Reduced Inequalities: More Than 78,400 Children in the US Were Married Between 2010 and 2014 #childmarriage

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Child marriage is still legal in some form in every state.

Though all 50 states in the US have set the minimum age for marriage at 18, legal loopholes mean that child marriage is still legal in some form in every state.

According to the recent study “Child Marriage in the United States: How Common Is the Practice, And Which Children Are at Greatest Risk,” approximately 78,400 children in the US today are or have been married.

While it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of children have been married across the country over the last two decades, precise figures on the number of those affected have been difficult to obtain. But researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have begun to paint a more accurate picture of the problem, using data from the American Community Survey — an annual survey conducted and released by the Census Bureau.

Researchers analyzed the survey responses of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 from 2010-2014 and found that an average of 6.8 of every 1,000 girls and 5.7 of every 1,000 boys had been or were currently married at the time they completed the survey, according to a press release.

The study found that immigrant children, especially those from Central America, Mexico, and the Middle East, were more likely to be married than children born in the US. It also identified substantially higher incidences of child marriage in states like West Virginia, North Dakota, and Hawaii, where more than 10 in every 1,000 children were married.

In several states, children under the age of 18 can be married with the consent of a parent or judge, or if they are pregnant.

However, “these marriages are not leading, to the best of our knowledge, to long-term marriages where they’re living together,” Dr. Jody Heymann, co-author of the study and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told Teen Vogue. “So, I think that’s really important for people who believe that child marriage when there’s a pregnancy is actually forming a family and a long-term marriage. It’s not. It’s really not the solution.”

Previous Census data backs up Heymann’s claim, with 70% of married teens getting divorced. US Census data from 2010 also shows a significantly higher number of married, divorced, separated, and widowed children, putting the figure at about 500,000.

Around the world, 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, according to Girls Not Brides. While West and Central Africa have the highest rates of child marriage, India is home to the largest number of married children in the world, UNICEF reported.

Child marriage disproportionately affects girls, who are often forced to drop out of school and have children before they are ready.

“Studies show that girls in the US who marry as children have lower education attainment, are at greater risk of living in poverty and suffer adverse health consequences,” added Heymann in a press release. “The large number of child marriages in the U.S. have profound implications on the lives of children and youth that need to be addressed.”

Over the past few years, several states — including Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and New Jersey — have voted on bills that propose setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 without exception. Though many of the bills have resulted in stronger legislation that protects minors against child marriage, no state has succeeded in fully banning child marriage yet.

 

Quality Education: Africans Are Among the Best Educated US Immigrants, Study Finds #education #globalgoals

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African Graduates

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON — When you picture an African immigrant in the United States, do you imagine someone with little or no schooling, struggling to find work? New research shows a different reality: African immigrants in the United States are college-educated and employed at about the same rates as the general population, and far more likely to be educated and working than their counterparts in Europe.

The report, by the Pew Research Center, found 69 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States have some college education. That number is six percentage points higher than the level for native-born Americans, and far higher than levels in Europe.

In Britain, about half of sub-Saharan African immigrants have some college education. In France, the number is 30 percent. In Italy it is only 10 percent.

The Pew study, based on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat’s Labor Force Survey, also found about 93 percent of African immigrants in the United States were employed, whereas in Europe employment figures ranged from 80 percent in Italy to 92 percent in the U.K. These numbers were roughly equal to the general population in each country.

Monica Anderson is a research associate at Pew and a co-author of the report. The research team wanted to compare demographics of African immigrants in the United States to their counterparts in Europe, Anderson told VOA by phone.

“What we found is that the sub-Saharan African immigrant population [in the U.S.] really stands out and that they are a very highly educated group,” Anderson said.

“The majority of sub-Saharan African immigrants in all of these countries that we looked at are employed, and when you look at their employment compared to those who were actually — who were born in those specific countries — there’s really not a lot of difference,” she added.

MIGRATION ROUTES

In 2015, about 2.1 million African immigrants were living in the U.S., according to Pew. That number has more than doubled since 2000.

They came to the United States in different ways – to study, for employment opportunities, and through family reunification programs, the latter denounced by President Donald Trump as “chain migration.”

Some Africans come to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers. In 2016, about 31,000 Africans were admitted into the United States as refugees, accounting for 37 percent of all admissions. About 19 percent of admissions came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict has displaced nearly two million people in the past 18 months.

