Azhar launches awareness campaigns against child marriage

CAIRO – 4 October 2017: In response to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s bid to crackdown on child marriage, Al-Azhar announced the launch of awareness-raising campaigns against the practice.

Sheikh Abbas Shoman, the deputy sheikh of Egypt’s al-Azhar institute, said Friday’s sermons will primarily address child marriages and its impacts, particularly in rural areas where it is prominent.

Ahmad al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar said that there are no sacred texts in Islam allowing child marriages, adding that Islam doesn’t set a specific age at which people can get married.

He added that Islam explicitly prohibits any practices that could lead to health complications or unavoidable physiological harm, which can apply to child marriages.

Recently, in one of the villages of Al-Mahallah al-Kubra, in the middle of the Nile Delta, an imam approved 27 cases of customary marriages for girls below 18 years of age.

Because of a law drafted in 2008 as part of Egypt’s Child Law to raise the age of marriage to 18 prohibiting child marriages, this imam convinced the families in the village that couples could have customary marriages until girls reach the eligible age, after which the bond would be made legal.

Source: http://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/26019/Azhar-launches-awareness-campaigns-against-child-marriage?fbclid=IwAR2er1_HWDl4q35hNObF-YWzSICsbxOT8S9CpHYe5WitDUNbZm_JZBLPmE4

BREAKING: Court orders revision of minimum age for women to marry

In a decision that may pave the way for the elimination of rampant child marriage in Indonesia, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the 16 years old minimum age requirement for women to marry, as stipulated in the 1974 Marriage Law, was unconstitutional.

The court granted a judicial review petition filed by three child bride survivors and their lawyer from the Indonesian Coalition to End Child Marriage (Koalisi 18+), challenging Article 7 of the law, which sets the minimum age requirement for women to marry at 16.

In a hearing presided over by Chief Justice Anwar Usman, the court argued that the rule was a form of gender-based discrimination since the minimum age for requirement for men to marry was 19, and therefore contradicted the 1945 Constitution.

The court, however, refused to grant the plaintiffs’ demand to raise the minimum age for women to marry to that of the age for men, arguing that it was the authority of lawmakers and the court did not want to make a decision that could prevent any future law revisions.

“[The court] orders lawmakers to revise the 1974 Marriage Law, particularly in regard to the minimum age for women to marry, within a maximum three years,” Anwar read out the ruling on Thursday.

Justice Saldi Isra said the provision in article would remain valid until the deadline of three years. Should there be no revision prior to the deadline, the minimum age requirement would be harmonized with the 2002 Child Protection Law, which defines a child as someone below 18 years old.

Justice I Dewa Gede Palguna said that those at the age of 16 were still categorized children under the Child Protection Law, meaning that those who married at 16 were considered as being involved in child marriage, which had negative impact and threatening children’s welfare.

“Not only in terms of negative impact on health, there are possibilities of child exploitation and the increase of threats of violence against children in underage marriage,” Palguna said, adding that child marriage also threatened children’s rights to education.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/13/breaking-court-orders-revision-of-minimum-age-for-women-to-marry.html

Gender-based Violence and Gender Knowledge: How Evidence-informed Policy Can Improve Justice for Women

By Mirisa Hasfaria

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development.”

(Speech by the Acting Head of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri, on Ending Violence against Women and Children, at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly on 18 June 2013 in Brussels)

 

Gender-based violence[1] is violence against women that occurs due to women’s subordinate social status. It includes any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions that inflicts physical, sexual or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of her gender. In most cultures, traditional beliefs, norms and social institutions legitimize and therefore perpetuate violence against women.[2] Violence against women impacts on and impedes progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.

The Codification of Women’ Rights

For a long time, international human rights law did not recognize gender-based violence as a problem. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, but the international bill of rights for women, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), was not adopted until 31 years later. In the 1980s, violence against women was still considered a private, domestic matter not requiring state intervention, so it was unsurprising that CEDAW contained no provision on violence against women. The gap was closed in 1992 when the CEDAW Committee adopted General Recommendation No. 19 (CEDAW GR 19) on violence against women, which clarified that gender-based violence against women was a form of discrimination and therefore covered by the scope of CEDAW.

