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.

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Good Health & Well-Being: Diddy Donated $200K to Provide Healthcare to Women in Uganda #health #agenda2030 #Africa #Uganda #sdgs #globalgoals

“It’s important to give back. It’s important to be an agent of change.”

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An initiative started by rapper French Montana, in partnership with Global Citizen, in February of last year to bring health care to a rural medical clinic in Uganda can now count on another star philanthropist.

On Thursday, Rolling Stone reported that rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs donated $200K to the Suubi Health Center in Budondo, which provides maternal care services to rural mothers in the region.

According to the report, $100K of the donation came through Ciroc, a vodka company owned by the rapper. Combs matched that donation with $100K of his own money.

The money will go toward building a prenatal care clinic, birth house, and new ambulance, Rolling Stone reported.

“It’s important to give back. It’s important to be an agent of change,” Combs said in a video released on YouTube by the Mama Hope organization,

Combs’ donation brings the total money raised for the Suubi Health Center to $400K.

In May, French Montana donated $100K to Mama Hope after visiting Uganda in February to film the music video for his hit song “Unforgettable.” He had been inspired to visit after seeing a video posted online of Uganda’s Triplets Ghetto Kids, a local dance troupe.

Montana’s generosity in turn convinced The Weeknd to match the $100K donation, which, according to Mama Hope, allowed the clinic to increase its serving capacity from 56,000 people to 260,000.

Access to health care for poor women in Uganda is severely lacking, especially in rural areas.

Fewer than half of Ugandan women made at least four visits — the minimum number recommended by the World Health Organization — to antenatal care centers, according to UNICEF. In some regions, midwives must handle an estimated eight to 10 births each day and patients must walk almost 20 miles to reach the nearest health center, Insider reports.

The maternal mortality rate in Uganda, while lower than it used to be, is still 336 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births.

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number three: good health and well-being. This goal specifically calls on all countries to reduce their maternal mortality rates to below 70 per 100,000 births by 2030. 

Combs, who has invested in youth on numerous occasions in the past, sees his donation as an opportunity to create a brighter for women and children not just in his own country, but around the world.

“I’ve always said my purpose is to inspire and empower the next generation to become great leaders — and to honor their hustle along the way,” he told the Rolling Stone.

When it comes to his investment in maternal health care, Diddy’s showing that he’s still “All About the Benjamins.”

 

Women & Girls: Saudi Woman Seen Wearing Miniskirt in Snapchat Video Arrested #pressforprogress #timeisnow #globalgoals #sdgs

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A six-second Snapchat led to this woman’s arrest.

Six seconds can change your life.

For a woman in Saudi Arabia, a six-second Snapchat video of her wearing a miniskirt and walking through a fort in Ushayqir, a village in the ultra-conservative region of Njad, was that moment. It also led to her detainment by police and arrest.

Over the weekend, a video was posted to Snapchat to an account attributed to a popular user and model with the user name “Khulood” that featured a young woman strolling through Ushayqir in a skirt and crop-top.

On Monday, media sources reported that a woman, believed to be “Khulood,” was being investigated by legal and religious authorities in Saudi Arabia. Her full name, however, was not released by the authorities.

Then this morning, Saudi State television station, Al Ekhbariya, stated that a young woman had been arrested by police in Riyadh, 95 miles north of Ushayqir, for “wearing suggestive clothing.”

“Riyadh police arrested a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor,” Saudi State television station, Al Ekhbariya said in a tweet. She was reportedly released a few hours later.

In Saudi Arabia, women are required by law to wear an abaya, a long loose-fitting cloak, and a head-covering. However, the country makes exceptions for foreign dignitaries. Those exceptions have included Michelle Obama, who visited in 2015, and Melania and Ivanka Trump, who visited Saudi Arabia in May.

For Saudi women, however, wearing clothing deemed “immodest,” is still banned, along with driving and opening a business without male permission. Each act is considered a punishable crime.

And so the video has sparked debate through social media over Saudi Arabia’s conservative and controversial dress code law, with some arguing that the law reflects Saudi culture and should be respected.

