Sexual violence

Yemen: End child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 May 21

view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

Contact the Yemeni President, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of the House and ask them to:

  1. Ensure that the draft bill banning child marriage is considered and passed by parliament as soon as possible.
  2. Ensure effective enforcement of this law once passed.
  3. Take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to safe accommodation, education and counseling.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
President of the Republic of Yemen
President Residence
60 Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 866
Fax: +967 1 252 803
Tel: +967 1 621 062

Judge Mursd Al-Arshani
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 252 138
Tel: +967 1 334 334

Mr. Yahya Ali Al Raei
Speaker of the House
Yemeni Parliament
26 September Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 091
Tel: +967 1 272 765

Letters: 

Dear _____:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the prevalence of child marriage in Yemen and the inaction shown to date by the Yemeni government to ban this practice. Yemeni women’s role in the 2011 revolution that led to the formation of your new government was key. This is a time when Yemen needs the participation and support of all its citizens. Allowing child marriage, which sees up to fifty percent of Yemeni girls married before they reach the age of 18, means that Yemen is not nurturing its future.

In addition, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls, including septic abortion, still births, death due to early pregnancy, deprivation of education, few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources, little or no power in their new households and increased risk of domestic violence.

I am aware that draft legislation fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17 with penalties and punishment for violators has been pending in parliament since 2009 and passing it without delay would be a first step to helping girls escape abuse and allowing them to fulfill their potential. The absence of a law banning child marriage in Yemen means that child brides have to resort to divorce laws for women to get out of their marriages (rather than having these marriages annulled as illegal) and are required to pay-back their dower to obtain a divorce. A case in point is 11-year-old Wafa who in 2009 was married off by her father to a 40-year-old farmer who raped, beat and tried to strangle her. Wishing to escape the abuse and continue her education, Wafa ran away from her husband’s house but was unable to get out of the marriage without paying back her dower which her father had spent before passing away.

Stopping child marriage is an international obligation of the Yemeni government under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) both of which contain provisions against the practice. Please ensure that the draft child marriage bill is considered and passed by parliament as soon as possible. Also, please ensure effective enforcement of this law, once passed and punishment for those in violation. In addition, please take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to security, education and counseling.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Partner WAR Lahore and Equality Now highlighted in story on incest in Pakistan (Express Tribune)

2/15/12 -- Express Tribune -- "For incest victims, the trauma never goes away" Partner WAR Lahore and Equality Now highlighted in story on incest in Pakistan.

Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on Equality Now & partners' report addressing incest in Pakistan (Trust Law)

1/25/12 -- Trust Law -- "Girl's fight for justice breaks silence on incest in Pakistan" Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on release of Equality Now and partners' ground-breaking report addressing incest in Pakistan, A Struggle for Justice: Incest Victims in Pakistan Report.

 

War Against Rape, Lahore, Nasreen Welfare Trust Legal Aid Services & Equality Now Release Ground Breaking Report on Incest in Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
24 January 2012

Contact: EQUALITY NOW (London/New York): Mehr Qureshi, mqureshi@equalitynow.org
NASREEN WELFARE TRUST (Pakistan): Hina Hafeezullah, hina.h.ishaq@gmail.com
WAR AGAINST RAPE, LAHORE (Pakistan): Sidra Humayun, sidra.humayun@hotmail.com

Report aims to prompt revisions to Pakistan’s sexual violence laws including a special provision for incest

Equality Now Issues Urgent Alert After Brother of Teenager Allegedly Gang-Raped by Police Shot Dead Outside of a Court House in Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15 December 2011

Contact: LONDON: Anber Raz, (44) (0) 20-7839-5456, ukinfo@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, (01) 212-586-0906, media@equalitynow.org

Organization calls on Government Officials to Protect 16-year-old Uzma Ayub and her Family and to Ensure Justice in her Case

Equality Now calls on the Government of Pakistan to Protect 16 year old Gang-rape Victim Uzma Ayub and Ensure Justice in her Case

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2011 Dec 15
Update Date: 
2013 Feb 11
Update: 

UPDATE 11 February 2013: Following the remand of the case from the High Court, on 31 January the lower court acquitted the defendants, including several police officers, in the gang rape case. This was not unexpected, given the High Court's determination that there was no conclusive evidence against the accused. We are concerned for the safety of Uzma and her family after this ruling as they will no longer have state protection and they have already been targeted for bringing the case.  We are strategizing with partners about ways to protect her.