The women’s movement made another remarkable achievement during the Second World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna on 14 to 25 June 1993, which culminated in the concept of violence against women and girls as a violation of human rights (see Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action). The two events led to the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW)[3] in 1993. Both CEDAW GR 19 and DEVAW explicitly encompassed violence perpetrated by either state officials or private persons such as family members, acquaintances or employers. Furthermore, they closed an important gap under international human rights law that originally excluded the private sphere from the human rights agenda, the sphere in which many women’s rights violations occur. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted in 1995 and further expanded the definition of DEVAW to include violations of the rights of women in situations of: armed conflict; forced sterilization, forced abortion, coerced or forced use of contraceptives; prenatal sex selection; and female infanticide. The inclusion of gender equality as Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development made ending violence against women and girls a part of the global development agenda.

The State of Gender-Based Violence in Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia ratified CEDAW through Law No. 7 1984. The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) was established in 1998 as a mechanism for the protection and promotion of women’s human rights and was recognized by the CEDAW Committee[4]. Concerns about gender-based violence in the private sphere were addressed in the Law on the Elimination of Domestic Violence in 2004. As part of its reporting tasks, Komnas Perempuan produces an annual report (commonly referred to as Catatan Tahunan or CATAHU) every March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day. The report is a compilation of data on cases of violence against women handled by civil society and state agencies around the country, including women’s crisis centers, hospitals, police stations and courts. CATAHU 2016 reported 321,752 cases of violence against women. Over the years of national data compilation, domestic violence[5] is consistently the most-frequently occurring form of violence against women. This evidence highlights the urgent need for action as well as legislation if it is to achieve any real effect.

Child marriage is another form of violence that remains prevalent in Indonesia. Indonesia is among the ten countries with the highest absolute numbers of child brides – 14 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 years are married before they were 18 years old. In figures, this equates to 1,408,000 child brides annually.[6] Child marriage is a harmful practice and a fundamental violation of human rights. It limits girls’ opportunities for education and development and exposes them to greater risk of domestic violence and social isolation. Research confirms that girls who marry in childhood are at greater risk of intimate partner violence than girls of the same age who marry later.[7]

Nevertheless, Indonesia has made some progress towards reducing gender inequality. It was ranked 88 out of 144 in the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report.[8] The report examined four areas of inequality between women and men, namely economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.

 

The Availability of Data

 

Levels of violence against women are not the same in all places and at all times. By identifying the social, cultural, legal and economic factors that influence such violence, it is possible to predict its occurrence and to understand how to prevent it. Equally important are relevant, reliable and timely gender statistics to understand the differences between women and men in a given society. Such information is critical to policy and decision makers and to advancing progress towards gender equality.

However, the use of disaggregated gender and social inclusion data and analyses is not commonplace in Indonesia. This is due to the fact that the prevailing development ideology in Indonesia is economic growth, in which equity is enforced as a form of security control, not in the context of the fulfillments of equal rights among citizens. Researchers, policy analysts and policy makers therefore tend to focus on economic issues rather than those which impact on equality and inclusion. This further limits the type of knowledge available to other policy stakeholders (such as civil society organizations and various media outlets) who rely on robust knowledge to lobby for change and to inform the broader community.

 

Proposed Actions

 

Three things are required to ensure that gender equality and gender-based violence are addressed when designing and implementing policies. First, the availability of gender, and gender-based violence knowledge should be improved. It can be in the form of research results, quantitative and qualitative data (including sex-disaggregated data), analysis and reflection of research/studies related to gender inequality, gender-based violence, development of gender mainstreaming and other relevant policies.

 

Secondly, the effectiveness of gender knowledge for policy making also requires intermediaries to carry out intensive communication and advocacy. Activists, NGOs, gender focal points at government institutions, and centers for women’s studies at universities can manage data in a way that can provide practical recommendations.

