Connect with us


Child marriage protects predators, must end, former bride tells Kentucky lawmakers



A Kentucky Senate panel heard testimony last week from a woman who says she was coerced into marrying at age 16. She urged lawmakers to pass legislation making marriage only for adults — and curb an endemic child-marriage problem in the state.

Donna Pollard, 34, who got pregnant a year after she got married, said she was pressured into wedlock with an abusive and violent man of 30 who first approached her when she was 14, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The man, or “perpetrator” as she called him, was working at a treatment center supposedly providing mental health counseling. Soon the relationship turned sexual and she was encouraged by her mother – herself a bride at 13 – to tie the knot.

“The clerk didn’t even look up at me from her computer. She only asked: ‘Which one’s the minor?’ She didn’t assess if I was safe or needed something.”

– Donna Pollard, victim of child marriage.

“The clerk didn’t even look up at me from her computer. She only asked: ‘Which one’s the minor?’ She didn’t assess if I was safe or needed something. He was 30 years old at the time, but nobody questioned the fact that he was so much older,” Pollard told the Guardian.

Shortly after marrying, Pollard tried to flee her abusive husband and go to a domestic violence shelter, but because she was a minor she was turned away. Pollard also tried to rent a place to live but no one would let her because she was a minor.

“I felt just completely and totally trapped,” Pollard told Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday.

“I’m frankly embarrassed that Kentucky doesn’t have such law.”

– Kentucky state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr

She is now advocating for legislation that would raise the required age for marriage in the state from 16 to 18 and create protections for underage girls to prevent coercion.

“I’m frankly embarrassed that Kentucky doesn’t have such a law,” Republican state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr told the Courier-Journal. She claims the existing law “plays into every negative stereotype about Kentucky.”

Various studies show Kentucky having the third-highest rate of child marriages in the country. Texas is first, although it recently passed a law raising the age limit of marriage, and Florida is second.

Last year, then-Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey came under fire after refusing to sign a bill that would have banned child marriage in that state, saying it would trample religious freedoms, Reuters reported.

Roughly 200,000 children were wed between 2000 and 2015. But contrary to popular misconceptions, less than 10 percent of child marriages in Kentucky are between two teenagers – the rest are between a teen girl and an older man, Jeanne L. Smoot of the Tahirih Justice Center told the Courier-Journal.

“Teens marrying teens is not the case,” she said.

Such marriages often include “child brides,” Smoot said, meaning underage girls pressured into marrying older men as a way to hide evidence of their sexual relationship with a girl who cannot legally consent to sex.

“Pregnancy can be a red flag that a girl has been raped,” she said.

Kentucky state Sen. Julie Raque Adams is sponsoring a bill that would increase the legal age for most marriages in the state to 18.

The bill would let 17-year-olds marry with a permission of a district judge, but only if the age difference between the teen and the other party is fewer than four years.

If it passes, it will be the first update to Kentucky’s law since 1998, when the required age for marriage was raised to 16.

“I’m hopeful,” Pollard said about lawmakers passing the bill. “We have to stop giving predators the opportunity to hide their offenses behind a marriage license.”

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Source link


Angry French ambassador shows true colours by reminding Biden about naval victory over UK



BREXIT Britain’s newly forged defence deal with Australia and the US infuriated French Ambassador to America, Philippe Etienne, who took a bitter swipe at his transatlantic allies.

Source link

Continue Reading


China, France furious at new U.S. security alliance with Britain, Australia



HONG KONG — America’s new security alliance with Britain and Australia was always likely to be greeted with fury by China, the unspoken target of Washington’s latest effort to reinforce its influence in the region.

And it was. But the pact also incensed France, a longtime ally that felt its Indo-Pacific interests had been torpedoed by the submarine-centered agreement.

At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the pact “seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Zhao added that any regional alliance “should not target or harm the interests of third parties.”

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

In a briefing before Wednesday evening’s announcement, a Biden administration official stressed that the pact “is not aimed at any one country.”

But the AUKUS deal comes as the U.S. steps up its efforts to counter China.

It will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology that the U.S. had only previously shared with Britain. The pact also allows for greater collaboration between the three countries on cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, as well as in other areas.

It will also make Australia the seventh country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines, after the U.S., Britain, France, China, India and Russia. Unlike those other countries, Australia does not have nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K., so the fact that Australia is now joining this club indicates that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge,” said Sam Roggeveen, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, in a statement shared with NBC News.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been in a downward spiral, with the U.S. ally emerging as a key bulwark in the West’s efforts to combat China’s growing influence.

China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, has embarked on a trade war in return.

There now appears little prospect for improved ties, which the Australian government will have taken into consideration, according to Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“I think China will probably increase the pressure on us as a result of this, but frankly we need to do this in order to ensure our security,” he said.

But it’s not just China that was irked by the deal.

France also expressed outrage after the agreement brought its own deal to build submarines for Australia, inked in 2016, to an abrupt end.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly voiced their displeasure in a joint statement.

“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” they said, “shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.”

A visibly angry Le Drian later described the announcement as “a stab in the back.”

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said on France-Info radio.

“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he added. “This is not done between allies.”

Australia signed a 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build it a new submarine fleet worth $40 billion.Naoya Masuda / Yomiuri Shimbun via AP file

Parly said Thursday that the government would try to minimize the financial impact of the canceled deal on submarine manufacturer Naval Group, which is mostly state-owned.

Asked whether France would seek compensation from Australia, she did not rule it out.

Being sidelined by the new alliance was a “big disappointment” for French trade, according to Frédéric Charillon, a political science professor at France’s Clermont Auvergne University.

“But, what is probably more worrying now is…the lack of confidence that is now growing between the Biden administration and at least some of the European alliance, including France,” he said.

Washington appears to be fueling “the impression that maybe the new administration (is) not that different from the last,” Charillon added.

In New Zealand opposition leaders questioned why Australia’s neighbor and close ally had been left out of the loop.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government had not been approached as part of the pact, “nor would I expect us to be.”

But she added that any nuclear-powered submarines Australia acquired would not be allowed in the country’s territorial waters, since its longstanding nuclear-free policy forbids the entry of vessels powered by nuclear energy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that in spite of the hard feelings among both rivals and some allies, this was simply an opportunity his country couldn’t turn down.

The advantages of nuclear submarines were clear, he said: “They’re faster, they have greater power, greater stealth, more carrying capacity.”

“Australians would expect me as prime minister to ensure that we have the best possible capability to keep them safe and to be unhindered in pursuing that as best as I possibly can,” he added. “And that is what I have done.”

Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong, and Chantal Da Silva reported from Toronto.

Source link

Continue Reading


Socialist-raised Liz Truss shaping up to be 'Thatcher 2.0' as she secures Cabinet boost



LIZ TRUSS has slowly built up a reputation as a “radical classical liberal” member of the Conservative Party, with Institute for Government chief Mark Littlewood tipping her for a “Thatcher 2.0” role within her party.

Source link

Continue Reading