India’s Supreme Court Rules Sex With Child Brides Is Rape

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

India’s Supreme Court Rules Sex With Child Brides Is Rape

Oct 11, 2017

India’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that sex with an underage wife constitutes rape, in a landmark ruling that campaigners say could affect millions of girls.

The decision overturned a previous clause that permitted men to have sex with a married girl as young as 15, the Indian Express reports.

India’s age of consent is 18 and child marriage is illegal, but the practice persists in many parts of the country. According to Girls Not Brides — a coalition of NGOs working to end child marriage — 47% of Indian girls are married by the age of 18.

Marital rape is not recognized as a crime in India, but sex with a child under 18 is considered rape. Under the new ruling, girls who are raped by their husbands can bring charges within one year of the offense.

The ruling was praised by rights advocates, who noted it coincided with International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11.

“The judgment is a step forward in protecting girls from abuse and exploitation, irrespective of their marital status,” Divya Srinivasan of gender-equality group Equality Now told Reuters.

Read More: Surviving Sexual Assault in India

Others raised concerns about the difficulty of enforcing the new provision, particularly in India’s conservative rural areas where child marriage persists due to poverty, low education, patriarchal social values and weak law enforcement, according to UNICEF.

“A minor girl who is already married, almost always with the consent of her parents, will not usually have the courage to go to the police or court and file a case against her husband,” said the BBC’s Geeta Pandey.

In 2015, there were more than 34,000 rape cases reported in the country, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau. Domestic abuse is even more widespread, affecting 40% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49, and 70% of child brides, according to government statistics cited by Reuters.

Yemen Now Faces ‘The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,’ U.N. Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

Yemen Now Faces ‘The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,’ U.N. Says

A Yemeni child suspected of having cholera sits outside a makeshift hospital in the capital, Sanaa, earlier this month. World health authorities say that of the more than 1,300 people who have died of the disease, a quarter have been children.

Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

Seized by violence and teetering on the edge of famine, Yemen is grappling with another danger that threatens to outpace them both: cholera.

“We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” international health authorities said in a statement Saturday.

Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, and Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, say that “more than 1,300 people have died — one quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise.”

They suspect that is because Yemen now has upwards of 200,000 cases to grapple with, and that number is growing quickly — by a rate of roughly 5,000 cases a day.

“And geographically, it is expanding,” Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, Yemen director for the International Rescue Committee, told NPR’s Jason Beaubien earlier this month. “It’s not a small area. It’s almost the whole country.”

Hussein added:

“There is nowhere in the country you can say, ‘This place is better than another’,” says Hussein. “Every family is suffering from something whether it’s cholera or lack of food, having child soldiers in the family or having someone go join the rebels or the military. There’s been a whole collapse of the social life.”

After more than two years of civil war, Yemen’s health care system is at risk of “complete collapse,” a UNICEF spokesman told Jason.

The country has been roiled by violence since Houthi rebels seized power and ousted the president, who fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia. Since then, a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S. has waged a protracted campaign against the rebels — and some worry that support makes the U.S. complicit in Yemen’s deepening humanitarian crisis.

“There’s a U.S. imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen that’s caused by the Saudi bombing campaign,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told NPR’s Michele Kelemen last month after the U.S. signed a new arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudis simply could not operate this bombing campaign without us,” he continued. “Their planes can’t fly without U.S. refueling capacity. They are dropping munitions that we’ve sold them. We are standing side by side with them often when they are reviewing intelligence about targets.”

Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman — who, as NPR’s Deborah Amos reports, is said to have been “the prime mover in the kingdom’s decision to go to war in Yemen” — recently authorized a $66 million donation to support UNICEF and WHO’s anti-cholera efforts there.

“We look forward to discussing this contribution with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre,” UNICEF responded in a statement Friday. “Such generosity will make a great difference to thousands of children at risk of contracting this rapidly spreading disease.”

Lake and Chan made clear in Saturday’s statement just how rapid it’s spreading — and, in turn, just how rapid the response needs to be.

“We are working around the clock to detect and track the spread of disease and to reach people with clean water, adequate sanitation and medical treatment. Rapid response teams are going house-to-house to reach families with information about how to protect themselves by cleaning and storing drinking water,” they said.

“We call on authorities in Yemen to strengthen their internal efforts to stop the outbreak from spreading further.”

More than 100,000 ill in deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

A cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen continues to spread at a rapid pace. Over 124,000 cases have been recorded as of Tuesday, with 923 people — a quarter of them children — dead in the current outbreak, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement Tuesday.

