Justice is coming! As I continue growing old I keep asking myself, why child marriage? Is it really necessary? And if not, what do I or we have to do about it? I understand that child marriage is a result of male dominance at large. I think it’s best if we bring men on board first. Working with men can be very effective in reducing child marriage if not ending it. It will help to change ideas and behaviors, especially dealing with patriarchal attitudes. Once men are on board, they can use their influence to pave the way for positive change.
Adults have groups where they get to share what they are going through. Children also need safe spaces in schools. This will help them build their confidence and trust amongst themselves and also with their teachers. I’m sure there are girls who wouldn’t have gone through early marriage if they had a chance to escape. But they didn’t. Simply they didn’t have anyone to tell regarding what their parents were planning for them. This is why they need that space, it’s the window to their success.
Corruption has deep roots in my country, Kenya. For example, I would like to know where funds meant for educating less fortunate girls go. Culture is not the only reason for early marriage, but also poverty. There are girls who sacrifice themselves to go get married in an effort to reduce a burden on their parents. It has come to my notice that the leaders or people responsible for the education funds tend to accuse these girls of bad behaviour, but they are trying their level best to do what is right. Can’t the funds holders use the funds to educate the girls instead of them using the funds for their own benefits?
Not all problems are solved through fighting. Why shouldn’t we mingle? As they explain why early marriage we have a chance to convince them how early marriage is harmful and the advantages of not doing it. At some point there will be some girls listening, them knowing the advantages of not being married off, they will always want to go for their success and thus they will always report whatever harmful plan is made for them.
I don’t know who is with me! I consider myself as the second doubting Thomas. If am not sure of what am told I will ask for a success story if not stories. The girls who escaped the scandal of early marriage should be advised to go back to their communities and villages. The parents will be so proud until they will shout for the whole community to hear and come and see. Other parents would want their daughters to come home successful and hence they may change their attitudes towards early marriage. On the other hand there will be role models for little girls and the whole society.
Most people dream of choosing their life partner. Their marriage would be one of independent and happy life. This is not the reality for many young girls who become child brides. Early and/or forced marriage is most practiced in Sab-Saharan Africa; it is also common in the Maasai community. The Maasai, despite their poverty, have proudly maintained their traditional lifestyle and cultural identity without giving to the pressures of the modern world. The community is under a patriarchal leadership which denies young girls an opportunity to go to school. Education is withheld from girls because it is believed that educating a girl child is not a wise investment because the girl will marry into another family. Therefore, the father of the girl will opt to educate a boy.
Maasai girls are circumcised between 11 and 13. In time, she will marry a man chosen by her father in exchange for cattle and money. A Maasai woman will never be allowed to marry again. As a young girl, she will have her personal autonomy denied. If her husband is an old man who dies when she is still in her teens, she will become the property of one of her husbands’ brothers. She will be one of the multiple wives and will have many children, regardless of her health or ability to provide for them. She will rise early every day to complete her tasks including milking the cows, walking miles to water holes to wash clothes and get water, and gathering heavy loads of firewood to carry back home. If she is lucky, she will have a donkey to share her burden. She will live a life of few comforts, dependent on a husband and a family she did not choose. In between her burdensome chores of the day, the Maasai girl is also a beader – such intangible high skills built into her cultural knowledge and practices. Most of her struggles are shaped by circumstances and the challenges of her time including deep-seated patriarchal attitude.
There are several reasons for forced marriage among the Maasai. First, a desire to ‘eliminate’ the familial poverty. For impoverished families giving a daughter in marriage is a way to reduce expenses particularly if a son’s education and expenses are prioritized. Second, early pregnancies drive toward early marriage as it is seen as a safeguard against immoral behavior. Parents in the Maasai community marry off pregnant girls to protect their family status and name and to receive both dowry and ‘penalty’ payment from the man responsible for the pregnancy. Third, many early marriages occur out of desperation as a young girl seeks ‘refuge’ from neglect or orphanhood. Some girls are taken advantaged by older men who give them false promises of a better life. Girls face a lot of problems and challenges if/when she does not meet the expectations, thus creating a journey towards poverty and gender-based violence begins.
