medical experts and rights groups fear.

Pakistan: “Reclaiming Space: from victimhood to agency: State and civil society response to VAW”

September 26, 2011

Islamabad—Speakers at a conference here on Thursday urged for collective struggle and structural reforms to challenge Violence Against Women (VAW) in South Asian countries particularly. The three-day South Asian conference on “Reclaiming Space: from victimhood to agency: State and civil society response to VAW” organized by Rozan in Islamabad was widely attended by women activists from all over Pakistan who were joined by delegates from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

India: UNICEF report uncovers high prevalence of child marriage in West Bengal

September 10, 2011

Every second girl in the high prevalence child marriage districts of West Bengal were married off before they reach 18, the legal age for girls to get wedded, a UNICEF report said.

Murshidabad (61.04%), Birbhum (58.03%), Malda (56.07%) and Purulia (54.03%) are the districts having such dubious distinction, the report said quoting latest figures.

Though only these four districts have reported over 50 per cent child marriage cases, they are enough to pull the state figure of child marriage to a staggering 53.9 per cent.

UN HRC: Witches in the 21st Century

August 24, 2009

Throughout history, people described as witches have been persecuted, tortured and murdered and the practice continues today. Statistics are not easy to come by but it is known that every year, thousands of people, mostly older women and children are accused as witches, often abused, cast out of their families and communities and in many cases murdered.

Nepal: Religious Practices, Discrimination & Gender Violence

June 28, 2011

KATHMANDU, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) - The recent gang-rape of a Buddhist nun and her expulsion from her sect have sparked a debate about the deep-rooted religious traditions and biases that foster discrimination and violence, especially against women, in this South Asian state.

 The public outcry against the nun’s expulsion forced the Nepal Buddhist Federation to reconsider, saying now that once she recovers, the victim can return to her nunnery. 

Jordan: Child Bride in Jordan Puts Daughters on Same Path

August 22, 2011

What kind of mothers subject their daughters to drudgery, deny them education and threaten them with early marriage and other human rights abuses? The answer, one family's story suggests, are women who've gone through just that themselves.

AMMAN, Jordan (WOMENSENEWS)--Fawzeya, a 70-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian woman living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, raised her two daughters--now 53 and 47--with an iron hand.

Canada/USA: Investigation of Cross-Border Underage Polygamous Marriages

August 9, 2011

VANCOUVER — The RCMP is preparing to head to Texas to look for more than two dozen brides from Bountiful, B.C., who were allegedly sent across the border as teens to marry older men, including a polygamous leader now facing a life sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage girls.

The Mounties launched a new criminal investigation into Bountiful earlier this year after a constitutional case examining Canada's anti-polygamy law heard allegations of cross-border marriages in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Saudi Arabia to set minimum marriage age following surge in such weddings

July 25, 2011

Saudi Arabia intends to set a minimum age for girls allowed to marry under a new law intended to curb child marriages following a surge in such a phenomenon in the conservative Gulf Kingdom.

The ministry of justice is working on a regulation banning the marriage of female minors, most of which are forced by their fathers to marry much older men for dowry or other personal purposes, newspapers said.

Curbing Child Marriage in Azerbaijan

July 18, 2011

Two years after Azerbaijan’s parliament promised tougher laws to prevent underage marriage, it took a police raid to stop a man in his thirties marrying a 13-year-old. The officers swooped on a beauty salon in the city of Ganja where the marriage was due to take place last month.

The 13-year-old child bride said she was aware that women cannot legally marry until they are 17, but believed the man, 20 years her senior, was an unmissable catch. “My fiance is a serious guy. They say he’s a businessman,” she said. “My mother saw photographs of his house – it’s large and beautiful.”

India: Infant Sex Selection on Rise, Despite Stricter Law

July 12, 2011

When Sujatha’s husband learned that she had conceived just five months after they got married, he became agitated over what he called her "ill-timed pregnancy". To worsen her husband’s anxiety, a test to determine the sex of the foetus showed she was carrying a girl.

UK: Teachers urged to be alert to students who may be at risk of forced marriage

July 7, 2011

This summer over 350 young people will be forced to marry someone against their will and as a result may not return to their classrooms next academic year.  

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint-initiative between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office, is the Government’s specialist ‘one-stop shop’ for forced marriage. It provides support to victims of forced marriage as well as expert training and guidance to professionals working with victims or potential victims.  

UK: Girls at risk of mutilation abroad

July 4, 2011

Thousands of British schoolgirls as young as eight face being taken abroad this summer to have their genitals mutilated and stitched up to preserve "purity".

A campaign by the Metropolitan Police and Foreign Office will suggest that more than 22,000 girls under the age of 15 risk being taken abroad by their family for "cutting", based on data from The International Centre for Reproductive Health.

India: Child marriages reduced through regional government UNICEF Program

June 19, 2011

HYDERABAD: Kiran Kumar Reddy may have made for a pretty picture helping a girl child write at a government school in Ameerpet, but it is in the distant revenue division of Adoni in Kurnool district that a real revolution is actually unfolding. Revenue officials here have stopped a whopping 400 child marriages in less than two months.

Ethiopia: Girls fight child marriages

June 7, 2011

"I wanted to get an education but my parents were determined to marry me off," says Himanot Yehewala, an Ethiopian girl who was married five years ago at the age of 13.

Yemen: Child brides, Too young to wed

May 24, 2011


Because the wedding was illegal and a secret, except to the invited guests, and because marriage rites in Rajasthan are often conducted late at night, it was well into the afternoon before the three girl brides in this dry farm settlement in the north of India began to prepare themselves for their sacred vows. They squatted side by side on the dirt, a crowd of village women holding sari cloth around them as a makeshift curtain, and poured soapy water from a metal pan over their heads.