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Archive for February 25, 2011

Child Marriages – Robbing them of their innocence

Throughout the world, the problem of early, forced marriages of children is considered to be a violation of basic human rights. Child marriage is defined by when a child who is below the legal age (usually below the age 15) is married to an adult. Usually it’s almost a Young girl married to an older man. The second form of marriage is an arranged marriage where the parents of the child(ren) and the other person arrange a future marriage. Here, the two individuals who are promised to each other, does not often meet until the wedding ceremony which happens when they both are considered to be of a marriageable age.

Occurrence

It has been estimated that 49 countries around the world has a significant child bride problem, but the numbers are estimated to be higher because of the unregistered and unofficial marriages. UNICEF survey results of 100 countries shows that in developing countries, over than 60 million women aged between 20 and 24 was married before the age of 18. In the countries of Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Niger, more than 60% were found to have been married before 18. Despite sanctions on child marriage, more than 100 million children were expected to marry between 2005-2015.

Article 16.1 of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 (CEDAW http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm)states that;

a) Men and women have the same right to enter into marriage.

b) The same right to freely choose a spouse and enter that marriage with their free and full consent.

Article 16.2 states: The betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage. CEDAW has not been ratified by seven UN member-states; the United States, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Nauru, Palau and Tonga.

Although this practice is banned by many countries, there are still many children who are victims of practice. It is combined with culture and has many purposes. Some cultures use child marriage among different tribes, villages and families to secure political and other ties between them to prevent themselves from being assimilated. Other families use child marriage to gain financial ties with wealthier people to ensure their success. Every women and girl has the right to a healthy and just life but when violence of any kind occurs, the international community has the supreme responsibility to respond and transform norms and behavior that condones these human right violations.

How does child marriage affect girl’s futures?

No matter where child marriage occurs, it is regarded as violation towards the children with tiny voices. Parents choose to marry off their daughters early for a number of reasons. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family and some see no value in girls compared to a boy. Others are concerned of their daughters might lose their virginity or get pregnant before marriage. Changing these views requires education and the right to refuse marriage. The parents think that marrying away the daughters protects them from the risk and danger of sexual assault and the husband cares of her as a male guardian.

In the rural villages of these countries many young girls are rarely allowed out of their homes unless it is to work in the fields or to get married. These uneducated girls are often married off at the young age of 11. Some families allow girls who are only 7 years old to marry. It is very unusual for a girl to reach the age of 16 and not be married.

Child marriage by region

Click at the image for a larger picture.

Europe

In France, 11% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Africa

Because of poverty, culture, tradition and conflicts makes child marriages widespread all over Africa. In many tribal systems, the groom has to pay a bride price to the bride’s family in order to marry her. In many parts of Africa, this payment happens in cash, cattle or other valuables but the amount decreases as the girl gets older. That’s why, the family’s wishes to marry the girl as early as possible, most of the times before puberty. Over half of the girls are sent away for marriage as the parents needs the bride price to clothe, feed and educate the rest of the family while a boy can gain education, employment and get married later.

According to many UN related reports made in Sub-Saharan countries, the incident of child marriages under the age of 15 is very high. This has resulted in health problems such as obstetric fistulae, prematurely, stillbirth, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), cervical cancer and malaria. In parts of Ethiopia and Nigeria, 50% of the girls are married as young as the age of 7. In parts of Mali, 39% of the girls are married before the age of 15 and in Niger and Chad; over 70% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Asia and South Asia

India

The status of the woman has been lower than the men for centuries and she has been regarded as the disrespected element of the society in many places. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh tops list of child marriages by accounting 40% of these incidents a year. A total of 104 cases of child marriage were reported across the country in 2008, which is an 8.3% increase over the previous year’s figure.

