Affordable And Clean Energy: Bernie Sanders Introduces Legislation to Rebuild Puerto Rico With Clean Energy #globalgoals #sdgs

Sanders’ new bill would invest billions into modernizing Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

The tail end of Hurricane Maria’s driving rains and powerful winds retreated from Puerto Rico over two months ago, but the aftermath of the devastating storm is not leaving the island any time soon.

Nearly 3.5 million American citizens are still facing a severely damaged electrical grid, crumbling infrastructure, and apathy from a president who has been roundly criticized for his recovery effort.

However, some are choosing to view the massive operation of rebuilding Puerto Rico as a chance to improve the island, bringing it back better than ever before. Leading this charge is former presidential hopeful and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

After visiting Puerto Rico last month, Sanders introduced a $146 billion recovery plan Tuesday aimed at rebuilding Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Notably, the plan calls for the elimination of Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt, and prevents all proposed privatization of any public institutions on the islands.

Aptly named the “The Puerto Rico and U.S Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2017,” Sanders’ plan offers a different vision of recovery than anything previously proposed. The bill emphasizes the importance of placing control of recovery into the hands of local impacted communities, with special focus on the sustainable development of infrastructure, and a clean energy power grid.

As hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leave the island for the mainland of the US, the bill would also incentivize residents to remain in their homes by offering subsidies to municipalities and homeowners who install renewable energy technologies like solar, wind, and geothermal power systems.

the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico were exacerbated by the effects of rampant poverty, high rates of unemployment, and a lack of economic investment by the US government into efficient infrastructure systems.

Sanders’ bill, which is to be co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would seek to remedy some of these longstanding social ills by including increased funding to the island’s healthcare and education systems.

Furthermore, the bill would provide additional funds to be invested in efforts to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change — a reality that could worsen the impacts of future weather-related disasters hitting both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and taking action on climate change is goal number 13. Acting too late to combat the effects of climate change would be devastating to millions around the world at risk from weather catastrophes like hurricanes. You can take action on this issue here.

Even with the support of high ranking Democrats, it is expected that Sanders’ bill will not pass through the Republican-controlled congress, as reported by the Washington Post. Earlier in November, Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló requested just under $95 billion to aid relief efforts on the island, but Congress has not approved this sum. Sanders’ bill would nearly double that.

As of this week, Congress has allotted $51 billion in aid for Puerto Rico, with another round of cash expected to be approved in December, Reuters reported.

Sanders told the Washington Post that it is Congress’ responsibility to pass legislation that solves the longstanding structural deficiencies of Puerto Rico.

“Congress must work with the people of Puerto Rico to fundamentally transform its expensive, antiquated and unreliable system,” he said.

Food & Hunger: A promising study on nutrition #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Nutrition

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About 40 percent of children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted, or short for their age, a result of problems such as chronically poor nutrition, inadequate maternal and child care, and repeated bouts of infectious disease. A new study has found that a broad effort to address the problem — like that used by the Millennium Villages Project — that includes improved farming techniques and diet, better access to health care, disease control and other services may help reduce the problem. In this video, the researchers explain their work.

Watch Video Here

Zero Poverty: Ending Extreme Poverty … in a Generation #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Poverty #ZeroPoverty

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The Zero Poverty Project

1.3 billion people in our world currently live in extreme poverty.

From The Global Poverty Project:

These 1,300,000,000 individuals live on less than what you can buy in the US for $1.25 per day. You might think this buys more in a poor country than it does here, but actually, it’s a figure that’s been adjusted for purchasing power, which means that anywhere in the world, the $1.25 a day measure buys little more than enough basic food, clean water and cooking fuel to make two simple meals.

In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved – from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.3 billion people.

At the Global Poverty Project we’re passionate about communicating these amazing achievements, and highlighting the opportunity we have to bring this number down to zero – within a generation.

This post summarizes how we can each play a part in realizing this opportunity – moving a world without extreme poverty from its current status of ‘improbable possibility’, to ‘likely reality’. This list is designed to introduce you to the key themes and issues related to ending extreme poverty.