“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” Saudi writer Ibrahim al-Munayif wrote on his Twitter account, according to the Washington Post

Others say the dress requirement is discriminatory against women.

“Saudi Arabia’s purported plans to reshape society and advance women’s rights will never succeed as long as authorities go after women for what they wear,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, told the Washington Post.

The debate also included discussion on women’s dress policy in the workplace, which if violated, can incur fines of up to $300, according to the Washington Post.

Police said that the woman detained told them she was with a male guardian the entire time she was in Ushayqir and that she did not post the video herself, the Guardian reports. She did not offer a statement or alternative explanation as to how the video was released.

“She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” the Riyadh police said in a statement, according to CNN.  

And although she denies posting the video herself, her choice and bravery to wear immodest clothing was seen as inspiration by some.

 

Women And Girls: Apple’s New Hijab Emoji Sparks Both Controversy and Hope #pressforprogress #timeisnow #sdgs #globalgoals

“I just wanted an emoji of me.”

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Last year, Rayouf Alhumedhi was sitting in her bedroom in Berlin creating a group chat with her friends when she had a realization:

“The fact that there wasn’t an emoji to represent me and the millions of other hijabi women across the world was baffling to me,” she told CNN.

The Saudi-born teen decided to take action. She created a draft of a hijabi woman emoji and sent it to the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit responsible for reviewing and developing new emojis.

“I just wanted an emoji of me,” she recalled.

On Monday night, her wish was granted. Alhumedhi found out “just like everyone else” that her emoji had been accepted; her friend messaged her a link to a Buzzfeed article which detailed the plans to release the new emojis in Apple products in the coming months.

Emojis have grown more inclusive over the past years, expanding their catalogue to feature a wide range of skin tones. Beyond the hijab, emoji is set to release gender neutral and breastfeeding women emojis later this year.

Apple’s inclusion of the headscarf-wearing emoji did not come without contention. Some people took to social media to express disapproval of the company’s decision. One user said that, by adding the hijab emoji, the company is expressing “support for the oppression of women.”

Alhumedhi is of the opposite mindset. Her family moved to the German capital from Saudi Arabia – a nation notorious for its oppression of women – when Rayouf was a child. She views the emoji she proposed as a means of increasing representation of Muslim women, and possibly even a vehicle to “indirectly promote tolerance.”

There has been a spike in hate crimes against Muslims since the 2016 United States presidential election. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that 15% of the time, headscarves act as the trigger for attackers.

Alhumedhi hopes that the new emoji can help reduce the stigma against hijabs, and illustrate that the millions of women who choose to wear a headscarf are “normal people carrying out daily routines just like you.”

#CleanWater & #Sanitation: Photos of Cape Town in Crisis as the City’s Water Runs Out #SDGs #SouthAfrica #Agenda2030 #CapeTown #SA

Cape Town would become the world’s first major city to run out of water.

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After years of severe drought, Cape Town, South Africa, is about to run out of water — unless businesses and residents comply with water restrictions designed to prevent Day Zero from arriving.

On May 11, the municipal dam’s water level will fall below 13.5% and force the Cape Town government to turn off taps around the city. After Day Zero, government officials said water will still flow at hospitals, health clinics, and other essential service providers, but individual residents will have to wait on line at 200 community taps to receive a 25-liter daily water ration.

That will be a major disruption for the region’s wealthy residents who are used to freely consuming water and, in many cases, seem unwilling to comply with the current 50-liters-per-day ration, according to the Associated Press .

But it’s a familiar experience for millions of poor Capetonians who share taps and toilets inside Apartheid-era settlements known as townships. The townships were designed to segregate black South Africans and continue to divide the city by race, income, and even access to clean water, according to the Guardian .

The water crisis puts Cape Town on pace to become the world’s first — and likely not the last — major city to run out of water.

 

A man carries water at a source for natural spring water in Cape Town, Feb. 1, 2018. South Africa’s drought-hit city of Cape Town plans to introduce new water restrictions in an attempt to avoid what it calls “Day Zero,” the day in mid-April when it might have to turn off most taps.

