Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions: UK Government Under Fire for Failing to Donate to Fund for UN Sex Abuse Victims #ForcedSex #SexualAssault #SexualAbuse

Mothers of 11 “peacekeeper babies” in Haiti are struggling to feed their children, say lawyers.

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Victims of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers have reportedly described the UK’s attitude to supporting survivors as “very glib.”

The UK government is yet to join the 19 UN member states that have voluntarily contributed to a fund to provide medical, legal, and other support to those abused by UN staff.

Canada, Australia, Italy, and Norway are among those nations to pay into the fund, which totals £1.4 million — including £265,000 withheld from UN staff in substantiated cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, reported the Guardian

But a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the UK is “100% committed to ending sexual abuse and exploitation by those who are entrusted with protecting some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

“We are lobbying for change at the highest levels,” they added. “The PM, foreign and development secretaries have all called on the UN secretary general to robustly tackle this abuse.”

The spokesperson said the FCO has contributed £3 million to “ending sexual abuse and exploitation” at the UN, which they said was “significantly more than the value of the UN trust fund.”

According to the Guardian , the FCO couldn’t provide details about how much of the funding would go to supporting survivors.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing a group of 11 mothers of “peacekeeper babies” in Haiti, who say they were sexually exploited by UN personnel, said the “UK is quick to talk about accountability when it comes to criticising other entities or countries.”

Sienna Merope-Synge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), told the Guardian : “That is important, but when it comes to supporting the real needs of victims that they claim to care about to rebuild their lives, the UK is not willing to put its money where its mouth is.”

“We see the UK government talking about having victims’ voices heard. They have talked about the need for zero tolerance and about leadership,” she continued. “But there are a whole bunch of victims of UN abuse who perceive the UK as very glib about supporting victims.

The survivors’ fund was established by the UN secretary general in March 2016, in order to “place victims at the core” of its approach.

The group of 10 Haitian mothers have filed the first legal actions in Haiti against the UN and individual peacekeepers for child support and paternity claims.

One of the mothers was 17 when she gave birth, which amounts to statutory rape under Haitian law, according to the IJDH.

“These mothers and their children face severe economic difficulties and discrimination” said Mario Joseph, a lawyer at Haiti-based human rights group Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), which filed the lawsuits.

Joseph added that six of the motors were left homeless after Hurricane Matthew tore through the Caribbean island in 2017.

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Clean Water And Sanitation: The Trump Administration Just Made a Decisive Step to Provide Safe Water And Sanitation Globally

Proving that collective action matters more than ever

Despite the rise of isolationist rhetoric on American soil, the US government is showing that global water remains a strong national priority — very welcome news for some of the most vulnerable citizens on the planet

In 2014, the Water for the World Act recognized the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene, requiring the creation of a Global Water Strategy by 2017. On Nov. 17, only one month behind the statutory deadline, USAID and the State Department released the whole-of-government Global Water Strategy.

The Global Water Strategy tackles key risks presented by lack of adequate WASH (water and sanitation health), including the many related health problems from neglected tropical diseases, stunting, diarrhea, and other issues.

The strategy is guided by four primary objectives: increasing sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, and the adoption of effective hygiene behaviors; encouraging the sound management and protection of freshwater resources; promoting cooperation on shared waters; and strengthening water-sector governance, financing, and institutions. The US will focus its efforts on countries that seem to have the best opportunities, as outlined in the original 2014 legislation.

This strategy is a collective and comprehensive vision for global water security, developed through the efforts of over 17 US government agencies and departments, along with input from both the public and private sectors. It marks a crucial step forward in ensuring that all global citizens have access to lifesaving water and sanitation.

Water security is essential to disease prevention, economic growth, and state security. In the words of the Global Water Strategy, “Water is an entry point to advance core democratic values around equality, transparency, accountability, women’s empowerment, and community organization.”

And the report is right. Any and all global issues that we face necessarily include a fight for the basic human right of clean water for all, a cause that Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on. 

