Author Archives: 2Y2W
Greetings Friends and TYTW Supporters!
Too Young To Wed (TYTW) is excited to announce we have partnered with Global Giving to launch our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop funding campaign!
Born out of TYTW’s strong community ties, our immersive five-day workshops bring former child brides and at-risk girls together to help them process their trauma, gain confidence, and communicate their stories using the power of photography.
You can help make real change in these girls’ lives. For example:
- Only $10 provides an attendee with a personal hygiene kit. $10 more pays for a trauma training workbook.
- $25 covers an attendee’s personal expenses during the workshop.
- $100 pays for an attendee’s travel costs to and from the workshop.
- And $250 covers the cost the workshop for one girl, including materials and meals.
To learn more about our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshops, visit our Global Giving campaign HERE.
Stand with Child Marriage Survivors: Support TYTW’s Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop. Together, we can create a generation of empowered advocates and community leaders in the fight to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage.
Stephanie Sinclair & the Too Young To Wed Team
By Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister and UN special envoy for global education
It is now urgent that leaders of all faiths speak with one voice against the perversion and distortion of Islam by Boko Haram terrorists. Their recently issued video, which talks of the forced conversions of the 280 abducted Nigerian school children, follows their warning last weekend that their religion justified them selling girls into sex slavery for as little as seven dollars per girl.
Women gather on May 8, 2014, in western Niger to ask the UN to pursue Boko Haram Islamists who are responsible for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. Nigeria’s president said the mass abduction of the schoolgirls in Nigeria marks a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers join the search to rescue the hostages. Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau has claimed responsibility in a video, saying his extreme Islamist group is holding the schoolgirls as ‘slaves’ and threatening to ‘sell them in the market.’ BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images
Their violent assaults in the name of religion against innocent school girls have to be condemned throughout the world as we alert the Nigerian people to the true evil of a sect that claims to have its own special insight into Sharia law.
More than three weeks ago, I called for international action with logistic help for surveillance and satellite reconnaissance to locate and rescue the girls. Now, members of the Global Faiths Coalition for Education, including those representing the Islamic faith, are calling for condemnation of Boko Haram’s distorted theological claims that seek to justify slavery and rape.
Their proposed trade in girls — that they be exchanged for Boko Haram prisoners captured by the Nigerian authorities — shows that they have no interest in the welfare of the girls other than as pawns in their military game.
That is why faith leaders across Nigeria — some of whom I am in contact with already — and across the world must come together under the Global Faiths Coalition for Education in condemning any attempt to use schools as weapons of war and to justify atrocities on a fabricated interpretation of the Koran.
The new video gives us some hope that the girls may not have yet been dispersed across Africa and can be found. It challenges rumors that 50 girls had been seen as far away as the Central African Republic and lessens fears that they are now scattered throughout Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The video, however, increases pressure on the Nigerian government to mobilize its international help which now includes China, France and Israel as well as Britain and the USA.
Having met Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday [May 9] in Abuja, I can confirm his determination now that he has international technical support to move quickly to locate the girls and attempt to rescue them.
Students hold signs outside the state government house in Lagos, Nigeria, where groups called for the release of nearly 300 Chibok boarding-school girls, kidnapped by Islamist extremists a month ago. B PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
I have now seen interviews with the very brave Chibok girls who took their chances to escape after the devastating burning and looting of their school and village. It is, however, clear that as the girls were being taken from their dormitories and marched off in lorries late at night, many were so in fear of being shot that they missed their opportunity to run away
The Boko Haram pattern of behavior makes it all the more important that the safe schools initiative launched by Nigerian business leaders last week gets off the ground quickly. While Boko Haram are a small extremist faction with limited demographic reach, it will take a tougher approach to school security and safety to reassure girls’ parents and teachers that their school in the northern states is safe enough to attend. That is why foreign governments are now offering financial support for security guards and for proper fortifications and security equipment to give any school threatened by a terrorist attack the best possible chance of surviving it intact.
We can do more to create safe schools. In 2011, the United Nations designated attacks on schools as war crimes, and on March 7, 2014, only two months ago, the security council of the U.K. required UN authorities to increase the monitoring of the military use of schools and asked all states to take measures to deter any militarization of school precincts.