 

Cape Town’s main water supply from the Theewaterskloof dam outside Grabouw, Cape Town, Feb. 1, 2018.

 

Theewaterskloof Dam dips to 15.5% capacity on Jan. 15, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

 

Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Brewery Spring Water Point on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

 

 

A woman collects water in a settlement near Cape Town on Feb. 2, 2018. 

 

Theewaterskloof Dam dips to 15.5% capacity on Jan. 15, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Water will be restricted from 87 litres per day to 50 litres as temperatures reach 82 degrees Fahrenheit later this week. Politicians are blaming each other and residents for the deepening crisis. 

 

 

Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Brewery Spring Water Point on Jan. 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Clean Water & Sanitation: Over Half the World Could be in Danger for Water Shortages by 2050 #2030Now #SDGs #GlobalGoals

The world is at a turning point.

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Water could become a rare resource for 5.7 billion people by 2050 unless more sustainable water management practices are adopted worldwide, according to the United Nations’ annual World Water Development Report.

Released at the 2018 World Water Forum held in Brazil, the report depicts a stark crossroads.

Out of the expected 10.4 billion people in the world by 2050, more than half could be in dire need of water within just a few decades if the status quo of industrial water management and pollution continues.

That scenario could also drive “civil unrest, mass migration, and even to conflict within and between countries,” the report states.

On the other hand, if nature-based water management systems are adopted by countries, then the expected increase in demand for water by 2050 can be more than offset by the amount of water saved and regenerated.

The Problem

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Rebecca Blackwell

Since the start of the 20th century, global water consumption has increased sixfold, according to the UN’s report, and it will continue to grow by an expected 1% annually in the years ahead.

During this same period, water sources have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

In Latin America, Africa, and Asia, for instance, nearly all rivers have been harmed by pollution, the report says, because of runoff from agriculture and factories.

Further, 80% of global wastewater and sewage is discharged without treatment into bodies of water.

Meanwhile, around two-thirds of forests and wetlands, which are essential to the maintenance of water supplies, have been lost or degraded during this period

Soil, which also filters water, has been widely degraded because of unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution, and human development.

These challenges are being intensified by climate change, which is increasing the likelihood of droughts around the world.

Cape Town, South Africa, for example, is in the midst of a once-in-a-384 year drought and was recently facing the prospect of turning off the city’s water taps.

Similar tap water restrictions could become the norm by 2050, the report suggests.

A big reason for this is the world’s overreliance on infrastructure like asphalt roads and concrete buildings, according to the report.

These materials aren’t porous and prevent rainwater from filtering into soil where it can replenish water sources like aquifers.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the report’s preface.

“In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources,” he added.

In Mexico City, too much concrete and asphalt has starved aquifers of rainwater, leading to constant water shortages

Another problem is the continual damming of rivers throughout the world, which disrupts ecosystems such as wetlands that protect and clean water supplies.

The report discourages the construction of new dams in the years ahead because all the ideal dam locations have already been taken advantage of and any new dams will further disrupt water supplies.

While the stakes are high, the UN argues that water sources can be regenerated and maintained in the years ahead if simple changes are made.

First, the UN stresses that agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global water consumption, has to become more sustainable.

Large- and small-scale farmers have to adopt a form of “conservation agriculture” that promotes reforestation over deforestation, the use of rainwater over irrigation, and crop rotation over monoculture farming to rehabilitate soils around the world.

Next, nature-based methods of water collection have to replace industrial methods. This doesn’t mean fully abandoning modern water infrastructure. Instead, it means incorporating practices that can restore, rather than merely deplete, water supplies.

The report provides a few examples.

First, in Rajasthan, India, 1,000 villages faced extreme water shortages after local forests had been logged too severely and rainfall dropped. Community members were able to overcome these challenges by replanting forests and initiating small-scale water harvest programs that prevented water tables from falling too sharply.

Second, the Zarqa River basin in Jordan was being depleted in recent years as the city’s population grew and traditional land management practices were suspended. To curb this decline, communities were once again allowed to practice a form of land management known as hima, which allows parcels of land to be set aside for natural regeneration. This, in turn, helped to stabilize the river.