UPDATE 22 June 2012: On 19 June, the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan dismissed its December 2011 inquiry into this case. The court found that the DNA test results of Uzma’s baby did not match the men implicated in the gang-rape. In addition, it ordered Uzma to undergo multiple lie detector tests and found the results inconclusive. On 4 June, Equality Now wrote to the court expressing great concern about subjecting a rape victim to lie-detector testing which is psychologically damaging and, given the inconclusive nature of the results, highly prejudicial.

Uzma's gang-rape case and her brother's murder case are still pending at the lower court and Equality Now and our partners are strategizing on next steps.


UPDATE 29 February 2012: Pressure from human rights groups and media prompted the Pakistani government to take action in the case of Uzma Ayub. Following the Peshawar High Court's call for thorough inquiries and strict action against all perpetrators and the police officers who failed to take action in both the rape and murder cases in December 2011, 14 people have been arrested in the rape case and 29 police officers have been suspended. The alleged murderer of Uzma's brother is still at large but 15 of his alleged co-conspirators have been arrested. For Uzma’s safety, the government has relocated her and her mother to Peshawar. On 19 January, Uzma gave birth to a baby girl. DNA samples have been taken from the baby and the alleged rapists and are being tested in order to identify the child's father. The next hearing in the rape case will be held after the results of the paternity test have been released.

Please join us as we continue to call upon the Pakistani government to ensure that Uzma’s case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Similarly, continue to call on them to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted.


Uzma and child
Uzma and child
What You Can Do: 

Please write urgently to the officials below calling on them to ensure Uzma and her family’s immediate safety. Ask them to make certain that her case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in accordance with Pakistan’s own Constitution and international obligations. Similarly call on them to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted. Ask that local organisations under threat are protected and any threats against them investigated and appropriately prosecuted. Request guarantees that the authorities will send clear messages that such criminal actions, particularly by those who should be upholding the law, will not be tolerated.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Mr. Amir Haider Hoti
Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Chief Minister House
Fort Road,
Peshawar Cantt
Pakistan
Tel: +92-91-9213574, +92-91- 9211719
Fax: +92-91-9210718, +92-91-9210743
Email: pskhyberpakhtoonkhwa@yahoo.com

Barrister Arshad Abdullah
Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs
Government of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa
Minister Block Opposite to MPA Hostel
Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa
Tel: +92-91-9210353
Fax: +92-91-9211130
 
Mr. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

Mr. Moula Bakhsh Chandio
Minister for Law, Justice
and Parliamentary Affairs
Ministry of Law, Justice
and Parliamentary Affairs
Islamabad, Pakistan
E-Mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

Letters: 

Dear _____ :

I write to you with deep concern regarding the case of gang-rape victim Uzma Ayub from Karak in the Khyber Pakhtunkha (KP) province.

I was concerned to hear about the horrific circumstances concerning 16 year old Uzma’s case and that she was held captive for almost a year during which she was repeatedly gang raped by a number of individuals including police officers resulting in a pregnancy. I was deeply dismayed to hear that Uzma and her family having already suffered such tragedy, have been further traumatized by the killing of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb Marwat outside the Karak District court allegedly by relatives of some of the police perpetrators.

Despite intense pressure and death threats, Uzma and her family are fighting for justice. This case has highlighted a shocking level of police corruption in the area and I urge you to please address this situation urgently. I respectfully urge you to ensure that Uzma’s case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in accordance with Pakistan’s own Constitution, which states that “all citizens are equal before law and are entitled for equal protection of law” and that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone,” along-side Pakistan’s international human rights obligations to ensure justice for all. I also ask that you ensure all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted. 

It is also my understanding that local NGOs who have been supporting Uzma in her fight for justice have been threatened. I urge you to ensure that local organisations are protected and any threats against them investigated and appropriately prosecuted. 