How we think about extreme poverty

We know ending extreme poverty is a big and complex challenge. It has many causes, and there’s certainly no silver bullet or single solution, but we don’t think that this complexity means the challenge cannot be overcome. There are a huge number of smart and talented people all over the world in charities, business, academia, evaluation organisations,government and think-tanks who are building an evidence base of things that work, things that don’t and why.

The big three issues

To see an end to extreme poverty, there are three big issues that we need to see action on – governance, aid and trade. We know that we have the resources (economic, social, political and environmental) to see an end to extreme poverty. But, right now, the world works in a way that keeps some people poor, which is what we all need to focus on to see an end to extreme poverty.

Improving governance structures can ensure that decision-making works in favour of the world’s poorest people. At present, most discussions about governance are framed in terms of corruption. Rather than treating the problem of corruption as an excuse to stop investing in development efforts, we need to get behind those working in communities to counter corruption: by holding local leaders to account, increasing transparency, and ensuring that laws are applied. Corruption is not only a problem that needs to be tackled in poor countries. In rich countries we need to hold governments and businesses to account for any complicity in the process of corruption, or for unethically undermining poverty reduction through actions like avoiding tax or utilising vulture funds to recover illegitimate debts. We’ve posted more about corruption here, including an interview with leading experts here, or you can see the work being done by corruption-fighting organisations like Global Witness and Transparency International.

Next, we need to make sure that aid that’s given – whether through donations to charities or taxes to government – is spent on programs that really work. Foreign aid won’t end poverty – but it’s a vital ingredient that can be used to make investments in things like health, education and infrastructure – resources needed for countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. We’ve written more about good aid here, here and here.

Ultimately, extreme poverty ends when local communities can trade their way to a better future. The amazing poverty alleviation that we’ve seen in the past generation has been led by countries who have joined global markets: in China 400 million citizens have been lifted out of poverty since 1980, South Korea has moved from aid recipient to aid donor by building industry and creating world-renowned brands, and Botswana has grown faster than any other country in Africa by wisely investing proceeds from its diamond mines. Currently, the potential of trade is limited by the rules which work against poor countries, and will need to be reformed before we will see an end to extreme poverty.

The Elephants in the Room

Beyond these three issues, climate change and resource limitations are the elephants in the room, threatening the potential end to extreme poverty. The impact of these issues can be seen in the Pakistan floods, and in the record food prices which will mean that 1 billion people go to bed hungry tonight. On both of these issues our challenge is distribution, not scarcity. We aren’t running out of food – there’s more than enough food on our planet to feed everyone. The problem is that the world’s poorest people can’t afford to buy enough of it. In order to realize the potential of developing populations, rich countries have to increase their efficiency in resource use, and support clean development.

Our role

All of the opportunities and challenges of fighting extreme poverty outlined above are technically possible and eminently affordable. Our role is to make them politically viable and increasingly probable.

We can make a start with simple changes to the way that we act on a daily basis and by learning more about the issues so we can make informed decisions, especially about the ethics of the products we buy and the effectiveness of the money we donate.

Beyond that, we can help others realise that it is possible to end extreme poverty, that we are already making significant progress, and that practical steps can be taken to overcome the challenges that remain.

From there, it’s about using your voice as a citizen to join the campaigns and initiatives of organisations fighting hard in your local community to change the rules and systems that keep people poor: ensuring that corruption is reduced, that aid is given in appropriate quantities in the right way to the right things, and changing trade rules to give the world’s poorest a fair chance to lift themselves out of poverty.

Most importantly, it’s about recognizing that the movement to end extreme poverty is led by people in poverty themselves. As we reflect on the changes of the last generation, we can look forward a generation and see a real prospect of extreme poverty not existing. Our role is to get behind the world’s poor, give voice to their aspirations, and work as citizens and consumers to make the end of extreme poverty the legacy that our generation leaves on this world.

Simon Moss, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Global Poverty Project

Women & Girls: The All-Female Army That Inspired ‘Black Panther’s’ Warriors Are Getting a New Show #DahomeyAmazon #SDGs #GlobalGoals

The Dora Milaje were inspired by a real army of women called the Dahomey Amazons.

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Since Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” premiered in February, the superhero blockbuster has smashed records, stereotypes, and the patriarchy.

Its female characters and all-women army, called the Dora Milaje, have been celebrated for their strength and defiance of traditional gender roles. What many audience members may not know is that, though the Dora Milaje are fictional, they were inspired by the Dahomey Amazons, a group of West African women warriors.