Finally, cities have to develop more green spaces that can capture and retain rainwater and replenish water supplies.

These are just a few examples of how small, nature-based changes can restore a community’s water supply, but they’re critical if countries want to avoid severe water shortages in the decades ahead.

“If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050,” Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO,

Women + Girls: “Focus Syria & Gender-Based Violence”; Syrian Refugee Women Are Being Forced to Trade Sex for Aid: Report #Refugee #RefugeesWelcome #SDGs #GlobalGoals #Syria

The UN has a zero tolerance policy for gender-based violence.

A startling report and BBC investigation into sexual violence in Syrian refugee camps has revealed a pattern of refugee women being forced to trade sexual services to local aid distributors in exchange for UN aid.

According to Danielle Spencer, a former aid worker who spoke with the BBC, the practice of trading sexual services for aid affected a “range of women” and had become “so endemic” that women were stigmatized for so much as going to aid distribution centers, where it was assumed that aid would be traded for sexual services.

Spencer said that she first learned of these exchanges taking place while working at a camp in southern Syria in 2014 and 2015 — and called for UN action to tackle gender-based violence.

“Women and girls need to be protected when they are trying to receive food, soap, and basic items to live,” she told the BBC. 

“The last thing you need is a man, who you’re supposed to trust, and who you are supposed to receive aid from, then asking you to have sex with him and withholding that aid from you,” she added. 

The report, “Voices from Syria 2018,” was released in November of 2017 by the United Nations Population Fund.

This year’s report noted that allegations of sexual harassment and assault “significantly outnumber[ed] the reports in last year’s assessments.”

“We heard about women being blackmailed were the distributor asked for favours from women in exchange for services — such as spending a night with them,” one woman said. 

In response to the allegations, a network of charities including the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF), CARE International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, along with UN agencies, announced a plan to roll out a “country-wide strategy” for protecting women and girls from sexual violence that includes a community-based system for filing harassment and assault claims and training for local distributors, Thomson Reuters reported Tuesday.

“Displacement, despair and destitution leave women and children particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including at the hands of those who are supposed to help them, though cases are often underreported,” a UNICEF spokesperson told Thomson Reuters. 

According to Thomson Reuters, the strategy for protecting Syrian women will be implemented this year. 

#Poverty, #Women & #Girls: Poverty Is Forcing More Refugee Girls to Become Child Brides #Refugees #ChildMarriage #EarlyMarriage #ChildBride #SDGs #GlobalGoals

“I regret that I got married. Girls my age are now studying. I am totally destroyed.”

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By Heba Kanso

BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon, March 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As 17-year-old Aziza sat in her dark tent in a refugee camp, she rocked her baby while her tiny hands adjusted his pacifier, looking down at all she had left from two broken marriages.

Aziza’s parents arranged for her to marry her cousin when she was 14. Her mother, Rashida, said it was normal for girls her age to become brides in their Syrian tribe as it protected them from harassment and reduced pressure on the family budget.

“I regret that I got married,” Aziza, who declined to give her full name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation as her eyes welled up with tears.

“The girls that are my age are now studying. They have ambition. I have nothing. I am totally destroyed.”

A growing number of girls among the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon since 2011 are becoming wives amid rising poverty, aid groups said on the eighth anniversary of the conflict.

Around one in five Syrian girls aged between 15 and 19 in Lebanon is married, according to the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), which fears more young girls will be married off by families that cannot afford food, rent and medicines.

More than three quarters of the refugees in Lebanon are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive on less than $4 per day, UNICEF said.

Kafa, a local rights group, is calling on Lebanon to pass a law to make 18 the minimum age for marriage.

There is no minimum age of marriage in Lebanon. Religious communities’ personal status laws can allow girls younger than 15 to marry, according to Human Rights Watch.

The rights group said Lebanon is behind many other countries in the region that have set 18 as the minimum marriage age, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

“It is escalating … because they are living in a very closed community,” said Salwa Al Homsi, a spokeswoman for Kafa.

“The parents, they cannot afford to support their children.”