By prosecuting the perpetrators the government of KP will send a clear message that such criminal actions, particularly by those who should be upholding the law, will not be tolerated.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Kyrgyzstan: Call to end bride kidnapping

Location: 
Kyrgyzstan
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Nov 7
Update Date: 
2013 Jan 29
Update: 

Click here to view this in Russian (Нажмите здесь, чтобы посмотреть на русском языке).

JANUARY 28, 2013 UPDATE: The president of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Almazbek Atambayev, has signed a bill into law to increase the maximum prison sentence for bride kidnapping from three to seven years, and up to 10 years if the kidnapped bride is younger than 17, which is the minimum legal age for marriage. Equality Now welcomes this development, and we thank the many of you who have been supporting this campaign. We will continue to strategize with our partners regarding how to ensure that the law is implemented and that women's rights are properly protected.


DECEMBER 14, 2012 UPDATE:On 13 December 2012, the Kyrgyz Parliament approved a bill aimed at strengthening legislation on bride kidnapping. Equality Now welcomes this development and urges President Almazbek Atambayev to sign the bill so that it can finally become law.

Please continue to write to President Atambayev, asking him to sign the bill and to ensure that cases of bride kidnapping are properly investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We will continue to work with our partners on the ground to successfully implement the law to prevent bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan.


NOVEMBER 16, 2012 UPDATE: Equality Now has been informed by the Kyrgyz Public Prosecutor’s office that it has taken steps aimed at strengthening investigations of allegations of bride kidnapping across the country, although details about these measures and their implementation are currently unclear.  Furthermore, in January 2012 the Kyrgyz parliament rejected a legislative amendment that would have introduced fines for Islamic clerics who bless unofficially registered marriages, which commonly include those resulting from bride kidnapping.

Another bill was introduced in June 2012 which sought to strengthen the law on bride kidnapping and this bill was adopted at second reading by the Kyrgyz Parliament on 18 October 2012.  Upon consultation with local partners, Equality Now sent a letter to the Kyrgyz parliament welcoming this development and urging all members of parliament to take this opportunity to ensure that legislation adequately strengthened, including by amending it to incorporate accomplice liability for those complicit in the kidnapping as well as guaranteed protection of victims and provision of easy access to medical, social and legal services.  We also called on members of parliament to ensure that once stronger legislation has been passed, it is duly implemented, and that they do what they can, in their capacity as members of parliament, to ensure that cases are properly investigated and prosecuted and that the government implements awareness raising in the context of a comprehensive prevention strategy.  At the same time, we expressed our support for a petition sent to parliament by Kyrgyz women’s groups in support of stronger legislation. 


 

Click here to view this action in Russian (Нажмите здесь, чтобы посмотреть на русском языке).

*All names of victims have been changed in order to protect their identities

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Kyrgyz president, calling on him to ensure that cases of bride kidnapping are properly investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and to raise public awareness about the crime of bride kidnapping and the importance of equal rights within society. Request that he strengthen current legislation against bride kidnapping, including accomplice liability for relatives complicit in the kidnapping, and introduce amendments to guarantee protection of victims and provide easy access to medical, social and legal services.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

President Almazbek Atambayev
Administration of the President
Government House
720003, Bishkek
Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +(996) 312 63 85 65
E-mail: okmotkg@mail.gov.kg

Letters: 

Dear ____ :

I write to you to thank your government for recently strengthening the law against bride kidnapping in support of the call by local groups trying to stop this harmful practice, which violates women and girls’ rights to bodily integrity, freedom of movement and freedom from violence.

I recognise your government has taken other steps also to address this issue and would like to encourage you now to ensure that cases of bride kidnapping are fully investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This is in keeping with Kyrgyzstan’s own Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law and with its international obligations including under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There is also strong support among Kyrgyz women for a public awareness campaign on this issue.

I welcome your government’s leadership in moving to protect women from bride kidnapping and urge you to continue your efforts to make bride kidnapping a thing of the past and so end the suffering of thousands of women.

Respectfully yours,

Sidra Humayun

Confronting Sexual Violence Head On in Pakistan
Sidra Humayun

1. Can you describe the hurdles that female victims of sexual violence typically face in seeking justice and help in Pakistan?

