My daughter, who recently turned 11, will be graduating from fifth grade in a few weeks. After the summer break, she will continue on to middle school. But for 34 million girls in our world today, the completion of primary school likely marked the end of formal education. It may even have meant that it was time for her to be married.
When I visited the classroom in the Peruvian highlands that is pictured above, I noticed that slightly more than half of the students were girls. I remarked on this fact to the human rights activist who was giving us the tour of this Quechua-speaking indigenous community. He smiled sadly and said, “Yes, but this is fifth grade. In sixth grade, children go to a lower secondary school that is farther away. Most of the girls won’t go. It takes too long to walk there and they are needed to help at home, so the parents won’t let them go. Besides, most of them will be married soon.”
Here are a few basic facts that everyone needs to know about child marriage.
1. Child marriage, also called “child, early and forced marriage”, is a formal marriage or informal union before the age 18. Child marriage also affect boys, but the number of girls who enter into child marriage is disproportionately higher.
2. Child marriage occurs in many countries throughout the world and is practiced by members of many religions. UNICEF reports that rates of child marriage are highest in South Asia, where nearly half of all girls marry before age 18; about one in six were married or in union before age 15. This is followed by West and Central Africa, then Eastern and Southern Africa, where 42 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married in childhood.
4. Girls from poor families are almost twice as likely to marry young as girls from families with more economic security. Not only are girls from poor families more likely to become child brides, but they’re also more likely to remain poor. Yet, in the context of poverty, families may be acting in what they believe is the best interest of their child by marrying their daughter off at a young age.
7. Child marriage results in girls having babies before they are physically or emotionally ready, often with serious health consequences. According to the World Health Organization, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the second highest cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 around the world. Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties. The infants of young teenage girls are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life. And in developing countries, 90% of adolescent pregnancies are among married girls
9. Child marriage rates increase in the context of conflict and natural disasters. Save The Children has documented that the proportion of registered marriages where the bride was under 18 in the Syrian refugee community in Jordan rose from 12% in 2011 (roughly the same as the figure in pre-war Syria) more than doubled to 25% by 2013.6 The number of Syrian boys registered as married in 2011 and 2012 in Jordan is far lower, suggesting that girls are being married off to older men. Floods increased child marriage in Bangladesh and there is concern that the 2015 earthquakes have increased child marriage in Nepal.
10. Despite laws against it, the practice of child marriage remains widespread. Child marriage is technically illegal in many countries that have changed their laws to comply with the international standard of 18 as the age of marriage for both boys and girls. Social norms can be more challenging to change. In Ethiopia, for example, the legal age of marriage is 18, but nearly one in five girls are married before they turn 15.
11. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals include a greater commitment to ending child marriage.Goal 5 committed to “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”. Part of that commitment was a pledge to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriages”.
12. Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at multiple levels. Evidenced collected by the ICRW shows that it requires: 1) Empowering girls with information, skills and support networks; 2) Educating and mobilizing parents and community members; 3) Enhancing the accessibility and quality of formal schooling for girls; 4) Offering economic support and incentives for girls and their families; and 5) Fostering an enabling legal and policy framework.
For more information, resources, and ways to take action, see:
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is gender parity. The United Nations observance on March 8 is focused on building momentum for the global roadmap for implementation by 2030 of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal number five -Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls- and number 4 –Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. t their implementation by 2030.
Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.
Meet Sophie Walker: A World Mom Who is Taking Action on Gender Parity
Sophie Walker was working as a journalist and a diversity campaigner when, last March, a friend asked if she would be interested in helping to set up a new political party. In the run-up to Britain’s 2015 General Election, many voters were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of inclusion and understanding from the other political parties when it came to equal rights and opportunities for women. A group of them came together, spread the word to more, who spread the word across the country – and The Women’s Equality Party was born. Sophie was elected as leader by the new party’s steering committee in July and the party now has 70 local branches across England, Wales and Scotland, and 45,000 members and registered supporters. The Women’s Equality Party (WE) is a non-partisan political party that welcomes members from right across the political spectrum to campaign for equal representation, equal pay, an end to violence against women, equal education, equal parenting and equal representation in the media. Sophie is now standing as WE’s candidate for London Mayor.