In the next few days under the banner “See it, Name it, Stop it: End and Prevent Attacks on Schools,” Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, will call a vigil and launch her guidance note to enable better protection of pupils in conflict zones. It has taken four weeks for the world to come together to provide military, security, and financial and moral support for the Chibok girls. Not a moment must be lost in locating the Chibok girls and making schools for all girls safer.
Follow Gordon Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/officegsbrown
Yemen is likely to vote on a comprehensive ‘Child Rights Act’ over the coming months, which would ban both child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
In January of this year, noted graphic designer Ken Carbone came to Atlanta’s Portfolio Center and asked us to work in teams to create 30-second TV spots that would hypothetically air during the Super Bowl. Each team was instructed to choose a nonprofit organization to advertise. My team, comprised of Natalia Ruiz, M.C. Coppage, Corrye Mobley, Carolina Colombo, Sophia Muhihu and myself, came together and began to research meaningful nonprofits that would make a good subject for our commercial.
We wanted to pick an organization that would lend itself to an unexpected, attention-getting reaction from the mostly male audience that watches the Super Bowl. That led us to Too Young to Wed. Natalia is actually the one in the group who brought this cause to light, but after looking at the website and researching more about the girls this group aims to help, we all knew that this was the organization we wanted to work on.
The goal of our commercial was to shock the audience that we imagined would be watching the Super Bowl. We wanted the ad to be simple, so watchers would understand it and feel its influence. The premise was to pan up vertically on a wedding dress while beautiful, classical music played in the background. To the unknowing viewers, it might seem like a typical wedding dress commercial, but as the camera keeps going up, we see a stuffed dog instead of a bouquet and then we see the girl’s face—a face too young to be wearing a wedding dress.
We got the wedding dress from Corrye’s friend, and Sophia had a family friend who was perfect to star in the ad. To make it even more impactful, we decided to have our model record a voiceover at the end of the commercial to drive the cause home.
We had a daylong photo shoot that resulted in amazing photographs and a powerful 30-second video.
The reaction to our ad was more than we could have ever expected. It was even recognized on Fast Company’s website. As a group, we couldn’t have asked for anything better. We worked so well together and produced an ad that could hopefully help Too Young to Wed do what it was created to do.
Ending child marriage around the world is such an important cause. If we can do one little thing to get this organization’s message to someone who might not know this is happening, then maybe that person will tell someone else, and that person will tell someone else, until the cycle completes itself and this epidemic is stopped for good.
Too Young to Wed sends a heartfelt thanks to the wonderfully creative team behind this amazing ad. All are students at Atlanta’s Portfolio Center, where Michelle focuses on copy writing, Sophia is an illustrator, Natalia is an art director, Corrye is a photographer, and M.C. and Carolina specialize in design. Have your own creative project that addresses child marriage? Please share it with us!
By Maryam Zar and Zainab Zeb Khan
Jaafari law is nothing new in the Muslim world. It is a form of jurisprudence named after the 6th Imam of the Shiite sect, and bases its provisions on the concepts of “zaman”—time—and “makan”—place. The basic idea thousands of years ago was that depending on any Muslim’s particular time and place or circumstance, the law would bend and conform to suit them.
Here and now, however, it would be nice if Islamic jurisprudence could follow its own lead and recognize that it is no longer the time and the place for 9-year-olds to wed, women to be raped over the course of a lifetime inside a marriage, and an entire gender to be held behind the confines of home walls until and unless a male guardian assents to their exit, and accompanies them. Those times have passed. Today, civilization, indeed codified human rights, demands that women have a right to self-determination, access to a basic education and agency over their own bodies.
Not so, say the new rulers of Iraq, who as members of parliament are proposing a new draft law to revert from decades of codified gains for women and girls to a centuries-old Jaafari text that would have women marry before they menstruate, eliminate the need for consensual sex within a marriage, restrict the movements of women and girls without male consent, have women inherit half of what a man would inherit in estate issues and pass custody rights of any child over the age of 2 to their father.