The child marriage restraint Act, 1929 was passed during the British rule in pre-partition India that forbade a male younger than 21 and a female younger than 18 to get married. As South-Asia has the highest rate of child marriages in the world, India stands for 40% of the world’s child marriages according to UNICEF’s ”State of the World’s Children -2009”. In an effort to handle this problem, the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, laws has been made and passed to register all marriages in order to make them valid. According to”National Plan of Action for Children 2005,” (published by the Department of Women and Child development of India) a goal was set out to eliminate child marriages by 2010. As for the child restrain act, a child is a person who, if a male, has not completed 21 years of age and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age. In case of such incident, the parent or guardian concerned may be punished with a simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and a fine. Those who solemnize and give consent to the wedding ceremony face the same punishment. A male above 18 years and below 21, entering into wedlock with a child, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to 15 days or with fine which may extend to Rs1,000 or both. A male above 21 years marrying a child shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to fine.

Afghanistan

It is believed that between 60 and 80% of marriages are forced marriages and occurs mostly in the rural areas. This deprives the girls from education and isolates them further.

Pakistan

Even though the minimum age for marriage is 18 for men and 16 for girls, child marriages are still widespread and still practiced.

Bangladesh

According to the”State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 63% of all women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has been and still is making progress to increase women and girl’s education and employment opportunities. To reach out to those in rural areas, an attempt to speak with the religious leaders and cooperate with them has shown results and is hoped to decrease the practice.

Middel East

In April 2007, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) published a new study on child marriage in the world, “New Insights on Preventing Child Marriage: A Global Analysis of Factors and Programs.” The study included the latest ranking of the countries with the world’s highest incidence of child marriage. The chart included 68 countries and the country first on the list was Niger where 76.6% of women were found to have married before age 18, followed by Chad, at 71.5%. The proportion of child brides was above 60% in Bangladesh, Mali and Guinea and above 50% in Nepal, Mozambique, Uganda, Burkina Faso and India. Afghanistan does not appear on the list only because reliable facts are not available from that country. However, the incidence of child marriage in Afghanistan is believed to be quite high.

Yemen

49% of girls are married by the age of 18.

Saudi Arabia

Several human rights groups have documented high number of child marriages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi clerics have justified marriage of girls as young as the age of 9 and there is no laws defining the minimum age of marriage. The Saudi Ministry of Health on their side issued an official statement expressing its rejection of the marriage of minors, warning of repercussions, including adverse health and psychological effects on young girls. The statement gave details of related reproductive problems, increased incidences of early osteoporosis, in addition to a higher probability of high blood pressure, possibly leading to kidney failure, emergence of distortions of pelvic bones, also accounting for mental illnesses caused by emotional deprivation suffered by young girls after being taken away from parents, such as hysteria, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and may even lead to addiction as a means of escape, as well as negative effects on children of minors, including delayed mental development.

United States

Laws regarding child marriage vary throughout the United States, though generally children 16 and over may marry with parental consent. Fewer than 16 generally require a court order in addition to the parental consent. The awareness of early forced marriage and sexual abuse of young girls in the United States was increased by the April 2008 rescue of numerous children living on a ranch owned by a polygamist sect in Texas. Children can also be married under the age of 18 with permission from their parents. In Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, girls can marry at the age of 14, in New Hampshire at 13, in Massachusetts and Kansas, as early as 12.

Until 2008, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practiced child marriage through the concept ‘spiritual (religious only) marriages,’ as soon as girls are ready to bear children, as part of its polygamy practice and laws have raised the age of legal marriage in response to criticism of the practice. In 2008, the Church changed its policy in the United States to no longer marry individuals younger than the local legal age as the Church leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to statutory rape of a minor due to arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man in 2007. The state of Texas removed all 468 children from the ranch and placed them into temporary state custody. FLDS denied the charges. The charges were eventually dropped in court as there was no solid evidence in support of this, and it was determined that the state entered the ranch illegally.

South America

It is estimated that 29% of women aged between 15-24 were married before the age of 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean with Guatemala and El Salvador with the highest rates at 41% and 38%.

According to a report issued by the United Nations, these early marriage unions violate the basic human rights of these girls by putting them into a life of isolation, service, lack of education, health problems, and abuse. The UNICEF paper also states: “UNICEF believes that, because marriage under the age of 18 may threaten a child’s human rights (including the right to education, leisure, good health, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination), the best way to ensure the protection of children’s rights is to set a minimum age limit of 18 for marriage.

