Safeguard Futures: End child marriage – Petition

Payzee Mahmod started this petition to Boris Johnson MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jonathan Bartley MP, Siân Berry and Joanne Swinson MP

My name is Payzee. I was 15 when my dad first asked me to get married – I giggled “I’m so young”. The next time, I felt if I said no it would damage our relationship. I didn’t comprehend at 16 that it was a life-changing decision that actually meant leaving my family and forming my own. I didn’t understand the consequences.

Both my sister Banaz and I were pressured into marriage in the UK at just 16 and 17 years old. Banaz was later murdered at the age of 20 in a so-called “honour” killing for leaving her abusive husband. Whilst I was eventually able to divorce my husband who was 12 years my senior, the lasting effects of my experience of child marriage stay with me.

Despite this, current UK law allows 16 and 17-year olds in England and Wales to marry with parental consent, a legal exception that leaves children vulnerable to being coerced by their parent into marrying against their will.

That’s why I’m calling for the minimum age of marriage to be raised to 18 in England and Wales.

Outlawing child marriage is the best way to stop coerced child marriage from happening – there is no reason to leave children unprotected from the risks associated with child marriage in today’s society, when only 0.07% of registered marriages are with under 18s.

I remember thinking Oh My God, he looks old, he was losing his hair. I was just hoping he wouldn’t want me, that he’d say, “she’s just a baby!”.

I had to quit college for a bit because my husband complained that I wasn’t caring for him, cooking for him. He said to my parents, “she needs to have a baby”. It made me feel sick.

I did not choose child marriage, it ruined my future. It led me astray from my dreams of focusing on my education, it took away the best years of my life. I’ll never again be that innocent 16-year-old.

Alongside Freedom United and Girls Not Brides UK Co-Chairs: IKWRO, Karma Nirvana, Forward, and Independent Yemen Group, I am 100% backing changing the age of marriage.

I can confidently say it was not an experience a 16-year-old should go through. I have lifelong emotional scars from it and we need to put a stop to any more young women having their lives controlled like this.

Join me in calling on the UK to #SafeguardFutures #BanChildMarriage.

To sign the petition go to https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-mp-safeguard-futures-end-child-marriage

December 9, 2019

Universities ‘should have legal duty’ to fight sexual violence – Briefing Paper

Universities in the UK should have new legal duties to prevent and respond effectively to sexual violence and harassment on campus, according to a survey of selected higher education staff whose views were analysed in a new study.

Although universities are implementing initiatives, significant barriers are hindering further work to stop abuse from taking place, researchers from the universities of Durham, Exeter and Central Lancashire concluded.

Questions over policy

Reforms are being driven by individuals rather than institutions and many universities either have an ineffective sexual violence and harassment policy or have not yet developed one.

The research was conducted by examining responses to the 2016 Universities UK Taskforce report on tackling violence against women, hate crime and harassment.

A total of 134 university staff – many of whose role was to prevent sexual harassment or assault – participated anonymously with the online survey. The researchers analysed their submissions and supplemented their findings with follow-up interviews with a further 25 volunteers with knowledge about the issue.

Call for new legislation

The majority of university staff who were questioned said they wanted to see a mandatory legal duty on universities to prevent and respond effectively to sexual violence. Perceived barriers to progress included lack of resources and lack of joined up thinking by institutions.

Many staff were in favour of a new Kite Mark system to embed accountability. The UK awards Kite Marks to products and services to show that they conform to safety or quality standards.

Staff have crucial role

Researcher Catherine Donovan from Durham University said the study underlined the crucial role of individuals, acting as champions, in determining whether universities really engaged with the agenda for change.

“The role of senior management in being visibly pro-active in supporting the agenda for change was often described as being either the enabler needed or, where it was absent, the reason for the barriers faced,” she said.

Find out more:

Read further details of the study in a briefing paper published by the research team.

https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/news/item/?id=40529&itemno=40529

December 9, 2019

Self-referral rape examinations to be extended across Scotland

Victims of sexual assault are to be given the right to ask for forensic examinations without reporting a crime to police first.

The Forensic Medical Services Bill places an obligation on health boards to provide direct access to these services.

Rape victims will be able to refer themselves for examinations throughout Scotland.

Just two health boards currently have self-referral procedures in place.

The move is part of efforts to end examinations within police stations.

It follows criticism from an independent watchdog, which said services in Scotland lagged behind the rest of the UK.

The primary purpose of such examinations is to ensure victims of sexual crime receive medical attention, while forensic evidence is also gathered for possible prosecution.

The majority of health boards require crimes to be reported to police before victims can access forensic medical examinations.

Only NHS Tayside and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde currently accept self-referrals.

