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Somalia prosecutes FGM
Somalia is prosecuting female genital mutilation (FGM) for the first time in the nation’s history after a 10-year-old girl died from the procedure last week. Somalia has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world, with 98% of all Somali women and girls subjected to the practice. In Somalia, FGM has yet to be banned, but the public and high-profile pursuit of justice following the recent death of a child marks an important step toward ending the dangerous tradition. Somalia's deputy prime minister declared this "an historic moment for ending FGM in Somalia. This cannot be happening in our country in the 21st century. It is not part of our religion, and it will not be part of our culture." This February, UNICEF estimated that at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM.
New Zealand provides paid domestic violence leave
New Zealand enacted a law to provide paid leave to domestic violence survivors, granting ten days of paid time off work to leave their abusers, find new homes, and protect themselves and their children. In New Zealand, rates of domestic violence are among the highest in the developed world. In 2016 alone, 118,910 family violence incidents were investigated by the police, although the number is likely much higher, as an estimated 80 percent of incidents go unreported. "It doesn't make sense to tell victims we want them to leave and then force them into poverty when they do," said MP Jan Logie, the architect of the law, who stressed the importance of providing an economic safety net for survivors. New Zealand joins the Philippines as only the second country with federal paid leave for domestic violence.
#MeToo movement in the international aid sector
A UK government report finds that sexual violence, exploitation, and abuse against women and girls is "endemic across the international aid sector." The inquiry was commissioned by the House of Commons International Development Committee after international NGOs, including Oxfam and Save the Children, came under fire for turning a blind eye to sexual abuse earlier this year. The report notes that "the aid sector...has been aware of sexual exploitation and abuse by its own personnel for years, but the attention that it has given to the problem has not matched the challenge." Reports of sexual abuse in the aid and humanitarian sectors are not new; just this week, a Frontline documentary revealed that more than 2,000 young women and children allegedly have been sexually exploited or abused by UN peacekeepers since the early 1990s.