As US President Donald Trump said:

“Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”

Clean Water & Sanitation: Doctors Finally Acknowledge Period Pain Is as PAINFUL as a ‘HEART ATTACK’ #ItsBloodyTime #EndoMetriosis #Endo DEAR MEN LISTEN!!! No Jokes

An article in which a male doctor called period pain “almost as bad as having a heart attack” is going viral on social media and raising an important question from women around the world:

Why didn’t you listen to us before?

In the original article, published by Quartz two years ago, University College London reproductive health professor John Guillebaud said cramping pain is as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.

When the article resurfaced on social media, women responded with a mixture of anger that it took a man’s statement to legitimize their concerns and relief that their symptoms might be taken more seriously.

The article also prompted a column in Marie Claire, which acknowledged the doctor for accurately depicting dysmenorrhea — the clinical term for menstrual cramps — but decried the need for a man to validate and confirm women’s experiences.

“Although we know that [period pain] can feel like you’re being repeatedly punched in the stomach from the inside out, explaining this to other people (read: generally men) can feel like a lost cause,” wrote columnist George Driver. “Ignoring women’s pain has been a concerning medical practice for, well, forever, with research showing that doctors generally take it less seriously than men’s.”

Around the world, at least 20% of women and girls experience dysmenorrhea painful enough to disrupt their daily life and as many as 176 million women experience endometriosis, a painful affliction where tissue typically found in the uterus grows on other female reproductive organs and peels.

But, the Independent reports, there has been little research related to period pain, which means doctors often ignore or discount women’s complaints.

Women on social media have compared their period pain to childbirth or like a “blender is slowly ripping my insides to pieces.”

But it seems that, finally, men are starting to listen.

Clean Water & Sanitation: 23 Countries With Best and Worst Water Supplies (2016 list) let’s go! Will water be the cause of WWIII?

In Afghanistan, only 13 percent of the population has access to clean water.

Only 2.5 percent of the world’s water is fresh, drinkable water. Every year, snow melts off mountain peaks and runs into rivers, which feed into lakes. This water accounts for such a small percentage of earth’s surface — it’s no wonder wars have been waged over water, and some speculate water will be the cause of WWIII.

These renewable sources are vital to all life on earth. Unfortunately, water as a renewable source is not distributed equally. Small island nations and arid countries have to import bottled water from other water rich countries or invest in expensive infrastructure such as desalinization plants.

Other options in water-scarce regions often fall on the shoulders of the world’s most vulnerable populations, like girls with limited access to education. Girls and women in arid countries, like Afghanistan — where only 13 percent of the population has access to clean water — spend countless hours missing school to collect water.

Here is a list of some of the world’s most water-abundant and water-deprived countries, according to the World Bank and United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization’s most recent data.

Best

1. Brazil

2. Russia

3. Canada

4. Indonesia

5. China

6. Colombia

7. United States

8. Peru

9. India

10. Myanmar

Worst

All of the “worst” countries have no renewable fresh water sources. As less fresh water is available to people around the world, helping small countries like the sixteen listed invest in the latest innovative infrastructure to access clean water is key to breaking the cycles of poverty.

Many of these countries rely almost completely on importing bottled water, at a high cost for both citizens and the environment. Technology to clean water improves every day, especially with creative youth working to make change . Let’s share this technology, to increase water wealth throughout the world.

However, it’s not just about looking at the countries without their own sources of water. Countries abundant in water must also be held responsible at a global level to keep the world’s water clean.

1. Bahrain

2. Kuwait

3. St. Kitts and Nevis

4. Maldives

5. Malta

6. Antigua and Barbuda

7. Qatar

8. Barbados

9. United Arab Emirates

10. Grenada

11. Dominica

12. Cape Verde

13. Djibouti

Reduced inequalities: Yes, Slavery Still Exists — These Countries Are the Worst Offenders. {Shocker!}

The cover story in the latest issue of the Atlantic is a personal history titled “My Family’s Slave.”

