Honduras bans child marriage
Honduran lawmakers voted unanimously this month to strengthen its ban on child marriage, including in cases involving parental permission that were previously exempted. Recent data show that Honduras has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the region, with more than one in three girls married before age eighteen. Experts suggest that enforcement of the law may be difficult, especially in rural areas and within indigenous communities. However, the ban could set an example for other countries in the region considering similar proposals, including the Dominic Republic and El Salvador. If enforced effectively, the prohibition on child marriage would not only advance girls’ rights but also increase prosperity in countries across the region: the World Bank estimates in a new report that the effects of child marriage will cost developing countries—including many across Latin America and the Caribbean—billions of dollars by 2030.
Women’s political leadership in Latin America
New reporting suggests that women’s political leadership in Latin America is on the decline. After Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s term ends, no countries in North or South America will have female presidents, a notable shift for a region that elected more female presidents in the last decade than any other: Chile elected Michelle Bachelet in 2006, Argentina elected Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2007, and Brazil and Costa Rica elected their first female presidents, Dilma Rousseff and Laura Chinchilla, in 2010. While sixteen of the thirty-three countries in the region have adopted gender quota systems, which many experts credit for relatively high percentages of women in national legislatures, experts also suggest that women continue to face significant barriers to attaining and holding the highest offices of powers.
Afghan women at risk
A new report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented a growing number of female civilian casualties during the first half of 2017, with women 23 percent more likely to dies as compared to the same period last year. The report attributes the rise in fatalities in part to the growing number of Afghan women in public arenas—including in government and security sector roles, which are often the target of insurgent attacks. Altogether, a record 1,662 civilians were killed within the first six months of 2017 and an additional 3,581 were injured. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, stating that “each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering and the brutal violation of people’s human rights.”