Aziza cradles her baby in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, February 2, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Heba Kanso

Aziza lives with her mother, father and five siblings in a small tent covered in plastic sheets in eastern Lebanon’s fertile Bekaa Valley – home to more than 300,000 refugees, the most densely populated area of refugees in Lebanon.

They escaped their hometown of Aleppo five years ago.

“My life in Syria was beautiful,” said Aziza, whose small-frame and adolescent features make her look younger than her years – a striking image of a child holding a child.

“I used to go to school … and wanted to be a doctor,” said Aziza whose favorite subject was Arabic.

Her father and two of her sisters earn about 6,000 Lebanese Pounds ($4) a day, picking grapes and potatoes seasonally.

“I have four daughters, I can’t give them everything they need,” said Rashida, adding that poverty was one reason they decided that Aziza should marry her 17-year-old cousin.

Aziza said she did not oppose the marriage at first, but she divorced after one year because of troubles with her mother-in-law and moved back into her parents’ tent.

When other refugees in her community started to “gossip” about her because she was divorced, she said the shame drove her into a second marriage, aged 16, to a 30-year-old Syrian man.

“I didn’t like him. I only married him because people were talking,” she said from inside her family’s tent.

Aziza said she left the man after about a year because he physically abused her.

“The younger a girl gets married, the more at risk she is of domestic violence,” said Jihane Latrous, a UNICEF child protection specialist.

“It is an extremely worrying factor because they aren’t able to deal with such situations.”

Nearly 35 percent of women aged 20 to 24 in Western Bekaa surveyed in 2016 were married before reaching 18, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Beyond setting a minimum age for marriage, education of girls is key to break the cycle of poverty, said Latrous.

“The less this young generation is educated, the less they are able, themselves, to bring up their children in a way that will empower their children,” she said.

As the oldest girl in her family, Aziza was adamant that her sisters learn from how she “suffered” and do not marry until they are 20 or older.

“Don’t get married and finish school,” is her message to fellow Syrian refugee girls.

As Aziza looked down at her five-month-old son, she imagined a better life for him.

“When he gets older, I want him to be educated and not be like me, not knowing how to read and write. I want him to know Arabic and English,” she said with a smile. ($1 = 1,505.7000 Lebanese pounds)

Women And Girls: Uber Wants to Put Women Behind the Wheel in Saudi Arabia #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #WomensHistoryMonth

Female drivers would also give women riders who are uncomfortable with male drivers more options.

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Women account for the vast majority of Uber’s passengers in Saudi Arabia, but the ride-hailing app wants to start putting more women behind the wheel.

Until September, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women were not allowed to drive, according to Quartz.

Without an independent means of transport, Saudi women have relied heavily on services like Uber and its Dubai-based rival, Careem, in recent years. Currently, female riders make up 80% of Uber’s customers and 70% of Careem’s passengers, CNN reported.

And though both companies stand to lose users once King Salman’s royal decree granting women the right to drive goes into effect this June, they hope to gain new female employees and have already begun recruiting, according to CNN.

“We’re proud to have been able to provide extraordinary mobility for women in Saudi, and are excited by the economic opportunities this change could represent for them in the future,” Uber said in a statement in September. In fact, Uber quietly lobbied for Saudi women’s right to drive for the better part of a year, Quartz reported.

Over the past few months, Careem has been conducting training sessions — led by women who already work for the company in administrative roles — that cover road laws, how to use the app, and customer service, CNN reported. And thousands of Saudi women have already applied to become drivers, Abdullah Elyas, Careem’s co-founder and chief privacy officer, told CNN.

The company aims to hire over 10,000 female drivers by June in anticipation of the royal decree officially going into effect.

But hiring female drivers is about more that just providing economic opportunities to these women.

“Female [drivers] will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men,” Elyas said.

Still, while women’s rights in Saudi Arabia have improved in the last few years, there is much work to be done. Under the country’s male guardianship, women will still need permission from a man in order to apply for a job with Uber, Careem, or any other company. And Saudi labor laws prohibit women from working after sunset and before sunrise, with a few exceptions, according to CNN.

Though many Saudi women are excited to hit the road this summer and be more self-reliant, the country still has a long way to go before it can claim to have gender equality.

