Archive for  June 22nd 2018

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Khartoum, Sudan — Amal is 11 years old and seeking a divorce.

The young Sudanese girl was in elementary school when a 38-year-old man asked for her hand in marriage.

Her father accepted the proposal, and Amal (not her real name) was immediately wed.

In Sudan, child marriage has been woven into the fabric of the country’s culture, driven by tradition and poverty. More than a third of girls there are married before their 18th birthday, according to a 2017 UNICEF report, and 12% are wed before they reach 15. Under the country’s 1991 Personal Status Law of Muslims, children can marry when they reach “maturity,” which is only 10 years old. It’s the lowest legal age of marriage in Africa.

Noura in her own words: Teen who killed rapist husband shares her story

The recent case of Sudanese teenager Noura Hussein, sentenced to death earlier this year for killing her husband as he tried to rape her, has focused attention on child marriage in Sudan. Now 19, Noura was just 15 when she was forced to marry a man more than twice her age.

Pre-teen bride Amal says she was repeatedly abused at the hands of her husband, who smoked cigarettes as he beat her.

In an interview in Khartoum, her father sitting beside her, Amal told CNN that her husband had another wife who lived in the same house with them.

After the abuse, Amal said that she went to her father for help, but he kept sending her back. Eventually she escaped with the aid of her husband’s first wife.

“He treated me horribly,” Amal said of her husband. “Then when the beatings became every day, I went to the police station.”

A doctor who evaluated Amal’s injuries at the station found evidence that she’d been tied up and assaulted.

Though he had heard her story before, Amal’s father wept while his daughter talked to us.

“Twice, she came to my home, twice, and was terrified and frightened. I sent her back,” he told CNN. “I am regretful.”

Amal’s father, who works as a tinsmith laborer in the street, is raising six daughters on his own. When he described why he married Amal off — despite her young age — he cited tradition and honor.

“When I let him marry my daughter, it was on trust, on the basis that he would look after her, let her continue with her education and honor her as agreed,” he said. “But I found that this was not happening. It was all beating, humiliation and provocation.”

Many Sudanese parents marry off their daughters in hopes of avoiding poverty, violence or family shame. Unmarried women are often stigmatized as agir, “infertile,” or bayra, “not demanded for marriage.” But, in reality, child brides are more likely to face sexual, physical and psychological violence, according to UNICEF.

“I didn’t know that getting married at a young age could have such consequences,” Amal’s father added.

Despite what happened to Amal, he says it won’t stop him from marrying off his younger daughters.

In December 2015, the Sudanese government joined the African Union campaign to end child marriage on the continent. One year later, Sudan received recommendations from the United Nations with the same goal.

In the intervening years, Sudan’s National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) formulated a strategy for abandoning the practice, but the reform sparked counter-mobilization by conservative religious groups in the country and little has been done to implement it.

The SEEMA Center, a nongovernmental organization working with victims and survivors of gender-based violence in Khartoum, is among civil-society groups working to change that.

Nahid Jabralla, director of SEEMA, has been campaigning in support of Amal, Noura and other young women and girls with stories like theirs.

“Many of the cases brought to SEEMA Center are related to forced marriage, child marriage or domestic violence, including marital rape and cases to do with injustice,” Jabralla told CNN. “However, what is brought to SEEMA Center is a very small portion of the cases of the violations that women and children are subjected to in the Sudan.”

Read more: In Sudan, the #JusticeForNoura campaign gave a voice to the voiceless

The Sudanese government has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment on child marriage in the country, or Noura’s case.

While official statistics show that 34% of girls in Sudan get married before they reach 18, this varies significantly across the country. In Sudan’s East Darfur State, for example, 57% of women marry before the age of 18, according to a 2014 UNICEF health survey.

Sudan is full of Nouras and few have seen justice, Jabralla says.

Despite these odds, young girls like Amal are still fighting for a different future.

The 11-year-old, who likes to play with dolls and has filled countless notebooks with poetry, is adamant on having her divorce finalized.

As soon as it is, she wants to get back to school, to be reunited with her friends.

Asked what advice she would give other young girls fighting early marriage, Amal looked down at her hands.

“Be brave,” she said.

“I wish I was braver.”

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The ailing father of designer Kate Spade died just hours before his daughter’s funeral in Kansas City, Missouri.

An announcement was made Thursday at Spade’s funeral, according to WDAF. A priest at the service said Earl (Frank) Brosnahan Jr. was recently put into hospice and passed away Wednesday night. He was 89 years old.

“He had been in failing health of late and was heartbroken over the recent death of his beloved daughter,” a family statement says. Read the full statement from family below.

Brosnahan was born in Kansas City and lived most of his life there, according to his family. He was surrounded by family in his home when he died Wednesday.

Spade, whose real name was Katherine Noel Brosnahan, took her own life earlier this month. She was found dead in her New York City apartment on June 5. Her husband said she suffered from depression for years.

Spade’s funeral is taking place this afternoon at Redemptorist Church in Kansas City.

Here is the full statement from the Brosnahan family:

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Katy’s father, Earl F. Brosnahan Jr., passed away last night at age 89. He had been in failing health of late and was heartbroken over the recent death of his beloved daughter. He was at home and surrounded by family at the time of his passing.

Frank was born in Kansas City, Mo. and was a lifelong resident. He served in the U.S. Navy before graduating from the University of Miami in 1949, after which he returned to Kansas City to work in the family construction business. He was president of the Midwest Heavy Construction Association in the mid 1960s after taking over the family business fro his father Earl F. Brosnahan Sr. and his mother Helen Rose Brosnahan (nee Mottin).

Frank married June Therese Mullen in 1953 and had six children, Missy, Earl III, Ann, Reta, Katy (decesed) and Eve. He was an avid tennis player and a charter member of the Carriage Club in Kansas City for more than 50 years. Frank married Sandy Palmer in 1992 and she was at his bedside when he passed.

Later in life Frank took up golf and was a great lover of his two Yorkshire Terriers. He was especially proud of his wife, children and grandchildren. Frank is survived by his wife Sandy, three brothers and a sister, five children, eight grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, sisters Katherine and Helen De Salme and his daughter Katherine Noel.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts there are people who want to help. Please go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).