Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, March 19, 2018

Restrictive US Health Funding Rule Threatens Lives

From Human Rights Watch:

Before embarking on a five-nation tour of Africa this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the link between women’s health and economic and social development as he lauded Washington’s massive global health fund, PEPFAR, for how it had “transformed the global HIV/AIDS response,” saying that “ … nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.”

As the largest global donor on global health, the US has supported many programs that help people get healthcare in some of Africa’s poorest countries. But President Donald Trump has also expanded the “Global Gag Rule” beyond any previous US administration – which threatens to undermine decades of progress on women’s health and undermine gender equality.

On his first working day in office, Trump reinstated and dramatically expanded the Mexico City Policy – also known as the “Global Gag Rule,” which conditions US funding for global health programs on a commitment from foreign nongovernmental organizations that they will not promote or provide abortions, even with non-US funds, except in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life.

Read more here.

March 19, 2018 in Abortion, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Iceland Wants to Ban Circumcision

From BBC News:

The draft law would impose a six-year prison term on anyone guilty of "removing part or all of the [child's] sexual organs", arguing the practice violates the child's rights.

Jewish and Muslim leaders however have called the bill an attack on religious freedom.

Iceland would be the first European country to ban the procedure.

The country is thought to have roughly 250 Jewish citizens and around 1,500 Muslim citizens.

Read more here.

March 18, 2018 in International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Divorce Substitute in Philippines

From CNN Philippines:

The House of Representatives committee on population and family relations on Wednesday approved a measure that would allow divorce in the Philippines.

The bill, entitled "An act instituting absolute divorce in the Philippines," was approved with no contention.

Under the bill, married couples may end their marriage for several reasons, including abuse, infidelity, and irreconcilable differences.

Read more here.

March 13, 2018 in Annulment, Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Iranian Women Breaking Their Silence

From CNN:

The bravery of the women recently protesting in Iran stiffened my resolve to participate in the 2018 Women's March in Los Angeles. As a decadelong advocate for women, I felt compelled to use my freedom of expression to demand theirs. Though I walked alongside people of diverse political persuasions, I felt empowered by a common purpose -- a world in which the rights of women and girls are protected and respected.

While I was encouraged by the numerous signs supporting women, I was disheartened that in this time of female solidarity we were largely ignorant of our counterparts in Iran, who just weeks prior to our march had risked arrest or worse to take to the streets and demand their inalienable rights.
On December 27, 2017, a brave Iranian woman named Vida Movahedi, a 31-year-old mother, stood peacefully on a box in the middle of a busy Tehran sidewalk, and silently waved her government-mandated veil from the end of a stick. This basic freedom that women take for granted in nearly every country in the world -- to feel the wind on our bare heads -- is illegal in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Read more here.

February 24, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 23, 2018

El Salvador's Strict Abortion Ban Too Severe

From Amnesty International:

The release of a woman forced to spend a decade behind bars in El Salvador after having pregnancy-related complications resulting in stillbirth must open the door for an end to the country’s extreme anti-abortion law, said Amnesty International.

Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was freed on Thursday after a court reduced her sentence, but at least 27 women remain imprisoned under the total abortion ban, according to women’s human rights organizations in the country.

“It’s encouraging to see Teodora stepping out of jail, where she should have never been in the first place, but El Salvador is still far from fully ensuring the rights of women and girls in the country,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Read more here.

February 23, 2018 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ethiopia Bans Foreign Adoption

From CNN:

Ethiopia has banned the adoption of Ethiopian children by foreign families, according to the country's state-run News Agency ENA, citing concerns over abuse.

Ethiopian officials previously suspended adoptions back in November, but allowed pending cases to continue through the process, according to the US Department of State.
Children adopted by foreign families in the past have been exposed to "various crimes and social crisis in the country they grew up in," ENA said.
Read more here.

February 20, 2018 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Indonesia May Criminalize Sex Before Marriage

From Time:

Riding a tsunami of moral conservatism and anti-gay prejudice, Indonesia’s Islamic political parties appear on the cusp of a major victory: outlawing all sex outside marriage.

Revisions to Indonesia’s criminal code being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people. Those changes would also criminalize gay sex, the bugbear of Indonesia’s Islamic and secular political parties.

Rights groups and legal experts fear a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people. They are racing to organize opposition. An online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

Read more here.

February 10, 2018 in Cohabitation (live-ins), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

UK: Bill Aims to Modernize Marriage Registration For The First Time Since 1837

From BBC News:

The Home Office said it will support a private member's bill, which aims to modernise marriage registration for the first time since 1837.

If passed, it would allow the names of both parents of the couple to be included on marriage certificates - instead of just those of their fathers.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the move will modernise an outdated system.

Read more here.