The author, Alex Tizon, goes on to chronicle just that — how his mother in the Philippines was gifted a slave when she was 15, how she brought that slave with her to the United States, and how that slave remained a slave for his mother’s entire life, working all day and night without pay, unable to have a social life and enduring endless abuse.

The story is harrowing in its candid exploration of one slave’s experience and its description of how one family managed to normalize slavery through profound denial

But it’s also a disturbing reminder of how slavery still exists all around the world.

Globally, there are an estimated 45.8 million slaves, a greater number than at any other time in history, according to The Global Slavery Index. The refugee crisis currently roiling the world is also fueling the market for child slavery .

Slavery takes many forms, but sexual, labor-based, and human trafficking are the primary modes.

Here are the five countries that hold 58% of the world’s slavery population.  

*INDIA

Total slave estimate: 18,354,700

Rate of slavery: 1.4% of population

Top forms of slavery: Agriculture, bonded labor, domestic work, and sex work.

“There are many people in the village who were working with me as a bonded labor,” said one survey respondent for The Global Slavery Index. “I was physically and sexually assaulted when I was working in the field. I had also threat on my life and on my family. I was also threatened that I had to leave the village.”

*PAKISTAN

Total slave estimate: 2,134,900

Rate of slavery: 1.13% of population

Top form of slavery: Bonded labor for industries such as brick making. More than 20,000 brick kilns operate in rural Pakistan, preying on illiterate and desperate laborers who get trapped in illegal debt programs. If the laborer dies, his or her children are forced to assume the debt load and get trapped in slavery.

*BANGLADESH

Total slave estimate: 1,531,300

Rate of slavery: .95% of population

Top forms of slavery: Men are forced into labor, and women are forced into marriage. Oftentimes, men are captured, drugged, beaten, and enslaved, where they are then sold off as temporary workers. Forced marriage, meanwhile, often entails a life of abuse and poverty.

*CHINA

Total slave estimate: 3,388,400

Rate of slavery: .25%

Top forms of slavery: Sexual slavery and other forms of forced labor. The gender imbalance caused by China’s now-defunct one-child policy creates a demand for foreign brides who are forced into marriage. Because the women are often illegally in the country, they have little legal recourse. Further, there is widespread societal support for this system.

*Uzbekistan

Total slave estimate: 1,236,600

Rate of slavery: 3.97%

Top forms of slavery: Forced labor. Each harvest season, the government forces tens of thousands of people into cotton fields.

Reduced Inequalities: These 2 Issues Are the Main Obstacles in the Fight to End Modern Slavery, Says Campaigners

Corruption and the failure to enforce the law are putting modern slaves at greater risk globally, from India and Bangladesh, to the UK and the US, according to human rights campaigners and survivors. 

Activists from around the world have spoken out about the suffering they are witnessing in their countries and survivors have described their own harrowing stories, at the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Conference on modern slavery, in London.

“We’re not seeing [modern slavery] for what it is. Which is a violation of human beings being traded as a commodity,” said Kevin Bales, professor of contemporary slavery and research director of the rights lab, at the University of Nottingham.

Bales was joined onstage by campaigners and survivors including Ajeet Singh — the founder of the Indian non-profit Guria , which has already rescued more than 2,500 people from child prostitution and sex trafficking; Jessica Graham, from Survivor’s Ink in the US; and Asif Saleh, from Bangladeshi NGO BRAC .

But, regardless of the country, each agreed that corruption and impunity are the biggest barriers in the global fight against modern slavery and human trafficking.

“Talking about system failure, that seems to be a common theme regardless of what country you’re in,” said Saleh. “Admitting that there is a lack of enforcement is also about admitting corruption, state level corruption, that leads to this lack of individual security.”

Meanwhile, Singh pointed to low levels of prosecution and a failing in state support as being serious systemic problems in India — which is home to the greatest number of slaves in the world, with estimates varying from 14 million to 18 million.