Urgent Alert: United States: Urge the U.S. House Of Representatives to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act before Congress adjourns

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 Dec 6

Equality Now commends the United States Senate on passage of The International Protecting Girls By Preventing Child Marriage Act Of 2009 and urges The U.S. House Of Representatives to pass this legislation

What You Can Do: 

As a part of efforts to curb child marriage, Equality Now urges its Women’s Action Network members in the U.S. to call upon their members of Congress to take urgent action to pass the legislation before Congress adjourns for the end of the year. Click here to find your Representative's contact information.

Letters: 

[add address of Congressperson]

Dear

I am writing to express my deep concern about the prevalence of child marriage in a number of countries around the world and the severe negative physical, emotional, psychological, educational and sexual implications of such marriage on girls, including death in some cases. 

Child marriages violate the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse.  Health-related impacts of early marriage and pregnancy according to the United Nations include higher risks of HIV infection, death in labor, septic abortion, still births, pregnancy-induced hypertension, puerperal sepsis and obstetric fistula.  Early marriage also jeopardizes girls’ right to formal education, which ends upon marriage.  Moreover, international research has shown that married girls have few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources and little or no power in their new households, and that domestic violence is common in child marriages.

The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009 (S. 987/H.R. 2103) authorizes U.S. foreign assistance programs to prevent child marriage and provide educational and economic opportunities for girls around the world.  The legislation has unanimously passed through the Senate.  I urge you, as a member of Congress, to ensure that the U.S. House of Representatives will pass the legislation before Congress adjourns for the end of the year.

Please take action on this issue so that efforts to eradicate child marriages, which undermine our government’s efforts to empower women around the world, can be expanded and girls around the world are given a better chance to realize their potential.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,
 

Saudi Arabia: End Child Marriages and Male Guardianship over Women

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 Nov 29
Update Date: 
2012 Nov 6
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: The judge heard Fatima’s case earlier than expected and in November 2012, issued divorce papers without requiring repayment of the dower. After a required 90-day waiting period, Fatima’s divorce was finalized on 10 February. We will continue to work with Saudi activists to get a ban on child marriage in Saudi Arabia.


UPDATE 6 NOVEMBER 2012: Our Saudi Arabian partners have recently informed us that as of May 2011, 12-year-old child bride Fatima is back at home with her family and has refused to go back to her husband; she is attempting to get a divorce with the support of her uncle. Her husband wants her to move back to his house when she is older, and says that he will not grant her a divorce unless he is paid a large amount of money.  A judge has scheduled the first hearing in her divorce case for 12 December 2012.

We are strategizing with our partners on legal support services for Fatima so that she can continue pursuing the divorce case. However we are concerned that the judge will rule against her unless she can find a way to pay back the dower her father has already spent. Please continue to take action and keep pressure on the King of Saudi Arabia to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for adults who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given the means to annul their marriages.


Equality Now has been informed of several cases of Saudi girls being married off at the behest of their male guardians. The most recent case concerns 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married on 5 October 2010 to a 50 year old man who already has a wife and ten children, most much older than Fatima. Her father Ali, who is unemployed and addicted to drugs, sold her in marriage for a sum of 40,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately US$ 10,665), which he used to buy himself a car. Reportedly, Fatima’s husband bought her a PlayStation as a wedding gift.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia asking him to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages. Please urge him to ensure that the system of male guardianship over women is abolished so that Saudi women secure the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice. In this respect, urge him to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. Please send a similar letter to the Minister of Justice and a copy to the Human Rights Commission. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim
Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741]

 [Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the issue of child marriage in Saudi Arabia and the extremely negative impact of such marriage on girls.  A recent case is that of 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married by her father to a 50-year-old man with a wife and ten children in exchange for 40,000 Saudi Riyals which her father used to buy a car.  Fatima’s paternal grandfather and uncle were opposed to the marriage but could not prevent it because, as her male guardian, her father Ali had the right under Saudi law to marry her off at whatever age to whomever he pleased.  They fear that Fatima’s two younger sisters will be subjected to a similar fate.

Child marriages violate the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse.  International organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls.  Fatima’s marriage will, among other things, deprive her of an education and severely jeopardize her right to mental, emotional and physical well-being.

I urge you to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as the minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions.  I also urge you to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages.  Please ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect your government’s stated claim before international bodies that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice.  In this respect, I urge you to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. 

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)
 

Syndicate content