February 7, 2018 in International, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Same-Sex Marriage A Key Issue In Costa Rica Election

From ABC News:

Costa Ricans voted Sunday in a presidential race shaken by an international court ruling saying the country should let same-sex couples get married.

Evangelical candidate Fabricio Alvarado recently vaulted into first place in the polls after he took a strong stance against gay marriage, which about two-thirds of Costa Ricans also oppose.

His closest rivals are agri-businessman Antonio Alvarez of the opposition National Liberation Party and Carlos Alvarado of the governing Citizens' Action Party.

Read more here.

February 6, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

South Korea Tackles Low Birth Rates

From The Japan Times:

The woman appointed to try to reverse the world’s lowest birth rates knows better than most why billion-dollar campaigns to encourage South Korea’s female populace to procreate have failed — she is among the millions who have chosen to remain childless in the face of traditionalist social expectations.

A history professor at a Seoul University before joining the government, family minister Chung Hyun-back says she remained single to pursue her professional ambitions.

Entrenched gender roles at home and a workaholic culture are pushing the next generation of South Korean women to follow suit, warned the 64-year-old.

“It was extremely difficult — if not impossible — to juggle an academic career while getting married and raising children,” she explained, pointing out that many female professors in their 50s and 60s are single.

Read more here.

February 1, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Man in Singapore Not Allowed to Adopt His Child

From BBC News:

Gleaming Singapore is every bit the modern city, but the struggles of one father to adopt his child has shown how modern values are butting up against traditional concepts of family, writes the BBC's Yvette Tan in Singapore.

The first sound his parents ever heard him make was a loud cry.

After a six-hour labour, Noel was safely delivered in a US hospital by his surrogate mother, on behalf of two hopeful parents.

The parents cried together as they cut his umbilical cord, bonded as they fed Noel his first bottle of milk, and later, proudly took him home to his new life in Singapore.

Noel's life since then has been as typical as that of any other boy his age in Singapore, except for the fact that under Singaporean law, he is an illegitimate child, a status that could have implications throughout his life.

Read more here.

January 31, 2018 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Outgoing Liberian President Signs Bill Abolishing Female Genital Mutilation

From Front Page Africa:

The most talked about Domestic Violence Bill, which has suffered so many setbacks from the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures, was finally given an Executive Order late Friday evening (January 19) by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The President’s constitutional mandate, arguably comes to an end by midday Monday, January 22, when President-elect George Manneh Weah would have been sworn in as Liberia’s 24th President for the next six years.

“Yes, it is true that President Sirleaf this evening gave an Executive Order on the original Domestic Violence Bill, which includes FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] that was removed from the draft bill before the 53rd Legislature.

The Executive Order is to last for a year, before anything else is done with the bill,” confirmed Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek M. Piah, when news began to filter in that the President had issued a last-minute Executive Order.

Read more here.

January 23, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Japanese Supreme Court Upholds Refusal to Return Children

From International Family Law Firm:

The Osaka High Court has just issued a decision in a case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”) that provides strong support for the claim that Japan does not comply with the terms of the treaty and that is, indeed, in violation of its treaty obligations.

It has not been possible until now to analyze the decisions of the Japanese courts in cases brought under the Hague Convention since they are unpublished and confidential.  Such secrecy has precluded Japanese lawyers from reporting on specific cases, and has frustrated scrutiny of court decisions.  However, the author has now obtained a copy of the shocking decision of the Osaka High Court in the case of Arimitsu v. Cook, issued on February 17, 2017.

This author has long asserted that the law by which Japan brought the Convention into Japanese law -- Act No. 48 of June 19, 2013, which is identified as the “Act for Implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” (the “Implementing Act”) – contains provisions that inappropriately and excessively expand the so-called “grave risk exception” to the treaty. The author has also long expressed serious concerns that return orders issued by the Japanese courts would not be effectively enforced in Japan.

Read more here.

January 15, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Iraq Rejects Proposed Amendments To Personal Status Law

From Human Rights Watch:

(Beirut) – Iraq's parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today.

The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections.

“Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”

Read more here.

December 24, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sexual Harassment Around the Globe

From CNN:

Any woman, in any country, will most likely be able to relate to this situation:

Walking down the street, alone, past a group of guys hanging out with nowhere to go. Her guard goes up, and preparation takes place. Many things could happen when she passes them.
It may be the words "hey, beautiful" or "hey, sexy," or being instructed to smile. It may be more intentional: standing in the way or blocking the path in hope of some interaction. It may get more aggressive, with hands reaching to inappropriate places.
The spectrum is far and wide, with one end harboring the potential for things to become more violent with physical abuse or rape.
Read more here.

