Page 1

Safe.

Issue III

Empower. Prevent. Protect.

Global Heroes who go there Education Over Marriage: Uncovering Early and Forced Marriage in Kosovo

The Road to Healing: Why Every Hour Matters for Post-Rape Care

Ilwad Elman Supporting her father’s legacy to “put down the gun and pick up the pen”


In partne rsh ip w ith :


Safe. Creative Director: Susie Henkel Editors/Writers: Michele Moloney-Kitts Director of Together for Girls Sandie Taylor Director of Communications and Operations, Together for Girls Jaimee A. Swift Managing Editor, Communications and Youth Advocacy Officer, Together for Girls Nita Ismaili Global Girl Media Kosovo A very special thanks to Regan Hofmann

The authors’ views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Together for Girls’ partners

Safe magazine: safe-magazine.com Together for Girls Social Media: togetherforgirls.org facebook.com/togetherforgirls @together4girls Cover photo courtesy of Ilwad Elman Back cover photo courtesy of DANHO/Daniel Hodgson

Features: 

4

Global Heroes Who Go There Ilwad Elman, Isaiah Owolabi and Malika Saada Saar are three global power players who are stopping violence around the world

12

Education Over Marriage: Uncovering Early and Forced Marriage in Kosovo  Nita Ismaili, a writer for Global Girl Media Kosovo, sheds light on the issue of early marriage – and the woman who is fighting to end the practice

16

The Road to Healing: Why Every Hour Matters for Post-Rape Care Every Hour Matters is a global campaign raising awareness about the critical importance of post-rape care to prevent potentially lifelong health problems

Safe is the first-ever digital magazine focused on the global epidemic of violence against children. It tells the stories of the people, organizations and countries combating violence and protecting the well-being and safety of girls and boys around the globe. Safe provides a platform for young people and adults alike to join the conversation about what can be done to prevent violence and how we can all play a part in creating a world where children are empowered and protected. This mini-issue of Safe is a compilation of a few of the many stories available through the digital magazine. If you like what you read in these pages, check out more Safe stories at www.safe-magazine.com.

safe-magazine.com • 3


Meet Three Global Heroes Who Go There By Jaimee A. Swift

Each year, Safe celebrates a fresh crop of global heroes. Here, we introduce you to three of our sixteen remarkable heroes – Ilwad Elman, Isaiah Owolabi and Malika Saada Saar – who were honored by Safe during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in November 2015. To read the stories of all 16 heroes, visit safe-magazine.com/16-global-heroes. What makes a hero? Someone who walks toward a problem, not away from it. Someone who puts others before themselves even if doing so puts themselves at risk. Someone who translates their own pain or hardship into solutions and salve for others. Someone who digs deep beneath an issue to find the root cause, and who is innovative, brave and tenacious enough to dream up, and implement solutions. Someone who takes on the hardest stuff, who doesn’t ignore the suffering in front of them, who soldiers on with few resources. Someone who goes there. They live and work around the world in diverse fields and settings but are linked by a common goal: to support those at risk for, and who have suffered, violence of all 4 • togetherforgirls.org


kinds so that they may live healthy lives free of fear and trauma, and so others are spared similar fates. Some are survivors, others, selfless supporters who saw a need and jumped in head first. They are young and old, women and men, people who leverage their public platforms to push for policy reform. People who stir it up on social media, who let strangers into their homes, who get up from helicopter crashes and get on with it on their crutches, who keep going though they know they are on an ISIS hit list. Collectively, their efforts offer a broad spectrum of best practices delivering powerful results. We hope you will be inspired by their stories, and their success. We hope you will consider supporting, or even better yet, emulating, their courageous, tireless, creative and world-changing work. We salute them. We hope you will, too. And in this moment when the world is focusing on fighting back against gender-based violence, think about what you can do to make the world a safer place for children. safe-magazine.com • 5


Ilwad Elman

Director of Programs and Development, the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center; Director, Sister Somalia, Somalia @IlwadElman @ElmanPeaceHRC