Thousands more come through the State Department’s diversity visa lottery, which provides 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, African immigrants made up 46 percent of applicants invited to request immigrant visas.

EASE OF REACH

One explanation for the difference in education levels is that Europe is much easier to reach for low-income Africans who travel by boat or other means.

Since 2010, violence, turmoil and poverty have driven approximately 1.5 million Africans to leave the continent for the United States or Europe, and the numbers have grown each year, according to the United Nations.

Hundreds of thousands have risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats, hoping to make it to Italy or Greece.

In contrast, Africans coming to America often have the money to travel by plane, and the permission to enter the country once they arrive.

“It is also about proximity, and I think there are other studies and literature out there about how proximity might impact the kind of characteristics that different groups might have when they’re migrating,” Anderson said. “So those who have a lower socioeconomic status may not have the capabilities or have the resources to move to a distant country.”

BETTER OFF?

Higher education and employment levels don’t necessarily translate into a higher quality of life for African immigrants in the United States, based on previous research by Pew.

Despite high education and employment rates, black immigrants — including those from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America — have a median household income that’s about $8,200 lower than the U.S. average, Pew researchers found.

Forty percent of black immigrants are homeowners, 24 percent less than the overall U.S. population, and 20 percent of black immigrants live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of the overall U.S. population.

These numbers suggest that, despite relatively high education and employment rates, African immigrants face challenges getting access to all the opportunities that other groups enjoy.

 

Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: This Is What You Should Do if You See Someone Being Sexually Harassed #sdgs #globalgoals

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Simple steps can help derail an incident.

We know that the only people who can really stop sexual harassment happening are the people actually harrassing others. But experts say we can all play a role in lessening the emotional impact on those who are targeted.

One factor that made the case of Hollywood produce Harvey Weinstein — which sparked the #MeToo movement last year — so shocking, is that so many people knew about the assaults and harassment, and did nothing.

It’s known as the “ bystander effect ” or “bystander apathy,” and it describes the social phenomenon of being being less likely to help a victim when there are a lot of other people around.

There are lots of reasons bystanders might choose to ignore a situation — because you don’t feel empowered to do something, you don’t know what to say or do to resolve a situation, or because you don’t want to seem patronising or like you’re shoving your nose into something that isn’t your business.

But, in reality, the most important thing is making sure the victim knows that they aren’t alone.

So, whether you witness someone being sexually harassed in the street, at work, on the bus, wherever, what can you to help?

1. Assess the situation

Before you do anything, you need to work out exactly what the situation is and how best you can intervene. It’s very important that you don’t put yourself in harm’s way, as it could cause the situation to escalate.

Ask yourself are you safe? Is the person being harassed at threat of physical harm? Will intervening directly make things worse? Are there other people around who can support you?

2. Direct intervention

If you think it’s safe to do so, you can intervene in the harassment directly. That means directly addressing the person who’s doing the harassing. It’s key to be firm , don’t apologise for interrupting their behaviour.

According to Hollaback! , a global movement to end harassment, it’s important to stick to saying something that feels natural to you.

Some example are: “That’s harassment,” or “don’t talk to them like that,” or “that’s inappropriate.” What you say doesn’t have to be smart or witty, it only needs to make the person aware that what they’re doing is wrong.

If the harasser responds, says Hollaback , don’t engage in an argument. Instead, interact with the person who is being harassed.

3. Distraction

If you would rather not interact with the harasser, or it feels as though the situation would escalate if you did, creating a distraction can also help put a stop to the incident, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).

You do that by engaging with the person who is being harassed, not by talking about the harassment, but by talking about something completely unrelated.

You could pretend to be lost, ask the time, greet them like you know them and invite them to walk with you or get a drink. It can be good to insert yourself between the harasser and their target, to literally get in the way — although, again, only do this if you’re not putting yourself at risk too.

4. Find someone to support you 

If you don’t want to get personally involved, you could still help by finding someone of authority who can resolve the situation, adds RAINN. Who that person is would differ depending on where you are, but some examples could include a bus driver, a teacher, a shop manager, a bouncer, or a security guard.