Negative effects on child marriages

Poverty

Girls living in the poorest 20% of households are more likely to get married at an early age than those living in the wealthiest 20%.

Education

Women with primary education are significantly less likely to be married or in union as children than those who received no education. In Zimbabwe for example, 48% of women who had attended primary school had been married by the age of 18, compared to 87% of those who had not attended school. Furthermore, once entering a marriage or union, women are much less likely to receive further education or get divorce.

Health

Premature pregnancies are common with young brides, and these cause higher rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Since many married adolescents are pulled out of school at an early age, they may be unfamiliar with basic reproductive health issues. Despite the large number of married girls, policies and programs often fail to address their vulnerability to HIV, sexual transmitted diseases (STD) or other reproductive health needs. Furthermore, while parents may see early marriage as a way to help keep their daughters from becoming infected with HIV, data indicates that 17-22 percent of 15-19 year old girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV/AIDS as opposed to 3-7% for their male counterparts.

Poor health, early death and lack of education lead the list of major problems related to child marriages. Child brides have a double pregnancy death rate rather than women in their 20s because of their young age. Besides from having children in young age, girls are also exposed for damages and rupture in their reproductive organs and their children will end up being sicker and weaker ending in an early death. These young girls are also at an increased risk of chronic anemia and obesity. Other problems are listed as:

  • Limited social support due to social isolation.
  • Limited educational opportunities or no schooling options.
  • Intense pressure to become pregnant.
  • An increased risk of maternal and infant mortality.
  • Restricted freedom of movement and social mobility.
  • Early marriage that creates a lifetime of poverty
  • Statistically, child brides have a higher risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and murder.

Abuse

Abuse is common in child marriages. Women who get married in a young age are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife. Some women end up being murdered as well for different reasons. In addition, children who refuse to marry or who choose a marriage partner against the wishes of their parents are often punished or even killed by their families in so-called ‘honour’ killings.

Maummar Gaddafi – Brotherly Leader not so Brotherly

Introduction: In 1969 when Libyans witnessed a bloodless coup against their ruler King Idris lead by a 27 year old military colonel named Maummar Abu Minyar al Gaddafi also popularly known as Col; Gaddafi born on 7 June 1942 in a Bedouin family in a Libyan town of Sirt, who knows that the this child born in such a simple & nomadic family will become a Great Dictator of all Modern Times. Gaddafi has been a leader of Libya since then. After relinquishing the title of Prime Minister in 1972, he has been accorded the honorifics “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” or Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution in government statements and the official press. At the start of his rule he introduced various reforms & transformed the country from a Monarch ruled state into a more democratic people’s republic. He then later on introduced the policy of direct governance which he popularly famed as greater democracy or Jamahiriya. But after few years of his rule his actions now shows signs of a harsh dictatorship. He banned media & put controls of press freedom & information accessibility. He now started supporting the anti Western approach which resulted in regional concerns raised by the western allies as they were now seeing him as complete supporter of terrorists’ organizations & PLO. In 1973 when Libya invaded Chad over the dispute of Aouzou Strip which came to an end by the peaceful settlement & withdrawal of Libyan Troops from Chad in 1994. During this period his actions have worsened the relation with Egypt & as with most of the Arab world. So, Gaddafi sought relations with Soviet Bloc & became the first soviet ally country outside the Soviet bloc to receive the MIG-25 combat fighters. In the 1970s & 1980s Gaddafi’s politics had mostly supported for the liberation movements in West Africa & sponsoring international terrorism. He is also been accused as the main sponsor of the Black September Movement which perpetrated the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, and was accused by the United States of being responsible for direct control of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 200, of whom a substantial number were U.S servicemen. He had been accused for the Pan Am Flight which came crashing in Lockerbie Scotland & UTA Flight 772 (1989) bombings.

Due to his anti-western policy, Gaddafi gained a negative reputation in western media and diplomatic circles. Referring to his criticism of moderate and pro-western Arab leaders, a US diplomat in 1974 remarked: “While he and his regime do not have reputation among Libyans for spilling blood, we suspect this zealot is capable of justifying in his own mind any attempt to assassinate [Egyptian President] Sadat.” On the other hand, Egyptian diplomat Omar Hefni Mahmoud, at a private conversation, characterized Gaddafi as “brash ‘pure’ young man who had not become corrupted by politics yet.” However, in 1976 another US diplomat referred to Gaddafi as “a more practical and pragmatic politician than we had given him credit for.”