Safe cover hero Ilwad Elman is leading a movement to maintain a lifeline of safety and services for rape survivors in Somalia. Ilwad Elman’s path to helping her mother establish Sister Somalia, the first center to provide care and support for survivors of rape and assault in the capital city of Mogodishu, seems embedded in her DNA. Her father, Elman Ali Ahmed, was a revered activist for peace in Somalia, known for coining the popular Somali peace mantra, “Put down the gun and pick up the pen.” He was shot in the back in 1996, in the wake of the Somali civil war. His murder (some suspect it was an assassination) was never solved. Her mother, Fartuun Adun, is a human rights activist who created several community organizations in the city of Mogadishu to care for orphans and young children suffering in the midst of sectarian violence. Hoping to escape the strife and violence in Somalia, her mother took Elman and her two sisters to Canada three years after Elman’s father died. But the needs of her people called Adun home; she returned to Somalia in 2007 to continue her late husband’s work. A few years later, Elman traveled to Somalia to visit her mother. She quickly realized she too had a responsibility to support her father’s legacy. So, in 2010, Elman permanently relocated to Somalia. Al-Shabaab, a sect of Al-Qaeda, was controlling Mogadishu at the time, but like her father, and her mother, Elman refused to let terrorism deter her from helping her people. Today, Elman, who is 25, works beside her mother as the director of programs and development at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organization her mother founded to uphold the legacy of advocacy for peace her father championed. She also runs a subsidiary of the Elman Center, called Sister Somalia, a refuge for Somali women and children who have been internally-displaced due to the constant violence, many of whom have survived sexual assault. Sister Somalia offers health services, including comprehensive postrape care. Elman brings comfort to women like Nadifa (her last name is not given to protect privacy), a young mother who was tortured and brutally beaten after fighting off a militia member whom she found raping her 11-year-old daughter in front of her other children. Stories like these fuel Elman to speak out against rampant gender-based violence in Somalia. As the Youth Ambassador for Somalia on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, Elman speaks publicly on sexual and reproductive rights, female genital mutilation and cutting, and identity and culture in post-civil war Somalia. Like her father and mother, she plans to advocate for peace and human rights until they are an inextricable part of the fabric of life in Somalia. • 6 • togetherforgirls.org


Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star/Getty Images

As the Youth Ambassador for Somalia on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, Elman speaks publicly on sexual and reproductive rights, female genital mutilation and cutting, and identity and culture in post-civil war Somalia. safe-magazine.com • 7


Photo by Joel Sheakoski


Isaiah Owolabi

Co-founder and Project Director of Hacey’s Health Initiative, Nigeria @great_impact10 @HACEYHealth

Isaiah Owolabi is spearheading youth-led development programs and empowering communities to strengthen health systems across the African continent. His Twitter handle is @great_impact10. And that is precisely what Isaiah Owolabi is doing – having great impact on the lives of boys and girls in his native Nigeria and beyond. He serves as the co-founder and project director of Hacey’s Health Initiative, an organization that supports children, youth and women in Africa who are most disadvantaged, to live healthy and productive lives. Owolabi uses his expertise as a development professional with experience in public health and corporate sustainability to foster a better life for young Nigerians. Hacey’s vision, which Owolabi shares, is to strengthen health and community systems in Africa and to ensure that the organization’s interventions are relevant and sustainable. The organization, based in Nigeria, prides itself on using the CARE approach, which includes capacity building, advocacy, research, and education to support its beneficiaries. Hacey’s programs focus on sexual and reproductive health and advocacy; the promotion of the rights and inclusions of persons with disabilities; environmental education and action; HIV/AIDS; youth leadership; women’s empowerment and sanitation and hygiene. One of the programs, the Hands Up for Her Initiative, highlights the unique challenges that African girls face growing up, which hinder them from achieving their potential. By putting girls’ issues on the forefront of the local and global development agenda, the initiative seeks to stop violence against girls and women and educate them on their health and rights. Owolabi is also on a mission to end malaria. As the Program Manager for GBCHealth’s Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) initiative, he helps to increase business engagement in the multi-sector collaboration to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Owolabi recently received a prestigious award from Queen Elizabeth II. One of four Nigerians to be presented with the Inaugural Queen’s Young Leaders Awards, he was recognized by the British monarch for inspiring change. In addition, Owolabi is an alumna of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young Leaders, which is a program in conjunction with The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Launched by President Obama in 2010, YALI seeks to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa. Owolabi is absolutely living up to his Twitter handle; there is no doubt that his work will continue to have great impact for generations to come. • safe-magazine.com • 9


Malika Saada Saar

Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Counsel-Civil and Human Rights Former Director, The Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), United States @MalikaSaadaSaar

