When she was 12, Chimwemwe, from a rural village in southern Malawi, married a 17-year-old boy. She had started having sex with him when she was 10 because, she said, he gave her money and small gifts, while her parents could not afford to feed her or buy her clothes.
Chimwemwe, not her real name, became pregnant, and their families forced them to marry. When I interviewed her in September 2013, two years into her marriage, she said: “I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married.” Her husband beat her, she often went without food and she had almost died giving birth.
Chimwemwe dropped out of school in standard four (equivalent to fourth grade) but said she does not want to go back because “I feel I was not good with books.”
Photo: A 14-year-old girl holds her baby at her sister’s home in a village in Kanduku, in Malawi’s Mwanza district. She married in September 2013, but her husband chased her away. Her 15-year-old sister, in the background, married when she was 12. Both sisters said they married to escape poverty. © 2014 Human Rights Watch
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared on ABC This Week yesterday in an interview that centered on Syria, warning Americans of the danger in traveling to the Middle East. Near the end of the interview, the attorney general made some unflattering remarks when asked about former governor Sarah Palin’s call for impeachment, which have been getting a considerable amount of attention on the morning news shows. But sandwiched between the danger and the diva, was a promise to the LGBT community concerning the marriage equality cases making their way to the Supreme Court.
Attorney General Holder said whenever the Supreme Court grants certiorari, the U.S. Department of Justice will join the case, and file an amicus brief advocating for full marriage equality. He went on to say the president had asked him to:
“…make the promise of the Windsor decision real.”
You will remember the Justice Department refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, causing an angry House of Representatives to hire outside council.
The attorney general also offered his prediction on how any marriage equality case that comes before the Supreme Court will be decided, saying he thought any ban was unconstitutional.
Attorney General Holder:
"I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination."
Utah is the only state that has so far appealed a lower court’s decision striking down its ban on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court, but others will soon follow as the appeals process is played out. The High Court has not yet granted certiorari in any marriage equality case.
Watch the interview: