Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

LEBANON: Underage marriages increase during pandemic

Child protection campaigners say closed schools and rising poverty, along with the lack of a legal minimum age, are pushing more girls under 18 into marriage.


By Cathrin Schaer


Die Welt (15.05.2021) – https://bit.ly/2SB7ZZw – Aid groups in Lebanon say the country’s ongoing economic crisis, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, is forcing more children into underage marriages.


“From what we have been able to observe in the field and from what our local partners are telling us, we believe that child marriage is increasing as a result of the difficult circumstances here today,” Johanna Eriksson, who heads UNICEF’s Child Protection Program in Lebanon, told DW. “It is just one of the negative coping mechanisms that people here are resorting to.”


Farah Salhab, of the Save the Children organization in Lebanon, said: “Since the pandemic, we have seen a direct link between COVID-19 and a rise in child marriage.”


In March, UNICEF put out a statement saying the pandemic could result in as many as 10 million more girls being put at risk of being married over the next decade worldwide. Although some young boys are forced into marriage, this problem mostly affects young girls.



Dangerous conditions


Researchers who study the topic have concluded that the health and economic crisis in Lebanon are creating the kinds of conditions they already know will increase the number of underage betrothals.


Plan International, an organization that focuses on children’s rights, looked at what happened during past crises — for instance, the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa — to compile a May 2020 report on children living under lockdown. School closures had a huge impact, the organization found. Depending on such factors as whether families ask for dowries, Plan International concluded that school closures could increase a child’s probability of being forced into marriage by 25%.


Because remote learning simply wasn’t possible for many children in Lebanon, a lot of girls dropped out of school altogether, Salhab said: “We have spoken to girls who told us they were forced to get married after leaving secondary school.”


Even if schools in Lebanon were to reopen tomorrow, there will still be a lot of girls who never return to class, Eriksson said.



Beyond refugee groups


Other factors that are known to increase child marriage include the curtailment of development or aid programs, the potential for an unplanned pregnancy, the possible death of a parent or caregiver, and economic pressure, Plan International researchers wrote. The latter is one of the most significant factors in Lebanon.


Although there’s no dowry tradition in Lebanon, and no money changes hands when a girl marries, she does becomes her husband’s economic responsibility, Eriksson said. “From an economic perspective, her family sees that as positive,” she noted. “They believe they are doing what is best for their child.”


Perhaps one of the most concerning issues in Lebanon currently is that underage marriage seems to be becoming more widespread.


In the past, certain parts of the population in Lebanon had more underage or forced marriage than others. Some of the latest numbers, collected by UNICEF between 2015 and 2016, before the current crisis, indicated that about 6% of Lebanese women were married before they turned 18. However percentages are much higher among the country’s refugee populations. About 12% of female Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, 25% of female Palestinian refugees from Syria and at least a quarter of the newest arrivals, female refugees from Syria’s civil war, were married before they turned 18.


Now, researchers believe that children are also increasingly being married off outside of Lebanon’s refugee populations.


“We are starting to hear and see that this is also affecting the Lebanese population,” Eriksson said. “But that’s not surprising considering that levels of poverty are rising.”



No age limit


There is no firm data on this yet. Salhab said. Before the current health and economic crises, she added, the numbers for underage marriages in Lebanon had been going down. “But we can say that child marriage is more visible as an issue among communities where it was not necessarily a problem,” Salhab said.


Another reason why child marriage is possible in Lebanon is because, unlike many of its regional neighbors, including Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, the country does not have what is known as a “personal status law.” This kind of law regulates things such as inheritance, custody of children and the legal age of marriage.


Inside Lebanon, each one of the 18 recognized religious groups sets its own rules on the legal age to wed. These range from 14 years old for Catholics to 18 for members of the Greek Orthodox Church. This week, the country’s ranking Sunni Muslim religious authority raised its minimum age for marriage to 18. A few weeks earlier, Shiite Muslim religious authorities said nobody should marry before they turned 15.