Read more: This British Woman Was Just 14 When She Became a Prostitute — Now, She Fights to End Modern Slavery

While authorities want to crack down on slavery, according to Singh, their efforts are hampered by corruption and weak implementation of laws.

“The main problem in India is not about laws, it’s about implementation,” he said. “In spite of the government taking interest now, the problem is corruption and impunity. To point to an example, 42 survivors were being trafficked from a government protection home. And we told them, look your girls are gone. And then they filed a case. But none of the girls have been recovered, only one trafficker. No-one has gone to jail.”

“The acquittal rate is about 80%,” he continued. “Can you imagine? You do all the work for so many years and ultimately it’s zero.”

Read more: Scotland Is a Hotbed of Modern Slavery, Campaign Reveals

Singh is calling for a national action plan that doesn’t just address the law but also addresses how it is implemented.

He said that instead of tackling the issue in a far-sighted way, “I want to look at things in a short-sighted way. Here, to get justice in the long run, we are missing out on the individual survivors. No one should enjoy any impunity in sexual violence cases.”

But impunity is not just a problem in India, it’s a problem around the world.

American activist Jessica Graham, from Survivor’s Ink, also called for education and greater enforcement.

“You have to educate people to understand,” said Graham, who was introduced to the world of trafficking when she met Jennifer, the original founder of Survivor’s Ink and herself a victim of modern slavery at the hands of Graham’s estranged husband.

Read more: 9 Items in Your Kitchen That Might Have Been Made by Slaves

“Law enforcement needs to turn it around. Because right now they’re punishing the victims and they’re not going after the traffickers,” Graham continued. “They’re not putting in the investigative work to get to that point. Because it’s easier to do a round up every couple of months, and then punish the people they bring in. They’re punishing children, sometimes as young as 12 or 14, and they’re labelling them, they’re giving them these records, and they’re not helping them.”

She added: “The worst thing with our law enforcement is that when they do these round-ups, the minute these men and women are getting out of jail, the traffickers are right out there waiting for them. They’re picking them up.”
“It is not sufficient,” she said. “Honestly before Jennifer told me what had happened to her, I didn’t know. this existed. Nobody is educating people, nobody is talking about it. It’s this big secret, but it needs to be brought to attention.”
A British woman, identified only as Sarah for her own protection, also spoke out about her personal experience of being a victim of modern slavery on the streets of the UK.
Sarah was groomed by a gang in the UK between the ages of 10 and 12. She had been in foster care since the age of 3 and was moved around a lot so, she said, she was “vulnerable” to the gang, who “seemed to really care for me.”

“At a time where I had no love, support, or community, they provided it. That was something that I craved,” she said. “I started buying cheap alcohol and cigarettes from them. Sometimes I didn’t have to pay because I was a friend. That’s where my debt bondage with them began.

“When I was 12, I was called to the shop. But this time there were no smiles, only locked doors,” she continued. “They said I owed them £75,000… They showed me photos of my loved ones, oblivious that they were being watched, and said they would shoot them. They said I belonged to them and until my debt was cleared, I would have to work for them.”

For seven years, Sarah was forced to work as a prostitute, being sold to up to 16 customers a day. But, even though she had a foster carer and was known to the police, she said she was “completely overlooked.”

“Not one of them asked the questions,” she said. “Nobody wanted to find out why I was getting into trouble. Why a 15-year-old was going into hotel rooms with older men. Why a child was barely in school or why, when she was, she was exhausted.”
The traffickers had such control over Sarah’s life that, even when she was on a school trip to France in Year 8, they were able to find a way to make her work overnight with no-one noticing.
“Because of system failures, it took seven years [to be saved]. That should not have been the case,” she said. “If eyes were opened and questions were asked then I wouldn’t have had my childhood stolen by the most poisonous men.”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Conference 2017 launched on Wednesday in London, with 600 delegates from 300 international organisations united to take action together to help put an end to modern slavery.
“Slavery… flourishes where corruption operates with impunity,” said Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in her welcoming speech.
“[It operates] where those who are exploited don’t know their rights,” she continued. “The world is experiencing the biggest movement of people since World War II. More than 22 million people have been displaced from their countries.”
Villa highlighted the plight, particularly, of the Syrians forced to flee from their homes by conflict, and of the Rohingya Muslims who have run from violence — described as “ethnic cleansing” by British Prime Minister Theresa May this week — in Myanmar.
“You would do anything to put a roof over your child’s head,” she said. “It’s exactly what the traffickers prey on, and it’s silence that keeps them in that vicious cycle.”

