from Women and Foreign Policy Program and Women Around the World

Women Around the World: This Week

Krishna, 14, sits with her four-month-old baby Alok outside her house in a village near Baran, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, January 21, 2013. Krishna was married to her husband Gopal when she was 11 and he was 13. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, covering March 9 to March 19, was compiled with support from Alexandra Bro, Anne Connell, and Rebecca Hughes.

March 19, 2018

Krishna, 14, sits with her four-month-old baby Alok outside her house in a village near Baran, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, January 21, 2013. Krishna was married to her husband Gopal when she was 11 and he was 13. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Child marriage declines globally

According to a recent UNICEF report, the prevalence of child marriage is decreasing around the world. In the past decade, the proportion of women around the world who were married as children has dropped by 15 percent. The decline has been driven in large part by reductions of this harmful practice in India, which is home to about 40 percent of the world’s child brides. In an effort to reduce rates, Indian legislators criminalized child marriage in 2006 and local authorities launched campaigns to crack down on the practice. Although much work remains to end child marriage across the region—particularly in rural areas and among some ethnic minority groups—it appears as though recent efforts are paying off: over just one decade, the number of Indian girls married before the age of 18 plummeted from 47 to 27 percent.

Sexual violence in Syria

Investigators from the UN Human Rights Council reported this week that Syrian government forces and allied militias have raped and sexually assaulted civilians in a deliberate campaign to torture, instill fear, punish opposition communities, and extract information. The UN report—the first of its kind since the war began over seven years ago—documents a pattern of sexual violence carried out by the government-aligned forces during house raids, at checkpoints, and in detention centers. Women and girls comprise the overwhelming majority of victims, but the report details accounts of men and boys who also face sexual violence, particularly in prisons. Karen AbuZayd, an American commissioner on the UN investigating panel, said that chronic underreporting means that the documented cases of sexual abuse carried out by government forces and associated militias represent only the “tip of the iceberg.”

Sexual harassment at the United Nations

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Women and Women's Rights

Gender

India

Child Marriage

Sexual Violence

An internal United Nations memo addressed to the Office of Internal Oversight Services leaked this week detailed the UN’s failed response to sexual abuse allegations, documenting faulty forensics in cases of sexual misconduct and a culture of impunity. The memo was written by the UN’s top internal investigator amid mounting scrutiny over the organization’s handling of sexual harassment and assault cases. In February, reports emerged that senior UN officials were under investigation for alleged sexual harassment, and recent news reports revealed a lack of accountability for harassment cases. The memo was written just one day before UN Secretary-General António Guterres unveiled a “Speak Up” helpline for staff who experience misconduct, part of the five-point plan to tackle sexual harassment among UN staff, which Guterres launched alongside a new UN task force on sexual harassment.

More on:

Women and Women's Rights

Gender

India

Child Marriage

Sexual Violence

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