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Compassion In Kenya

Compassion-CBO

Compassion CBO

Safe World Field Partner in Kenya - Compassion CBO, was formed to eradicate poverty through education and sustainable development among women living in the slums and rural areas and to rehabilitate orphans and vulnerable children.

Survivors In DR Congo

Bahati-with-group

COFAPRI

COFAPRI is based in Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Rupublic of Congo The organisation empowers women through encouraging income-generating activities such as the rearing of livestock.

Field Partner News

Safe World Field Partner, work directly with issues such as poverty, health-care, marginalisation, FGM, child marriage, and education.

Handwashing

Washing Hands to Improve Health in Rural DR Congo

COFAPRI organised handwashing sessions for school children and mothers in rural villages, with the aid of educational DVDs kindly supplied by Thare Machi Education. The word has begun to spread as neighbours are now prompting each other to wash their hands.
Safe Spaces

Safe Spaces Crucial for Women's Self-Reliance in Rural DR Congo

Increased security helps women become self-reliant and less financially dependent on their husbands. This improves the situation for the whole family and also means the women are less vulnerable to abuse.
Towards womens empowerment

DR Congo: Men's Inclusion in Women's Empowerment Benefits Everyone

It remains very important within communities for men and boys to be educated regarding the rights of women and girls, including their proper, fair and respectful treatment. When the women and girls become empowered, it is the whole community that benefits.
Margaret from Kiambu Support Group

Nairobi cancer survivor has hope at last

Margaret is among many women Compassion CBO trained in 2015. She has survived breast Cancer 2 times.

New Womens Magazine for Cameroon

The first edition of the Women for a Change Magazine is now available.

19-year-old SRHR college peer educators talk Feminisms

In most parts of our society, the word “Feminism” still remains a bitter pill for so many people to swallow, however, to Wfac’s college SRHR Peer educators, the ‘F’ word is about change, empowerment of all and transforming lives.

News, Interviews and Blogs

Under-reported issues affecting women and children. Exclusive interviews, articles and blogs by Safe World Correspondents and Content Partners

Lizzy and Victoria

Peace, Dialogue & the Ripple Effect: #RISING16 Global Peace Forum

Perhaps the most inspiring session for me came towards the end of the two days and was entitled ‘Bring back our girls – the forgotten victims of conflict’... We heard the CEO of International Alert, Harriet Lamb, and Victoria Nyanjura - who was kidnapped by…
Olutosin 2

Olutosin Adebowale: To America With Love

Once upon a time in my country, Nigeria, there was a ruler who was dreaded by many... We resisted and said No to every oppressive action or word to any weak or voiceless Nigerian... This is the time to stand firm on what has held the world together - Love.
Berlyne Ngwalem Ngwentah

Berlyne Ngwentah: 'The Biggest Cheerleaders of Women are Women'

All the most prominent, biggest community and feminist movements to alleviate the sufferings of women and girls and support women’s involvement in education and leadership have been championed mostly by women...
Jen 9

Promoting Misogyny, Zenophobia, and Bullying... is.... Nasty

I cannot ever vote for anyone who promotes misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, zenophobia, homophobia... It would be a mockery of my life... dishonoring my elders who have endured the many injustices of racial animosity, my friends who've experienced the same...
Women united

Women United for a Better Community in High Andean of Peru

“Women United for a Better Community” is a new group of grassroots women in the Ayacucho Region at the South High Andean of Peru, recently created by Estrategia, a National Grassroots women's organization. The grassroots women require to be heard and get the…
Narges

Narges Mohammadi - Women Human Rights Defenders Are Heroes, Not Criminals

On September 28th 2016 an Iranian appeals court upheld a 16-year sentence for 44 year old Narges Mohammadi, a prominent human rights defender. Mrs. Mohammadi is a key member of the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, a lawyer by training,…

Girls at a rural school in Nicaragua. Credit: Oscar Navarrete/IPSGirls at a rural school in Nicaragua. Credit: Oscar Navarrete/IPS

Pregnant Nicaraguan Girls Forced to Become Mothers

Source: IPS | José Adán Silva

Carla lost everything when she got pregnant at the age of 13: her first year of secondary school, her family, her boyfriend, and her happiness. She spent a year panhandling on the streets of the Nicaraguan capital before she was taken in by a shelter for young mothers.

Her life fell apart in December 2006, when her mother discovered that she was three months pregnant as a result of being raped by one of her primary school teachers. Her mother gave her a savage beating with a belt and threw her out of the house, saying she couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.

Carla’s* baby died at birth due to respiratory problems. During the pregnancy, a neighbour let her sleep in her house, but did not give her meals. So she sold homemade sweets and begged for small change at bus stops, where she suffered continuous sexual harassment from men who offered her money, drugs or food in exchange for sex.