 

And finally, for gender equality to be improved and gender-based violence to be reduced, these ideas need to be embedded in the ethical principles of legislation and justice. This is unlikely to be fulfilled unless there is equal participation of women and men in politics, and these politicians have a deep understanding of the importance of gender knowledge. The World’s Women 2015: Trends and Statistics cited a study conducted between 2006 and 2008 among parliamentarians from 110 countries and reported that women in parliament were more likely than men to prioritize gender and social issues such as childcare, equal pay, parental leave, pensions, reproductive rights, and protection against gender-based violence. Thus, equal participation of women and men in politics is central to more inclusive and democratic governance. [Mirisa Hasfaria]

 

 

[1] The term, along with violence against women, is often used interchangeably, as most violence against women is gender-based, and most gender-based violence is inflicted by men on women and girls.

[2] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (2003), Handout of What is Gender-based Violence, accessible through https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.stopvaw.org/sites/3f6d15f4-c12d-4515-8544-26b7a3a5a41e/uploads/what_is_GBV_5-19-2003.doc&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwiR75HK8aHVAhWETrwKHeBKAns4ChAWCAwwBA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNG8iJ1uTXyirV1E1XTfPRkyGC6l9w

[3] DEVAW is currently the main international document addressing the problem of gender-based violence. Each year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women–which is on 25 November–marks the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, and promoting the rights and principles of the declaration.

[4] Article 18 of CEDAW required national reports to the CEDAW Committee, stating that: “1. State parties undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration by the Committee, a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the present Convention and on the progress made in this respect: (a) within one year after the entry into force for the State concerned; (b) thereafter at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests. 2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfillment of obligations under the present Convention.” The existence of Komnas Perempuan is in accordance with Article 2c of the Convention.

[5] Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation (TEARS Foundation, accessible through: http://www.tears.co.za/)

[6] UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2016: A Fair Chance for Every Child, accessible through: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_SOWC_2016.pdf

[7] Gene B. Sperling, Rebecca Winthrop and Christina Kwauk (2016), What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World’ Best Investment, accessible through: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation1.pdf

[8] Compare this to the previous rankings: 97 out of 142 in 2014 and 92 out of 145 in 2015.

 

Mirisa is a social scientist with 11 years working experience in evidence informed policy making, good governance, political education and conflict resolution; 3 years of which in post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction. Area of expertise includes management and support to policy research and communication, knowledge production and publication, policy research and analysis, human development and gender equality, good governance and advocacy, international relations/political science with a focus on human rights as it relates to gender, poverty alleviation and conflict resolution.

 

Forced marriage law ‘could stop victims reporting crime’

Criminalising forced marriage could stop victims from speaking up if their parents are locked up, campaigners say.

While legislation sends a “strong message,” a charity working with victims said it also scared off others.

Rubie Marie, 35, who was forced to marry in Bangladesh when she was 15, said: “It is hard because you love your family of course you do… But at the end of the day abuse is abuse.”

The Home Office said it was essential victims had confidence to speak out.

Forced marriage became a criminal offence in 2014, but only one case has been brought in Wales since then – with four convictions in total across the UK.

However, the Welsh Government estimates there are up to 100 cases of forced marriage every year.

Forced marriage victim Rubie Marie

Rubie Marie was raped almost daily by her husband in Bangladesh after being forced to marry him at the age of 15

In 2018, the forced marriage unit – a joint effort between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office – gave advice or support in 1,196 UK cases.

Shahien Taj of the Cardiff-based Henna Foundation told BBC Wales Live more prevention work was needed to educate perpetrators, who are often the victims’ parents.

The charity said victims often wanted to return to the family home once the situation was resolved.

“I don’t know a single victim that I’ve worked with that has said she’s ok with the police coming down on parents like a tonne of bricks – all too often they don’t want any intervention because of that,” said Ms Taj.

Ms Marie, who now lives in the Midlands, said once she was married, she was raped “more or less, every single day” so her new husband could have a child and a ticket to live in the UK.