A formidable figure leading efforts to end genderbased violence against women and girls in the U.S., Malika Saada Saar is on a never-ending mission to make sure that survivors’ voices and rights are heard. “To whom much is given, much is required.” Those eight words are ones Malika Saada Saar lives by. A human rights lawyer, she leverages her professional expertise to protect women and girls from efforts to trick them using false online ads into situations that result in sex trafficking. In 2010, Saar led the shutdown of Craigslist’s sex ads, which had served as a highly productive medium for the sexual trafficking of young girls. As the former executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, an organization that she founded while at Georgetown University, Saar teamed up with other organizations to draw public attention to the exploitation fueled by the website’s “adult services” section. Her efforts with Craigslist led Saar to realize that online sex trafficking was a bigger story that needed to be highlighted and addressed. As the director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), a human rights organization focused on gender-based violence against vulnerable young women in the U.S., Saar launched a campaign called “No Such Thing.” In every U.S. state there are prostitution laws used to arrest and detain underage girls bought and sold for sex, further victimizing them. 10 • togetherforgirls.org


Brad Barket/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Because most girls who end up being sold into prostitution are not of legal age to consent to sex at all, let alone to commercial sex, the campaign calls for the eradication of the term – child prostitute – in both language and law. Rights4Girls also is calling on the Associated Press to stop using the term in its news reports through a Change.org petition that has been shared by celebrities including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Julianne Moore. Saar was also a pivotal force in a victorious lobby to ban the practice of shackling incarcerated women in U.S. prisons during labor, child birth and post-delivery care. She is also the founder and creator of Crossing the River, a written and spoken word workshop for mothers in recovery from substance abuse and violence. By dismantling the notion that the U.S. market for the trafficking of children for sex is dissimilar from the global human trafficking market, Saar is paving the way for better child protection in an environment people mistakenly think is safe. •

safe-magazine.com • 11


Svetoslava Madarova/Moment/Getty Images


Education Over Marriage: Uncovering Early and Forced Marriage in Kosovo Nita Ismaili, a writer for Global Girl Media, sheds light on the issue of child marriage in Kosovo – and the woman who is fighting to end the practice

By Nita Ismaili, Global Girl Media Kosovo

safe-magazine.com • 13


T

he night had fallen on the village Pobërgjë, near Deçan vicinity in the Western part of Kosovo, and all were asleep when a girl had the courage to leave home. At that time, the 17-year-old could not consent to the fate predetermined by her family – no education and having to accept an early marriage. Fleeing was the only alternative.

telicë, girls and women continue to live by village rules,” Lokaj said. “They are uneducated and brought up to be married at a very young age.” Early marriages are still a chronic issue in the country, which brutally violate the rights of minors, especially girls. As a consequence of early marriages, many other human rights are denied as well, such as the right to an education.

The girl’s 87-member household – living in hereditary traditions and customs – would in no way accept that she had the right to an education and gender equity.

“I told my parents all along not to plan an arranged marriage for me and that they would encounter many problems if they did,” When girls face gender Lokaj explained. “I discrimination in society, it creates had made it clear to them that I did not an environment where they feel want to get married as if the world is habitually against according to the custheir wills. It prevents them from toms, traditions and raising their voices, thoughts and their will.”

Many years later, the girl, Xhejrane Lokaj, would start the nongovernmental organization, Women Initiative of Dragash, where she tirelessly works opinions about issues in the world Lindita Piraj, officer to prevent early marand their overall lives. for gender equality riages and advocates in the municipality for girls and women in of Dragash, shed light on the prevalence of her village to have access to an education. early marriages in Kosovo. “Regardless of the pleading by my teach“Early marriages are a phenomenon that ers, my school director and the head of the unfortunately is present in our community, youth organization in the municipality of especially among the Goran-Bosnian comDeçan, my parents were never convinced munity, which has the largest number of that I deserved an education,” she said. cases in Restelicë,” Piraj said. “The largest “When all possibilities for my education number of early marriages are among girls were exhausted, and I was told I was to be ages 15 and 16, and are mainly influenced by married early by my family, I left everyone their parents or family members.” sleeping at home and did not see my family for a whole year.” When girls face gender discrimination in society, it creates an environment where they Unfortunately, Lokaj is not alone. There are feel as if the world is habitually against their many young girls in the village of Restelicë, a wills. It prevents them from raising their municipality of Dragash in the southern part voices, thoughts and opinions about issues in of Kosovo, who share the same fate. “In Res14 • togetherforgirls.org