The struggle to end the practice of early marriage in Kenya, particularly among the Maasai, has slowly progressed. There are NGOs that have come seeking to eradicate early child marriages. They work together with the government to help the young girls get out of the retrogressive cultural practices by empowering the girls and enlightening the parents on matters about the education of their girls. The NGOs try to educate the girl child on her rights.
By understanding her personal rights, the goal is self-confidence and independence, and a willingness to advocate and fight for herself and for others. She will be able to choose whom to marry and when to marry. She will have fewer children. They will be healthier and better educated than the previous generation. She will not circumcise her daughters. She will have economic security. Education will enable the girl to help and support her parents, and she will never forget where she came from. Education is the key to success; it is the key to freedom.
For most adults in the United States, the year starts with the tax season. During this time, they have their tax returns prepared and filed and either pay any taxes they owe or receive a refund if they overpaid their taxes throughout the prior year. This year, the tax season began on January 28 and continues until April 15. There are a few different ways one can go about filing their tax return. One way is to purchase an IRS-approved tax preparation software, like TurboTax or TaxSlayer, and file their return on their own. One could also prepare their return manually, but the IRS prefers that people file electronically to decrease potential errors. The last method is to seek out the help of a professional through a commercial tax preparation organization or a non-profit one. Commercial organizations often take advantage of the low-income filers whose returns they prepare and who often qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which results in a larger refund.
In order to increase their profit, they put a great deal of effort into publicizing their services in a way that overshadows the far less expensive, sometimes even free, methods of filing tax returns. Paul Weinstein, who co-authored a study on tax preparers with the Brookings Institution and the Progressive Policy Institute, suggests that most taxpayers could “have their taxes prepared for less than $100.” According to Weinstein, tax-filers spend an average of $275 on the preparation of their taxes during the filing season. The authors of the study found that individuals filing for the EITC spent $309 in Washington D.C. and $509 in Baltimore. This means that these individuals were spending between 13 and 21 percent of their return to cover the cost of tax-preparation.
There has also been evidence that suggests that individuals who qualify for the EITC and file through professional tax-preparers are more likely to have errors in their tax return than those who do not qualify for the EITC. According to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office in 2015, about 60% of all professionally prepared taxes had errors, while between 89% and 94% of filers who qualified for the EITC had errors in their professionally prepared taxes. This is a problem of significant concern, since people with low incomes are more likely to be audited by the IRS. For people who receive the EITC, this could result in their refund being withheld until the end of the auditing process.
Predatory tax-prep organizations may often go unnoticed, but many are recognized and forced to face the legal repercussions of their actions. For example, Laquinta Q. Fisher of Lawton, Oklahoma was found guilty of a tax fraud scheme on January 24, 2017. After lying to her clients and telling them that they could receive a refund for simply having a dependent child, she added fake income and fake dependents to their returns to increase their EIC. She “was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $133,955 in restitution to the IRS…”
It is also possible that such an organization would have false credentials. Every tax preparer is legally required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The IRS has a directory of PTINs that can be used to look up a preparer with their name and location. The PTIN can tell you if the preparer is “a certified public accountant, enrolled agent or a lawyer.” It is also important to note that the directory does not prove that a preparer is qualified. It is also a red flag if an organization suggests that they are endorsed by the IRS, as the IRS does not endorse any tax preparers.
Another warning sign is if a preparer does their work in “temporary pop-up shops” that will be gone after the tax season ends. In that case, there is no office for you to go to if any problems arise with your tax return. It is a red flag if the preparer says that they will deposit you refunded into their bank account or asks you to sign a return that is incomplete.
Why IsThis A Human Rights Issue?
In addition to being ethically questionable, the actions of commercial organizations that prey on low-income households also have the potential to negatively impact people’s access to their human rights. For many people who are targeted by these organizations, every single dollar counts. Every penny of the tax refund they receive is used to pay for the necessities, like food, water, power, rent, and clothing. According to Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…” Many households rely on the refund they receive to access this right. It is important that we spread awareness of this issue so we can prevent as many people as possible from being exploited by tax-prep organizations and connect them with the resources they need.