She was initially taken in by Casa Alianza, the Latin America branch of the New York-based Covenant House, an international child advocacy organisation. But at the age of 15 she went to stay at a school shelter, where she took cosmetology and beauty courses. Now 19, she works in that field, and is also a volunteer motivator in the centre for young mothers, which she said saved her life and taught her that she had human rights.

The case of Carla, with whom IPS was put in touch by a non-governmental organisation that works with at-risk children and adolescents, illustrates a phenomenon that takes on alarming proportions in this Central American nation, one of the few countries in the world where rape is illegal under all circumstances.

170,000 births to girls under the age of 14

In this country of 5.8 million people, one of the poorest in Latin America, there were 1.3 million births in the public health system in the last 10 years. Of that total, 367,095 births were to girls and adolescents, including 172,535 to girls under the age of 14, according to a Health Ministry statistical report covering the period 2000-2010, released in July.

That means girls and teenagers accounted for 27 percent of all births in public health institutions. And 47 percent of these youngsters were between the ages of 10 and 14 – representing 13 percent of the pregnancies attended in the public health services.

Dr. Osmany Altamirano, an adviser on sexual and reproductive rights with the Nicaraguan office of the global children’s charity Plan International, told IPS that the problem was serious but improving.

“In the year 2000, adolescent mothers were 31 percent of the total. The teen pregnancy rate has gone down, although it is still the highest in Latin America, and one of the highest in the world,” he said.

A 2007 study by the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre reported that Nicaragua was the country with the highest adolescent birth rate in Latin America.

Nicaraguans of child-bearing age (10 to 49) represent 65 percent of the total female population, and 37 percent of that portion are between the ages of 10 and 19.

Cycle of poverty

Altamirano said the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy in Nicaragua forms part of the cycle of poverty in which most of the young mothers have lived.

“Pregnant girls reproduce the cycle of poverty, because they become mothers before they are biologically mature – in other words, they are underweight mothers who suffer from chronic malnutrition and give birth to low birth-weight, short-stature babies,” he said.

He also said that 47 percent of pregnant girls and teenagers do not complete primary school, effectively losing their right to an education.

“Many are forced to look for work in disadvantageous conditions, because they don’t have experience or training in a profession or trade, others are thrown out on the streets, and many end up as the victims of sexual exploitation,” he said.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics from 2009, 16 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old give birth every year, accounting for 11 percent of all births worldwide.

Karla Nicaragua, with the Quincho Barrilete Association, told IPS that in a study carried out in 2011 among teenage girls in Managua, 60 percent admitted to being pressured or induced to have sex with relatives, classmates, neighbours or even their fathers.

The phenomenon is explained, among other things, by a social fabric “that sees pregnancy as something normal” and “by a legal system that forces women to give birth, even under conditions of medical risk,” said Nicaragua, whose association is dedicated to the protection of street children in Managua and to preventing violence against children.

Abortion is illegal

Since 2006, this Central American nation has been one of the few countries in the world where abortion is illegal in any circumstances, and is punishable by prison – even if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or the mother’s life is in danger.

“The lack of scientific, accurate sex education in school and in the family, sexual harassment and abuse, peer pressure among adolescents, poverty and overcrowding, along with a permissive justice system, are all factors that influence the high teen pregnancy rate,” she said.

Lorna Norori with the Movement Against Sexual Abuse (Mcas) said that sexual violence is hidden behind the statistics on teenage pregnancy.

Nicaragua’s penal code establishes that sexual relations with a child under 14, even with the consent of the minor, amounts to rape, and is punishable by 12 to 15 years in prison, the activist for the human rights of women said.

Norori accused the state of Nicaragua of complicity in the public policy of forcing young pregnant girls to give birth, despite the fact that the law clearly states that they are victims of rape.

Around 40 percent of victims of rape in Nicaragua have no access to justice, according to the study “Indignación: datos sobre violencia sexual en Nicaragua 2011? (Indignation: Statistics on Sexual Violence in Nicaragua 2011), carried out by Mcas.

For the study, the organisation compared the records of the government forensic institute (IML) and of the National Police office of women and children (the Comisaría de la Mujer y la Niñez).

The study points out that while the IML reported a total of 4,409 forensic medical examinations of rape victims in 2011, the Comisaría de la Mujer y la Niñez only recorded 3,047 cases handled by the office of the public prosecutor.

The IML records show that more than 85 percent of the forensic exams were carried out on underage girls. Of them, 36.5 percent were adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 and 49 percent were girls under the age of 12.

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