And now the Dahomey Amazons are getting their own show.

The show, whose name has yet to be announced, will not only break down barriers through its depiction of powerful women warriors, but will also break down barriers in the global entertainment industry.

US-based Sony Pictures Television and the Nigerian network EbonyLife announced on Thursday that they would collaboratively produce the series — the first time Hollywood and Nollywood have worked together to create a tv show, CNN reported.

The Dahomey Amazons, originally drafted from among captured and imprisoned foreign women, have a complicated history that dates back to the 17th century. The women warriors were also known as the Ahosi, meaning the “king’s wives” because they were charged with guarding the king. But the majority of the women were not treated as wives, and instead were looked upon as soldiers, sisters, and daughters, according to Teen Vogue.

The fierce women are said to be the only all-female fighting force documented in modern history. It’s this legacy that the show hopes to bring to life on the small screen while pushing back against stereotypes about the African continent.

“Our vision has always been to change the narrative about Africa and to tell our stories from our perspective,” Chief Executive Officer of Ebony Life Mo Abudu said in a statement.

Though no timeline for the show’s release has been announced, people are already looking forward to the series and its potential impact.

 

Partnership for the Goals: Foreign Aid Was a Big Winner in the Budget Trump Signed Last Week #2030Now #SDGs #GlobalGoals

Essential programs around the world will receive the funding they need.

 

For months, it looked like US foreign aid would face massive cuts, imperilling programs that support education in disaster zones, food relief in famines, and maternal health.

But, thanks to bipartisan leadership from US Congresspeople and Senators, those concerns have dissipated — for now.

US President Donald Trump signed a federal budget through fiscal year 2018 last week that dispensed with the steep cuts that the administration had called for and nearly maintains existing levels of foreign aid, even increasing funding in various areas.

Funding for foreign aid was $59.1 billion last year and this year it will be $55.9 billion — still a sizable cut, but much less than the $17.9 billion reduction requested by the White House.

Although foreign aid makes up less than 0.5% of all US spending, its impacts around the world are enormous — and enormously positive. Foreign aid has helped increase access to health care around the world, provide quality education to millions of children, and help communities become more resilient to climate change.

By largely maintaining current levels of US foreign aid, essential programs around will receive the funding they need.

Here are five takeaways from this 2018 budget.


1/ Health Funding Increased

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Last year, the Trump administration threatened to cut funding for all maternal health programs through the “Global Gag Rule” and GC mounted the “She Decides” campaign to counter this possibility.

Instead of getting cut by the US government, maternal health programs are getting an additional $15 million to provide women and children with essential services.

Notably, the bill rejects the Administration’s original proposal to eliminate funding for family planning, keeping funding for international family planning programs that are bilaterally funded by the US at $608M

Funding for global health security, which seeks to mitigate the threat of infectious and other diseases, increased by $100 million, and funding for efforts to fight tuberculosis, which has been proliferating around the world, increased by $20 million.

2/ Education Funding Increased

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Funding for the Global Partnership for Education was expected to get cut or stay the same, but it ended up receiving getting an additional $12.5 million on the 2017 commitment, bringing the US total contribution to GPE for 2018 to $87.5 million.

Globally, 264 million children are out of school, either because of conflict and crisis, poverty, a lack of teachers and resources, or some other reason. Girls in particular are prevented from completing their educations because of stigmas and barriers around the world.

GPE is working to ensure children in 89 countries get access to a quality education.

3/ Food Aid Increased

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More than 127 million people were on the brink of starvation last year, and funding calls to stop various famines were made throughout the year.

The US budget responded to this demand by allocating an additional $116 million to Food for Peace, to bring the total US commitment to $1.72 billion.

Food for Peace is a US program that seeks to end hunger around the world.

4/ Various Programs Remained Intact

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The 2018 budget maintained funding for a lot of different programs.

For instance, US efforts to combat HIV/AIDS will continue to receive $6 billion; funding for programs that promote access to water and sanitation stayed at $400 million; and agricultural programs that promote food security will continue to receive $1.93 billion.

5/ There Was Broad Bipartisan Support

Senators and congressman from both major parties stepped up to protect foreign aid funding.

