Britain, UN host 1st summit to end child marriages

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LONDON – More than 700 million women alive today were married before they turned 18, the United Nations’ children agency said Tuesday, as it co-hosts a London summit calling for more progress to end child marriages and the practice of female genital mutilation.

 

Figures released by UNICEF say child brides are most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and about one in three — or some 250 million — were married before they turned 15.

India alone accounts for a third of all the world’s child brides, the agency said. Poorer girls are much more vulnerable: While the wealthiest girls in India marry at around 20 years old, the poorest do so at an average age of 15.

“Girls who marry before they turn 18 are less likely to remain in school and more likely to experience domestic violence,” UNICEF said. “Young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s. Their infants are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.”

The agency said that while the percentage of girls being married as children is slowly declining,population growth means that the absolute numbers will remain high unless more drastic action is taken.

Some progress has also been made on ending female genital mutilation, most commonly practiced in Africa and the Middle East, UNICEF said. Countries including Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria have seen a significant drop in the past three decades, but it is still highly prevalent in Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Somalia.

UNICEF and Britain’s government hope that Tuesday’s Girl Summit, which will be attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, will help galvanize action to end both practices within a generation.

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UK PM to host event to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

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Tomorrow the British Prime Minister David Cameron alongside other key international agencies like UNICEF will host a major summit to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriage both domestically and internationally in London. The event will bring together community leaders, governments, international organisations and the private sector to rally a global movement to end both Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage both locally and internationally.

 

The summit that opens tomorrow morning will be addressed by the British International Development Secretary Justin Greening, the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Executive Director of UNICEF Tony Lake. Global Civil society members, international policy makers and other influential groups in international governance and on the topics of FGM and forced and early marriage will also address the summit.

The British government, one of the key leaders in the fight against FGM internationally, on its official website claims that both early and forced marriage and FGM are deep rooted cultural practices which violate the rights of girls and women both in this country and overseas and as such it is one that needs an urgent international response. It is due to the life long negative social, personal and economical damage victims of both violations experience and live with that has encouraged the British Government to act now, according to the official British government website. With this international summit, the British government argues communities and international governments are already taking some action against both FGM and early and forced marriages but it wants to play a greater role “in supporting this momentum and this summer’s event will galvanise further action to help end these practices and empower girls.”

The summit will welcome around 200 delegates from around the world to London in order to find policy solutions to the global issue of eradicating both FGM and early and forced marriage for girls.

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Somali women lobby for more representation

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Women in Somalia say they want to see the country’s constitution clearly mentioning the full rights of women and the exact number of officials they will have in the country’s future governmental institutions.

 

The agenda was raised in a lengthy meeting held in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday which gathered high profile women including the chairperson of Somali National women’s Association Batuulo Sheik Ahmed Gaballe and female members form Somali parliament.

“We don’t want to be deprived off the rights we have in the country, we need to get enough female representation in the parliament, in the political parties and as well as in the regional autonomies” a statement read to the meeting on Sunday.

The women are arguing that the Garowe meeting held during Sheikh Sharif’s rule decided that women will have 30 seats in the Somali parliament, but they were given less than that representation according to the decisions taken at Garowe meeting.

Somali women members in the federal parliament told the meeting they will take the matter to parliament for more discussions and pledged they will put pressure on the government to respect and implement hard and vast rule about women’s administrative rights in the country.

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‘Ready for the lists’, say Uruguayan women

A new series of commercials featuring public figures, as well as workshops and support for women politicians from all parties, and a project to broaden the current quota law are all stimulating the participation of women in decision-making in Uruguay.

3Some of the protagonists of the ads receive United Nations distinctions. From left to right: Dani Umpi (artist), Ximena Torres (communicator and businesswoman), Carolina García (journalist), Emilia Díaz (actress), Florencia Infante (actress and communicator), Daniela Bouret (director of the Solís Theatre), Pilar Teijeiro (journalist), Jorge Esmoris (actor). Photo: UN Uruguay/Esteban Zunín

Recently, Uruguay has made headlines around the world by passing laws and measures considered progressive. However, on some basic issues we are still a long way from the headlines. We are more likely in the sidebars,” starts the adstarring well-known Uruguayan actor and journalist Christian Font. “The participation of women in the spheres of decision-making and management of our country is not a politically correct demand,” he continues. “It is absolutely necessary. We still have a long way to go, to achieve a democracy with equality of men and women in parliament. Do your bit for the quotas.”

