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Fifth US State Ends Marriage Under 18; UK Pledges to do the Same

Last week, a breakthrough in the global fight to end child marriage came when the United Kingdom government pledged to raise the minimum age of marriage in England and Wales to 18, without exception. Just days before, Rhode Island became the fifth US…
A demonstrator wearing a bridal gown takes part in a protest urging legislators to end Massachusetts child marriage
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UK Program Behind the Guide Needs Better Strategy to End Rape During Wartime

The UK government signaled this week that it wants to reignite its initiative designed to end rape during war. As such, members of the initiative and their partners are seeking input for a guide on interviewing victims of conflict-related sexual violence…
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Home Office Memo Ignores Suffering of Trafficking Survivors

This week, the United Kingdom Home Office, the country’s interior ministry, came under heavy criticism from the Nigerian anti-trafficking agency and UK politicians, human rights lawyers, and nongovernmental groups for claiming Nigerian women and girls…
Nigerian teenagers and young women selling sex in Italy
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Hypocrisy Undermines UK pledge to Fight Child Marriage Overseas

This week Pauline Latham, a Conservative MP, introduced a bill to ban marriage before the age of 18 in England and Wales. She has support from across the political spectrum for an effort that is long overdue. In England, Wales, and…
The Union Flag flies near the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, June 7, 2017.
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Revoke Other Discriminatory Laws Against Women

(Jerusalem) – The Palestinian Authority’s repeal of certain discriminatory provisions against women in March 2018 is a good first step toward what should be the repeal of a series of such measures, Human Rights Watch said today. Other forms of…
Photo showing a white dress symbolizing a bride produced by the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling as part of their campaign to repeal article 308 which had allowed rapists to escape prosecution if they married their victims. The message in Arab
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Rugby Clubs Set Good Example, But Legal Reform Needed

An unlikely source took a stance on respect for women: professional rugby. Two Northern Ireland players had their contracts revoked following their widely publicized rape prosecution. Both players, Paddy Jackson and Stuart…
A rally held in support of the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial in which all four defendants including Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were acquitted of all charges, Belfast, March 31, 2018.
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John Worboys Case Should Make Ministers Abandon Plans to Scrap the Act

This week’s landmark judgement by the UK Supreme Court against the London Metropolitan Police for failing adequately to investigate the John Worboys case may bring some belated relief to women he drugged and raped. The Court’…
A London black cab taxi drives past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in late afternoon sunlight in London, Britain, November 10, 2016.
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Rape-marriage exoneration laws are relics of the colonial past. It's time to leave them there.

In recent weeks, the Tunisian, Jordanian, and Lebanese parliaments have repealed provisions in their penal codes that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. Provisions like these, largely colonial-era relics, remain on the books…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
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Not Enough Focus on Women’s Rights in Election Manifestos

Domestic violence. Equal pay for equal work. Family leave. Child and forced marriage. People often dub these “women's issues,” and, in political debate, treat them as “softer” (read: less important) than, say, security or trade. That’s…
women's march London
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Ratify Convention and Protect Women from Violence

“I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor.” British MP Michelle Thomson made that courageous statement on December 8, when she told the House of Commons about her rape at age 14 and its long-term consequences. Decades had passed before Thomson made this public…
British MP Michelle Thomson made that courageous statement on December 8, 2016.
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A year ago today activists attended the Girl Summit, a global meeting hosted by the UK government to agree on action to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage within a generation. Sitting in the audience, I listened to the promises about…
Belkis, 15 years old, holds her one-year-old son in her mother’s house which she returned to after the husband she was married to at age 13 abandoned her.
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It was less glamorous than the Angelina Jolie-backed Foreign Office initiative to combat sexual violence in conflict, but the last British government was also active internationally on child marriage. This included a “Girl Summit” hosted last summer in…
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“What’s so scary about smart girls?” The question was posed by a donor representative speaking at the Girl Summit 2014 this week in London. The speaker’s answer to his own question – that smart girls can change the world – matched the mood of…
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A Somali woman who said she was raped by state security forces, a journalist who interviewed her, her husband, and two others who tried to assist her, have been charged with multiple crimes, including insulting a government body. They face a court hearing…
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Last week, the Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour programme that the UK Border Agency ensures that very complex cases brought by women asylum seekers do not go through the UK’s so-called “detained fast-track” asylum process,…