Camale Cherfane, a member of the Lebanese Democratic Women’s Gathering, told DW that raising awareness of the dangers of underage marriage is also important. “Creating laws is not enough if individuals are not interested or trusting of them,” Cherfane said. “More awareness will be a catalyst for further development and a change in law.”



Remedies available


Lebanese civil society activists have been trying for years to get the government to pass a personal status law. One was introduced to the Parliament in 2017. It would have criminalized child marriage but was never passed.


The fact that the rate of child marriage is rising in Lebanon is obviously not welcome news for the many organizations fighting the issue. However, specialists have a good idea of what is needed to bring the numbers back down, Eriksson said.


Before the civil war in Syria, only about 10% of girls there were married younger than 18 — far lower than the 25% in recently arrived Syrian refugee families in Lebanon today. “So it’s not just a social or cultural issue,” Eriksson said. It was only after these families became refugees and were confronted with economic hardship that they started to have their children enter into marriage far younger, she added.


To resolve this, several things must happen in tandem, Eriksson said. Firstly, Lebanon needs a personal status law, or something like it. “Secondly, service and support for families and children is needed,” Eriksson said. This involves everything from access to educational opportunities and information on sexual and reproductive health for teens to emergency cash transfers to families in need. And then, finally, there needs to be widespread promotion of different attitudes toward gender roles — including the idea of early marriage.


“With all those things combined we know we would have a stronger protective environment and there would be less child marriage,” Eriksson concluded.


Photo credits: ANWAR/AMRO/AFP/ Getty Images

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

INDIA/PAKISTAN: In South Asia, coronavirus and poverty are forcing girls as young as 8 into marriage

Forced marriage has long been a problem in India and Pakistan, but the pandemic has made things worse by forcing millions out of work

Girls are seen by some as a financial burden from the moment they menstruate. For desperate families, marrying them off seems an easy option


Soniasarkar26 (18.03.2021) – https://bit.ly/3dfUqql – Young girls in India and Pakistan dream of an escape from marriages motivated by economic considerations. This story is part of a series on women’s issues in China and Asia to coincide with International Women’s Day.


For Manju*, 17, of Hansiyawas village in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, stopping her 20-year-old married sister, Babli*, from staying with her husband is the best way to prevent her own marriage.


Babli was married when she was 8 but the “gauna” – when the bride is sent to live with her husband’s family and become sexually active – is yet to take place.


“Soon after my sister goes to her husband’s house, my parents will make sure I get married,” said Manju, a Class 12 student who got engaged when she was barely 12.Their father, who used to earn about 15,000 Indian rupees (US$205) per month by cooking in weddings, was left with no work after the Covid-19 lockdown was announced in March last year. The family had to exhaust its savings of 50,000 rupees and sell milk just to survive.


During the lockdown, Manju’s parents discussed her marriage, but they didn’t have enough cash. When her father finally started earning again in January, a wedding season, the pressure to get married mounted.


Manju couldn’t attend online classes during lockdown because she doesn’t have a smartphone, but she went back to school in January.


“I have been telling my parents that I want to continue my studies and become a police officer,” said Manju, who also has three younger siblings.


“Once I become a police officer, I will break my engagement,” she said.


Pintu Paul, a researcher on child marriage at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for the Study of Regional Development, said forced marriage was a persistent issue in India, but the pandemic had aggravated the problem as millions lost their jobs.


“Poor families marry their daughters off to reduce the economic burden on the family,” Paul said, noting that daughters were most likely to be taken out of school.


In India, the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 for girls and 21 for boys. According to 2018 Unicef data, about 27 per cent girls in India get married before they turn 18.


Parents caught trying to marry off their underage children face can be fined up to 100,000 Indian rupees and imprisoned for two years.


Local media said the Childline India Foundation intervened in 5,584 cases related to child marriage in the first three months of lockdown.Meanwhile, Pakistan police started investigating last month claims that the politician Maulana Salahuddin Ayubi, a member of the national assembly from Balochistan province, had married a 14-year-old.


