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Women's Human Rights

    July 07, 2014

    By Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher

    For anyone following the news from Pakistan, the past few weeks have made for grim reading when it comes to violence against women.

    Recently, a 21-year old woman in Punjab was found raped and strangled to death by the man she had trusted to save her from an “honor” killing by her family.

    In early June, Saba Maqsood miraculously survived being shot by her relatives and dumped into a canal in Hafizabad town in Pakistan’s Punjab province for trying to marry the man of her choosing against family wishes.

    A week earlier in Lahore, Farzana Iqbal was brutally beaten to death with bricks by up to two dozen relatives, including her father, for marrying the man she loved. Sadly, hundreds of women and girls are subject to “honor” killings in Pakistan every year.

    For many communities in Pakistan, women and girls are seen to embody family honor. A woman’s identity and her family’s sense of social respect and worth is measured by her acquiescence to family demands, such as marrying the man they choose for her.

    June 27, 2014
    Meriam with her baby and family
    BREAKING NEWS 24 July 2014: Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her family left Sudan and arrived in Italy earlier this morning. Amnesty International continues to press the government of Sudan to change the laws so that no one ever has to endure this kind of ordeal again.
    Under the weight of massive, truly impressive worldwide pressure, Sudan overturned Meriam Yehya Ibrahim's death sentence and released her from prison.

    Over 1,000,000 Amnesty International supporters and members in Canada and worldwide spoke up for Meriam! 

    After being sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging, after over four months in prison with her 20-month-old son Martin, and after giving birth to daughter Maya on a floor in shackles, Meriam was released from prison and re-united with her husband Daniel.

    June 13, 2014
    By Adotei Akwei. Johanna Lee contributed to this post. Originally published by AIUSA.  

    In mid-April, Islamist armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls aged 15-18 from the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. The abductions triggered outrage, protests and a social media campaign criticizing the response of the Nigerian authorities and demanding a major effort to secure the freedom of the girls.

    Yet, almost two months later, little, if any, progress has been made in freeing the kidnapped girls and the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and his security forces have failed to communicate a plan or even convince the families of the girls that they are doing all that they can to get the girls released.

    June 02, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s rights campaigner

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is a Sudanese citizen sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging. She was convicted by a Sudanese court for marrying someone supposedly of another faith and for refusing to renounce her faith. In Sudan, a Christian cannot marry a Muslim. Meriam’s mother is Christian and her father is Muslim. She was raised in the Christian faith. Because her father is Muslim, the Sudanese government considers Meriam to be Muslim and therefore will not recognize her marriage to a Christian.

    So is Meriam’s case all about freedom of religion?

    In part. But Meriam’s case is really about being a woman.

    May 28, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s rights campaigner

    Canada pledged $2.85 billion from 2010-2015 to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the global South as part of the G8’s Muskoka Initiative. This week, Canada has invited world leaders, the UN, and civil society to Toronto for the “Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach” summit on maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) to explore the impact of the Muskoka Initiative and chart the path forward.

    Back in 2010 when the Muskoka Initiative funding was first announced, Amnesty International, along with other organizations, was critical of the initiative for excluding support and funding for safe abortion services. Amnesty International’s research shows that to reduce maternal mortality rates, women must have access to a full range of sexual and reproductive services.

    May 12, 2014
    Members of civil society groups sit to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls’ release in Abuja on May 6, 2014

    by Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General

    On Friday night, Nigerian information minister Labaran Maku went on the radio to denounce evidence obtained by Amnesty International which, we had said, showed the Nigerian security forces received advance warning of the impending Boko Haram attack on Chibok but failed to act on it. Other officials said they doubted “the veracity” of the revelations. The defence ministry described them as “unfortunate and untrue”.

    Later, though, the government softened its position. Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro, the country’s minister of state for defence, told CNN that “we must investigate and ensure we get to the root of it”.

    As well he might, because we stand by our evidence.

    May 05, 2014
    Nigerians attend a demonstration to demand government to rescue schoolgirls abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants two weeks ago
    By Adotei Akwei, Guest Writer - originally published on Amnesty USA Blog.

     

    On April 14, 234 school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in Northern Nigeria by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram.