A traffic jam at an intersection in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Rubie Marie was forced to marry a man twice her age after being taken to Bangladesh

The Home Office is consulting on proposals that would legally require those who work closely with young people, such as teachers and social workers, to report suspected cases of forced marriage.

Ms Taj believes forced marriage protection orders are the preferred route – allowing young people to apply to the courts for protection, while keeping the family out of the criminal system.

“We’ve had eight cases where young women have gone home and been able to move on with their lives,” she said.

Samsunear Ali from the charity Bawso said education was key as many parents did not even realise they were breaking the law.

“For them they are doing the right thing and that’s the only way they know how to reduce the level of shame in the family that this child could potentially bring.

“It’s a huge problem in Wales, and it’s still not being talked about as much.”

She said there were cases in rural Wales where women had no support and they were at greater risk, with forced marriages potentially “going on for generations and nobody knows about it”.

Rubie Marie as a young girl

Rubie Marie – pictured here aged five – was told her trip to Bangladesh was a holiday

‘I was raped every day’

Rubie Marie was born and raised in south Wales. She had a happy childhood but everything changed once she hit puberty.

She was taken to Bangladesh in 1998 at the age of 15 under the pretence of it being a holiday.

“We were only supposed to go for six weeks but then it went to two months, then it went to three months, then it got to six months and we all got homesick,” she said.

“I asked my father, I said we want to go home. I want to go back to school. I want my friends. But he would say things like ‘we spent so much money coming here’… That was his excuse, his cover up, his facade to plan what he was planning which was the marriage.

“I was sitting down having dinner with the whole family and he just came in and he sat down and he started to eat and out of the blue, and I remember it like it was yesterday,

“‘Wouldn’t it be great if we got Ruby married?’ And I was mortified. I was a kid and I had a tantrum. I threw my plate on the floor. I started kicking off, banging the doors, ran into my room screaming, shouting. I just didn’t know how to comprehend that information.

“I was put on a bidding system. One of my uncles went and started bidding me. It was horrible. I was treated like a slave.

“I was in this alien country – I didn’t know where to go, where to turn to, didn’t know where there was a phone. Nothing.”

‘I was disowned’

Ms Marie was forced to marry a man twice her age and for her engagement she was “dressed up like a doll”.

“The house was full of laughing people, you know there was people everywhere trying to come into my room to see me, to have a peek at this new bride,” she said.

“And I was just sitting there just thinking ‘I’m just an object’. You just got to do what you’ve got to do and that’s it. My vision was just get home, do whatever you need to do to get home.”

Once she was married, her new husband wanted a child.

“More or less, I’d been raped every single day to get pregnant, so then he’s got an official British pathway of coming to Britain because he’s got a child. That was their plan,” she added.

She got pregnant and came back to Wales to give birth. When the baby was born, she fled: “That brought shame to the family again in their eyes. And I was disowned for a very long time.”

Rubie now works as an ambassador, educating people about forced marriage.

“Now I’m speaking and talking to the world and sharing in that way of there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is a place for you in this world.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. And it’s not hell. You’ve got to turn it around. You’ve got to find that strength to turn it around and use it to your advantage and make it a happy place otherwise no one’s going to do that for you.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We know that forced marriage is often a hidden crime and so it is essential that victims have the confidence to come forward to get the help they need.

“We are seeking views on whether introducing a mandatory reporting duty might help strengthen protections for victims and ensure more perpetrators are brought to justice.

“The consultation is open to everyone and we are particularly interested in hearing from victims and survivors of forced marriage, and professionals with expertise in the issue of forced marriage.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-46455013

Groundbreaking study on guardianship and child marriage published

The book Islamic Jurisprudence of Guardianship: Re-reading Guardianship Rights for the Protection of Women from forced Marriage and Girls from Child Marriage challenges traditional ways of thinking about the father’s role in child marriage.

Staff at the NCHR partner institution Rumah Kitab in Indonesia. (Photo: Rumah Kitab)

The book looks at the question of guardianship from a new angle. Traditionally almost all religious legal arguments are linked to men’s authority over women as guardians. Arguments condoning child marriage are centered on the rights of the father (wilaya), while those related to the rights of the husband are centered on his role as a protector and head of the family (qiwama).