In this South American country, which passed a gender quota electoral law in 2009 that will come into force for the first time in the general elections in October 2014, this is one of a series of 11 video commercials featuring public figures that raise awareness of the importance of having more women in decision-making in Uruguay.

The ads feature well-known Uruguayan actors, journalists and artists and the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Uruguay, Denise Cook. All those featured wrote their own messages and the ads started airing in June on various TV channels across the country, as well as via social networks.

They were officially launched on 16 July in the capital city of Montevideo as part of the “Do your bit for the quota” campaign, as a result of the “Political participation and empowerment of women” project supported by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality. Three civil society organizations spearheaded the high-profile campaign: “Cotidiano Mujer” [Daily Women], the National Monitoring Committee (CNS) and Women Citizens’ Network (CIRE).

The three feminist organizations saw the need to create spaces across the country for women to meet and discuss, to encourage trust and strengthen links between those aspiring to be candidates in the upcoming elections, those seeking leadership roles, and those active in civil society.

In the current legislature, women account for only 13.1 per cent of the Uruguayan parliament. This figure places Uruguay in 103rd place in the world ranking of women in parliament by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, much below the world average (21.8 per cent) – which is all the more noteworthy in a region recognized for relatively high levels of female political representation.

“We Uruguayan women have to come to the 2014 elections united, organized and active. Democracy owes us an historic debt and it is vital, as the song says, for us to be strong and united, like a wall,” says Milka Sorribas, one of the coordinators of the three years long project that began in early 2013. It has already mobilized more than 600 women across the country in support of parity.

Women take part in a discussion and training workshop on gender policies in Bella Unión, Artigas, Uruguay, in November 2013. Photo: Cotidiano Mujer/Marta González

The project efforts are translated through workshops to build a common agenda for women from civil society and women politicians from all parties; supporting female politicians; and drafting a bill to broaden the law on quotas, collecting at least 5,000 signatures in support of the text. Called“Women ready for the lists”, this component of the FGE project seeks to expand the boundaries of the current quota law, and bring it to the goal of full parity (50-50 gender representation).

In the initial phase of this project, workshops were conducted in all the government departments of the country, including with the Assembly of Women of Montevideo, which convened more than 150 women.

“Personally, by taking part in this project, I’ve found myself again,” says Marta Piñeiro, who attended the workshops as a political and social activist from the Department of Rivera, in the north of Uruguay. “And it was the same for all of us… we were reminded that we are realistic, but not pessimistic; that a better life for women also depends on our commitment and obstinacy; that this change is playing out on every street and every corner, and that we want to be part of this change, so we can look our mothers, our grandmothers and our daughters in the eye. The future depends on us, women.”

These workshops galvanized sustained participation from all political parties and from civil society, creating a foundation of local support and a lobbying network which is advocating for an equality agenda during the next general elections in October.

Cotidiano Mujer coordinator Lilián Celiberti says an important impact of this project was that, “The organization and visibility of the country’s female politicians have been strengthened and it has encouraged them to submit their nominations for the next elections. With their “READY for the LISTS” banners, they are challenging the patriarchy in every one of the political parties and civil society forums.”

Source  UN women

 

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NGO: jihadists stone Syrian woman to death for ‘adultery’

                 Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa provinceISIS’s systematic abuses and quest for domination swiftly turned the mainstream Syrian opposition against it. (File photo: Reuters)

AFP, KIRKUK
Friday, 18 July 2014

Jihadists in the northern Syrian province of Raqa have accused a woman of adultery and stoned her to death, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

It was the first “execution” of its kind by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria, which has proclaimed the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.