 

 

 

Women And Girls: 7 Reasons Child Marriage Is Horrible for Girls, According to The Guardian #WomensHistoryMonth #WomensDay #InternationalWomensDay

We’re well on board.

It’s rare that a national newspaper takes on one of the Global Citizen issues in its editorial — so we’re thrilled to see the compelling “wedlock is a padlock” opinion piece from the Guardian this week.

The more voices that are raised in the fight to eliminate the outdated practice of child marriage once and for all, the better, in our book.

Child marriage is a serious problem and we’re not going to stop going on about it until it’s well and truly over. As well as being one of the UN’s Global Goals, it also has a knock-on effect on many of the other 16 goals — quality education; access to quality healthcare; gender equality; and no hunger, to name a few. 

But still, a girl under 18 is married somewhere in the world every two seconds . More than 750 million women and girls who are alive today were married when under 18, and some 250 million of these were married before the age of 15.

While the proportion of young women getting married before 15 has dropped from 12% to 8% since the early 1980s, there’s still a long way to go.

So, in the wise words of the Guardian, here are seven reasons that child marriage is terrible for girls.

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1. Child Marriage Is Sexist.

While child marriage affects both girls and boys, girls are significantly more at risk from the practice with nine in 10 children who get married being girls.

2. It Exploits the Youngest, Most Vulnerable People.

Almost a third of girl brides get married to a man older than 21. There is an increasing scrutiny of the issue, and more and more of some of the most shocking examples of child exploitation are coming to light. Last year, a 6-year-old girl was traded to a 55-year-old man in Afghanistan in exchange for a goat. In August, a 16-year-old girl from India was sold to a 65-year-old Omani sheikh. Cases like these draw global attention to the practice, but there are still many girls that slip through the net.

3. It Traps Children.

Marriage is often seen as protecting girls, especially if they are pregnant, but it locks children into often abusive relationships. In many countries, child brides can’t launch legal action — for example divorce — or even access refuges, because they are minors.

 

4. It Can Stop a Girl in her Tracks.

Child marriage is one of the greatest barriers to girls around the world. It’s linked to poverty, and is often an end to a girl’s education. When a girl gets married, she is often expected to drop out of school and she’s not likely to return — instead taking on the domestic duties of a wife and mother.

5. It’s Linked to Violence and Exploitation. 

In a 2017 survey of laws in 73 countries , it was found rapists in at least nine countries could avoid punishment if they married their victim — including in Bahrain, Iraq, the Philippines, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.

6. It’s Everywhere. 

Even in countries that are supporting global efforts to eliminate child marriage. In every US state, child marriage is legal in specific circumstances. In 25 US states , girls of any age are allowed to marry in certain circumstances, while others have minimum ages as low as 13. In the UK , 16-year-olds can get married with parental consent, and 16-year-olds in Scotland can get married without it.

7. The Effects Are Hereditary.

Child marriage is hampering global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth. It’s not just a problem for this generation. It’s a problem for future generations too.

It’s linked to maternal and infant mortality , largely because child brides are forced to have babies before their bodies are ready. Even if they survive, the children of child brides are less healthy, and less likely to access education. As the saying goes, educate a girl and you educate a family.

As well as the girls and their families, child marriage is impacting us globally. The World Bank has warned , for example, that child marriage will cost developing nations trillions of dollars by 2030.

The problem is not necessarily a case of creating laws to protect girls — although legislation is undoubtedly a start and sends a significant message.

But it takes more than just laws. Even in countries where child marriage is illegal, many marriages aren’t formally registered. In other places, according to the Guardian , officials turn a blind eye to breaches.

Something more is needed, as well as legislation — enforcement. There is little point creating ever harsher laws against child marriage if communities aren’t able to enforce them, and girls and their families have no idea of their legal rights. Governments and local authorities need to step up to put into practice the laws that are already in place.

Another fundamental step in tackling child marriage is eliminating the underlying factors that keep driving girls into marriage. Poverty, for example; lack of economic opportunities; limited or zero access to contraception; patriarchal and traditional attitudes; and conflict.