Cholera is an infection caused by ingestion of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in water or food contaminated with feces. Symptoms include sudden onset of watery diarrhea that can lead to death by severe dehydration. According to the World Health Organization, cholera is widespread in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, with the number of cases surging since late April.
“The fact of the matter is, this is really a dire humanitarian situation and seemingly is only getting worse, particularly for children,” UNICEF spokesman Christopher Tidey said.
Aid workers say Yemen, which has weathered civil conflict and terrorism for the past two years, is experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Not only are millions of civilians living in the crossfire, but they can no longer afford food, shelter or medicine, as the violence has devastated the economy.

Millions in need of assistance

Of Yemen’s population of 27.4 million, UNICEF estimates that 18.8 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, Tidey said. Two-thirds of the population does not have access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. Of the country’s 12.6 million children, 1.6 million are displaced while nearly 80%, or 9.6 million, require humanitarian assistance, Tidey said.
No age group can avoid cholera. People over 60, for instance, represent 33% of all fatalities from the disease, according to UNICEF. Cholera has an extremely short incubation period of just two hours to five days, and unlike other diarrheal diseases, it can kill even healthy adults within hours, according to the WHO.
While adults in Yemen are suffering, half of all cholera infections there are occurring in children, said Meritxell Relaño, the UNICEF representative in the country.
“Children continue to bear the brunt of the war in Yemen. Many who have become ill or have died from cholera were suffering from malnutrition,” Relaño said.
In fact, more than half of the population is food-insecure, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
About 2.2 million Yemeni children are malnourished, 462,000 of them severely so and thus currently at risk of death, Tidey said.
“When you have children already in that precarious situation in terms of their own health and well-being and then you have a cholera outbreak on top of that, well, that obviously makes them more vulnerable,” he said.

Efforts to help

Countries facing complex emergencies are particularly vulnerable to cholera outbreaks, according to the WHO. That includes Yemen, where the disease has affected about 268 districts in 19 of its 22 governorates, the organization says. Yemen’s cholera fatality rate, 0.8%, is nearing what is considered the emergency threshold, 1%.
To stop the spread, the WHO and UNICEF are honing in on the areas reporting the highest number of cases. The WHO has established four cholera treatment facilities and 16 oral dehydration centers in the country. Along with training health workers to manage cases, the WHO is providing emergency medical supplies to treatment facilities.
Dr. Nevio Zagaria, head of the WHO’s office in Yemen, said in a statement that the organization has identified hot spots. “Stamp out cholera in these places, and we can slow the spread of the disease and save lives,” Zagaria said. “At the same time, we’re continuing to support early and proper treatment for the sick and conducting prevention activities across the country.”
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UNICEF is involved in providing water and sanitation services and support, including disinfecting water tanks and wells, as well as getting clean water to children.
More than two years of conflict also means damage to societal infrastructure. Medical supplies are flowing into Yemen at a third of the rate of before the conflict began, Tidey said, adding that UNICEF has “95 verified attacks on health facilities, including personnel.”
“We know that health and sanitation haven’t received their salaries in about nine months,” Tidey said. “Nearly half of all the health facilities in the country are not functional. So those two things combined with the ongoing conflict itself makes it very difficult for people who need treatment to access it.”

Pakistan Adopts Child Protection Rules For Businesses

(This article is courtesy of the Pakistan Observer News Paper)

Sindh Child Protection Authority’s rules of business approved

Karachi—The rules of business of Sindh Child Protection Authority were approved on Monday at the fourth meeting of authority which was chaired by Provincial Minister for Social Welfare/ Chairperson of Child Protection Authority, Shamim Mumtaz.
The Secretary of Social Welfare Shariq Ahmed, Chief Child Protection Unicef Sarah Coleman, Child Protection Specialist Unicef Jabbeen Abbas, Child Rights Protection Advisor Plan International Pakistan Sameena Sardar, Advocate Anjum Mehmood, Advocate Zia Ahmed Awan of Maddagar, Country Manager Madadgar Syed Mehmmood Ali Shah, Joint Director Labour & HR Department Sindh Ghulam Nabi Memon and officers of Law, Home and Social Welfare Departments attended the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Provincial Minister Shamim Mumtaz said it was a matter of public importance which was pending for long since 2011.
She added that after assuming the charge of Social Welfare Department as Minister, she took matter very seriously and issued direction to frame rules of business of Sindh Child Protection Authority as soon as possible.
The minister said by the grace of ALLAH, today, we had completed the task and approved the rules.
She stated that all the members of the Authority played vital role and worked hard and added that every section of rules was discussed in detail to make clarity in the rules of business.
She particularly appreciated the role of Unicef, Plan Pakistan International and Madadgar in this regard. The minister was of view that coordinated efforts were needed to provide protection to the children.
She said on the directives of the Chairman of PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and his team working day and night for the welfare and prosperity of the common man. The minister vowed to complete the mission of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. —APP