December 3, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pakistani Bride Kills 17 to Escape Arranged Marriage

From The Washington Post:

Arranged marriages are a standard practice in Pakistan, and there’s no shortage of stories about the extreme steps some Pakistani women will take to escape them and marry men of their choosing.

But few go as far as Aasia Bibi is alleged to have gone. According to Pakistani authorities, the 21-year-old woman tried to slip poison into her new husband’s milk and inadvertently killed 17 of his family members in the process.

Read more here.

November 12, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

New India Law Protects Child Brides From Sex

From The New York Times:

NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a part of the country’s legal code that had permitted men to have sex with their underage wives — a decision that human rights groups said was an important step forward for the rights of girls.

Indian law sets 18 as the age for marriage and consent to sex for a young woman. But another provision of the law was inconsistent, saying a man could have sex with a girl as young as 15, as long as she was his wife.

Advocates argued to the court that this exception encouraged child marriage, which is prevalent throughout rural India and has imperiled many development goals, like improving education, ending poverty and reducing family size.

Read more here.

November 10, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump’s order provides ammunition for litigants in family law matters

Written by Thomas Velarde for Washington Top News:

On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (“Trump’s Order”).  This Executive Order allows individuals to be deported for a variety of reasons for which they were previously not deportable.  Trump’s Order will directly impact family law matters related to domestic violence, child custody, child support, and spousal support, as aliens may be deported before, during, or after such proceedings.

Deportation Under President Donald J. Trump

President Trump’s Order states that aliens should be deported for having committed, attempted, or conspired to commit certain acts.  Aliens can be deported for acts of terrorism, crimes of dishonesty, felonies, drug activity, treason, abuse of their families, espionage, sabotage, failing to register as a sex offender, owning, purchasing, selling, or possessing a firearm, certain illegal immigration activities, and certain violations of human rights.

Trump’s Order also states that aliens can be deported for the following: conviction of any criminal offense; being charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved; committing acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; engaging in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with an official matter or application to a government agency; having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; being subjected to an order of removal but not yet having been deported; and if in the judgement of an immigration officer, the alien poses a risk to public safety or national security.

Examples of conduct that can result in deportation under Trump’s Order include: obtaining Medicare, SNAP, WIC, or any other government program benefit fraudulently, or misrepresenting a fact in any government form; using someone else’s social security number to work; and being subject to a removal order but remaining in the country.

Unlike under President Obama, under Trump’s Order, speeding, DUI, drunk in public, and many other offenses can result in deportation.  Further, no conviction is required.  Rather, to be deportable, an alien simply must have committed or been charged with the act.

Even non-criminal conduct can result in deportation—merely admitting to abusing drugs or being a drug addict can result in deportation.  In addition, if an immigration officer subjectively judges that an alien is a risk to the United States, that alien can be deported.

Read more here.

March 1, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scourge of Child Marriage in Africa Continues

From Human Rights Watch:

“I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married,” Chimwemwe told me when I interviewed her in a small village in rural Malawi.

Chimwemwe was just 12-years-old when she married a 17-year-old boy to escape poverty at home. Like many girls I have interviewed in South Sudan, Tanzania, and Malawi about their marriages, she was hoping for a life of love and prosperity, but instead endured poverty and violence at the hands of her husband.

In sub-Saharan Africa, about one in four girls marry before age 18. Statistics show that African nations account for 17 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage globally. For example, according to new UNICEF data, 76 percent of girls in Niger and close to 70 percent of girls in Central African Republic and Chad marry before they turn 18. In Malawi, one in every two girls marry before age 18.

Read more here.

February 12, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Locked up and in limbo: Mother takes immigration, child custody battle to court

From The Washington Post:

From the day he was picked up three years ago by Border Patrol agents in Texas, Dora Beltrán’s son has cycled through shelters and detention centers in five states as his mother fights to bring him home.

The family’s immigration standing is not at issue: She is a legal permanent resident and an immigration judge decided he would not be deported.

Yet the teen remains locked up as his mother and the government battle over when federal officials can keep a parent from her troubled child.

The rare and complicated case is set to be heard this week in federal court in Northern Virginia where Beltrán is challenging the role of federal officials in child custody matters.

Her son had lived with her in Texas for years but was a runaway when he was spotted by agents at age 14 near the Mexican border. Before Beltrán could get to her son, authorities detained him as an unaccompanied minor.

Even after an immigration judge determined that the boy did not have to be deported, federal officials decided he should remain in a detention center. They said his history — with the teen describing himself as a runaway, drug user and associate of criminal gangs — raised questions about his mother’s ability to supervise him and keep him safe.

But Beltrán’s lawyers say that once an immigration judge closed out her son’s case, he should have been released to her.

On Thursday, her lawyers will argue that she is entitled to a formal custody hearing similar to what she would receive in a state or local child welfare system.

Read more here.

November 11, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)