“I want to make London the first gender-equal city in the world, where the 4 million women who live here can do the jobs they want to do and walk the streets in safety. London needs a Mayor with some imagination!” – Sophie Walker
Ways That You Can Take Action on International Women’s Day 2016
Join the conversation for International Women’s Day, #IWD2016! Main hashtags: #IWD2016 (#DíadelaMujer, #Journéedelafemme); #Planet5050; (And check out the automatic emoji on Twitter when tweeting with the hashtag #IWD2016!)
Change your Facebook and Twitter cover image with the banners available from UN Women in English, Spanish and French (under “General”) here.
Bring your IWD event to a global audience. If you organize or participate in a local International Women’s Day event, share your images and messages on the UN Women Facebook Event page.
This was the message I received from Anoop Poudel, headmaster at the Sankhu-Palubari Community School (SPCS), on Monday night. We had been desperately trying to reach Anoop and others connected with SPCS since the 7.8 earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, April 25. Our concern grew as the death toll mounted and the strong aftershocks continued in the Kathmandu Valley. What a relief to learn that the teachers and 340 students at the school, as well as their families, are safe!
In my role as The Advocates for Human Rights’ deputy director, I coordinate The Advocates’ Nepal School Project. I was in Nepal just a few weeks ago with a team of volunteers to conduct our annual monitoring visit. The Advocates has been partnering with the Sankhu-Palubari community since 1999 to provide education as an alternative to child labor for low-income children in the area who would otherwise be working in brick yards or in the fields.
The Sankhu-Palubari Community School provides free, high quality education to children in grades pre-K through 10. Many of the students walk a long way to get to school – some as long as two hours each way.
The students’ standardized test scores are among the highest in Nepal, a highly competitive honor. And the school was awarded Nepal’s prestigious National Education Service Felicitation Award in 2014. Graduates are now studying at universities, preparing to become doctors, social workers, teachers, and agronomists; many plan to return to their village to improve the community’s quality of life. Their contributions will be even more important now, in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake.
The school is especially important for girls, who make up 52 percent of the student body. When SPCS began, girls often left school at an early age to marry or work. Now, they are staying and graduating because families have experienced the benefits of education. (You can read the inspiring story of SPCS’ first female graduate in Kanchi’s Story.)
The new school year had just started at SPCS, but school was not in session when the earthquake hit. Students in Nepal attend school six days a week; Saturday is the only day when there is no school. Many people believe that, had it been a school day, the numbers of dead and injured in Kathmandu and throughout the Kathmandu Valley could have been much higher.
Even with that one tiny bright spot in a terrible national tragedy, UNICEF estimates that nearly 1.8 million children in Nepal were severely affected by the earthquake. Most of our students, who come from extremely poor agricultural families, are included in that number. Anoop sent me several more texts after the first, describing heavy damage in the area of the eastern Kathmandu Valley where the school is located. Media sources and other Nepali contacts also confirm extensive destruction in the Sankhu area. While we don’t have a lot of information yet, Anoop reported that he believes that more than 90 percent of the students and teachers have lost their homes in the earthquake. They are living outside in temporary shelters because of continuing aftershocks. Word about the school building’s fate is yet to be received. The first relief teams are reportedly scheduled to arrive in the area on Wednesday.
Our hearts go out to everyone in our SPCS family, as well as to the millions of other Nepalis affected by the “Black Saturday” earthquake. At The Advocates, we believe that support for basic human needs such as water, food, and medical assistance in Nepal is the most urgent need at this point in time. We encourage people to give to reputable international humanitarian assistance organizations involved in the earthquake relief effort (you can find more information in the links below). In the long term, Nepal will need sustainable rebuilding and development programs.
Because education is essential to reducing poverty and inequality, the best way that The Advocates can support the rebuilding of Nepal is to is to ensure that the education of the students at our school continues with the least amount of interruption possible. We remain focused on that goal.
Jennifer Prestholdtis the Deputy Director and International Justice Program Director at The Advocates for Human Rights. In March 2015, she made her sixth trip to the Sankhu-Palubari Community School in Nepal.
