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Eastern European And Central Asian Countries Urged To Change Laws Regarding Sexual Violence

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

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Sexual Violence
A woman protests underage marriages in Lagos, Nigeria, July 20, 2013. Underage marriage is a problem around the world. Activists are calling on former Soviet countries to overhaul laws against sexual violence and child marriage. VOA

Eastern European and Central Asian countries must overhaul Soviet-era laws on sexual violence that let rapists off the hook and encourage child marriage and bride-kidnapping, legal experts said Thursday.

Flawed legislation combined with sexist attitudes across the region mean girls and women are often blamed for provoking sexual violence and may be pressured to reconcile with their attackers or even marry them.

“Many of these laws deny justice to survivors of sexual violence rather than bringing their attackers to justice,” said Tamar Dekanosidze, a human rights lawyer in Georgia. “It’s important that countries fix these laws and end widespread impunity.”

 

Sexual Violence
Protest against sexual violence in India. Image source: www.bbc.co.uk

 

No requirement to investigate

In 10 of the 15 former Soviet Union countries there is no automatic requirement for the authorities to investigate and prosecute sexual violence, according to a study by Equality Now, meaning the burden of pursuing justice lies with the victim.

Police often deter victims from initiating cases, Dekanosidze said. Victims also frequently face pressure from the perpetrator, his family or even their own family to drop claims.

Nine of the countries — Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia — allow reconciliation for sexual violence crimes, according to the study published Thursday.

In some cases a perpetrator may persuade a victim to reconcile by paying her money or promising to marry her to avoid social stigma, said Dekanosidze, the report’s co-author.

 

Sexual Violence
A woman covers her mouth with a tape that reads “My sexuality is not your conjugal right” during a demonstration to support International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 25, 2016. VOA

 

Modernize rape laws

Equality Now, which will be writing to ministers across the region, also urged countries to amend laws that define rape as sex with violence or the threat of violence.

The report comes a week after Ukraine became the first country in the region to change its law to define rape as sex without consent, following in the footsteps of countries like Sweden and Iceland.

There is no reliable data on the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, but U.N. data suggests a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence.

The report also said sexual violence usually went unpunished in bride kidnappings and child marriages, which still happen in some Eurasian countries.

Sexual Violence
FILE – Indian youth hold candles during a protest against sexual violence in New Delhi. VOA

Marriage after rape

Child marriages are illegal in all 15 countries, but may be encouraged if a girl is raped to prevent public shame.

Rape is not investigated in such situations, meaning the forced marriage effectively exonerates the rape, the study said.

Dekanosidze cited the case of a 15-year-old girl in Georgia who was raped by two men. When the teenager reported the attacks, her family forced her to marry one of her rapists.

Also Read: People Hope to Get Transparency in System With #MeToo Movement

In bride kidnappings, rape is often used as a tool to force the girl into marriage.

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

“Laws can change public attitudes,” she said. “Amending these laws would send a strong message that sexual violence won’t be tolerated.” (VOA)

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No Gender Difference In Brain Function: Study

No difference in brain activities among both boys and girls

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Brain
the research team from Carnegie Mellon University comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls. Pixabay

Researchers have found similar patterns of brain activity in both boys and girls as they engage in basic math problems.

For the study, published in the journal Science of Learning, the research team from Carnegie Mellon University comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls.

Through brain imaging, their research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability.

“We see that children’s brains function similarly regardless of their gender. So hopefully we can recalibrate expectations of what children can achieve in mathematics,” said study researcher Jessica Cantlon from Carnegie Mellon University in the US.

For the findings, Cantlon and her team conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate biological gender differences in the math aptitude of young children.

Her team used functional MRI to measure the brain activity in 104 young children (3-to 10-years-old; 55 girls) while watching an educational video covering early math topics, like counting and addition.

The researchers compared scans from the boys and girls to evaluate brain similarity.

In addition, the team examined brain maturity by comparing the children’s scans to those taken from a group of adults (63 adults; 25 women), who watched the same math videos.

After numerous statistical comparisons, they found no difference in the brain development of girls and boys.

Brain
Through brain imaging, research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability. Pixabay

In addition, the researchers found no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills and were equally engaged while watching educational videos.

Finally, boys’ and girls’ brain maturity were statistically equivalent when compared to either men or women in the adult group.

The researchers also compared the results of the ‘Test of Early Mathematics Ability’, a standardised test for 3- to 8-year-old children, from 97 participants (50 girls) to gauge the rate of math development.

Also Read- My Little Genius: A Campaign To Focus On Kids’ Creativity

They found that math ability was equivalent among the children and did not show a difference in gender or with age. (IANS)