“You can say it’s like an Arab Spring for women,” says Yobes Ondieki, a Kenyan former World Champion runner, ahead of the London Olympics. After losing out to Ethiopia in the 2004 medal tables, Kenyan officials realised the winning formula was staring them in the face: the majority of Ethiopian medals at Athens were won by women.
The family planning world is meeting in London this week to make one straightforward request – give 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries access to contraception. Their reasoning is basic: ‘It’s mortality, stupid’.
Last Friday the Prime Minister announced that forced marriage is to become a criminal offence.
Victims of forced marriage now know that what is happening to them is wrong, illegal and can be stopped
By making forced marriage a crime , the Government is sending a clear message to these families that their actions will no longer be tolerated. They will now be held accountable before the law and they could end up in prison.
From Bolton to Bangladesh, prevention rather than prosecution is the best strategy for a child – though sometimes the stick of the criminal law is needed to reinforce the carrot of persuasion.
Every three seconds around the world, a girl under the age of 18 is forced into marriage.
It’s time for the Government to safeguard the rights of women and make forced marriage a specific criminal offence.
I argued in my essay that the story told about Oldham, Bradford and Burnley – and about Muslim communities across Britain in general – is pretty misleading. But there’s so much else that I would have liked to get into if I’d had the space.
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