A race against time: the new law putting Somalia's children at risk of marriage
Child marriage in the country has increased during coronavirus – and now a newly-tabled bill would allow children as young as 10 to marry
1. Fardowsa Salat Mohamed was 15 when her cousin asked her parents for her hand in marriage. Her father did not hesitate to say yes. When Mohamed objected, her father asked her to choose between “a curse and a blessing”.
Fardowsa Salat Mohamed 15岁的时候，她的表兄向他父母提亲。她父亲毫不犹豫地答应了。Mohamed 不愿意，她让她在“被诅咒和被祝福”之间做出选择。
2. “That was not a choice for me, I was basically forced,” she says. “No girl would ever choose to be cursed by her parents so I had to accept the marriage,”
3. Mohamed, who is from the town of Baidoa in south-central Somalia, was at school, dreaming of becoming a doctor. She had to drop everything and become a wife. Three years later, Mohamed was divorced with two children. She is now back living at her parents’ house.
4. According to the latest government figures, 34% of Somali girls are married before they reach 18, and 16% of them before their 15th birthday.
5. While children are married off for different reasons, such as the economic benefit of a dowry, and an increase in child marriage cases has been reported during the coronavirus pandemic, early marriage is rooted in Somali culture. An old Somali saying goes: “Gabadh ama god hakaaga jirto ama gunti rag,” which loosely translates as “a girl should either be married or in a grave”.
童婚早已根植于索马里的文化之中。而童婚的原因各不相同，有的是为了获得彩礼。在新冠疫情期间，索马里童婚案例有所增加。就如当地的一句老话说的：“Gabadh ama god hakaaga jirto ama gunti rag，”意思是：女孩要么结婚，要么死。
6. Marriage under 18 is not illegal, although Somalia’s constitution prohibits it and the country is signed up to several international treaties promising to tackle it. In July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020. But in August, the Somali parliament tabled a controversial bill that would allow a child to be married once they reached puberty, which can mean 10 years old. The sexual intercourse related crimes bill would also allow marriage if parents consented. The UN has called the bill “deeply flawed”.
7. The new bill has been fiercely criticised after MPs realised that it was different from a sexual offences bill unanimously adopted in 2018 by ministers but not enacted, which sought to prevent child marriage, and effectively criminalise a wide range of sexual offences.
8. Last year, the speaker of the house returned the draft bill, which has been in development since 2013, to the cabinet requesting changes. It remained dormant until two weeks ago when a new version was introduced under a new name: the sexual intercourse related crimes bill.
9. “It is completely unacceptable,” says Sahra Omar Ma’alin a member of the parliament’s human rights committee. “We have to protect the rights of our children. We have asked the deputy speaker to bring back the original bill, which we had been working on for so many years. It was such a comprehensive document that provides women the dignity and protection they deserve.”
议会人权委员会成员Sahra Omar Ma’alin说，“这完全是不可接受的！我们必须要保护孩子的权利。我们已经要求副议长重新提出我们已经为此努力多年的原始议案，这项议案很全面，为女性提供了她们应得的尊严和保护。”
10. Somalia’s current political instability and the forthcoming general elections makes it difficult for Ma’alin and civil society organisations to keep the pressure on for human rights.
11. The country is now run by a caretaker government after prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire was ousted in a vote of no-confidence in July.
12. “It is a race against time as the parliament’s mandate is going to end in a few months,” says Ma’alin. “The fate of our children is being politicised. Some politicians are using the bill as a campaign tool. They attempted to carry out the voting in the same manner they used to remove the former prime minister – in just a seven-minute debate – but we will never allow that to happen.”
13. In 2015, Somalia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UN applauded as a significant achievement for the country’s 6.5 million children.
14. “It is a shocking development, given that 2015 was a watershed moment for Somalia,” says Brendan Ross, chief of child protection at Unicef Somalia.
15. “UNICEF has been supporting the Somali government in domesticating that convention. To see a piece of drafted legislation which allows for the marriage of young girls once they are ‘sexually capable’ is astonishing in 2020. We are certainly opposed to that and the UN is unified on that.”
16. It took Mohamed five months to convince her parents to allow her to get divorced. Her former husband was addicted to chewing khat, the stimulant leaf common in east Africa.
17. “He would spend the little money he gets on khat instead of buying milk for our hungry children,” she says. “He took advantage of the support he had from my family. But I was relentless and kept on demanding until I was finally relieved.”
18. Although her parents welcomed her home, Mohamed has to support her children. Her father can only do so much, as he is already struggling to put food on the table for his other 10 children and two wives.
19. Mohamed now ekes out a living selling tea on the street, putting up with the stigma associated with being a single mother. “My priorities in life have changed. My main mission now is to build a better future for my kids so that they never experience what I went through.”