In most regions of Pakistan, the minimum legal age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys.


Qamar Naseem, coordinator of the non-profit group Blue Veins, which operates in northwest Pakistan, said the incident showed the lack of political will in the country to curb child marriages and violence against women.


Naseem said many Pakistani men who had returned from the Gulf after losing their jobs during the pandemic had married minors.


Naseem said poor families in Pakistan often saw women as a burden once they started menstruating, and these tensions had grown during the lockdown. “Marrying them off appeared to be an easier option,” Naseem said.


Hadiqa Bashir, 19, who has spent the past seven years fighting against early forced marriages in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, once a bastion of Taliban militants, said she had encountered more than 30 forced marriages involving young girls during the Covid-19 lockdown.Bashir, who founded the non-profit group United for Human Rights, said “there was a case of an eight-year-old girl being forced to get married to a 35-year-old man because her daily wager father did not have enough money for survival”.


*Names have been changed to protect identities


Photo credits: UNICEF

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

INDONESIA: Indonesian police arrest Christian in forced marriage case

Activists say police action is rare in an area where the practice has almost become a tradition


By Konradus Epa


UCAnews (12.02.2021) – https://bit.ly/3rSrSHI – Police in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province have charged a Christian man with kidnapping, raping and trying to force a 21-year-old woman into marriage.


The arrest has been welcomed by activists, who say the crime in the Christian-majority province has almost become a recognized custom.


The man, who has not yet been named, was arrested this week in West Sumba district, police announced on Feb. 10.


“We have him in custody and he will be charged accordingly,” West Sumba police chief Francis Xavier Irwan Arianto told reporters, adding the suspect could expect to face at least 12 years in prison.


Arianto said the suspect and 10 friends went to where the woman was staying in Central Sumba district on Dec. 6, 2019, and abducted her.


She was forced into the back of a car and taken to the suspect’s home where she was sexually assaulted, according to investigators. Her ordeal ended several hours later when she managed to get access to a mobile phone and called the police, Arianto said.  

He did not say why it had taken so long for police to arrest the suspect.


However, Martha Hebi, an activist with the Solidarity of Women and Children group based in Central Sumba, said police inaction allowed the suspect to remain free and the wheels of justice only began turning when Arianto was appointed the police chief last year.


“This is not an isolated case. Abducting girls and forcing them into marriage has almost become a custom in these parts,” she said.

She said there have been at least seven such cases in the last two years.


“If law enforcers don’t handle it, more and more women and underage girls will be put at risk,” she added.


Redemptorist Father Paulus Dwiyaminarta from the Sarnelli Legal Aid Office in Sumba said the case was another example of how forced marriage had become customary in the area.


“Authorities have not seriously addressed the problem, so it still continues,” Father Dwiyaminarta told UCA News.


He said many cases have probably gone unreported because the man gives the woman’s family a dowry as is the tradition in local marriage.


The woman’s family often keep quiet because they want to keep the dowry, he said, adding the practice takes place among rich and poor families.


He said his team has only handled four cases, of which just one, involving an 18-year-old girl, resulted in a conviction.


The girl managed to escape after being held for three days. The five men who kidnapped her were jailed for three years.



Photo credits: ucanews

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

42% of Iranian LGBTI are victims of sexual violence and rape, new 6Rang report finds

62% of Iranian LGBTI experience one or more forms of violence perpetuated by their immediate family; nearly 30% of them experience sexual violence and more than 77% of them physical violence; close to 38% of them are under pressure for forced marriage.


6Rang (16.09.2020) – http://6rang.org/english/2681 – In its report, Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran, 6Rang surveyed 230 individuals over a 3-month period. The findings revealed the realities of living in Iran as an LGBTI individual, observing 15% have been victims of sexual violence at school or university, 30% of them have been victims of sexual violence by their peers, and more than 42% of them have been victims of sexual violence in public spaces.