Read more: Human Trafficking Survivor, Raped 43,200 Times, Has Dedicated Her Life to Helping Sex Slaves

The name of the conference has been changed this year from Trust Women to Trust Conference, in recognition of the fact that “slavery affects both men and women.” But, according to Villa, “it doesn’t mean that we have left the women behind. It simply means that we have expanded.”

“Slavery is horrific. You just turn a human being into an object that you can dispose of whenever you want. Not even animals are treated that way,” said Villa.

The term modern slavery encompasses human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sex trafficking, and forced marriage.

And the two-day conference aims to acknowledge the “multifaceted” nature of modern slavery, hearing from survivors, from companies that are taking measures to eliminate forced labour, and from organisations working directly to rescue people from human trafficking.

Slavery “is a crime that people have difficulty to identify and understand… that is discussed among small groups, behind closed doors,” added Villa, and it “affects every country, even here in the UK.”

Read more: Around the World, More Than 152 Million Children Are in Forced Labour: Report

An estimated 40 million people were enslaved globally last year across the world, in both rich and poor countries, in an escalating crime that is worth an estimated $150 billion a year. More than 152 million children worldwide are subject to forced labour.

In the US, up to 60,000 people are believed to be living as slaves, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. The British government believes there to be an estimated 13,000 victims of slavery in the country, but police believe the figure is much higher. 

According to Villa, cooperation between the public and private spheres is the way to make real impact on the ground, to really make a difference to the lives of people caught up in modern slavery.
“It’s a drop in the ocean,” she said, “but it’s a start.”

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.10, Reduced Inequalities.

Poverty: All Over the World Being POOR Is Treated as a CRIME! “When Poverty Becomes too Expensive”

Imagine being arrested for a crime you have no knowledge of, then waiting nine years in a prison cell to receive justice—until eventually, desperate to return to your home, friends and family, you give up and plead guilty.

This is the story of Victor: one of the heart-wrenching injustices on display in a new short film, “Nightmare,” produced by the Incarceration Nations Network and created by Alex Pope. The film sheds light on a global crisis that disproportionately affects the world’s poorest. Right now, 3.2 million potentially innocent people currently sit in jails around the world waiting—sometimes for decades—in deplorable, commonly unliveable conditions to face a justice system regarding crimes they may have not committed.

Prison systems treat pre-trial detainees as temporary and incidental, and therefore devote drastically insufficient resources to them. According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates among pre-trial detainees are three times higher than those of convicted prisoners, which are already significantly more frequent than those outside of prison.
In some countries the rates of pre-trial detention are upwards of 70% of the total prison population.
Such perturbingly elevated numbers across the globe are due to three major factors: lack of access to legal services, archaic, colonial-era legal systems clogged with delays, and a detainee’s inability to pay bail. These factors have one recurring theme: they are insurmountable barriers for low income people, who cannot afford private lawyers to circumvent the system or even low-level bail amounts. Cash bail is a system that essentially allows people to buy freedom; instead of assessing likelihood to return to court, such a system simply puts a price tag on justice.

Put another way, this is the criminalization of poverty. Overlooked and neglected as a population, people languishing in pre-trial detention overwhelmingly come from the poorest strata of society.

Read more: The Number of Women And Girls in Prison Has Grown 50% Around the World

The most recent audit of the prison population in Nigeria concluded that about 85% of pre-trial detainees were too poor to pay for a lawyer.

