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Victory for Kenyan girls

Victory for Kenyan girls

DOMINIC KIRUI TRIBAL leaders in northern Kenya have pledged to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in their communities, a step hailed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as "an important milestone" in boosting girls' rights. One in five women and girls aged between 15 and 49 in Kenya have undergone FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and can cause serious health problems, the United Nations says. Kenya outlawed the widely condemned practice a decade ago, but it continues in some communities such as the semi-nomadic Samburu tribe, who see it as necessary…
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In Burkina Faso, violence and COVID-19 push children out of school and into harm’s way

In Burkina Faso, violence and COVID-19 push children out of school and into harm’s way

SAM MEDNICK WHEN 13-year-old Martine left her village in northern Burkina Faso for a safer town last year, she hoped to restart an education disrupted by jihadist violence. But, alone without her parents — who stayed behind — new risks soon arose: in December she was dragged from a wedding party and raped by a man three times her age. “If I was living at home, my parents never would have allowed me to go to the wedding alone and this would never have happened,” said Martine, whose surname is being withheld to protect her identity. As jihadist-linked violence surges…
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Outrage as Somali parliament drafts law permitting child, forced marriages

Outrage as Somali parliament drafts law permitting child, forced marriages

NITA BHALLA and MOHAMMED OMER SOMALIA's parliament has sparked outrage by replacing long-awaited legislation to protect women and girls from violence with a new bill permitting child and forced marriage. The East African nation has high rates of child marriage and violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation (FGM). The United Nations says 45% of women are married before 18, while 98% have undergone FGM. In 2018, Somalia's cabinet approved the landmark Sexual Offences bill aimed at criminalising a wide range of forms of gender-based violence including rape, child marriage and sex trafficking. The bill sets out clear…
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‘COVID generation’ risks child marriage, forced labour, ex-leaders warn

‘COVID generation’ risks child marriage, forced labour, ex-leaders warn

EMMA BATHA FORMER world leaders have for urgent global action to stop coronavirus creating a "COVID generation" with millions of children deprived of education and forced into marriage and work. As lockdowns end, they urged governments to invest in catch-up programmes to prevent irretrievable damage to children's futures. "We cannot stand by and allow these young people to be robbed of their education and a fair chance in life," said the letter signed by 275 former world leaders, economists and educationalists. Signatories included former U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, former Irish president Mary Robinson, former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark…
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Ethiopia hunts for children forced to work, marry during pandemic

Ethiopia hunts for children forced to work, marry during pandemic

EMELINE WUILBERCQ ETHIOPIA has set up a network of committees to identify children forced into work or marriage during the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure schools are safe to re-open this week although campaigners fear it will be hard to reverse the damage done. Yohannes Wogasso, school improvement program director at the Ministry of Education, said authorities realised the closure of schools in March to stop the spread of COVID-19 had led to a rise in child marriage, child labour, and gender-based violence. But he said reopening schools from October 19 should go some way to reversing the negative impacts,…
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In new UN role, ex-CNN journalist seeks to end abuse of women and girls

In new UN role, ex-CNN journalist seeks to end abuse of women and girls

ELLEN WULFHORST FORMER CNN correspondent Isha Sesay planned to begin her new role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with a visit to Nigeria and Haiti - cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the British journalist and author listened remotely to stories from women and girls, from midwives to abuse survivors, in Yemen, Ukraine, Somalia and Sierra Leone. "We did a global virtual tour," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation this week from her home in Los Angeles. "It's not the same as being there and sitting side by side but .... it will…
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From child marriage to revenge porn: 10 set-backs for women in 2020

From child marriage to revenge porn: 10 set-backs for women in 2020

EMMA BATHA FROM mass job losses to soaring domestic violence, the rise of revenge porn and a widening gender poverty gap, 2020 has threatened to hobble progress on women's equality as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks global havoc. U.N. experts predict the gender poverty gap will widen in 2021 amid the economic downturn. Here are 10 set-backs women faced this year: CARING DUTIES/UNPAID LABOUR Even before COVID-19, women were doing three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, according to U.N. data, but this has soared in 2020 with women undertaking the lion's share of caring for sick…
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Syrian refugee girls face ‘dangerous’ child marriage trend, says charity

Syrian refugee girls face ‘dangerous’ child marriage trend, says charity

MAYA GEBEILY  SYRIAN refugee girls are increasingly at risk of child marriage due to a surge in pandemic-linked poverty, legal loopholes and long-term displacement in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, charity Save the Children has said. More than 5.5 million Syrians are registered as asylum seekers in the region, 10 years since conflict broke out in their homeland, according to the United Nations. "Refugee communities are reeling from protracted displacement, poverty and the consequences of COVID-19 and we know that economic hardship, protection concerns and lack of access to education are persistent drivers of child marriage," said…
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Calls for women’s shelters in Kenya

Calls for women’s shelters in Kenya

NITA BHALLA A sharp rise in gender-based violence in Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted an urgent need for more shelters to help victims and awareness campaigns, women's rights groups said on Friday. Cases of violence targeting women and girls - including rape, child marriage and murder - rose 36% in 2020 from a year earlier to just over 5,000, government data showed this week. The report released by Kenya's ministry of public service, youth and gender was based on the findings of an investigation ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year into rising reports of violence due to…
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