[violence]early and forced marriages

Dans la capitale yéménite, une foule de journalistes se bousculait le 27 mars dernier pour prendre en photo Sally al-Sabahi, 12 ans, en train de signer les papiers de son divorce. Au moment où elle a trempé son doigt dans l’encre noire et déposé son empreinte à côté de son nom sur un document officiel, Sally est devenue la quatrième épouse enfant divorcée du Yémen.

تجمعت حشود الصحفيين للحصول على صورة لسالي الصباحي، 12 عاماً، وهي توقع أوراق الطلاق في العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء في 27 مارس. وبمجرد أن غطست أصبعها في الحبر الأسود ووضعت بصمتها بجوار اسمها على وثيقة رسمية، أصبحت سالي رابع طفلة عروس تحصل على الطلاق في اليمن.

وكانت شبكة الأنباء الإنسانية (إيرين) قد نقلت قصة سالي في فبراير، مشيرة إليها باسم عائشة لحمايتها. وكانت الطفلة في العاشرة من عمرها عندما زوجتها أسرتها لرجل كبير السن في مقابل مهر بلغ 1,000 دولار. وبعد الأسبوع الأول من زواجها، بدأت سالي تحاول الهروب من المعاملة السيئة التي قالت أنها كانت تتلقاها على يد زوجها.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is supporting a new anti-child marriage movement in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, where nearly half of all girls become child brides and one-third become teenage mothers even though the legal marriage age is 18. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy towards child marriage, so that every child, boy and girl, has the opportunity to live their childhood and gain an education said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF India Representative.

Throngs of journalists pushed forward to get a picture of 12-year-old Sally al-Sabahi as she signed her divorce papers in the Yemeni capital on 27 March. As she dipped her thumb in dark ink and pressed it next to her name on an official document, she became Yemen’s fourth child bride divorcee.

In 2002, a report titled Refugee Women at Risk called attention to several acute challenges facing women seeking asylum in the United States. Published by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First), Refugee Women at Risk illustrated how restrictive provisions in a 1996 immigration law, the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act", undermined the United States‘ commitment to offer protection to those fleeing persecution. Refugee Women at Risk highlighted how barriers that the 1996 law created for all asylum seekers interposed particularly significant and even insurmountable obstacles to women fleeing violence and oppression, principally through policies of expedited removal, detention of asylum seekers, and the one-year filing deadline for asylum claims.

Malaysia's religion minister on Tuesday defended Islamic laws that allow girls under 16 to marry, amid a controversy over two youngsters who were married off to middle-aged men. The issue has flared in Malaysia after reports that two girls aged 10 and 11 were wed in the conservative northern state of Kelantan last month. They have now been removed from their husbands. Rights groups have called for the reform of Islamic laws that allow marriage under the age of 16 if religious officials give their consent. Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in multi-ethnic Malaysia.

It was every little girl’s dream - she was to get a new dress, jewellery, sweets and a party for all her friends. What 10-year-old Aisha* did not know was that after the wedding party she would have to leave school, move to a village far from her parents’ home, cook and clean all day, and have sex with her older husband. “He took out a special sheet and laid me down on it,” Aisha told IRIN, wringing her small plump hands. “After it, I started bleeding. It was so painful that I was crying and shouting, and since then I have seen him as death.”

Nurina was 14 when she married Sid, who was 23. “We were close friends. He treated me like a younger sister,” Nurina said. “People started to gossip and my family insisted that we be married to avoid tarnishing my reputation.” Seven years later, Nurina is a third-year high-school student and a mother of three. Early and arranged marriages are common practice in Muslim culture in the Philippines where about 5 percent of the country’s 97 million inhabitants are Muslim.

The forms of violence referred to as “harmful cultural or traditional practices” have been addressed by the United Nations for many years. These forms of violence include female genital mutilation, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection, child marriage, forced marriage, dowry-related violence, acid attacks, so-called “honour” crimes, and maltreatment of widows.

New guidance is being published urging schools to identify signs of forced marriages ahead of the holidays.
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