the world and their overall lives. When girls are married at a young age, gender discrimination is heightened and further prevents them from exceling in life. Thus, the girl-child “turns” into a woman, who ultimately carries on her shoulders the burden of taking care of her husband, her children as well as herself. Although a wife, she is only a girl and is surely not prepared physically or mentally for marriage. However, there are other officials in Dragash such as Astrit Baxhaku, the director of the Registrar, who acknowledge that early marriages exist in the municipality, but claims that they are very few and far between. “There are many cases of early marriages, but very few of them are registered. Within a year, we have had two official marriages under the age of 18,” said Baxhaku said. Hajri Ramadani, the director of education in the municipality of Dragash, also says that there are no cases of parents banning their children’s access to education and that all children in this municipality attend primary and pre-primary schools. However, the data he provided shows that only a small number of girls attend high school after completing their primary school education. “In the municipality of Dragash, school is attended by all boys and girls, where there are 2,144 boys and 2,149 girls. The number

of boys that attend high school are 57 percent in the 10th grade, whereas 43 percent are girls,” Ramadani said. Civil society activists – in conjunction with municipality of Dragash – are conducting awareness-raising activities to prevent early marriages and promote girls’ education. In 2012, Lokaj held events about the importance of educating girls and conducted house-to-house visits in villages. She succeeded in some villages such as Krusha, where six girls enrolled in high school. However, she was very disappointed when she failed to do so in the Restelicë. “I went to every house in the village of Restelicë, urging parents to send their girls to school,” Lokaj said. “The girls were fully willing to continue their education, though they did not even dare to express their will.” Parents did not agree, she continued. “I was told that the priority for them was to get married and start a family,” she said. “According to their parents, the girls were at the ideal age for marriage, and school was an unsafe place for them. They still live under the old traditions.” Unfortunately, Restelicë continues to live with its notorious label of a village where not a single girl continues onto secondary education…yet. •

About the Author: Nita Ismaili was born in Eastern Kosovo. From an early age, she expressed the desire to write and recite, and was involved in various programs and literature competitions. Now in her junior year of high school, Ismaili is taking her first steps in journalism with the KosovaLive media organization, where she – alongside a dozen other young Kosovar girls – is a part of the Global Girl Media information bureau. Learn more about Global Girl Media at globalgirlmedia.org. safe-magazine.com • 15


The Road to Healing:

Why Every Hour Matters for Post-Rape Care By Jaimee A. Swift Hundreds of millions of people – including many children – are subjected to sexual violence, yet very few survivors ever tell anyone about the experience or access services or mental health support to help them heal. The Every Hour Matters campaign seeks to address these issues by increasing awareness about the critical importance of quickly accessing post-rape care.

16 • togetherforgirls.org


“I was raped, got HIV from the rape, and when I tried to tell my family, they told me to shut my mouth.”

said. “I did not get HIV anywhere else but through rape.”

After telling the audience the horrific details of her experience, Phiri was met with a Those chilling words were spoken by standing ovation; her story moving many 20-year-old Maureen Phiri from Lilongwe, in the room to tears, with Minister Kaliati Malawi. As one of the speakers at Together rising to hug Phiri in a comforting and emofor Girls’ (TfG) “Every Hour Matters for tional embrace. Post-Rape Care” event, which was in collaboration with the World Health Organization Unfortunately, Phiri’s story is a very common at the United Nations Women’s Commisone; as hundreds of millions of people – with sion on the Status of Women in March, Phiri some data indicating that the majority may courageously spoke about her sexual assault be children under the age of 18 – are subat age 11 and her advocacy to end sexual jected to sexual violence every year. violence in Malawi and beyond. According to the World Health Sitting alongside representatives Organization, one in three from various governmental women has experienced and UN agencies includ“I am even physical and/or sexual ing Malawi’s Minister more ready to stand violence in her lifetime. of Gender, Children, Disability, and Social to break the silence by Every Hour MatWelfare the Honortelling the world my ters is a global camable Patricia Kaliati story. I am no longer paign, launched by the and United States Together for Girls partAmbassador-at-Large ashamed of it.” nership to raise awareness for Global Women’s awareness about the critical Issues Catherine Russell, importance of quickly accessing Phiri told the audience that the post-rape care to prevent potentially man who assaulted her took advanlifelong health problems. The campaign aims tage of her because her family was poor. to inform both the public and community leaders that survivors of rape have 72 hours “Madame Minister [Kaliati], that man took to receive post-exposure prophylaxis that can advantage of me because my family was not prevent HIV and 120 hours to receive emerwell-doing”, she said, her voice breaking, as gency contraception to prevent pregnancy. she was overcome with emotion. It also shares information on other care that should be provided, including mental health “I was only 11 years old, Madame Minissupport, prevention and treatment for other ter, only 11,” Phiri said. “He would buy my health issues such as other sexually transmitfamily food, and I lived with him and his ted infections, and treatment for physical wife, but when she would leave, he raped and injuries depending on the circumstances. harassed me.” “I kept it to myself, and did not tell anyone, but then I was found living with HIV,” she