Reggae band SOJA partnered with UNICEF’s Out-of-School Children initiative to produce the video “Shadow” to draw attention to the importance of education for all of the world’s children. Globally, an estimated 58 million children of primary school age and 63 million young adolescents are not enrolled in school. Like the girl in this video, many of them are girls. Yet data demonstrates that reaching the most marginalized children may initially cost more but also yields greater benefits. This video was filmed in Jigjiga, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, where 3 million children remain out of school. For more on global trends regarding out-of-school children, visit the UNICEF website.
In many parts of the world, marginalized girls must often drop out of school to get married before they are able to complete their education. But there has been some good news recently about efforts to raise the age of marriage and eliminate child marriage:
Finally, in a bit of human rights history,BBC Mundo ran a story this week about the treatment of Latin Americans (particularly Peruvians) of Japanese descent during World War II.Japanese people began migrating to Peru in considerable numbers at the end of the 1800s, seeking opportunities to work in the mines and on sugar plantations. By the 1940s, an estimated 25,000 people of Japanese descent lived in Peru; many were successful professionals and business owners. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US government asked a dozen Latin American countries, among them Peru, to arrest its Japanese residents. In addition to arrests, about 2,200 Japanese-Latin Americans were forcibly deported to the US.
Records from the time suggest the US authorities wanted to take them to the US and use them as bargaining chips for its nationals captured by Japanese forces in Asia.
As many as 4,000 men, women and children were interned during World War Two in the Crystal City camp in Texas run by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. Most of the detainees were of Japanese descent, although some German and Italian immigrants were also held there.
Of the 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent to be interned in the US, 800 were later sent to Japan as part of prisoner exchanges. After World War Two ended, another 1,000 were deported to Japan after their Latin American home countries refused to take them back.
In 1988, then-President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and apologised on behalf of the US government for the internment of Japanese-Americans. Under the act, the government paid tens of thousands of survivors of the camps $20,000each in reparation. But Japanese-Latin Americans did not qualify for the payments because they had not been US citizens or permanent residents of the US at the time of their internment. They filed a class-action suit and 10 years later, the US government agreed to pay them $5,000 each.
On Mother’s Day, I spoke at a local march and rally to show support for the nearly 300 school girls abducted a month ago in Nigeria.
Here’s what I said:
Bring Back Our Girls Twin Cities March
May 11, 2014
Thanks to organizers and to all of you for being here.
I’m here as a lawyer and Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a non-profit based in Minneapolis that works on human rights issues around the world.
But I’m also here as a mother. My kids Simon and Eliza are here today as well to stand in honor of the nearly 300 girls abducted simply because they were pursuing their human right to education. I think that’s pretty much the best Mother’s Day gift they could give me.
There are a lot of things that we don’t know about the situation in Nigeria. We don’t know where the girls are or what is happening to them. We don’t even know the exact number abducted and we only know a few of their names. We can only imagine the agony their families are going through.
But the tragedy of the nearly 300 girls in Chibok shines a spotlight on the systemic human rights abuses against faced by women and girls worldwide.
And there are many things we do know about violations of the rights of girls and women:
We know that girls around the world lack equal access to basic education (in the NE region of Nigeria where these girls lived, girl enrollment is the lowest in the country – only 22%. In part, they were targeted because they were seeking an education that would change their lives.
We know that girls and women are not valued equally as boys and men in many parts of the world. The Nigerian government’s lack of action both before and after certainly makes it seem that these girls were not deemed worthy of protection.
We know that when these girls are found and hopefully rescued, they will need support in the form of psychosocial and health care. Women’s access to health care is woefully limited.
We know that 1 in 3 girls under age 18 are still being forced into marriage too early. By some estimates, that’s about 14 million girls a year. Too many girls still endure harmful traditional cultural practices such as FGM.
We know that girls and women suffer the most in times of conflict. What these girls have experienced is likely a war crime. Trafficking remains a huge problem around the world and in our own community.
We know that 1 in 3 of the world’s women experience violence, including domestic violence (The Advocates for Human Rights works on domestic violence legal reform around the world);
And we know that these are all things that have to change.
We need to do more to push our governments to make this change a priority. We can’t stop with just these 276 girls.
Now these are human rights abuses that may seem intractable. It may seem like you are powerless to make a difference. But you can:
Support the NGOs that work on issues you care about. No amount is too small – a little money really does go a long way in this area.
Write to our members of Congress and the President to encourage support for women’s rights as a critical part of our US foreign policy.