5. Check in with the person who’s been harassed

Sometimes harassment can happen very quickly, and be over in an instant. For example, if someone shouts something from the window of a passing car. If that happens, you can still help support the person who has been harassed , by checking in with them to see if they’re okay. Ask if they’re alright, if you can help them. You could offer to sit with them, or walk with them to where they’re going if they’re upset.

6. Document the incident

If someone has already stepped in and you don’t want to overcrowd the incident, you could still help by documenting it. This of course depends on your own safety, and it’s sensible to keep your distance if you’re filming on your phone, for example.

Sometimes just knowing that they’re being caught on camera is enough to diffuse a situation, particularly in our social media world. But having the incident on camera can also help if the person who’s been harassed wants to report it.

It can help authorities follow up on an incident if you also film nearby landmarks, and state the time and date of the incident on film, says Hollaback .

But once the incident is over it’s important that you ask the person who was harassed what they want you to do with the footage, and you shouldn’t post it online without their permission — or you could make the incident even more emotionally difficult for them that it already was.

Reduced Inequalities: 160 Babies, Children Rescued in Latest Nigerian ‘Baby Factory’ Raid #sdgs #globalgoals

The victims have all been relocated to government-approved homes.

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More than 160 children were rescued from a Nigerian “baby factory” and two illegal orphanages this week, according to a report by the BBC. It was one of the largest raids in recent history.

“The children and teenagers rescued from the baby factory were placed at Government Approved Homes for Care and Protection,” the Lagos State government said in a statement.

But the war on human trafficking is far from being won.

Baby factories are a recurring problem in Nigeria, where it is not uncommon for unmarried pregnant women to be lured to a location with the promise of healthcare only to be imprisoned and have their baby stolen. In other instances, women are kidnapped, raped, and forced to become pregnant.

The children are then “sold for adoption, used for child labour, trafficked to Europe for prostitution or killed for ritual purposes,” according to the BBC report.

Some of the babies and children rescued had been sexually abused, said Agboola Dabiri, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development in Lagos State, in a statement.

The Commissioner also noted that of the 163 children rescued in total, 100 were girls and 62 were boys.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation, or sex trafficking, according to the International Labour Organization. It’s also estimated that one in three trafficking victims are children below the age of 18.

Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Anti-Gay Laws ‘Were Wrong Then and Are Wrong Now,’ Says UK PM Theresa May #lgbt #pride #sdgs

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British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she “deeply regrets” Britain’s part in criminalising same-sex relations in its former colonies.

Laws that discriminate against the LGBT+ community, which were passed under British rule, still exist in 37 of the 53 Commonwealth nations, according to the BBC .

May described the laws as “outdated” when speaking at an NGO side event marking the Commonwealth Summit, which is being held in London this week.

“I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country,” she said . “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the UK’s prime minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence, and even death that persists today.”

She said that “as a family of nations we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions,” but added that “we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality, a value that is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter.”

The discriminatory laws, which make same-sex relations taboo, dangerous, and even deadly, affect more than 100 million people across the Commonwealth.

“Nobody should face discrimination and persecution because of who they are or who they love,” continued May.

“The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth nation wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible,” she added. “Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls.”

Belize and the Seychelles are among the nations to have recently cut laws that discriminate against same-sex relations, in 2016.

Leaders from across the Commonwealth are meeting in London this week for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Reduced Inequalities: France Is Giving $61,900,000 to Help People in Syria #sdgs #globalgoals

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By Joanna Prisco, for Global Citizen

After seven years of strife and an estimated 400,000 deaths, Syria’s Civil War shows no signs of resolution. But renewed aid efforts from Europe may help those struggling to survive there.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said France would contribute 50 million euros ($61.9 million) toward humanitarian aid for Syria, reported Reuters.

“This evening I brought together NGOs working on the ground in Syria. Faced with the humanitarian situation, France is setting up an emergency programme of 50 million euros,” Macron stated on his verified Twitter account.

Following a chemical attack in Douma last week, France had already deployed a humanitarian medical shipment via Turkish authorities, according to France Diplomatie, and participated in US-led airstrikes on suspected chemical weapons facilities, as reported by the New York Times.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated earlier this year that “from a humanitarian standpoint, the US has been a massive donor to this situation.”

But last month President Donald Trump suspended $200M funds allocated for recovery efforts, as reported by Politico.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is so dire that officials have lost track of how many people have died, according to the New York Times.