Data shows that in every country where the Together for Girls-supported Violence safe-magazine.com • 17


Against Children Surveys (VACS) have been conducted an estimated 25 percent of girls’ first sex was forced, and the majority of cases happened before the age of 16. In the United States, an estimated 11 percent of high school girls report that they have been raped.

care services, as well as psychosocial and mental services.” Gary Cohen, founder of Together for Girls and the executive vice president of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), echoed Moloney-Kitts’ point that the prevention of rape is important, but there’s also a critical need for survivors to have access to services to prevent other health issues such as HIV.

Regardless of the context, the majority of rape cases go unreported and few survivors ever tell anyone about their experience or access health services “The first reproductive right is or mental health support the right not to be raped,” to help them heal. For said Cohen. example, the VACS found that less than “Let’s stop 5 percent of girls and Cohen said girls who rape together and experience sexual vioboys who experienced remember that every lence are almost at four sexual violence ever times greater risk of obtained services to hour matters.” getting HIV than girls help them recover. who don’t experience Most people are unasuch violence. ware of the many services that can help survivors heal “We need to make sure our girls get from the trauma of rape. access to these services as soon as possible to ensure that they get all the help they need.” “Preventing rape and violence against women and children is certainly the top item on our agenda,” said Director of Together for Girls Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, Michele Moloney-Kitts. “However, it is equally care is not available, and if it is, people may not important that in the unfortunate circumknow where to get it. Even when services are stance of rape, people have access to post-rape available, the stigma and self-blame associated

Pictured above (left to right): Gary Cohen, Founder of Together for Girls and Executive Vice President of BD (Becton, Dickinson); Dr. Claudia Garcia-Morena, Team Lead, Violence Against Women at the World Health Organization; Honorable Patricia Kaliati M.P., Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; Dr. Nata Menabde, Executive Director of the WHO Office at the United Nations, (New York); Michele Moloney-Kitts, Director of Together for Girls; Maureen Phiri, Advocate for the elimination for sexual violence, Malawi; and Malayah Harper, Chief of Gender Equality and Diversity at UNAIDS

18 • togetherforgirls.org


U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell and Maureen Phiri

with rape often stops survivors from getting help. All of these issues are compounded for children and women, which is why the Every Hour Matters campaign requires a multisectoral approach to address these issues. Every Hour Matters calls for national governments, organizations and community leaders to 1) ensure comprehensive post-rape care services are available in every community; 2) raise awareness about the benefits of rapid access health care after rape; 3) promote a safe environment and spaces to talk about rape and ensure survivors have access to justice and that laws against perpetrators are enforced; 4) reduce barriers to care by enacting policies that are supportive to survivors; and 5) invest in prevention to end all forms of sexual violence. “We need to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding rape and we need to educate our communities about where to get help and access to post-rape services.” said the Honorable Patricia Kaliati of Malawi. “One stop centers for post-rape care can be

critical. Phiri added that it’s also important to provide more information that post-rape care exists, particularly to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. She said we need this message “at every corner, at every health facility in every community to prevent HIV in that window after rape.” While Phiri initially thought that her rape was her fault because of the discrimination she faced from her family and her community, she now knows that she is not to blame for anything that has happened to her. By sharing her powerful story, Phiri teaches other young people who have also suffered rape and sexual assault that they too, are not at fault and that they also can break the silence surrounding rape. “I am even more ready to stand to break the silence by telling the world my story. I am no longer ashamed of it. I hope that by breaking the silence, other children will share their stories as well,” Phiri said. “Let’s stop rape together and remember that every hour matters.” • safe-magazine.com • 19


Safe.

Empower. Prevent. Protect.

Read more at www.safe-magazine.com

Special Edition: Safe magazine Issue III  

In the special edition issue of Safe magazine, we highlight three of our 16 global heroes; uncover early and forced child marriage in Kosovo...