In particular,  we applaud:

  • Hal Rogers, Republican Congressman from Kentucky

  • Patrick Leahy, Democratic Congressman from Vermont

  • Nita Lowey, Democratic Congresswoman from New York

  • Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina

  • And all the members of the Appropriations and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs committees


It wasn’t all good news, however. A lot of essential programs will be affected by the net $3.2 billion in foreign aid cuts.

For example, $49 million was removed from emergency migration and refugee assistance, a staggering 98% cut. The world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis in recorded history and countries cannot afford to be withholding aid.

The Economic Support Fund, which supports emerging economies and establishes trade partners, was cut by $713 million; diplomacy programs were cut by $890 million; and funds for UN peacekeeping campaigns were slashed by $528 million, meaning other governments will need to pick up the slack.

Foreign aid fared better than expected in the 2018 budget, but this funding cycle will only be covered through September 30, and the negotiations on 2019’s budget, which will start at a 30% cut once again, have already begun.


Environment & Pollution: McDonald’s Will Phase Out Plastic Straws From UK Restaurants #BanPlastic #2030Now #SDGs

The trial will start across all 1,300 fast food outlets in May.

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McDonald’s will be phasing out plastic straws from its restaurants across the UK — in its latest environmentally-friendly effort.

The fast food chain will start trialling paper straws instead of the plastic ones at all 1,300 British outlets in May, in announced on Wednesday on Twitter.

Straws will also be kept behind the counter so customers will have to ask if they want one.

“Customers have told us that they don’t want to be given a straw and that they want to have to ask for one, so we’re acting on that,” said McDonald’s chief executive Paul Pomroy, in an interview with Sky News . “Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we’re moving those straws behind the front counter.” 

“If you come into McDonald’s going forward, you’ll be asked if you want a straw,” he added. “The other thing we’re looking to do is to move to recycled paper on the straws and biodegradable paper straws and that test, I’m really proud to say, will start next month.” 

The plastic straws in the fast food restaurant can actually already be recycled, but most people still throw them in the rubbish bin.

McDonald’s is “really close” to all of its packaging being recyclable, according to Pomroy. In fact, the only item of packaging that can’t currently be recycled, he said, are the plastic drink lids. But the chain hopes to find a solution to the plastic lids “within the next year.

Some 3.7 million people reportedly visit McDonald’s every day in the UK, with around 90% of the British population visiting at least once a year.

The announcement comes just a week after McDonald’s pledged to cut emissions in its restaurants and offices by 36% and across its supply chain by 31% by 2030, compared to 2015 levels.

It’s also part of a huge drive to cut down on single-use plastics, after the David Attenborough documentary “Blue Planet II” last year drove home exactly what plastics are doing to the marine environment.

On Wednesday, the government announced that England will be getting a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans — a system that has achieved a 97% recycling rate in Germany. It will mean customers pay a small amount extra — to be decided in a consultation later this year — when they buy their drinks, which they will get back when they return the container for recycling.

The scheme is part of the government’s 25-year plan , which aims to “set the global gold standard” on eliminating plastic, according to environment minister Michael Gove.

Sustainable Cities & Communities: This African City May Be the First Ever With 100 Million People Living in It {Lagos!!}#GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

It would be the biggest city in a world of 14 billion people, according to a new study.

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By Henry Ridgwell

LONDON—The world could see its first city with a population of 100 million by the end of this century. That is the conclusion of new research into the speed of urbanization in many fast-growing countries in Africa and Asia, which suggests even small cities could balloon into huge metropolises in the coming decades.

By the end of the century, the world’s population is forecast to reach up to 14 billion. Eighty percent of those people will be living in cities, according to new research from the Ontario Institute of Technology.

“We are now seeing the urbanization wave headed through China, it is toward the latter part of its urbanization. And now it is headed for India, and then we will see it culminate in the big cities of sub-Saharan Africa,” co-author and professor Daniel Hoornweg told VOA via Skype.

That could mean the first 100-million population city, and the top candidate is Lagos, Nigeria.

Africa and cities

Today its population is 20 million, not the largest, as that accolade belongs to Tokyo with about 38 million people, but one of the fastest growing. In two generations, Lagos has grown a hundredfold. By 2100 it is projected to be home to more people than the state of California.