Tensions between Libya and the West reached a peak during the Ronald Reagan administration, which tried to overthrow Gaddafi. The Reagan administration viewed Libya as a belligerent rogue state because of its uncompromising stance on Palestinian independence, its support for revolutionary Iran in the 1980–1988 war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq Iran–Iraq War, and its backing of liberation movements in the developing world. Reagan himself dubbed Gaddafi the “mad dog of the Middle East”. Sanctions & Isolation: An alleged plot by Britain’s secret intelligence service to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, when rebels attacked Gaddafi’s motorcade near the city of Sirt in February 1996, was described as “pure fantasy” by former foreign secretary Robin Cook, although the FCO later admitted: “We have never denied that we knew of plots against Gaddafi.” All this has lead to imposing of economic sanctions by US in March 1982 since then the relations between the West & Libya deteriorated further leading to economic crisis in Libya. By now Libyan have already realized that their brotherly leader whom he loved & supported all these years, whose career they had nurtured through their veins have now fallen short of his promises & have lead their country to miserable isolation & their leader is now not so brotherly as they have believed him so. The news of corruption & about his enormous wealth is now been coming out in media from long on but to their misery there are no measures which the brotherly leader have taken yet to improve the situation of his people as they are now been deprived from basic facilities like water. Though, few reformed policies have kept a flow of European investments but they are not enough to be met a rising demand of employment & infrastructure. Gaddafi is reported to have amassed a fortune for himself and his family of 60 billion dollars, including shares in Tamoil and one of Italy’s largest banks Unicredit.

9/11 & New Era: When 9/11 happened & US launched his War on Terror which gained momentum year after year whose first victims became Afghanistan & Iraq, in August 2003, two years after Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction, Libya wrote to the United Nations formally accepting ‘responsibility for the actions of its officials’ in respect of the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay compensation of up to US$2.7 billion – or up to US$10 million each – to the families of the 270 victims. The same month, Britain and Bulgaria co-sponsored a UN resolution which removed the suspended sanctions. Libya pledged its commitment to fighting al-Qa’ida and offered to open up its weapons programme to international inspection. Following the attacks of 11 September, Gaddafi made one of the first, and firmest, denunciations of the Al-Qaeda bombers by any Muslim leader. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US forces in 2003, Gaddafi announced that his nation had active weapons of mass destruction program, but was willing to allow international inspectors into his country to observe and dismantle them. US President George W. Bush and other supporters of the Iraq War portrayed Gaddafi’s announcement as a direct consequence of the Iraq War by stating that Gaddafi acted out of fear for the future of his own regime if he continued to keep and conceal his weapons. In the run-up to Blair’s visit, the British ambassador in Tripoli, Anthony Layden, explained Libya’s and Gaddafi’s political change thus:

“35 years of total state control of the economy has left them in a situation where they’re simply not generating enough economic activity to give employment to the young people who are streaming through their successful education system. I think this dilemma goes to the heart of Colonel Gaddafi’s decision that he needed a radical change of direction.”

On 4 March 2008 Gaddafi announced his intention to dissolve the country’s existing administrative structure and disburse oil revenue directly to the people. The plan includes abolishing all ministries, except those of defence, internal security, and foreign affairs, and departments implementing strategic projects. In June 2008, Gaddafi strongly criticised US presidential candidate Barack Obama for saying Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, “The statements of our Kenyan brother of American.  nationality, Obama, on Jerusalem … show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it is a campaign lie.” All these political steps & reforms didn’t spare Gaddafi for his long forced rule which has been triumphed as the longest rule by any non royal leader over a country spanning 41 years. With the death of Omar Bongo of Gabon on 8 June 2009, he became the longest serving of all current non-royal national leaders and he is one of the longest serving rulers in history. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya since Libya, then Tripoli, became an Ottoman province in 1551.