For those of you with young people in your lives, teach them about the world around them so that they will grow up to continue the fight to ensure that every child, wherever he or she lives in the world, has the chance to live in safety and dignity and to achieve their greatest human potential.
For those of you doubting whether sharing this story on social media really makes a difference, I’d like to share a message I got on my blog from a woman named Winnie in Nigeria:
we here in nigeria are so angry and feel very helpless, the government and opposition leaders have politicized this, while our daughters are still in captivity. the government officials do not want to listen to ‘ordinary’ people. and word has it that the Nigerian press have been ordered to kill the story (as the have killed other stories in the past). pls this is a passionate plea to the international community to keep this story alive until our girls are returned home safely.
Here in the Twin Cities and all around the world, we are working to keep this story alive until our girls are returned home safely.
And after our girls come home, I hope we can keep working together for a future where all girls around the world can go to school in safety and grow up to reach their full human potential.
While unconfirmed, these reports are a chilling reminder of the threat of sexual violence faced by women and girls in conflict zones.
The girls who were abducted were targeted simply because they were exercising their right to go to school, out of the ordinary for a girl in Nigeria. Access to basic education for girls has remained low, particularly in the northern region which has the lowest girl child enrollment in Nigeria —in 2008 the net enrollment rate for girls into secondary school was only 22 percent. The girls (who were both Christian and Muslim) at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok must each have been determined to get an education in spite of tremendous odds. The fact that these girls were also risking violence to be in school illustrates how important the right to education was to each of them.
The mass kidnapping in April was unprecedented and shocking. Even more shocking – after more than two weeks, the Nigerian government has done very little to find and rescue the girls.
The lack of government response has provoked outrage in Nigeria. On Wednesday, several hundred participated in a “million-woman protest march” in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to demand that more resources be put toward finding and securing the kidnapped girls. The protesters in Nigeria are joined on Twitter with a growing movement under the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #BringBackOurDaughters and #234Girls. There is also a Change.org petition to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan asking him to do more to save the abducted girls and ensure that schools in Nigeria are safe.
One man, whose daughter was abducted along with his two nieces, said his wife has hardly slept since the attack. She lies awake at night “thinking about our daughter”. As the mother of a young school girl myself, I feel deeply for her. The continuing tragedy of these young Nigerian school girls is every parent’s worst nightmare.
It’s time for world to wake up to the escalating violence in Nigeria, as well as the Nigerian government’s lack of response.
I have a complicated relationship with International Women’s Day (IWD). On the one hand, it vexes me greatly that we have only one day a year – designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1977 as March 8 – to celebrate the many contributions of women around the world. On the other hand, we still need to focus attention on the fact that women, who make up half of the world’s population, still face almost incomprehensible inequality in societies throughout the world. Not just inequality, but inexcusable pain and violence.
One in three women in the world still experience violence (including rape and marital rape, spousal abuse, and child abuse) in their lifetime. The numbers are closer to one in four in the West – numbers that are still shockingly high.
Even before birth, preference for male children leads to feticide and infanticide in many parts of the world. Millions of girls and women around the world face obstacles to education, access to health, freedom of choice in marriage and divorce, land ownership and political participation. Even in the West, women continue to face inequality, including professional obstacles.
The UN theme for IWD 2014 is “equality for women is progress for all”. And there is no question that that statement is true. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement for IWD 2014:
“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”
IWD means different things to different people around the world. For some, it is a day to celebrate the strength of personal relationships with mothers, grandmothers, daughters and friends. Some choose to celebrate the overall contributions of women; in 2014, I noticed a particular interest in celebrating the “bad ass” women in our collective history (which I do applaud). For others, it is the opportunity to highlight all that still remains to be done.
For me, IWD is all these things. It is also about wanting a world where my daughter and my sons are treated equally without thought or legal requirement. It is about teaching them that this is what they – both boys and girl – should expect in their future. But it is also about celebrating the strong community of women that has brought us this far.
I took this photo of a painting that hung in the stairwell of a hotel I stayed in last year in Yaounde. It was dark in the stairwell, but I paused every time I passed it. The painting appeared original, but there was no name given to it. No artist was listed. But for me, it captures the spirit of International Women’s Day. We still have a ways to go, but we are together in this effort. We learn from each other and we support each other. Here is my perspective on International Women’s Day 2014:
It may take us time, but when women work together, nothing can stop us.