“Lagos, Dar Es Salaam, Kinshasa: These are the cities that are looking at four- to five-fold increases in population. By the end of the century, the lion’s share of large cities, the top 20 if you will, most of those will be in Africa,” Hoornweg said.

Lagos sprawls across 1,000 square kilometers, an urban jungle of skyscrapers, shanty towns and everything in between. Its population grows by 900 people per day.

The poorest residents, often migrant communities, live in slums by the lagoon. Amnesty International has warned of ruthless forced evictions to make way for new developments, which have left more than 30,000 people homeless and 11 dead.

Oladipupo Aiveomiye lives in the Ilaje-Bariga shantytown.

“The threat of being evicted, the threat of being chased away overnight has gripped people to the extent that they cannot even work or operate in this area,” he said.

Young continent

Across Africa the median age is younger than 20 and the fertility rate is 4.4 births per woman. Even small cities are forecast to balloon in size. Niamey in Niger could grow from less than 1 million today to 46 million by the end of the century; Blantyre in Malawi from 1 million to 40 million.

Asia, too, will witness huge urban growth, with Kabul in Afghanistan projected to hit 50 million people.

Hoornweg says despite the associated problems of slums, poor sanitation and pollution, increasing urbanization can be a good thing.

“Cities, by their nature, because of a more compact lifestyle, can provide a quality of life higher than anywhere else with less energy per unit of GDP,” he said. “So, cities actually provide a really important opportunity. We will not get to global sustainability without big cities.”

Many cities in the West are predicted to plateau or decline in size. By the end of the century, only 14 of the biggest 100 are forecast to be in North America or Europe.

Quality Education: Malala Returns to Pakistan for the First Time Since She Was Shot #Malala #SDGs #GlobalGoals #2030Now

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She was attacked by the Taliban in 2012, to stop her speaking out for girls’ education.

Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since she was shot in the head, in an attack intended to silence her campaigning on girls’ education.

The activist, who is now 20 and studying at Oxford University, was attacked by the Taliban at just 15, in 2012. The group said at the time she was “promoting Western culture.”

Malala met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad Pakistan’s capital city, who welcomed her home and said she has returned “as the most prominent citizen of Pakistan.” Malala then gave a short speech on television.

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” she said in the speech , in tears. “I still can’t believe it’s happening. “I don’t normally cry… I’m still 20 years old but I’ve seen so many things in life. Whenever I travel in a plane, car I see the cities of London, New York and I was told that just imagine this is Pakistan, imagine that you are traveling in Islamabad, imagine that your are in Karachi. And it was never true. But now today I see I am here. I am extremely happy.”

Details of her four-day trip are being “kept secret in view of the sensitivity surrounding the visit,” an official told AFP news agency .

It’s not yet know whether Malala will visit her hometown of Swat, in the north-west of the country, which Malala described earlier this month as “paradise on earth.”

“I have received a lot of support in my country,” Malala told David Letterman, a US talk-show host , in a Netflix special. 

“There is this lust for change,” she added. “People want to see change in their country. I am already doing work there but I want my feet to touch that land.” 

It was in Swat that Malala was attacked, along with two other girls, while they were on a school bus after taking an exam. The gunman asked “who is Malala?” before he fired. She was taken to a military hospital in Pakistan, before moving to the UK to recover.

Malala had previously begun writing an anonymous diary about life under the Taliban rule, at just 11, for BBC Urdu. She became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, when she received the award jointly with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.

The Taliban, which remains active in the country, have specifically targeted schools and colleges in attacks, reported the BBC , killing hundreds of people.

Earlier this month, Malala penned an open letter  to the 53 leaders of the Commonwealth countries, calling them to ensure girls’ education is on the agenda at the Commonwealth Summit, to be held in London in April.

“Together we are fighting for what has been promised but not delivered for far too long: 12 years of safe, free, quality education for every girl,” she wrote. 

 

 

Women And Girls: Indian Brothel Owners Get Life Sentence for Child Sex Trafficking for First Time Ever #GlobalGoals #SDGs #PressForProgress

Fewer than 40% of trafficking cases end in conviction.