As of February 2011, as part of the 2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests, the 2011 Libyan protests are ongoing, and have become a mass uprising against Gaddafi, who has lost control of most parts of the country. After Adolf Hitler may be he become a Libyan Furor as he has not even his people who are protesting against him & are fighting for their rights. He as used all the means of torture & weaponry against those people who had one day lifted him in their arms, who had looked him for generations as their brother, as their friend, as their shining leader who will one day changed their lives & bestowed them with happiness & prosperity. But the before the sun rise the shadow of growth had already darkens. So, how long one can force his rules which are not welcome by his family of Jamahiriya, at some or the other point the tide has to be turned by the people themselves who used to be the brothers & family of the leader who is not so brotherly.

World News Headlines of February 25

Foes are closing in on Libyan capital

BENGHAZI, Libya–Unrest drew closer to Tripoli, even igniting Thursday in areas of western Libya previously under tight government control, the day before a planned demonstration in the capital against President Moammar Gadhafi’s 41-year span in power, designed to coincide with the Muslim Sabbath. After braving days of extreme violence and seizing…

Libyan leader blames al-Qaeda for uprising

MICHAEL JANSEN LIBYAN LEADER Muammar Gaddafi has blamed al-Qaeda for the unrest which is threatening his regime of more than 40 years. “It is obvious now that this issue is run by al-Qaeda,” he asserted in response to a statement of support from the network’s North African franchise. He said that young people staging the uprising are being…

Palestinian killed as Israeli air raids in Gaza target Hamas

MARK WEISS in Jerusalem AT LEAST one Palestinian was killed and three wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian vehicle last night in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, close to the Egyptian border. The Israeli military said the vehicle targeted was carrying “terrorists“. Palestinian sources confirmed that four missiles were fired at “a…

Iraq braces for large-scale protests

Thousands of Iraqis are expected to take part in rallies organised mainly through social networking site Facebook, after weeks of scattered protests around the country calling for an end to corruption, shortages of jobs, food, power and water. “February 25 is the Iraqi day of rage for change, an end to corruption and sectarianism in Iraq,” said one…

Algeria’s state of emergency lifted after 19 years

ALGERIA has officially lifted a state of emergency ordered 19 years ago as the country catapulted into a period of chaos. The measure was entered into the Official Journal, undoing the procedures that put it in place, the official APS news agency reported, citing a statement from the president’s office. The decision to do away with the…

U.S. Arrests Saudi Man in Bomb Plot

WASHINGTON –A 20-year-old Saudi student living in Texas has been arrested by federal agents, who charged him with planning to build bombs for terror attacks inside the United States, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. According to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the man, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, indicated…

Ivory Coast fighting threatens 6-year ceasefire

MARCO CHOWN OVED Associated Press= ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Heavy fighting in Ivory Coast over the country’s disputed election may auger a return to civil war, the United Nations warned Thursday as clashes raged in Abidjan and in western regions of the country. Residents reported automatic arms fire Thursday morning in the Abobo district of…

Russia plans $650bn defense spend up to 2020

Russian defence industry fights for clients Russian missile test launch fails Eight nuclear submarines, 600 jets and 1,000 helicopters feature in plans to renew Russia’s military by 2020, priced at 19tn roubles (£400bn; $650bn). One hundred warships are also due to be bought in, including two…

Latest World News

Important Events on February 25

February 25: Soviet Occupation Day in Georgia (1921); National Day in Kuwait (1950); EDSA Revolution Anniversary in the Philippines (1986)

Hiram Rhodes  Revels

  • 138 – Roman Emperor Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius as his son and successor, after the death of his first adopted son Lucius Aelius.
  • 1570 – Pope Pius V issued the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis to excommunicate Queen Elizabeth I and her followers in the Church of England.
  • 1870 – Representing Mississippi in the Senate, Hiram Rhodes Revels (pictured) became the first African American to serve in the United States Congress.
  • 1956 – In his speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences to the 20th Party Congress, Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the personality cult and dictatorship of his predecessor Joseph Stalin.
  • 1994 – Israeli physician Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim Arabs praying at the mosque in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, killing 29 people and wounding 125 others.

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