“The Islamic state carried out its first sentence of death by stoning against a woman in Tabaqa, accusing her of adultery,” said the Britain-based Observatory, referring to a town in Raqa province, most of which is under ISIS control.

An activist in the province confirmed the report, and said the stoning took place in a public square in the Tabaqa market area on Thursday evening.

“This is the first time that this has happened here,” added Abu Ibrahim.

A second activist in Raqa, Hadi Salameh, said the woman was reportedly in her thirties, but that few details were known about her except that she was killed after sentencing by an ISIS religious court.

“The situation is unbearable. Stoning is the worst punishment history has known. A quick death is more merciful,” Salameh told AFP via the Internet, using a pseudonym for security reasons.

“The woman’s family did not know the sentence was going to be carried out at this time,” said Salameh.

He said residents are “terrified” of ISIS, but fear the consequences of reacting to its harsh methods.

ISIS first emerged in the Syrian conflict in late spring last year. Some Syrian rebels initially welcomed the jihadists, seeing them as potential allies in their war to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But the group’s systematic abuses and quest for domination swiftly turned the mainstream opposition against it, and rebels have been battling ISIS fighters since January.

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Six-year-old ‘raped’ by staff at India school

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Tension in Bangalore after six-year-old is allegedly raped by two members of staff at her school earlier this month.

Tension has mounted in the southern Indian city of Bangalore after a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two staff members on the premises of a prominent school.

According to the Reuters news agency, angry parents went to the school on Thursday, breaking a glass door to protest against the alleged rape.

The alleged offence took place on July 2 in the school campus during class hours and the child, who is a pupil at the school, is receiving treatment in hospital, an official said.

Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police T D Pawar said that police were investigating the case.

“The offence has taken place on 2nd of this month and case was registered on 14th. So, we have taken up the case and we are investigating the matter, taking all the aspects into consideration,” Pawar said.

Claims of inaction

Parents have accused the school authority of inaction.

“We have been here since yesterday morning and they are not addressing our concerns properly,” said a parent at the protest who gave her name as Shabnam.

School owner, Rustom Kerawalla, said he was doing everything he could to assist the investigation.

“All cooperation is being given to the police authorities and guilty will have to be punished and all our cooperation is there towards that in spite of today being a holiday we assured that the staff are here to assist the enquiry,” he said.

Unprecedented nationwide protests against the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in the capital Delhi in December 2012 forced the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to pass tougher laws to fight gender crimes.

Sex crimes are common in India, which has a population of 1.2 billion.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among major cities, with a rape reported every 18 hours, according to police figures.

Source:
Agencies
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Wealthy Somalis flout Kenyan law to have daughters circumcised

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Halima Abdi charges foreign visitors at least $1,000 for a tour of remote northeastern Kenyan villages that most people wouldn’t dream of making. Her clients are young girls sent by their parents to undergo traditional circumcision.Most of her customers are ethnic Somalis who arrive from countries such as the U.K., Sweden and the Netherlands, Abdi explained in an interview at her cramped one-room office in the suburb of Eastleigh in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Abdi says she’s offered “consultancy services” to hundreds of migrant families from abroad since she began operating in 2000.  “I have undergone the female cut and I have administered the same to my daughters and their granddaughters too will go through it,” said Abdi, a 48-year-old mother of five children.

“These beliefs and values are still present and valued by Somalis in Africa and the developed world.”  While female genital mutilation has been illegal in Kenya since 2011, practitioners like Abdi continue to earn a handsome living from the procedure. The Wagalla Centre for Peace and Human Rights, a Wajir, Kenya-based advocacy group, says the practice has made some circumcisers rich enough to buy four- wheel-drive vehicles, build luxury homes in remote villages and acquire livestock.

As part of Kenya’s efforts to curb the practice, President Uhuru Kenyatta in December appointed Linah Jebii Kilimo as chairwoman of the state-run Anti-FGM Board Kenya. Kenyatta’s wife, Margaret, said in May female circumcision “should not have any place in any community living inthe21st century.

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