Islamic legal thinking and social experience

The book has explored the relationship between social experience and Islamic legal texts, uncovering that the concept of maturity (baligh), unwanted pregnancy and worries about committing adultery also conditions the occurrence of child marriage. Feminist scholars have also contributed to the discussions on related issues, among them domestic violence.

Rethinking guardianship

Re-reading the concept of guardianship in Islamic legal thinking, taking social reality into consideration, is therefore a prerequisite to combat child marriage. The book urges a broader vision of interpretation in order to legitimate change of practice.

The book

The book originally titled Fikih Perwalian: Membaca Ulang Hak Perwalian Untuk Perlindungan Perempuan Dari Kawin Paksa Dan Kawin Anak (Indonesian) is a result of a series of discussions in 2018 in Indonesia on classical and modern religious texts on guardianship (wilaya and qiwama). Eight rounds of discussions were led by Ulil Abshar Abdalla and Lies Marcoes-Natsir.

Source: https://www.jus.uio.no/smr/english/about/id/news/guardianship-indonesia.html?fbclid=IwAR3xVNBvSnkiJgKh4HP457fWFCIS5Pi-alICiQgpixlFgSCel5b2_XUP754

Jakarta steps up efforts to protect women, children

The Jakarta administration has earned praise for issuing Gubernatorial Regulation No. 48/2018 on safe houses for children and women who are victims of violence.

The safe houses, whose locations are confidential, allow victims to get maximum protection from perpetrators. They also offer counseling and legal assistance.

Since being launched in May, two safe houses administered by the city have housed 79 victims out of 1,510 residents who reported their cases to the administration.

Once the reports are examined, the authorities will decide whether to send victims to a safe house, which is guarded 24 hours a day, or not.

“Not all of the women and children, who are victims violence, will be automatically housed in the safe houses. It depends on their need,” Tuty Kusumawati, the head of the city’s Child Protection and Empowerment and Population Control Agency (PPAPP), told The Jakarta Post on Saturday, adding that 52 percent of the 1,510 victims were children and the rest were adults.

This year’s figure is an increase from last year, when 1,217 cases were reported.

Tuty, however, said violence against children and women had not increased in Jakarta as the spike could be “due to the victims becoming more courageous and speaking out”.

The city plans to add more safe houses in five municipalities across the capital next year.

Jakarta was ranked the world’s ninth-worst megacity for women in a survey released by the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year, which measured the prevalence of sexual violence, harmful cultural practices and access to health care and economic opportunities.

A study commissioned by the United Nations Women Asia Pacific in three municipalities —South, East and West Jakarta — found that women were vulnerable to street crime and sexual violence in public spaces.

According to the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), the prevalence of sexual harassment in Jakarta was among the highest in Indonesia. Throughout 2016, the commission reported 13,602 cases of violence against women nationwide, 2,552 of which occurred in Jakarta.

Komnas Perempuan commissioner Indriyati Suparno said victims of sexual or domestic violence were often reluctant to report cases to law enforcement officials because of bureaucratic red tape or the inappropriate treatment they have to endure.

For example, investigators would often ask them whether they went out at night or what type of dress they wore at the time of the incident instead of focusing on the case, Indriyati added.

“The presence of safe houses should be appreciated. But what is more important is the legal assistance and counselling the victims get from the administration,” she said, adding that similar houses were already present in several other provinces, including Central Java and Yogyakarta.

Tuty said the PPAPP was working on integrating the reports it received from the Jakarta Police, which would enable them to be used by the police to investigate cases without having to ask the victims the same questions.

“Since September, we have also cooperated with the Ancol Recreational Park in [North Jakarta] to allow victims to visit the site as part of an attempt to help them overcome their trauma,” she added.

In May last year, the administration issued a regulation that allows women who are victims of sexual violence to be examined for free at hospitals.

The exam is a crucial element for victims to file police reports.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/03/jakarta-steps-efforts-protect-women-children-safe-house.html