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By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India, March 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Two Indian brothel owners have been jailed for life for the trafficking, rape and sexual abuse of children, an unprecedented sentence in a country where fewer than two in five trafficking cases ends in a conviction.

Prosecutor Sunil Kumar said Pancho Singh and his wife Chhaya Devi, who ran the brothel in Gaya in the eastern state of Bihar, were found guilty on evidence from “brave survivors” and given the maximum punishment under existing anti-trafficking laws.

The court in Gaya heard testimonies from four of nine girls who were rescued from the brothel during a police raid in 2015.

“In most cases, once the girls are rescued, they go home and never come back to testify,” Kumar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

“But here, some of the girls came back and described in detail the horrors they had been through. They told the court about forced abortions, the rapes and how some girls had even committed suicide.”

Among them was a teenager from Howrah in West Bengal state who was kidnapped at the age of 11 and forced to have sex with at least 20 men a day for the three years, he said.

The teenager, who won a bravery award in 2017 for spotting one of the two traffickers at a railway station which helped lead to his arrest, was among those who testified in court.

The court awarded compensation of 450,000 Indian rupees ($7,000) to each of the four victims who testified in recognition of their bravery in coming forward and 300,000 rupees ($4,600) to the other survivors.

Of an estimated 20 million commercial sex workers in India, 16 million women and girls are victims of sex trafficking, according to non-governmental organisations.

According to Indian government data, less than half of the more than 8,000 human trafficking cases reported in 2016 were filed in court by the police and the conviction rate in cases that did go to trial was 28 percent.

The 2017 Trafficking in Persons report by the U.S. State Department stated that victim identification and protection in India is “inadequate and inconsistent”.

Campaigners welcomed Tuesday’s verdict, saying it should encourage other victims to come forward.

“It is heartening to see that more and more survivors of trafficking are coming forward in their fight for justice leading to more convictions,” said Adrian Phillips, legal head of the anti-trafficking charity Justice and Care.

Women And Girls: Yes, Forced Child Marriages Happen in the US, Too #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs #GlobalGoals

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When 15-year-old Maarib Al Hishmawi refused to marry, her parents beat her and threw hot oil on her.

On Jan. 30, 15-year-old Maarib Al Hishmawi walked out the doors of her high school in San Antonio, Texas, and vanished.

But she wasn’t playing hooky, she was seeking freedom and safety.

In the summer of 2017, Maarib’s parents told her they had arranged for her to marry a man who had offered them $20,000, investigators said. When the teenager refused to be forced into marriage, her parents reportedly beat her, choked her, and threw hot oil on her.

So Maarib stopped protesting, the Washington Post reported.

Once her parents believed that she had accepted her fate, they stopped abusing her, but Maarib had a bigger plan — one that she put into action on Jan. 30.

The FBI has since found the teenager, and she and her five siblings are in the custody of child protective services, while their parents were charged with abuse, according to the Washington Post. The family had moved to the US from Iraq two years ago, the Huffington Post reported.

Shocking as it may seem — Maarib is not alone.

Thousands of children across the US face pressure to enter forced child marriages every year, and most of them are girls, PBS Frontline reported. The nonprofit Unchained At Last estimates that nearly 250,000 children were married in the US between 2000 and 2010 — some as young as 10 years old, according to PBS Frontline.

To date, no state has banned child marriage, meaning that many children can be forced to marry someone before they are ready. While several states have set the minimum age of marriage at 18, legal loopholes in every state allow children to marry before then if their parents or a judge consents to the union, or if they are pregnant.

What’s not required in many of these cases is the child’s consent, meaning that children are being forced into marriages well before they are ready.

Arranged marriages are a common practice in some cultures and are not intrinsically harmful. But as soon as someone is asked to marry another person against their will, the marriage should no longer be considered arranged — it’s simply forced.

According to Unchained At Last, forced marriages are sometimes disguised as arranged marriages in the US. Precise numbers of children forced into marriages is difficult to determine, but the Tahirih Justice Center found 3,000 girls who were forced to marry, or suspected of being forced to marry, under threats of violence or ostracism between 2009 and 2010.

Despite efforts to end child marriage, bills recently proposed in Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky have all failed to set the minimum age of marriage at 18 without exception. But activists remain hopeful that the US will soon see its first state-level ban on child marriage.