Any evidence collected is stored, allowing victims to decide whether to lodge a police report in their own time.

The bill also ensures victims retain control over any samples and property held by the health board, and will be able to request that evidence is destroyed.

The Scottish government has also announced £200,000 will be provided by the rape and sexual assault taskforce to develop the role of nurse sexual offence examiners.

This will allow nurses to be trained in performing a forensic examination, as well as giving evidence in court.

A new postgraduate qualification is also being developed to build multi-disciplinary workforce to support services in rural and island communities and increase the number of women available to carry out examinations.

Part of a longer news story at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50574738

December 4, 2019

Equal civil partnerships law take effect as from 31 December 2019

The remit of Civil Partnerships law by virtue of the Civil Partnership, Marriages and Deaths (Registration) Act 2019 which now provides by virtue of Section 2 (1) to persons who are not of the same sex to form a civil partnership in England and Wales

These regulations shall be in full effect no later than 31 December 2019 and as of 2 December 2019, those who previously held ceremonies in other jurisdictions that already provide them, such as South Africa, Netherlands, New Zealand and the Isle of Man, will have their unions automatically recognised.

This new social institution empowers those individuals who sought not to extend their relationships by getting married, however, want to give their family stability and greater security within their relationship and protect their children’s interests.

There are over 3 million opposite-sex couples who co-habit but choose not to marry for a variety of reasons. The children within these relationships are not afforded the security or legal protections that married couples, or civil partners of the same sex, enjoy.

These couples also fall short of having their financial rights protected by way of personal allowances for Income Tax and pension security in the event of a bereavement.

The legislation removes the unfairness, as all couples will have the same options for formalising their relationships and give long term, cohabiting, opposite-sex couples who do not want to marry, the opportunity to gain rights, protection and recognition, as a way of encouraging stable family relationships.

This would also mean that a civil partnership will no longer effectively be a declaration of sexual orientation and allow couples to remain in a civil partnership if one partner changes their legal gender.

The changes also mean that there will be a presumption of paternity so that a child born to a woman in a civil partnership with a man is a child of that man. The law has been extended so that where a child’s mother and father were in a civil partnership at the time of the child’s birth they shall each have Parental Responsibility for the child.

In practice, this will mean that in those situations where we have previously had to obtain the consent of the mother or make applications to the Court to acquire Parental Responsibility, these difficulties will be avoided if the parties have entered into a civil partnership. These are welcomed modifications and will give father’s a greater level of protection in those sorts of situations.

Part of a longer report at https://www.stowefamilylaw.co.uk/blog/2019/12/02/civil-partnerships-law/

December 4, 2019

Do you live in Scotland and have you experienced abuse from a partner or ex-partner? If so please consider taking this survey – Whole Lives

Whole Lives: Support for Survivors of Domestic Abuse in Scotland

About SafeLives
We are a UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We are working with local authorities in Scotland as part of a project called Whole Lives to help them understand how victims and survivors of domestic abuse find support, and why some people do not go to professional services for help.

About this survey
If you are aged 16 or over, live in Scotland, and have experienced abuse from a partner or ex-partner, please share your views with us. The survey should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. Your responses are anonymous. No one will be able to tell who you are unless you specifically leave your name, contact details, or some other identifying information in a comments box. Sometimes we use anonymous quotes from surveys in reports or on our website. You will have a chance to say whether you are happy for this to happen later in the survey.

How to complete it
Use the ‘Next’ button at the bottom of each page to move through the survey. If you want to go back to a previous page click ‘Back’. You can click the ‘Exit’ button at the bottom of each page if you need to. Once you have finished the survey a ‘Submit’ button will appear on the bottom of the page. Please ensure you click this button in order to send us your answers.

Please note the survey will ask if you have experienced certain types of abuse and about other needs you have or had in the past. If any questions cause you distress, you can either choose not to continue, or move past the question by selecting ‘Prefer not say’. If you have technical problems completing the survey, or any questions about the project, please email Scotland@safelives.org.uk

If you would like to talk to somebody about your experiences, you can contact:

  • Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline supports anyone with experience of domestic abuse as well as the family members, friends, colleagues and professionals who support them. Free, 24 hour, confidential helpline: 0800 027 1234 or visit www.sdafmh.org.uk for more information.
  • Victim Support Scotland provides victims with free and confidential emotional and practical assistance and information about the criminal justice system. Monday-Friday 8am-8pm on freephone 0800 160 1985.
  • Men’s Advice Line offers advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Free and confidential helpline available to people living in Scotland. Monday–Friday 9am-5pm on freephone 0808 801 0327 or visit www.mensadviceline.org.uk for more information.

You can take the survey at https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=156225467335

December 3, 2019