Impact America: SaveFirst
Impact America, originally Impact Alabama, is a non-profit organization that was founded to develop “substantive service-learning and leadership development projects for college students and recent college graduates.”SaveFirst is one of Impact America’s programs, which provides free tax preparation services in communities which are often targeted by predatory tax-prep organizations. College students who volunteer with SaveFirst are trained and IRS certified to prepare tax returns. In 2018 alone, SaveFirst was able to prepare tax returns for 13,713 families and saved those families $5.5 million in fees. Since 2007, they have prepared returns for 76,867 families and saved them $26.2 million. The work done by Impact America helps to decrease the number of people that are being exploited by predatory organizations by giving them access to much better resources and services.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with SaveFirst at one of their many tax-prep locations, you can do so here.
“We are coming to Washington in a poor people’s campaign. Yes, we are going to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses…. We are coming to demand that the government address itself to the problem of poverty.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967
In his last sermon, King echoed the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty to call for national and global attention to address the dire economic circumstances of the poor. He and others founded the Poor People’s Campaign to influence how Americans view poverty. While the 1960s are behind us, poverty is not. A new organization, a new Poor People Campaign, aims to address continuing economic privation.
Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the Poor People’s Campaign (also known as the PPC and the Poor People March) following sustained civil rights action and hard-won legislation. These actions and laws included bus boycotts, sit-ins, freedom rides, the formation of the Direct Action Task Force, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. From its beginning in 1968, the PPC advocated wages that were high enough to support a “decent life.” It strove to become a powerful, social force to change how America understands poverty and worked to end it. It criticized the portrayal of stereotypes of the nation’s poor as dirty and unhealthy. The Poor People’s Campaign was a populist struggle against economic inequality and a reform movement that questioned how race related to economic and political power. Poverty and prejudice were “related enemies,” according to King. He believed that the poor could effectively confront the power structure if they had economic security, expanded education opportunities, improved housing, and unemployment income.
King recognized that poverty, racism, and power were (and are still) intricately linked. He claimed that, “African Americans are not truly free until they reach economic security.” In 1968, a PPC brochure proclaimed, “Poor people are kept in poverty because they are kept from power.” The organization lobbied against dehumanization and poverty wages. It advocated for changes in the federal food program and a significant expansion of food stamps.
Even though King mentioned “racial imperialism” as the primary cause of poverty among African Americans, his anti-poverty proposals were not limited to black Americans.
A committee of hundred religious leaders from several racial backgrounds helped organize the PPC. More than fifty multiracial organizations attended the first meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in March 1968. Attendees hoped to organize a march of thousands of people on Washington, DC to unify the nation. These plans shattered with the assassination of Reverend King in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Following this blow, the key leaders of the PPC, including the SCLC’s new president, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and King’s widow Coretta Scott King, worked to coordinate a new march on Washington, DC. Their goal was to pressure Congress to pass legislation to address employment and housing issues as well as fund a war on poverty. The planned PPC march of 1968 divided into three stages. The first stage was the creation of Resurrection City, a makeshift town at the National Mall from Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. In May and June 1968, this 15-acre urban area served as the home of 1,500 to 3,000 occupants of different racial backgrounds. Resurrection City included a makeshift city hall, a clinic, a general store, and a day care center named for Coretta Scott King. Even though these amenities only covered the bare necessities, some residents received medical attention for the first time in their lives. According to the new PPC, such conditions persist in 2018, as many poor Americans lack health insurance or adequate medical care.
Resurrection City became a symbol for the PPC and made poor people and their fundamental human rights visible to the world. Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, and Barbra Streisand visited Resurrection City, reflecting the attention the encampment received and illustrating the longstanding relationship between celebrities and social issues that continues to this day. The activists arrived from nine regions of the country in groups called caravans. They camped in tents and endured terrible weather that brought severe rain and mud, forcing many residents to build primitive A-frame homes. Resurrection City’s permit expired on June 23, 1968. Police forcibly evicted people (sometimes with tear gas) from the settlement the next day. The second stage of the march would have consisted of hallmarks of the civil rights movement: civil disobedience, nonviolent mass demonstrations, and police arrests. The third stage of the march was a planned national boycott of large industries and shopping areas to pressure business leaders to acknowledge the movement’s demands.