Of the participants, 68% of them indicated that upon experiencing violence, they “rarely” or “never” have or will seek assistance from the judiciary. More than 19% of the participants have been victims of violence and abuse by the police or the judiciary. 29 people have reported being arrested by the police because of their diverse sexual orientation or gender identity. After arrest, more than 28% of them experienced physical and verbal violence and 13% of them experienced sexual violence.


“The results of this survey show that sexual violence and abuse in the family and in public spaces, workplace and educational settings are usually silenced without punishment and accountability for the perpetrators,” said Shadi Amin, Executive Director 6Rang. “This community is even more deprived of the protection of the law and the judiciary than women, and conversely, if they go to the police, they can be subjected to compounded violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or face criminal charges.”


Of the 230 individuals surveyed, 90% live in Iran. Almost half were between the ages of 18-25, with the second most prominent group being 25-35-year olds making up almost 30%. Just over 15% were under 18 and only about 5% over the age of 35. Nearly 15% of this survey was conducted at the beginning of this year and there was no participant who had not experienced some form of violence in the past or continuously until present. Close to half of the participants reported have been a victim of verbal, physical, or sexual violence in school or university. Furthermore, 18% of participants reported experiencing abuse perpetrated by educational facilitators on a regular basis.


The report, Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran, portrays a wide range of forms of violence that LGBTI people experience at their workplace, public spaces such as sport centres, and amongst friends and colleagues. 66% of the participants said they never or very rarely confide in medical professionals when experiencing abuse, while 53% described their families as being unreliable and unsupportive. 73% of the 230 respondents admitted to having considered suicide to some extent.


“This situation is a stark reminder of a lack of an up-to-date community of psychologists, psychoanalysts and counsellors who can rely on freedom of expression and shows the responsibility and importance of having such institutions in a society. Lacking these will continue to damage the LGBTI community in a different way everyday” said Shadi Amin.


Hidden Wounds report shows that structural and domestic abuse and violence against LGBTI in all aspects of society continues to target their lives and human rights. LGBTI people also feel that they are not supported by family members, the legal system or healthcare professionals.


Read the full version of Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran here.

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

‘There hasn’t been rehabilitation’: Afghanistan struggles with fate of ‘Daesh wives’

The Afghan government is facing hard decisions over the futures of hundreds of detained radicalised women and their children.


By Elise Blanchard


The Guardian (26.06.2020) – https://bit.ly/38cp8w6 – The “Daesh wives” from the Afghan branch of Islamic State look very young. Most are already mothers.


Hundreds of them have fled combat, airstrikes and near-starvation in eastern Afghanistan where the faction of Isis known as Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK) has been under fierce bombardment from Afghan and US special forces, as well as involved in violent clashes with rival militants the Taliban.


Last November, after a military operation, President Ashraf Ghani declared Isis “obliterated” in the region where it first gained a foothold in 2014, and more than 225 militants, 190 women and 208 children surrendered.


In Jalalabad city, separated from the male fighters who were taken to other detention centres or prisons, the women were first housed by local authorities in a makeshift accommodation centre, awaiting transfer to Kabul or back to the remote Afghan and Pakistani tribal areas where most originated.


In the centre, children were everywhere– – running, laughing, playing with colourful toys. On the walls they’d drawn drones, explosions, men shooting AK-47s from pickup trucks– – memories of their time spent in hell near the Pakistani border in Nangarhar province, ISK’s former stronghold.


Weakened and pushed farther north, the group, with an estimated 2,200 armed fighters, retains sleeper cells in cities such as Kabul, and continues to claim responsibility for murderous attacks on civilians.


Most of the girls and women the Guardian spoke to in Jalalabad and in the detention centre of the Afghan intelligence services in Kabul refuse to criticise ISK.


“Only God knows if Daesh is good or bad,” says Asma, 15, from the tribal areas, and mother of a little girl. Why did she join the fighters? “My father gave me to my husband,” she says. “I was scared.”