To date, there are three petitions against this law, both in English and in Arabic, that have gathered nearly 500,000 signatures worldwide. To be sure, in a world of 7 billion people and rampant population growth—largely because of uncontrolled births in parts of the world where girls are married young and have no education or access to birth control—a half a million signatures isn’t a majority. But surely, it should send a message that the time for child brides shuffling unsuspectingly into a lifetime of abuse with no representation or self-determination has passed, and that today free people everywhere demand human rights for women and girls. If the unsuspecting women who will suffer at the hands of this law were able to read or write, or even have access to unfettered news, they would likely sign on as well. But they do not, and in fact, this law seeks to exert the control and dominion of the patriarchy over women and girls to squelch any chance of an education or an autonomous life for an entire gender to have determination over their own lives and bodies.
So after generations of gains for Iraqi women, who before the U.S.-led invasion could go to colleges and universities hoping for lives that would merge the traditions of home life with the benefits of modernity, Iraq’s women must silently stay within the confines of their homes now hoping the newly installed patriarchy doesn’t yank their rights. The proposed Jaafari law stipulates that Iraqi Shiites would refer to Islamic Sharia Law for personal status issues, including marriage, divorce and inheritance. The law also outlines the consequences, repercussions and punishment that will be implemented against women and girls who do not follow the principles of these laws. The punishments are no less dire than the loss of life and limb. Transgressions for violating Jaafari law can lead to honor killings and physical punishments that would shock even those who argue that traditions are better left alone.
In the name of Tradition, a set of irrational arguments hinged on old notions of personal freedom and the teachings of religion (the premise of Jaafari jurisprudence) impose a damning set of rules upon the would-be victims: women and girls. The proposed Jaafari law would make legal the practice of child sexual abuse, marital rape and false imprisonment. Girls would be deemed as eligible for marriage at the age of 9, with consent in the hands of either fathers or grandfathers. The mothers, who would presumably know what kind of horror awaits their daughters, would have no say in the marriage.
Women would be vulnerable to heightened domestic violence through the elimination of consent for sex within the marriage, allowing what is effectively marital rape. In addition, this law will condone sanctioned pathways of brutal punishment including stoning, mutilation and unlawful imprisonment. Polygamy is also an option under Jaafari law, which provides for the specific manner in which multiple wives can be handled and even disciplined. The law would also strictly forbid marriage to a non-Muslim. In a country like Iraq, where multiple ethnicities live within the borders of one nation and deep sectarian divides separate religious minorities from majorities, this part of the law is a recipe for disaster among youth who dare to find love across religious divides.
Accompanying tragedies are sure to include heightened incidents of maternal deaths among young girls giving birth, infant mortality among families too large to responsibly care for, obstetric fistula, infanticide and much, much more. Women and girls will become further susceptible to trafficking, and child brides will soon be sold or traded like cattle to settle disputes or bartered for goods. With women effectively incapacitated from any kind of financial autonomy, poverty among women will only grow, and inheritance laws will leave them without the faculties to live through old age or to care for their children in the case of a husband’s death.
It is baffling that a school of thought with its origins centuries back is being revived for people who are desperately trying to join the modern world. No wonder there is an increasing global howl against it. To realize that this law is being imposed on a society that has existed under a secular legal code for decades, where the marriage age for girls has been 18 and consent has been a cornerstone for marital intimacy, is to cringe at the stakes for Iraqi women and girls. They are like you and I, hopeful for the future, ready to take on the world and join a modern era of technology and personal liberty. But the ideology that threatens to now govern Iraq would yank them back in time and take them to a day when little girls were brides and women were helpless inside and outside the home.
Today, this world is not the time or the place for this law, and we must speak out to stop it.
Currently, we need your support to stop the passage of this law in Iraq. A coalition of global organizations and human rights activists have aligned and launched petitions to take action, including two in English at Change.org and WalkFree.org and another in Arabic here.
To support us in opposing this law, please sign the petitions and share broadly with the hashtag #No2JaafariLaw.
Maryam Zar, J.D.
Blogger: Huffington Post
Editor: Rahavard English edition
Director: Communications at UNW-USNC-LA Chapter
Lecturer, media personality and advocate for global women’s rights.