Resurrection City and the other actions organized by the PPC did not produce the results King, the SCLC, and other activists had envisioned. The assassinations of Reverend King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the Vietnam War hurt the movement causing many to blame Resurrection City leader Reverend Abernathy for the movement’s lack of leadership and disorganization. Racial prejudice, social frictions, and tension between Southern and Northern citizens eroded the movement further. While the movement was down, it was not out. While the Poor People Campaign’s proposed antipoverty legislation did not occur, the organization’s actions did continue discussions about poverty, race, and power. These sustained conversations helped contribute to the launch of the new Poor People’s Campaign (also known as the new PPC or the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival) in 2018. Like the PPC of the 1960s, the new PPC consists of a diverse coalition of activists battling poverty and racism, white supremacy, and greed.
Led by Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, a Disciples of Christ minister and the leader of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, and the Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister and the co-director of New York’s Kairos (the Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice), the new PPC calls for a national moral revival. The organization claims that although the United States is among the wealthiest of nations, it harbors severe economic inequalities that have persisted for decades, even centuries. Americans continue segregation by their living wages, according to the PPC. The organization has chapters in most U.S. states and strives to highlight problems associated with poverty and inequality. The new PPC worries that recent U.S. federal tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy have hurt less affluent members of society. Additionally, organizers reveal concern with increased funding to battle illegal immigration and illegal drugs, which can lead to rampant addiction. It fears that this funding detracts money and attention away from much-needed poverty programs.
To counter such power imbalances, the new PPC hopes to see a reinforcement of the Voting Rights Act to reduce the voting suppression of convicted felons. The modern-day activists of the new PPC argue that negativity surrounding poverty in America has persisted for centuries. They argue that an entrenched culture of racism and discrimination exists within the economic and political systems of the United States, and favors those with large bank accounts. The new PPC wants people to reconsider how they think about poverty. It emphasizes that poor people are victims of a power struggle, not moral failures. It asks for a moral revival to combat
While the U.S. economy has grown, the inequity between the richest and poorest Americans has also grown. Many lack money and health insurance.
Systemic racism. Imprisoned African Americans who are unable to vote, African American residents of Flint, Michigan grappling with a tainted water supply, and Muslims and immigrants facing discrimination are all examples of racism in American society.
In 2017, the U.S. federal government spent $190 billion on antipoverty programs while it spent $668 billion on the military.
Ecological destruction. Flint’s tainted water illustrates how ecological problems and pollution often affect minorities and the poor, who do not have the economic or political means to combat such problems.
The new PPC also boasts some familiar faces. Bernard Lafayette, a friend of Reverend King and the national coordinator of the first PPC, joined organization to train a new generation of PPC activists.
The question remains whether the new PPC will encounter the same problems Reverend King and other organizers faced during the 1960s: Is the message heard and received?
New PPC activists arrived on Capitol Hill on February 5, 2018, to deliver their message of economic justice to the U.S. Congress. The Capitol Police asked them to leave before they gave this message. Fifty years after the formation of the first Poor People’s Campaign, it is clear that its messages and struggles endure. The new PPC organized a 40-day event in May to late June 2018 that featured nonviolent action by the poor, clergy, and sympathetic allies. Echoing the inclusiveness of the 1960s, this movement united people across race, economics, religion, gender, geography, and sexuality. Similar to the 1960s, the event featured acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, teach-ins, workshops, cultural events, and other activities. The 40-day event culminates tomorrow, June 23, in Washington, D.C. for a rally to Stand Against Poverty, Mass Rally & Moral Revival. Although the event ends, participation can continue in various activities by
Joining an organization. Whether people join the new PPC or another organization, people can provide strength in numbers.
Speaking out. Writing to political representatives, media outlets, and social media sites can help spread the message.
Voting and helping others vote. Voting is another way of voicing opinions. Working at polling places, encouraging others to vote, and working for voting rights helps gives agency to more people.
Nicole is a freelance writer and educator based in the United States. She believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor since they both encourage learning and discussing new things. Her degrees in creative writing, education, and psychology help her understand her target audience and how to reach them in creative and educational ways. She has written about fitness and health, substance abuse and treatment, personal finance and economics, parenting, relationships, higher education, careers, travel, and many other topics, sometimes in the same piece. When she isn’t writing, you might find Nicole running, hiking, and swimming. She has participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day. A longtime volunteer at animal shelters, Nicole is a passionate supporter of organizations that help animals. She also enjoys spending time with the dogs and cats in her life and spoiling them rotten.
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