In Morocco, a 15 year old girl experienced constant harassment and threats from a 35 year old man in her town. He waited for her each day outside of her school and on several occasions told her, “I will force you to marry me.” One day, he abducted and raped her at knifepoint. The victim made a complaint to the gendarmes, who arrested the man. In his statement to the police, the rapist admitted his crime, declaring that he did it “because it was the only way I would be able to marry her.” In order to avoid scandal, the victim dropped out of school and married him. “I am raped now every day,” she told members of the local association that works with women survivors of domestic violence.
This tragic story is one of many included in a joint submission The Advocates for Human Rights and our Moroccan partner Mobilising for Rights Associates (MRA) made recently to the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child. The submission draws attention to the serious human rights violations resulting from the application of Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which provides that whoever “abducts or deceives” a minor, without using violence, threat or fraud, can escape prosecution and imprisonment if (i) the abductor marries the victim, and (ii) those persons who have a right to request annulment of the marriage do not file a complaint.
Organizations and news reports from Morocco indicate that Article 475 has been applied in cases of sexual abuse of minors in order to preserve the “honor” of the victim and her family. Notably, this issue has received widespread coverage following the 2012 suicide of Amina Filali, a sixteen year-old girl who killed herself after being forced to marry a man – ten years older than her – who had raped her. Additional news reports confirm that the use of Article 475 continues. Further, associations working at the local level in Morocco report that girls married under Article 475 continue to suffer rape and domestic violence after the marriage.
Information from our Moroccan partners illustrates the extent of the problems with the application of Article 475. One local association that works with women reported that, of 11 cases involving rape of a minor that they handled in 2013, Article 475 was raised in 6 cases; the age of the victims ranged from 14-17, while the age of the rapists ranged from 23-28. In one case, a 14 year old girl was raped by her 28 year old cousin, and she became pregnant as a result. She sought help from the association to file a criminal complaint, and there were several court hearings. DNA testing established that the accused was the rapist. Under Article 475, the two families agreed on a temporary marriage between the rapist and the victim to avoid shame, with a predetermined divorce date after one month of marriage.
Associations working at the local level in Morocco report that the young victims experience tremendous pressure to abandon criminal prosecution and agree to the application of Article 475 from law enforcement, justice system personnel, as well as the families of the perpetrators. Even their own families pressure them to agree to marriage under Article 475 in order to avoid shame. Because all sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal under the Moroccan Penal Code, victims also fear prosecution and imprisonment under Penal Code Article 490. In fact, one Moroccan association reported several cases of rape victims who filed complaints to initiate criminal prosecution but were prosecuted themselves under Article 490.
In one instance, a 15 year old girl was raped by a 25 year old man. She became pregnant as a result of the rape, which is considered proof of illicit sexual relations. She did not want to file a criminal complaint because she feared prosecution under Article 490, so she fled her home and sought shelter through a local Moroccan association. The rapist’s family made threats against the victim’s mother, however, and she was pressured to not file a criminal complaint and to marry the rapist under Article 475 instead.
Article 475 must be understood in the context of early marriage in Morocco. While the legal age of marriage for both men and women is now 18 in Morocco,the Family Code allows the marriage of minors when “justified” and after substantial control by the Family Affairs judge.Both the number of petitions for authorization to marry minors and the approval rate are high and increasing. In 2007, 10.03% of marriages were of minors, and 86.8% of the 33,596 petitions were authorized. In 2011, the rate had risen to 11.99% of all marriages and 89.56% of 46,927 petitions for authorization to marry a minor were granted. 33.58% of petitions in 2011 were for minors ages 14-16. The overwhelming majority of the minor spouses, 99.31%, were girls. The Family Code provides no threshold minimum age below which authorization to marry may never be granted. Local NGOs report marriages of girls as young as thirteen, fourteen and fifteen.
In practice, judges often issue authorizations based on their own cursory visual examination of the minor girl’s physical appearance and determination that she is capable of assuming “marital responsibilities,” rather than resorting to the required expertise. Reasons advanced by judges for authorizing underage marriage include saving family honor, avoiding scandal, protecting the girl’s chastity and preventing her from debauchery. Some even cite marriage as a solution to poverty. At times judges do not even substantiate their decisions in writing. Corruption among public actors and the ease by which medical certificates attesting to the minor girl’s “maturity” can be obtained are also factors allowing circumvention of the law.
