Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Child Brides & Woman's Suffrage Day NZ

19th September 1893 an important day in our history. Kate Sheppard led the suffrage    movement. Female Labour MP's in NZ have a campaign going asking what would Kate think now.

To be honest I have no idea what she would think and nor do the MP's. She might well object to the politicisation of her image in a partisan campaign.  

                                                                   Kate Sheppard
" The Governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
The passing of the Electoral Act was the culmination of years of agitation by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and other organisations. As part of this campaign, a series of massive petitions − including one earlier in 1893 signed by almost one in four adult women in New Zealand − were presented to Parliament.
In most other democracies – notably Britain and the United States – women did not win the right to vote until after the First World War. New Zealand’s world leadership in women’s suffrage became a central part of our image as a trailblazing ‘social laboratory’."
NZ History

However I am prepared to bet that she would be appalled to know that 119 years later that the world exploitation of females continues unabashed. 

From Reuters 
Key facts on child marriage around the world.

Tihun Nebiyu, 7, a girl from central Ethiopia, waits to be presented to her 17-year-old husband on her wedding day. Photo Chicago Tribune 

* Every three seconds, a girl under the age of 18 is married somewhere in the world, mostly in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

* The practice affects a third of girls -- and some boys -- in developing countries, according to UNICEF, which describes child marriage as "perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls."

* The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child says 18 years should be the minimum age for marriage.

* Child rights activists say marriage at a young age violates a child's basic human rights because they are too young to be able to give "free and full consent" -- a right enshrined in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

* Child marriage is most common in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

* In many developing countries the practice is illegal but the law is often not enforced or it operates alongside customary and religious laws.

* Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s. If they are 15-19, they are twice as likely to die.

* Girls under the age of 18 are more likely to develop obstetric fistula, which causes severe incontinence. This condition occurs during childbirth when a hole develops between the vagina and bladder or rectum.

* Girl brides are more likely to be infected with the HIV virus by their older husbands. A study in Kenya and Zambia by University of Chicago researchers found that among 15- to 19-year-old girls who are sexually active, being married increased their chances of having HIV by more than 75 percent.

* A girl bride is more likely to be beaten or raped by her husband and experience abusive relationships with her in-laws.

* The babies of child brides are 60 percent more likely to die before the age of one than children of women older than 19.

* Child brides are rarely allowed to go to school. Many are expected to bear and raise children and carry out domestic work for their in-laws.

* Girls from poor families are nearly twice as likely to marry before 18 than girls from wealthier families.

* The number of child marriages often increases during conflicts or natural disasters.

* Some families use marriage to build and strengthen alliances, to seal property deals, settle disputes or pay off debts.

We still have a long way to go Kate

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