The new injection of French funding will be designated toward organizations already operating in Syria, such as the U.N. office for humanitarian affairs.

Macron’s meeting at Elysee presidential palace gathered together two dozen NGOs, including Action Aid, Handicap International, the Red Cross, and Care.

Good Health & Well-Being: A Drug-Resistant Strain of Typhoid Is Going to Spread, Scientists Fear #sdgs #globalgoals

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The first “extensively drug-resistant” strain of typhoid is spreading through Pakistan, leaving scientists concerned about a deadly outbreak and the rise of other drug-resistant diseases.

Five different types of antibiotics have proven ineffective against the new strain, which has infected 850 people across Pakistan, according to the New York Times. Only one known antibiotic remains effective against it, according to the Independent. But one more mutation, and the disease could become altogether untreatable.

Typhoid is spread through food or water contaminated with the feces of a typhoid-infected person. Case mapping shows that the outbreak of the new strain originated in Hyderabad, Pakistan, along the city’s sewage lines, which may have leaked into water sources, the Times reports.

Typhoid causes high prolonged fever, headache, and vomiting, among other symptoms, and can be fatal if left untreated. Approximately 21 million cases and 222,000 typhoid-related deaths occur worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Four deaths in Pakistan from this particular strain have been confirmed so far and one travel-related case in the United Kingdom, the New York Times reports.

Experts expect the drug-resistant strain to eventually spread worldwide.

Two typhoid vaccines currently exist, according to the WHO, but low vaccination rates in countries like Pakistan paired with poor sanitation infrastructure means that typhoid is still endemic to many areas of the world.

The typhoid strain’s emergence is an alarming development in the trend of one of global health’s greatest growing threats: drug-resistant illnesses.

“This isn’t just about typhoid,” Dr. Rumina Hasan, a pathology professor at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan, told the New York Times. “Antibiotic resistance is a threat to all of modern medicine — and the scary part is, we’re out of options.”

In a September 2017 report, the WHO identified 12 classes of “priority pathogens” — including typhoid and tuberculosis — “that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics and urgently in need of new treatments.” The report also found that, of the 51 antibiotics being developed to treat drug-resistant strains of diseases, only eight could be classified as “innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal.”

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, said in a statement when the report was published.

Climate Action: Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron Are Taking on Climate Change Together #sdgs #globalgoals

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It was last June that the US, the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, announced it was leaving the Paris Climate Accord.

Now, the leaders of Canada and France are joining forces to combat climate change together.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris on Monday to confirm a partnership in the fight against climate change.

The countries agreed to work more closely on tackling targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, according to a press release  from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“France and Canada today pledge to redouble their efforts and increase their co-operation,” Trudeau said in French at a news conference with Macron. “This initiative will encourage and accelerate the achievement of the Paris Agreement targets through concrete measures to make this agreement in principle a reality.”

This partnership on climate and the environment will include pushing measures like securing global carbon pricing, encouraging energy efficiency and reducing emissions in transport sectors.

Canada is hosting the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, this June, and will hand over the G7 presidency to France in 2019.

Canadian officials hope that the other G7 countries will follow the Canada-France example and continue trying to reach the targets set out in the Paris agreement, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian government is also using this moment to prove that Canada is serious about tackling climate change.

France has voiced concerns around the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and its investor-protection clauses that could result in feebler environmental rules, according to the Canadian Press.

“Whether it’s environmental protection or freedom of expression or other things, Canada and France are well aligned. Canada and Europe are well aligned,” Trudeau said at the news conference. “And CETA is a progressive trade agreement that truly reflects those protected values and represents a new standard for all future trade agreements.”

Trudeau and Macron also announced a new cultural initiative between the two countries.

On Monday, Trudeau met with Isabelle Hudon, ambassador of Canada to France and Monaco, and Melinda Gates, the co-chairs of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.

The group discussed ways to encourage economic growth that benefits everyone, which will be a key theme at the G7 summit in Charlevoix.

Women & Girls: This Map Shows You Where Women Are Being Harassed in Real Time #abuse #sdgs

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“Free to Be” map allows women and girls to anonymously share experiences.

By Joanna Prisco

When a woman or young girl is harassed in public, there have historically been few resources for one to share the experience with local officials or warn others.

