School shooting survivors target NRA-linked companies

School students from Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington, on Wednesday rally in solidarity with those affected by the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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School shooting survivors target NRA-linked companies

NEW YORK: Survivors of a mass shooting at a Florida high school are hoping to expand the reach of their gun control movement by seeking a boycott of companies doing business with the NRA and urging tourists to boycott the Sunshine State.
As the #BoycottNRA movement grew on Twitter, with petitions circulating against companies that offer discounts to NRA members, a growing number of those businesses announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the association.
Both Delta and United said Saturday that they will no longer offer discounted airfares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website. Rental-car company Hertz said it would no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, said it will not renew a co-branded Visa credit card it has with the NRA.
In an email Saturday, the NRA called the companies’ actions “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice” and said the loss of corporate discounts and other perks “will neither scare nor distract” NRA members.
“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the NRA statement said.
The State of Florida also was facing some backlash. One of the survivors of the Florida school shooting suggested Saturday on Twitter that tourists stay away from the state. He got an immediate response.
“Let’s make a deal,” tweeted David Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas student who has been a major player in the #neveragain movement. “DO NOT come to Florida for spring break unless gun legislation is passed.”
Wendy Glaab, 60, of Fonthill, Ontario, Canada, was among the first to respond. “I like many Canadians travel to Florida from time to time to escape our winter. I can’t speak for others but I will not be returning until meaningful gun control legislation is in place.”
Glaab told The Associated Press on Saturday that her sister owns property in Fort Lauderdale and she is able to visit any time she chooses.
Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. But the insurance company MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA on Friday. Symantec Corp., the software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same. Insurer Chubb Ltd. said it is ending participation in the NRA’s gun-owner insurance program, but it provided notice three months ago. The program that provided coverage for people involved in gun-related incidents or accidents had been under scrutiny by regulators over marketing issues.
Car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA member, as did Hertz.
Other companies, including Wyndham Hotels and Best Western hotels, have let social media users know they are no longer affiliated with the NRA, though they did not make clear when the partnerships ended.
The swiftness of the corporate reaction against the NRA has differed from that of past shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that claimed 26 lives, and the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas last fall, said Bob Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and a scholar on gun politics. Spitzer said the reaction was likely a reaction to the student mobilization that followed the Florida shooting, but he said it was too soon tell how significantly it will sway the country’s wider gun debate.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting.
President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker. However, Trump has also called for raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, a move the NRA opposes.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott announced plans Friday to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns. While criticized by some as not going far enough, the measures were significant in a state that hasn’t passed any type of gun control since Republicans took control of state government in 1999.


Child marriage survivors say UK law legitimizes ‘terrible’ abuse

Campaigners say it is time that Britain — which has been vocal about ending child marriage in developing countries — got its own laws in order. (Shutterstock)
Updated 6 min 43 sec ago
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Child marriage survivors say UK law legitimizes ‘terrible’ abuse

  • Nearly 30 percent of cases where the age was known concerned minors, and over half of these involved children under 16

LONDON: When Zee was 13, she returned from school one day to find an engagement party under way at her home in northern England, but her excitement at the celebrations quickly turned to shock.
“I asked my mum who’s getting married. She said, ‘It’s you’,” Zee told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Her betrothed was represented by a photo – an older cousin she had never met who lived in Afghanistan, her parents’ country of birth.
“One day I’m not even allowed to talk to boys and the next I’m told I’m getting married,” Zee said.
“I was dressed up to look like a Christmas tree — very sparkly, very bling. Everyone was happy. The only person who was miserable was me.”
Child marriage — defined internationally as marriage under 18 — remains legal in Britain. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, teenagers can wed at 16 with parental consent. In Scotland, they do not need consent.
Zee, who did not want to give her full name, escaped by running away from home, but she says many girls are still being pushed into marriage.
Campaigners say it is time that Britain — which has been vocal about ending child marriage in developing countries — got its own laws in order.
They were particularly dismayed when Bangladesh changed its law recently to allow marriage at 16 — and cited British law as a justification.
“The UK should practice what it preaches,” said Mabel van Oranje, chairwoman of global advocacy group Girls Not Brides.
“Britain’s delay in reforming its own marriage laws is increasingly counterproductive.”
British parliamentarian Pauline Latham agrees. She has introduced a bill to raise the marriage age to 18 which is set to receive its second reading later this year.
She said it was “crazy” that Britain still allowed child marriage when it was spending about 39 million pounds ($51 million) over five years to support efforts to end it in developing countries.
Changing the law was also crucial for protecting girls at home, she said.

FORCED MARRIAGE
Nearly 2,000 young people in Britain, the vast majority of them girls, were wed before the age of 18 between 2010 and 2015, according to official data.
Although the numbers are low, campaigners believe most are pressured into marriage by their families. If the minimum age was raised, girls would be more empowered to say no.
Girls Not Brides says the impact of getting married young is similar wherever girls live. They are more likely to drop out of school and at greater risk of marital rape, domestic abuse and health problems relating to teenage pregnancy.
The minimum age of 16 was set in 1929 when living together or falling pregnant out of wedlock was socially unacceptable. But campaigners said the “parental consent” clause for under 18s had now become an “open door” to forced marriage.
Latham said there was general support in parliament for raising the marriage age, but her bill may not be heard due to lack of time.
If so, she will push ministers to insert an amendment into another bill. Campaigners suggest it could be included in the Domestic Violence Bill.

SACRIFICED LIFE
Girls from South Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds are seen as most at risk of early marriage in Britain because having relationships outside marriage is often considered shameful.
Amina, a mother of four in her thirties from London, had never talked to her husband before her wedding just after her 17th birthday.
The marriage, done to please her parents, put an end to her studies and plunged her into depression as she dealt with her husband’s temper and controlling mother-in-law.
“The marriage was all about fear. I was a total stranger in my own house,” said Amina. “I was really naive. I felt like a child myself when I had my first children.”
Amina, whose parents were born in Bangladesh, says girls are still coerced into early marriages in Britain.
“It was a big sacrifice of my life. I had no chance to explore things. I went through terrible times,” said Amina, who is still married to her husband and asked not to use her real name.
Campaigners say official marriage statistics do not reflect the true scale of the problem as many girls are married early in traditional ceremonies, but the weddings are not officially registered.
Others are taken abroad for marriage and brought back to Britain when they are older.
Last year, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit received reports of about 1,200 possible cases of people, mostly girls and women, being coerced to wed — a figure widely said to represent the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly 30 percent of cases where the age was known concerned minors, and over half of these involved children under 16.
Britain banned forced marriage in 2014. It has taken action to rescue girls from abroad, prosecuted parents and issued forced marriage protection orders.
Campaigners say it makes no sense to invest in tackling forced marriage, while retaining a law that facilitates it.
“It’s an anomaly. We need to address it — and the time is now,” Latham said. ($1 = 0.7603 pounds)