In spite of the reality of early and forced marriage for young Moroccan girls, the Moroccan Government made statements in recent United Nations submissions that Article 475 does not apply to, and has not been applied in, cases of sexual abuse of minors. For example, in response to the most recent concluding observations of the Committee Against Torture, the Moroccan Government stated that Article 475 does not apply in cases of sexual abuse and that there is no statutory text in Morocco that exempts the “perpetrator of child rape from punishment when he makes the child concerned his wife, because anyone who commits rape is punished in all instances, even when he marries the victim of rape.” The Moroccan Government further stated that Article 475 “is not applicable to rape but rather to the crime of the abduction of a minor who leaves the parental home to be with someone and agrees to marry him.”
In other words, in the Moroccan Government’s view and in contrast to the many reports originating from Morocco, Article 475 is intended to address situations involving marriage without the consent of the family where the prosecution for abduction of a minor can be dropped if the victim’s family withdraws the complaint to “maintain good family relations and to protect the make-up of the family if arresting the husband could lead his minor wife to lose any chance of a normal life.”
On January 22, 2014, Morocco’s Parliament voted to abolish paragraph 2 of Art. 475. While this is a positive step, and certainly a victory to be celebrated, the bill that was approved unanimously this week only abrogates the exoneration through marriage provision. It does not change the rest of Art. 475 which provides that a man convicted of statutory rape in Morocco is still only subject to a few years in prison and a small fine. It does nothing to impact the larger problems faced by minor girls who experience sexual abuse or early marriage in Morocco.
The Moroccan government must go further to protect the rights of women and girls. Given the factual situation on the ground in Morocco and the clear violations of Morocco’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Moroccan government must:
Amend Morocco’s Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code to facilitate procedures for bringing sexual abuse and rape of minors cases, including eliminating discriminatory legal provisions that require proof of actual physical injury and place heavy burdens of proof solely on the victim.
Amend Morocco’s Penal Code to abolish criminal prosecutions under Article 490 for “illicit sexual relations.”
Develop and implement a plan for educating the judiciary and public that criminal proceedings against rapists will not be terminated if they marry their victims and that Article 475 is not to be applied in cases of sexual abuse and rape of minors.
Penalize all acts to encourage, pressure, or threaten minors to marry, whether by public or private actors.
Amend Morocco’s Family Code to establish clear and objective criteria under which judicial authorizations for the marriage of minors may be granted in only exceptional cases, and in all events establish a threshold minimum age under which authorization to marry may never be granted.
Dahir n° 1-59-413 du 28 joumada II 1382 (26 novembre 1962) portant approbation du texte du code pénal, as amended, (« Penal Code »), Art. 475: 1) Quiconque, sans violences, menaces ou fraudes, enlève ou détourne, ou tente d’enlever ou de détourner, un mineur de moins de dix-huit ans (Article modifié par l’article premier de la loi n° 24-03 modifiant et complétant le code pénal, précitée), est puni de l’emprisonnement d’un à cinq ans et d’une amende de 200 (cf. supra note correspondant à l’article 111) à 500 dirhams. 2) Lorsqu’une mineure nubile ainsi enlevée ou détournée a épousé son ravisseur, celui-ci ne peut être poursuivi que sur la plainte des personnes ayant qualité pour demander l’annulation du mariage et ne peut être condamné qu’après que cette annulation du mariage a été prononcée.
Written Communications to MRA and The Advocates for Human Rights from Moroccan NGOs (5 December 2013). In the same Written Communications, another association from a different region reported that Article 475 was raised in 3 of 5 rape cases that they handled where the victim was a minor. A third association reported their experience that in 6 cases where Article 475 was raised since 2011, the average age difference between the victim and the rapist was 10 years (with victims ranging in age from 14-17 and rapists from 23-28). Id.
Id. Note that these numbers are consistent with information from the local level. One local association that works with MRA reported that from January to November 2013, the First Instance Court in Khemisset granted 325 of 442 petitions for authorization to marry minors. Written Communications to MRA and The Advocates for Human Rights from Moroccan NGOs (5 December 2013).
