Legislators Commit to Addressing Child Marriage and Gender-Based Violence

Date:

Legislators Commit to Addressing Child Marriage and Gender-Based Violence

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • ParagraphThe focus of the Arab and Asian Parliamentarians’ Conference to Follow-Up on ICPD25 Commitments: Tackling Youth Empowerment and Gender-Based Violence, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, was on child marriage, gender-based violence (GBV), sexuality education, religion, and tradition.

  • A recent poll found that 62.8 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 who were married before the survey did so, while just about 12 per cent of women were married before turning 18. According to World Bank research, 18% of women in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region was married before age 18, according to Dr Suhail Alouini, a former Tunisian MP.

  • According to him, Muslim women from ethnic minorities still experience various discrimination.

  • According to Alamia, the Philippines’ law forbids child weddings, is not universally embraced by all communities and raises questions about religious freedom.

  • In his final remarks, Dr Jetn Sirathranont, MP Thailand, emphasized that there was still more work to implement the ICPD25 programme of action.

The focus of the Arab and Asian Parliamentarians’ Conference to Follow-Up on ICPD25 Commitments: Tackling Youth Empowerment and Gender-Based Violence, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, was on child marriage, gender-based violence (GBV), sexuality education, religion, and tradition.

The chair of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), Professor Keizo Takemi, MP for Japan, cautioned attendees that GBV is increasing in conflict settings, after natural catastrophes, and during the protracted COVID-19 epidemic.

“Moreover, due to economic strains and school closures brought on by the epidemic, children in some nations are more likely to be married off as children. Worldwide, one in five (21%) females get married before becoming 18 years old. In addition to denying girls access to education, child marriage increases the risk of difficulties and death associated with early pregnancy and motherhood.

The attendees heard from Pierre Bou Assi, MP for Lebanon and president of the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD), who stressed the importance of acknowledging and addressing GBV issues. Several case studies from the Arab and Asia-Pacific regions showed that while there had been some success, much work was still needed.

The incidence of GBV declined from 33% in 2016 to 26% in 2021, for example, according to Dr Dede Yusuf Macan Effendi, an Indonesian MP and the chair of the Indonesian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IFPPD). This was only “the tip of the iceberg,” as many incidences went unreported.

Effendi mentioned some of the problems in the area, including the high rate of underage marriage and exposure to HIV/AIDS.

With numerous “studies suggesting that the government should take steps such as increasing care capacity and access to services such as health services, social services, developing children’s abilities, opening and equalizing access, strengthening family and social bonds,” Dr Hasto Wardoyo, the chairperson of BKKBN, said lawmakers played a crucial role.

According to a lecturer from UIN Jakarta named Dr Nur Rofiah, Islam has a notion of maslahah or virtue. This acknowledges that women’s bodily experiences differ from those of males and that taking gender-based injustice and other behaviours that “create unpleasant experiences for women’s bodies” into account is vital.

The negative consequences of child marriage for women were highlighted by Rofiah, who claimed that child bride missed out on childhood, dropped out of school, experienced domestic violence, were frequently negatively impacted by divorce, were stigmatized by being widowed, lacked competitiveness in the workplace, often experienced single parenthood, and were susceptible to child marriage.

According to Indian MP Nadimul Haque, COVID-19 impacted the ICPD25 programme of action, particularly in health care, where gender equality and the eradication of malaria and tuberculosis were overlooked. To reach the goals, authorities must adapt their strategy throughout this decade of action to 2030, according to UNFPA ASRO Professor Hala Youssef, the region’s sexual and reproductive health adviser. She urged delegates to switch from “funding” to “financing” the ICPD goals. Although financing depended on the government, it also affected the larger society. Youssef urged lawmakers to focus on the needs of children, people with disabilities, those who lack access to healthcare, budgetary and financial allocations, social determinants of health, maternal mortality rates among adolescent girls, increasing the size of the health workforce, and capacity building.

