UNICEF just published a success story on female education in India, and it’s inspiring. It profiles thirteen-year-old Arfa Khatun, who refused when her parents tried to commit her to marriage, and her parents accepted that refusal. That’s pretty amazing, especially in West Bengal, where almost half of marriages involve girls under 18.
China has had a one-child policy since 1978. It’s written into the constitution. It has been strictly enforced, through methods that include local officials in charge of monitoring birthrates, heavy fines for couples with more than one child, and social services available only to firstborn children. Now, with the nation’s demographics permanently altered, the Chinese government would like to see more kids born. Parents, however, don’t agree.
The most ratified treaty in the world turns 20 years old today. On November 20 1989, the Convention on the Rights of Child entered into force. Today only two countries remain outside the treaty: Somalia…and the United States. (Somalia is without a functioning government. The United States is without a functioning Senate.) To mark the anniversary, UNICEF released a report today, “State of the World’s Children, 2009″ and UNICEF director Ann Venemen
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF is celebrating accordingly with a series of PSAs like the one above (here’s one with Ewan McGregor and one with Claudia Schiffer). To date every country in the world has ratified the agreement, except the United States and, um, Somalia (which has no functioning government.)
The young girl whispered in a hushed tone. She looked down as she spoke, only glancing up from her dark round eyes every now and then. She wanted to tell more, but she was too ashamed. She was just 9 years old when, she says, Congolese soldiers gang-raped her on her way to school. …
The United Nations estimates 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo over the last 12 years, when war broke out with Rwanda and Uganda backing Congolese rebels seeking to oust then-Congo President Laurent Kabila. Rape became a weapon of war, aid groups say.
“It is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman or girl,” says Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who has spent the last 10 years focusing on Congo. “These are often soldiers and combatants deliberately targeting women and raping them as a strategy of war, either to punish a community, to terrorize a community or to humiliate them.”
Most times, the women are raped by at least two perpetrators. “Sometimes, that is done in front of the family, in front of the children,” Van Woudenberg says. She sighs, “What causes men to rape — I wish I had an answer to that.”
I’m glad that my former boss, Hillary Clinton, is there speaking out forcefully about this issue. We need to draw more attention to it.
More from my Dispatch co-blogger, Alanna.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.