    Boko Haram, which is opposed to any form of western education, has waged a brutal insurgency destabilizing different states in the northern part of the country at various points since 2009 with bombs, attacks on schools and the killings of thousands of individuals. Amnesty estimates that 2,300 people have died as a result of the armed conflict since 2010, with 1,500 being killed between January and March of 2014 alone.

    April 09, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner

    "Our health, our bodies, our rights, our future—in your hands now” is the message that Amnesty International sent to United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon during a handover of 281,102 petition signatures in New York today.

    I like to think that my body and my health are in my own hands, thank you very much. My grandmother and my mother fought hard to make sure that I could grow up in a world where I can receive information about family planning, where getting married is a choice, and where I am in control about making decisions about my sexuality and reproduction.

    But much as I like to think that I am the sole master of my destiny, I have spent enough time in the halls of the United Nations to know better. This week, governments from around the world have come together at the United Nations in New York at the 47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development. Throughout this week they will talk about big global issues like young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education, and the many ways and forms in which people create families. They will leave New York with agreement on a document that will re-affirm the rights that we have to make decisions about our sexuality and reproduction. And that is no small thing.

    November 29, 2013
    Many of the women and girls spoke of ongoing rape and other forms of sexual violence - carried out on their villages in Darfur as well as by armed militias as they were attempting to flee across the border to Chad.

    By Manar Idriss, Sudan researcher at Amnesty International

    November 28, 2013

    Ahmed Ezz, a mechanical engineer, talks about his voluntary work with Operation Anti-Sexual Harrassment/Assault (OpAntiSH), an activist organization based in Cairo, Egypt, known for intervening in sexual assaults by mobs in Tahrir Square.

    When people find out that a woman has been sexually harassed and assaulted, their first reaction is “what was she wearing?”. They always lay the blame on the women themselves. I’ve witnessed this so many times.

    It is not safe at all in Cairo for women and girls. Their freedom of movement is constantly constrained. Some avoid using the metro, and spend more money on taking taxis or multiple buses, simply to minimize the risk of harassment and assault. If women and girls complain about sexual harassment, people around them just try to calm them down, belittle their concerns or accuse them of unjustly pointing the fingers at harassers.

    Finding a solution

    November 22, 2013

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

    Since 1991, women’s rights activists from around the world have come together for 16 days in November and December to raise awareness about gender-based violence, show solidarity with fellow activists around the world, and take action!

    What is gender-based violence?

    Gender-based violence is violence directed at a person because of their gender. Due to the disproportionate number of women and girls who face domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, forced prostitution, and harmful practices, ‘16 days’ focuses on women and girls.

    Why 16 days?

    The activist calendar is packed with significant dates related to gender-based violence in the 16 days from November 25th to December 10th.

    November 13, 2013

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

    For months, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have been sounding the alarm bell about the erosion of women’s human rights in Egypt. The issue received media coverage in June and July of this year when a large number of women were attacked while protesting in Tahrir Square, but otherwise media and public attention to this issue has been scant.

    October 24, 2013

    By: Eman Al Nafjan (@Saudiwoman) is a female blogger from Saudi Arabia who has been campaigning against the driving ban. She was arrested by police earlier this month as she filmed a female driver breaking the ban.  

    If there was one word to describe what it is like to be a Saudi woman, it would be the word patronizing. No matter how long you live, you remain a minor in the eyes of the government.

    September 10, 2013

    By Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty's International Secretraiat in London, England

    Her body ridden with bullets and left on the outskirts of Paktika province in Afghanistan, Sushmita Banerjee’s killing was horrifying but, sadly, not surprising.

    The Indian woman had escaped captivity under the Taliban in 1995 and went on to write a book about her experiences.

    Authorities in Afghanistan now say they have arrested two men over the killing, in a move that is unusual for cases of violence against women.

    For well over a year, we have seen many reported cases of beatings, disfigurations, kidnappings and killings of women and girls across the country – particularly in rural areas.

    June 14, 2013
    A 13-year-old rape survivor in Nicaragua draw her hopes for the future.

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

    This week Canada had the rather unenviable position of chairing negotiations at the UN Human Rights Council on its annual resolution on violence against women. It is something Canada has done for close to twenty years, and Canada’s leadership has been lauded for progressively strengthening this important resolution.

    This should be easy, right? Who wouldn’t want to support actions to combat violence, and in particular sexual violence, against women and girls? Think again. It certainly wasn’t the case this year.

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