10-23-20 Italian held in France on suspicion of 160 rapes and sexual assaults
A 52-year-old Italian man wanted in Germany on suspicion of carrying out 160 rapes and sexual assaults, mainly on underage girls, has been arrested across the border in France. France's BNRF brigade for hunting fugitives said he was held last Friday at Rumersheim-le-Haut near Mulhouse. He was wanted in connection with attacks, mainly on the children of his partners, between 2000 and 2014. Officials said 122 inquires had so far been opened against him in Germany. French reports said that among the offences he was suspected of committing were the rape of his daughter over a number of years. German authorities first alerted their counterparts on 7 October that the suspect had crossed into France. His whereabouts were passed on days later and he was detained on 16 October. He is now being held in Colmar during extradition proceedings.
10-7-20 France passes new law to protect child influencers
France has introduced a new law to protect young social media stars. The legislation aims to regulate the hours under-16s can work online and what happens to their earnings. It also enshrines the right to be forgotten, meaning that platforms will be obliged to take down content on the child's request. The popularity of child influencers has grown rapidly in recent years, with a number of young names appearing on the list of YouTube's top earners. The change will make France a pioneer in the rights of child social media stars, the MP behind the bill, Bruno Studer, was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper. The new law, which was passed unanimously on Tuesday, does not affect all children who appear on social media, but instead targets those who spend significant amounts of time working online and whose work generates an income. The change offers them the same protections as those given to child models and actors in France, with their earnings placed in a bank account until they turn 16. Companies wishing to employ child influencers must also receive permission from local authorities. Before the law was passed on Tuesday, Mr Studer told La Tribune newspaper: "Children's rights must be preserved and protected, including on the internet, which must not be a lawless area." The world of child social media stars can be highly lucrative, with incomes boosted by advertising deals and merchandise sales. According to Forbes, last year's top YouTube earner was American Ryan Kaji, then aged eight, whose toy review channel made $26m (£20m). Third on the list was Russian-born Anastasia Radzinskaya, now six, who earned $18m (£13.7m).
10-1-20 Coronavirus risks ‘greatest surge in child marriages in 25 years’
The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a spike in child marriages globally, reversing 25 years of progress on ending the practice, a charity has warned. Save the Children said Covid-19 had put 2.5 million more girls at risk of early marriage by 2025. The pandemic is increasing poverty, forcing girls out of school and into work or marriage, the charity said. Girls in parts of South Asia, Africa and Latin America are most vulnerable. The UK-based charity is calling on world leaders to commit more funding and support to efforts to address child marriage and gender inequality. "These marriages violate girls' rights and leave them at increased risk of depression, lifelong violence, disabilities and even death," said Karen Flanagan, a child-protection adviser for Save the Children. She said that 78.6 million child marriages had been prevented over the last 25 years but progress to end the practice had "slowed to a halt". Last month Girls Not Brides, a group that campaigns to end child marriages, told the BBC it was seeing a similar trend, driven by shrinking economies and the closure of schools during the pandemic. Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell, chief executive of Girls Not Brides, said education "provides a safety net for girls". She said more financial support, monitoring and community engagement was required to ensure girls can attend school. Around 12 million girls are victims of early marriage every year, the charity says. But its report finds that number is expected to rise markedly over the next five years as the economic consequences of pandemic take their toll. In 2020 alone, another 500,000 girls risk being forced into child marriages and up to one million more are expected to become pregnant, the charity says. If no action is taken, there could be 61 million child marriages by 2025, according to the charity, yet this estimate may only be "the tip of the iceberg". "The pandemic means more families are being pushed into poverty, forcing many girls to work to support their families and to drop out of school - with far less of a chance than boys of ever returning," Bill Chambers, the president and CEO of the charity, said. "A growing risk of violence and sexual exploitation combined with growing food and economic insecurity also means many parents feel they have little alternative but to force their young daughters to marry older men." In April, the UN said there could be as many as 13 million more child marriages globally over the next decade because of the pandemic.