Lyla Schwartz, a psychologist supporting some of the girls in the Kabul juvenile detention centre, says this was probably true. “In this context and culture, I don’t think it’s very likely that all of these girls had a say if they joined or not.


“The children and women experience sexual abuse,” she adds. “Do they support the group? No. Ideologies? Yes. Do they believe in an Islamic state where people practise certain things and believe certain situations and things they have been taught? Yes. And is that pretty strict and conservative? I would say yes. But they don’t agree in the fighting, and the war and the trauma that they see.”


But Schwartz, founder of the NGO Peace of Mind Afghanistan, is concerned at the lack of care for the women and girls. “There hasn’t been rehabilitation, like education, psychological processing of trauma.”


Asma followed her husband when he crossed the border with Isis but she had to surrender, she says, to escape “the bombs that fall from the sky”.


Most of the dozens of family members we interviewed spoke of airstrikes that had killed many women and children. It was in this region in 2017 that President Donald Trump tested the largest conventional bomb ever dropped by in combat by the US, his “mother of all bombs”. –


“A bomb blast killed my baby and I picked up his body piece by piece,” says Hamida, who said she was “19 or 20”.


“Americans did it,” she adds. Like Asma, Hamida is an ethnic Pashtun from the tribal areas. She joined at 15, with a husband who was also underage at the time. “Isis taught him how to use weapons and that fighting with others was good work,” she says.


In another room, Mariam, 16, was resting, heavily pregnant with her second child. Her Afghan village, Takhto, was the theatre for shocking atrocities. One video showed ISK members killing local elders by making them kneel on explosives.


Mariam says she misses her husband, a Pakistani fighter twice her age. She was given to him as a wife by her brother-in-law after ISK took over her village.


“We stayed back home and served our husbands,” recounts her cousin, another 15-year-old Afghan mother. “Now we want to go back to our home.”


Other women came from farther afield, from central and south Asia or from Europe, sometimes more educated, sometimes joining a son or brother.


Deeba, 52, sold her house in Lahore and came to Afghanistan with her family to join her son, already living with Isis there. “He told us only here is pure Islam, that coming is like the Islamic [hajj],” she says, seated in the detention centre.


In the mountains, Deeba kept running the family: she remarried her daughter-in-law to another of her sons when the first was killed in an airstrike. She arranged the marriage of her widowed daughter, Rewa –– who had lost her husband in combat just a month after their wedding –– to a nephew who himself had lost his first wife in a rocket explosion.


Despite so much sorrow in her 22 years, Rewa is cheerful. “Life was simple there, we chose to live just like our prophet used to live … we were happy,” she says.


“The men in Daesh were better than the men here … they would turn their eyes not to look at us.” And attacks on civilians? “I swear it’s a big lie … they have never done anything like that,” she responds.


Atfah, 24, from Punjab, arrived from Pakistan to live with Isis about three years ago, with her sisters and mother, an ex-English teacher. One brother died fighting in Syria. A second one told them to join him in Afghanistan.


“My brother called us to come for jihad,” she says. “He said that the Americans drop airstrikes and put bombs on Muslims, and kill our children and women … That’s why we do jihad.”


Handling hundreds of women and children is an unprecedented challenge for the government.


For Javid Faisal, spokesman of the Afghan National Security Council, the women are a threat. “Wives and children of Daesh fighters were all radicalised to an extreme level,” he warned. “We can’t release them the way they are right now.”


But the reality is more nuanced. According to a security source working on the issue, although some women did have an active role and are awaiting trial for membership of a terrorist group, others “are here because they were accompanying their husbands, and didn’t participate as fighters or support”.


For these women, authorities are trying to establish identities, to send them back to their families or embassies. It is a long process, dogged by political wrangling.


While many women fear being sent home, Ela, 30, wants to leave at any cost. Originally from Turkey, she was troubled by what she found in the rough, remote mountains of Nangarhar. “Afghanistan is like a different planet,” she says.


She is one of the few with harsh words about the fighters: “They think women don’t understand anything.”

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1310