Equality Now

Equality Now is an international human rights advocacy organization, with offices in New York, Nairobi and London, committed to ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. It was among the first international organizations to develop advocacy campaigns to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls.
Nov 25, 2013

Three case updates

 

 

Update on AGLDF campaigns

 

Yemen – child marriage: Equality Now and partners in Yemen have been pushing for a child marriage law in Yemen since 2009 . In a promising development Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour in September 2013 requested the reintroduction of a parliamentary bill that would effectively ban child marriages in the country. Equality Now and our partner YWU support the Minister in her efforts and we issued an update highlighting a number of child marriage cases and supporting the efforts of the Yemeni Human Rights Minister in calling for renewed discussion of the child marriage legislation. We are hopeful that a draft bill setting a minimum age of marriage will soon be considered and passed.

You can read commentary on this development from Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh: http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/11/20/yemen-to-finally-ban-child-marriage.html

 

Egypt - FGM: We would also like to share details of a new campaign we have undertaken on FGM in Egypt. In June of this year, 13-year-old Soheir died after a doctor performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on her at the behest of her father in a clinic in Cairo. The doctor who performed the procedure was interrogated by prosecutors and released on bail pending investigation. Soheir’s death highlights the immediate need for effective implementation of the 2008 FGM law in Egypt with 72% of procedures being performed by doctors in private clinics.

Our Middle East consultant traveled to Egypt and met with lawyers from both the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights (ECCR) who are pushing for both the father and doctor to be prosecuted for FGM and manslaughter. We are working with them on pushing this case forward and we issued an Action on the case in July 2013. Progress has been slow due to the political situation in Egypt but we have recently learned that the medical report has been released and are strategizing with partners on next steps in the case.

 

Brazil – Sex tourism: We continue to work with a pro bono law firm on the civil case filed on behalf of a number of girls in Brazil who were exploited in prostitution by a “fishing tour” company that brought American sex tourists to the Amazon. The stay in the civil case against the sex tour operator was lifted in November 2012 and although the defendant is appealing, his lawyers have reached out to us about a possible settlement. Our NY Director and the pro bono attorney in the case traveled to Manaus at the end of February 2013 and again in October 2013 to meet with the plaintiffs and our partner, IACAS.  During the October trip, the plaintiffs were interested in settling the case, as this will bring about a quicker resolution, and the pro bono lawyer will continue negotiation with the defendant’s attorney to arrive at an agreed figure. A mandatory mediation has been ordered by the U.S. court for early December 2013 to encourage settlement negotiations before the case potentially goes to trial. 

 

The 4 plaintiffs are still dealing with the trauma from their exploitation and Equality Now has arranged for them to receive weekly counseling sessions with assistance from our NGO partner and a consultant. As a result of awareness created by the Brazil case a recent public hearing was held in Manaus about commercial sexual exploitation of children at which posters and leaflets on the issue were handed out. In addition a law was recently passed that requires fishing guides (some of whom were luring girls onto boats to be exploited) to register and take a course on children’s rights and accountability. We also recently learned that Nick Kristof’s Half the Sky initiative is exploring taking a trip to Brazil to possibly include this story in a second book.

 

 

Thanks for your support! 

Sep 6, 2013

International Day of the Girl Child

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, a day of advocacy and action by and for girls. Leading up to this year’s celebration, Equality Now is getting ready to launch a new report on early marriage, which excludes girls from decisions regarding the timing of marriage, choice of spouse and participation in sexual relations and often leads to a life of constant violence and discrimination. This report provides recommendations on the legal provisions necessary to challenge child marriage based on a study of marital laws and their enforcement in 16 countries. We will share this report when it is available in a later update.

In the meantime, we are excited to share with our GlobalGiving supporters a recent success in our efforts to Defend the Rights of Adolescent Girls. Following the successfully divorce of Fatima in Saudi Arabia, who was sold into marriage at the age of 12, the Saudi Ministry of Justice proposed new regulations on the marriage of girls, setting 16 as the minimum age of marriage. Once approved by the Saudi parliament, the proposed law on a minimum age of marriage will leave Yemen as the only country in the world without a codified minimum age of marriage. Equality Now is currently working with the Yemen Women Union to push for a minimum age of marriage law. Although it doesn’t reach the internationally recognized standard of 18, this proposed law in Saudi Arabia is a start and helps girls like Fatima and countless others around the world to finally access the basic freedom to live meaningful and empowered. You can read commentary on this development from Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh on CNN.com: http://bit.ly/115ta1R

Meanwhile, in Zambia, following the landmark decision by the High Court in R.M.’s case, the Ministry of Education has drafted the mandated school guidelines on sexual violence. Once adopted, these guidelines will ensure that the Zambian legal and educational systems properly handle cases of rape in educational institutions and particularly by teachers. We are in the final stages of our project with the Tisunga Ana AthuaAkazi (“Lets Protect Our Girl Children”) coalition to set up “safe spaces” to give girls a system of referrals and empowerment, as well as boys’ networks that address gender stereotypes and violence against girls. The most recent evaluation of the project found that it had heightened public awareness of the issue, increased knowledge among girls of their rights, and created an enabling environment of response and engagement of a range of stakeholders to act in synergy towards a common goal.

Read more about Equality Now over the past 20 years in our latest Annual Report: http://bit.ly/164RgMH

Thanks for your support and let us know how you are planning to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child!

Links:

Jun 13, 2013

June 2013: Three case updates

Update on AGLDF campaigns

Uganda--Rape of disabled girl: As mentioned in a previous update the government chemist finally released the DNA
results in Sanyu’s case, which pointed to the likelihood that the one brother who had not been tested was the perpetrator and the father of Sanyu’s child. Unfortunately that brother was found dead two months ago. Our partner LAPD has requested to have the body exhumed to conduct DNA testing but the police are not responsive. We are now considering finding a pro bono attorney to take the case on and possibly sue the government for failing to properly investigate the case. 

Pakistan--Rape by police: As we pointed out in the previous update, the High Court found there was no evidence of rape and remanded the case to the lower court. In February, the lower court dismissed all the charges in Uzma’s case. Uzma was offered a job by the police which she has accepted. Our partners are trying to get the job transferred to Islamabad as the situation remains dangerous for her in her hometown.

Brazil--Sex tourism: Our NY Director Lauren, and the pro bono attorney in the case traveled to Manaus at the end of February to meet with the plaintiffs and our partner, IACAS.  Equality Now will be providing more victim support to the women for psychological counseling and education and we will also be writing a letter on behalf of the girls to the local social welfare office to help the girls receive better housing and other needed support from the government. In the meantime, the prosecutors in the Brazilian criminal case will be sending their evidence to help us build our civil case and we have also partnered with a Brazilian law firm in order to help push the Brazil criminal case.
Additionally, the Brazilian Senate finished its own inquiry into the sex tourism allegations against the man who ran the fishing company as part of a larger inquiry into human trafficking in general and has completed a report. We
are reviewing the report and its recommendations, which are in Portuguese, and will then determine where to focus our advocacy efforts.

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