India closes child marriage loophole
India’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that marital sex with a minor constitutes rape, for which perpetrators can face criminal charges. The landmark case overturns a 1940 law that permitted men to marry and consummate marriages with child brides as young as fifteen—a loophole that undermined the efficacy of a 2006 law banning the harmful practice of child marriage. The new ruling is the latest step in in a government campaign to curtail child marriage in India, following the 2013 promulgation of a national plan to end this harmful traditional practice. India also recently signed on to a regional action plan to end child marriage across South Asia by 2018, which experts suggest would help reduce poverty and drive economic growth. Despite these efforts, an estimated 47 percent of Indian girls continue to wed before their eighteenth birthdays.
Israeli and Palestinian women march for peace
Over 5,000 Israeli and Palestinian women arrived in Jerusalem this week after a two-week march through Israel and the West Bank to urge political leaders to return to negotiations and come to agreement on an inclusive peace deal. The march—one of the largest non-violent peace demonstrations in Israel and the Palestinian territories in recent years—was organized by the interfaith group Women Wage Peace, which also played a leading role in the mass demonstrations of 2011 and a cross-country peace march in 2016. Women continue to be underrepresented in official peace processes in the region, however: in the last twenty-five years, only a handful of women participated, including Tzipi Livni, who notably served as Israel’s chief negotiator in talks in 2013 and 2014, and Hanan Ashrawi, a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1990s.
EU launches fund to combat violence against women
The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) recently announced the launch of a new fund to combat violence against women around the world. The EU pledged 500 million euros to the fund, which aims to end all forms of gender-based violence, including sexual violence and harassment, trafficking, and female genital mutilation. According to UN Women, the fund will focus on strengthening legal frameworks, promoting preventive measures, and improving access to services across Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the initiative as vital to achieving the goals set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.