P9—P15：索马里各方对坚决发对新法规，主要以议会人权委员会成员Sahra Omar Ma’alin为例。
These young women have been married off to our fighters.
dowry/'daʊ(ə)rɪ/ n. 嫁妆；天资；亡夫遗产
His family hoped that his bride would bring a large dowry.
table /'teɪb(ə)l/ n. 桌子；表格；平地层vt. 嵌合；制表；(正式)提出，把…列入议事日程;(将主意、建议等)搁置adj. 桌子的
to table a proposal 提出建议
off the table 不予讨论；离开台面
round table 圆桌会议，协商会议
at the table 吃饭时；在谈判中
on the table 在桌面上；公开地
under the table 酒醉；秘密地
turn the tables (on sb) 扭转形势；转变局面；转弱为强
drink sb under the table（拼酒量）喝倒某人；喝到使某人醉倒
lay/put your cards on the table摊牌；（把计划或打算等）和盘托出
They have tabled a motion for debate at the next Party Conference.
controversial/kɒntrə'vɜːʃ(ə)l/ adj. 有争议的, 引起争议的
Any public or semipublic expression of racism is controversial.
intercourse/'ɪntəkɔːs/ n. 交流, 交往, 交际
A friendly intercourse is opened between the most remote parts of the world.
unanimously/jʊˈnænəməslɪ/ adv. 无异议地;全体一致地
unanimous adj. 全体一致的；意见一致的；无异议的
unanimous approval 一致通过
unanimous vote 全票通过或拥护
unanimous decision 一致决定
Following discussion, the annual report was accepted unanimously.
criminalise/'krɪmɪn(ə)laɪz/ vt. 宣布…犯法；使负刑事责任
The plan also would criminalize companies selling consumers' data overseas.
dormant /'dɔːm(ə)nt/ adj. 潜伏的,蛰服的,休眠的
dormant volcano 休眠火山；睡火山，休火山
dormant period 潜伏期，垫伏期
Many living things are dormant in winter.
instability/ɪnstə'bɪlɪtɪ/ n. 不稳定,不稳固
Racism causes political instability and violence.
forthcoming/fɔːθ'kʌmɪŋ/ adj. 即将到来的；现成的, 唾手可得的
Her letter may purport her forthcoming arrival.
caretaker government n. 看守政府；过渡时期的政府
She'll lead a caretaker government until the country's political parties can agree on forming a coalition.
oust /aʊst/ vt. 剥夺；驱逐；取代
oust from 驱逐
oust of 剥夺
He may be ousted by a military takeover.
a vote of no-confidence不信任票
In Iceland, some members of Parliament Monday demanded a vote of no confidence for the prime minister.
mandate/'mændeɪt/ n. (选民对选出的代表、议会等的)授权；(上级官员对下级官员下达的)正式命令vt. 将(某地)委托某国管理；授权(某人)根据委托统治权(做某事)
mandated benefit 强制性福利
general mandate 全面委托
bank mandate 银行委托书
constitutional mandate 宪法训令
legislation mandate 立法委任权
He was unrelenting in his pursuit of legal mandate.
ratify /'rætɪfaɪ/ vt. 批准；认可
ratification n. 批准；承认，认可
ratification process 批准过程
instrument of ratification 批准书
The heads of the two government ratified the treaty.
watershed /'wɔːtəʃed/ n. 分水岭; 分水线；转折点
Our marriage was at a watershed.
domesticate /də'mestɪkeɪt/ vt. 驯养；教化；引进; vi. 驯养；使习惯于或喜爱家务和家庭生活;
Dogs were the first domesticated animal of any kind.
They're obsessed with it, addicted to it.
She became addicted to the drug.
khat/kɑːt/ n. 阿拉伯茶(产于非洲和阿拉伯)
But shoppers seem more interested in khat, a mild narcotic popular with Ethiopians, Somalis and Yemenis.
stimulant /'stɪmjʊl(ə)nt/ n. 兴奋剂；刺激物；酒精饮料adj. 激励的；使人兴奋的
Musk is used for perfume and stimulant.
relentless /rɪ'lentlɪs/ adj. 残酷的, 不留情的, 无怜悯心的
The African sun beat relentlessly down on his aching head.
eke out v. 竭力维持；弥补…的不足
She eked out the stew to make another meal.
put up with v. 忍受；容忍
put up with sb 忍受某人
He had to put up with a smart rebuke from the teacher.
stigma/'stɪgmə/ n. 污名；耻辱；柱头；烙印；特征
It's a stigma to ask for money.
priority /praɪ'ɒrɪtɪ/ n. 优先；优先权；优先次序；优先考虑的事
give priority to 优先考虑；认为优先
top priority 最优先的
first priority 最优先；绝对优先权
Debenture holder has priority over ordinary shareholder.
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