In India, one study estimated that 80% of the prison population has only a primary school education or is illiterate.

The latest comprehensive study in the United States revealed that 47% of individuals in local jails had not completed high school. The statistics grow more dire after people are imprisoned, due to the inability to earn while detained—which further drives unemployment and poverty.

Yet there is hope.

Ramel—who features in the film—was charged with resistance to arrest in New York and was sent to the notoriously violent Rikers Island: a place so dangerous that New York City’s mayor has vowed to shut it down. But he was fortunate to have the Bronx Freedom Fund pay his $500 bail. If the Bronx Freedom Fund had not bailed him out, he would have remained in Rikers for two years—the length of time the case went on—and would likely have pleaded guilty simply to get out of such a torturous place.

Read more: India Gay Pride Shows Hope for Country Where Being Gay is Still a Crime

In yet more welcome news, the Freedom Fund is set to announce it is developing into a nationwide effort, raising a fund “designed to post bail for more than 150,000 indigent defendants being jailed across the country,” according to the NYTimes.

There are many ways beyond provision of bail to tackle this crisis, which organizations like Incarceration Nations Network, the Wits Justice Project and The Bail Project are working tirelessly on. All of these methods are driven by one thing that every Global Citizen can agree on: poverty is not, and never should be, treated as a crime.

As Ramel rightly says in the film, “Justice is supposed to be blind, that’s how I see it.” We must no longer be blind to its blatant discrimination.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.1, No Poverty.

 

Reduced Inequalities: Youngest Ever Australian Senator with a Disability Sworn into Australian Parliament

At the age of 23, Jordon Steele-John has become the youngest ever member of Parliament.

He is the Greens’ second new senator and will replace Scott Ludlam as senator for Western Australia.

That’s not the only first Steele-John has accomplished — he has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is also the first person with a disability to sit in the Upper House.

Steele-John is a passionate advocate for those living with a disability.

“One of the things I’m hoping and excited to do is to bring those lived experiences and those different perspectives into the institution,” he told 2SER-FM.

“When we have diversity in that decision-making process then we get good legislation.”
He didn’t take the decision to enter parliament lightly, it was a decision he considered for a full week.

 

“I’ve spent the last six years talking about youth and disability issues and I’m incredibly excited to take that voice and lived experience into the Parliament.
He is not the first Member of Parliament to use a wheelchair. Up until 2007 Labor MP Graham Edwards, who lost his legs during the Vietnam War, also cruised the halls of Parliament in his wheelchair.

However the building is still said to not be adequately equipped. Staff at Parliament House have been installing ramps throughout the building and making adjustments to Senator Steele-John’s office to ensure mobility.

And yet, the leader of the Greens Richard di Natale pointed out that there are still some obstacles including the narrow doorframes and thick carpet that slows the newly sworn in senator down.

“For a building that’s only 30 years old, it’s remarkable that it takes someone like Jordon to come into the parliament to demonstrate it’s completely unsuitable for someone with a disability,” he said.

“The nearest [disabled] toilets are a long way away — just getting along the carpet has proved to be a huge problem.” said Senator di Natale

Steele-John will be taking a break from Macquarie University where he has been a student of politics during his time in Parliament.

It’s been reported that he had an interest in politics from a very young age. He says the moment that made him sign up as a Greens member at the young age of 16 was when Australia signed the asylum seeker deal with Malaysia back in 2011.

At the age of just 18 he ran in his first Federal election as the Greens Candidate for Freemantle in Western Australia. During that election campaign he said in a promotional video shared on Facebook,

“I joined the Greens because I think it’s important that we act to stop the worst effects of climate change.”

 

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.10, Reduced Inequalities.

 

Women & Girls: France Wants to Make Sex With Minors Under 13 Rape in “ALL” Circumstances

In France, two disturbing sexual assault cases in which adult men had sex with 11-year-old girls are grabbing headlines and potentially forcing real political change.