Until now.

A new real-time mapping tool called Free to Be has launched in Sydney, New Delhi, Kampala, Lima, and Madrid, that allows users to anonymously drop a pin in locations where they feel unsafe or have been threatened.

Free To Be is a crowd-mapping website that enables young women to identify and share public spaces that make them feel uneasy, scared or happy and safe,” the site reads. “It empowers young women to call out unsafe experiences and geographically identify spaces where change needs to occur.”

The site was was designed by Plan International in collaboration with CrowdSpot, Monash University’s XYX Lab “and, crucially, young women.”

Prior to launching the tool, Plan International, an NGO that advocates for children’s rights and equality for girls, conducted a survey of 400 young women on their experiences in the Australian capital.

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“We’ve found 90% of girls in Sydney are feeling unsafe being in their city at night,” said Plan’s head of advocacy, Hayley Cull, in an interview with ABC Australia.

“That’s an extraordinary statistic.”

Meanwhile, “92% felt uncomfortable taking public transport alone at night, and nearly half had experienced street harassment,” reported Business Insider Australia.

The Free to Be maps are already being populated with identified “Good Spots” and “Bad Spots” by users whose experiences have ranged from cat calls to random gropings to one woman being followed and harassed by a stranger on a bike.

The goal is for the accumulated data to eventually be shared with local officials to affect change.

“In Melbourne, more than 10,000 people visited the website, with thousands dropping a pin – happy or sad – on places they loved, avoided, felt safe or unsafe in,” states the Free to Be site.

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“Once the map closed, we presented data to key decision-makers including the City of Melbourne, Victoria Police, Metro and Public Transport Victoria. Plan International’s Youth Activists have been working closely with these organisations to make change and we’ve had some amazing responses.”

Environment, Pollution & Health: You’re Probably Breathing Polluted Air, Study Finds #sdgs #globalgoals #pollution

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A new study found that more than 95% of the world’s population breathes dangerous air.

Dirty air is one of the world’s leading risk factors for death, and threatens the immediate health of billions globally.

In fact, a new interactive report by the Health Effects Institute found that 95% of the world’s population is breathing dangerously polluted air, with low and middle-income countries suffering the most.

Air pollution, which can negatively impact everything from the heart and lungs to the immune system, isn’t just caused by smog from factories. It is also created by cars, stoves, and other smaller-scale sources. And contaminants resulting from both large-scale industry and individual activities in the home can linger in the air both outdoors and indoors.
The report broke air pollution into three main categories: fine particulate matter, ozone, and household air pollution.
Fine particulate matter is what most people think of when they think of air pollution — the tiny particles in smoke, smog, and other by-products of large-scale fossil fuel-burning that can be inhaled into one’s lungs and cause health problems. The report estimates that 95% of people around the world live in areas where concentrations of fine particle matter exceed World Health Organization guidelines, and 60% live in areas where concentrations exceed the WHO’s “least stringent” targets.

Ozone is a greenhouse gas formed by pollutants in the atmosphere reacting with each other. It can irritate sensitive tissue in the airways and lungs, causing health issues. According to the report, ozone contributed to an estimated 234,000 deaths from chronic lung disease around the world in 2016.

Household air pollution arises from the burning of wood, dung, and other “biomass” in order to cook or heat homes without proper ventilation, a practice most common in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 2.6 million deaths worldwide in 2016 can be attributed to household air pollution, the report found.

The health risks of air pollution are not equally felt around the world.

Many developed countries are able to channel resources into limiting air pollution while developing countries often skip those efforts in favor of economic growth, according to Bob O’Keefe, vice president of the Health Effects Institute. O’Keefe told The Guardian that there is now an 11-fold gap between the most polluted and least polluted areas of the world. In 1990, the gap was just over half as wide.

According to the report’s interactive data, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Central African Republic had the highest rates of death attributable to air pollution in 2016. Meanwhile, 1.61 million deaths in India and 1.58 million deaths in China were attributable to air pollution.

Despite massive global exposure to dirty air, there are reasons for optimism, O’Keefe told The Guardian, especially since governments in countries with the largest amounts of air pollution are taking big steps to mitigate it.

“China seems to be now moving pretty aggressively, for instance in cutting coal and on stronger controls. India has really begun to step up on indoor air pollution,” O’Keefe said.