The case study presented by Egyptian MP Professor Ashraf Hatem demonstrated how the problem of what he called “catastrophic health expenditure” of the poor would soon be resolved thanks to his nation’s Universal Health Insurance (UHI). The plan, which would be implemented in stages, would reduce out-of-pocket expenses from 62 to 32 per cent by 2032.

Around 35% of the population was receiving government assistance. He cited an instance of open heart surgery performed at a UHI hospital, which would run a patient 300 Egyptian pounds, or around $10.

Soukaina Lahmouch, a Moroccan MP, gave a bleak picture of the social, psychological, economic, and physical costs of unplanned pregnancies in her nation. Although the legal framework for abortion, marriage, and access to high-quality healthcare had improved, much remained to be done. She stated that roughly 153 babies are born in Morocco out of wedlock every day, 24 of whom are left at the hospital.

In rural areas, only around one-fifth of mothers received prenatal care, and 13.4% of mothers gave birth without the help of trained professionals. About 11,4% of pregnant women still did not receive any prenatal treatment.

According to Lahmouch, “more than half of the women affected by poverty do not seek follow-up during pregnancies.” She also noted that education was a determining factor, with almost all women with secondary school education giving birth in a medical facility compared to those without education who are more likely to give birth at home.

A recent poll found that 62.8 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 who were married before the survey did so, while just about 12 per cent of women were married before turning 18.

According to World Bank research, 18% of women in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region was married before age 18, according to Dr Suhail Alouini, a former Tunisian MP. Although the legal minimum age for marriage is 18 in many nations, there have been instances where minor couples have been wed, thanks to judicial rulings.

According to Alouini, conflict and relocation enhance the likelihood of GBV, including sexual violence and forced marriages.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has caused a spike in reports of GBV in the Arab region and around the world, and child marriage rates have increased in some conflict-affected areas of the Arab region. Because of school closings and economic challenges, which made girls more susceptible to early marriage, the pandemic also interfered with efforts to avoid child marriage.

ICPD25 recommendations provide a road map for action, he said, emphasizing the importance of investing in data and research, engaging a wide range of stakeholders, and exercising political leadership. He noted that GBV and child marriage require a comprehensive and multi-sectorial approach focusing on prevention, response, and political leadership. Parliamentarians have a crucial role in combating GBV and child marriage.

Larissa Alamia, a Philippine MP for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, discussed the circumstances in the country and the autonomous territory.

“Physical, mental, and sexual abuse by a boyfriend or husband was experienced by one in four Filipino women between the ages of 15 and 49. One in six Filipino females gets married before becoming 18 years old.

The Philippines is renowned for having the “most vigorous woman’s rights movement and the most comprehensive anti-GBV legal frameworks and mechanisms in the world,” despite this being the case.

The Bangsamoro region is disproportionately poor, and 62 per cent of the women were from disadvantaged communities. Out of a population of 2.46 million women, 88,600 were child brides.

According to him, Muslim women from ethnic minorities still experience various discrimination. The country’s code of Islam personal laws specifies a marriage age of 15 for men and 15 or at puberty for women.

According to Alamia, the Philippines’ law forbids child weddings, is not universally embraced by all communities and raises questions about religious freedom.

In his final remarks, Dr Jetn Sirathranont, MP Thailand, emphasized that there was still more work to implement the ICPD25 programme of action. Still, he hoped that this conference would catalyze finding solutions.

Notwithstanding competing priorities, Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director of IPPF ESEAOR, urged lawmakers to continue working on the ICPD programme of action.

To make the world a better place for the young people and the children coming into this planet, she stated that we must be devoted as the older generation.

According to a study by Schneider and Hirsch published in 2020, “comprehensive sexuality education meets the characteristics of an effective GBV prevention… comprehensive sexuality education is based on human rights and gender equality.” Anjali Sen, UNFPA Representative in Indonesia, shared this information.

She urged its implementation, saying that it required the backing and participation of educators, parents, healthcare professionals, young people, and the government. Parliamentarians were responsible for guaranteeing the availability of funding and policy.

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