On Saturday, a 30-year-old man who had sex with an 11-year-old when he was 22 was acquitted on rape charges because the court found no evidence of “threat or violence,” BBC reports. This follows a similar case from September, in which a 28-year-old was acquitted on rape charges of an 11-year-old for the same reason.

Now, French Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa is calling on the government to amend its rape and sexual assault laws as part of a new sexual violence bill.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality. including an end in discrimination and sexual violence against women.

The new law would ensure that “any child below a certain age would automatically be considered as raped or sexually assaulted,” Schiappa said, according to The Local.

This age would be fixed at either 15 or 13-years-old. 

Although the legal age of consent in France is currently set at 15, prosecutors must prove that sex is “non-consensual” in order to bring rape charges, even for individuals below the legal age. Sexual abuse of a minor that does not involve violence or coercion, while illegal, carries a much lighter sentence than rape — up to five years prison time or a fine of 75,000 euros.

In late October, an estimated 2,500 women marched in Paris and other French cities to bring light to sexual assault in the country. According to at least one study, more than half of French women report having been sexually assaulted in their lives. According to another, fewer than 10% of reported sexual assault cases lead to a conviction.

Along with setting a clear minimum age for rape cases, France’s new sexual assault bill would also lengthen the amount of time minors have to report rape cases — from 20 to 30 years after reaching the age of 18.

Advocates are planning to pass a draft of the bill in the first half of 2018, according to the Guardian.

Women & Girls: Proposed Iraq Law Would Allow Girls as YOUNG as 9 to MARRY! (You read Right)

At the age of 9, most kids are getting ready to begin third grade.

In Iraq, 9-year-old girls could have a very different fate awaiting them under a proposed law now being considered by the Iraqi parliament.

A group of lawmakers in parliament voted to move forward with a bill that would allow religious courts throughout Iraq to grant marriages to girls as young as 9 — a change that could have a devastating effect on girls’ opportunities to go to school, lead healthy lives, and become members of their country’s economy.

The official marriage age in Iraq is currently 18, though judges can make exceptions that allow girls as young as 15 to marry.

The bill would change that process, allowing religious courts to make exceptions to the law for girls as young as 9, an age that reportedly comes from some interpretations of the Islamic religion, according to EuroNews.

The draft legislation was approved by 40 MPs, but will need to be voted on by the entire parliament in order to become law, according to EuroNews.

The transfer of power from state courts to religious courts represents a dangerous shift for Iraqis, the human rights group Equality Now said in a statement.

Read More: These Teen Girls Are Stopping Child Marriages in West Africa

“The organization of personal matters should be the responsibility of the courts and not the executive branch of Sunni or Shiite religious orders. This would create more fractions in the society and among communities,” the group said.

Religious courts — primarily Shia Muslim courts — would also be able to rule on divorce, inheritance, and adoption, according to the group.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality. including end child marriage around the world.

Political parties in Iraq have proposed such a shift in the past, and Equality Now pointed out that the proposal could be tied to upcoming nationwide elections in May, 2018.

In 2014, the Shia-aligned Fadila party proposed a similar policy change in order to shore up the Shiite vote, according to Reuters; the policy ultimately did not pass.

“This is an attempt by Fadila to show Iraqis that they represent the Shia and want to make their identity clear before the election,” professor Hassan al-Shimari, a political analyst at Baghdad University, told The Guardian at the time. “Everything is changing on a daily basis, and the division between the Shia themselves keeps being redefined.”

“It’s a completely shameless political stunt,” Haider Ala Hamoudi, associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters in 2014.

Equality Now said in a statement that the bill was “a complete violation of these girls’ human rights and could destroy their lives. Iraq must be held to its commitments under international law to end child marriage and not pass this bill.”

The Baghdad Women Association and Iraqi Women League also condemned the bill, according to Equality Now.

UNICEF estimates that one in five girls in Iraq is already subjected to child marriage, which puts them at greater risk for health complications — young girls can suffer health consequences from sex and childbirth — as well as missed opportunities at school and in the workforce.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a full vote.