Ligue démocratique de défense des droits des femmes (LDDF), Droits des femmes et code de la famille après 4 ans d’application(2007).
Interviews with Local Morocco NGOs, (May 2012 – December 2013).
Abdellah Ounnir, Les justiciables dans le circuit judiciaire relatif au contentieux de la famille, inLe Code de la famille: Perceptions et pratique judiciaire, pp. 89-139 (Morocco: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2007);Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc(ADFM), Implementation of the CEDAW Convention: Non-Governmental Organisations’ Shadow Report to the Third and the Fourth Periodic Report of the Moroccan Government(Nov. 2007).
In January 2013, the Justice Minister made a statement to the effect that he would not oppose proposed modifications to 475. A bill (sponsored by MPs) to modify and complete article 475 was adopted by the Council of the 2nd Chamber of Parliament and transferred to the relevant Committee on legislation within that Chamber for review on January 29, 2013. This bill would increase the penalties, eliminate the 2nd paragraph of 475, and reinforces the link between 475 and the later sexual abuse of minors articles in the Penal Code. A second bill (sponsored by MPs) presented in the 1st Chamber would eliminate the 2nd paragraph of 475 (among other modifications to the articles on sexual abuse), but the version adopted by the legislation committee had eliminated these reforms. Another bill (sponsored by MPs) for a VAW law in 1st chamber that would cancel 475 among its 35 articles was transferred for review to the legislation committee in February 2013. The current status of these three bills is unknown and it is unclear what subsequent steps if any have been taken on these three bills. A proposed VAW bill submitted by the Family Minister to the Government Council (and tabled) did not contain any modifications to Article 475. See http://www.medias24.com/POLITIQUE/5975-Benkirane-desavoue-Bassima-Hakkaoui.html. Most recently, on January 8, 2014, the Committee on Justice, Legislation and Human Rights in on of the Parliament’s chambers voted to abolish paragraph 2 of Art. 475. See http://www.aujourdhui.ma/maroc-actualite/societe/viol-des-mineures-au-maroc-une-loi-debattue-au-parlement-107202.htmlwww.yabiladi.com%2Farticles%2Fdetails%2F22289%2Fviols-mineures-deputes-annulent-l-alinea.html&h=1AQFFOSTM
U.N. Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention, Information Received From the Government of Morocco in Response to the Concluding Observations of the Committee Against Torture, para. 111, CAT/C/MAR/CO/4/Add.1(9 September 2013).
U.N. Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention, Information Received From the Government of Morocco in Response to the Concluding Observations of the Committee Against Torture, para. 112, CAT/C/MAR/CO/4/Add.1(9 September 2013).
It’s a challenge to raise a daughter in a society that innundates us with countless hidden messages about how girls should look and act, who they should be. My daughter and I have been talking about this a lot lately, with the holiday marketing of “girls toys” and “boys toys” so in our faces. So I was pleasantly surprised this week when she found a women’s rights message hidden in Captain Underpants and The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.
This caught my 8 year-old daughter’s attention. She put down her Monster High doll, the one she just bought with money hard-earned from chores like scooping the cat’s litterbox.
“What’s a haiku?” she asked. Apparently, they hadn’t yet covered this in her third grade class.
“It’s a kind of short Japanese poem. It has three lines, with a total of only seventeen syllables. The first line is five syllables, the second is seven and the third is five.”
As she read my haikus, I said, “I wrote about you, but usually haikus are about nature.”
“Like about animals?”
“Sure. ‘Animals’ is three syllables, so you need two more for the first line. Then seven, then five.”
“Syllables, like beats in music?”
She didn’t even pause to think. She launched right in.
“Animals live in …”
“You’re doing it! You’re writing your very own haiku! Now seven syllables. Where do animals live?”
“Jungle, forest and…” She counted out the syllables on the five fingers of her right hand. Then two more on the fingers of her left hand. She had painted her fingernails in an alternating pattern with red and blue nail polish. Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red blue.
“That’s great! Which one? Ocean or city?”
“You did it! You wrote your own haiku!”
She smiled – a small, proud smile – and then she picked up her doll again.
“That was really good. Let me write it down. Can you say it again?”
She shrugged, engrossed in brushing the doll’s hair.
“I forgot it already,” she said.
“But I’m your mom and I will always remember,” I thought.