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Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    May 27, 2016
    On 20 May 2016, Maria Teresa Rivera was finally freed from prison in El Salvador after a judge dismissed the charges against her. In 2011, she had been given a 40-year sentence after suffering a miscarriage. Thousands of people across the world rallied to her cause. This is her thank you message to everyone.  

    I want to thank everyone who supported me and who never left me alone, everyone who believed in me and always said that I was innocent even though you did not know me. This was very special to me.

    May 20, 2016

    A court's decision today to release a woman who spent four years in jail in El Salvador for miscarrying her pregnancy is a great victory for human rights, said Amnesty International.

    María Teresa Rivera, 33, was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” after having a miscarriage.

    "The release of María Teresa is yet another step towards justice in a country where women are treated as mere second class citizens," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “She should have never been forced to spend one second behind bars. Her release must be a catalyst for change in El Salvador, where dozens of women are put in prison because of an utterly ridiculous anti-abortion law which does nothing but put the lives of thousands of women and girls in danger.”

    María Teresa was arrested in a hospital after her mother-in-law found her in her bathroom almost unconscious and bleeding heavily. Staff at the hospital reported her to the police and accused her of having an abortion.

    May 06, 2016

    Amnesty campaigner Karen Javorski takes us inside one of El Salvador’s most notorious prisons to meet Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and María Teresa Rivera, women jailed after pregnancy complications.

    Teodora shares a cell with 70 other women. For María Teresa, it is 250. Cramped together like this, the women often have to sleep on the floor under the building’s hot tin roofs.

    This is Ilopango prison on the outskirts of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador. I’m here with my Amnesty colleagues, and our local partners, to visit Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and others from “Las 17”, a group of Salvadoran women who are in prison after suffering pregnancy-related complications.

    The women speak to us in an outdoor area just beyond the prison patio– the only place we are allowed to enter. The heat is intense and the mosquitos swarm, but at least we can catch the breeze outside. Inside, as Teodora and María Teresa tell us, it’s a different story: severe overcrowding, intense heat and strict rules that are both impractical and cruel. And yet you wouldn’t know it from the building’s fairly nondescript exterior.

    March 17, 2016
    St Patrick’s Day is when we celebrate all that is great about Ireland – we can now add the Irish public’s support for wider access to abortion.

    Today, people all over the world are marking St Patrick’s Day and honouring what it means to be Irish. The Eiffel Tower is glowing green in France and in the USA, President Obama is hosting the Irish Prime Minister at the White House’s annual celebration.

    March 08, 2016
    Pictured above: Girls who are victims of early and forced marriage as well as early pregnancy at the FOCEB shelter admiring solidarity letters and postcards sent as part of Write for Rights 2015. Amnesty International Burkina Faso volunteers prepared the wall display for the girls, most of whom have been disowned by their families.

      Burkina Faso's Ministry of Justice, Human Rights, and Civic Promotion has affirmed the government's commitment to eradicating early and forced marriage.

    The ministry plans to raise the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 years and to ensure that forced marriage is clearly defined in Burkina Faso's criminal code.

    March 07, 2016

    The lives of millions of women and girls across Latin America are at the mercy of “lottery-style” health care systems that prioritize religious doctrine and stereotypes over the lives of patients, Amnesty International said in a new report.

        The State as a Catalyst for Violence Against Women

    Read report

    March 06, 2016

    The statistics tell a sobering tale. Burkina Faso has the 7th highest rate of child marriage in the world. More than half of all women were married before the age of 18 and 10% before age 15. Some girls as young as 11 are forced into marriage. Burkina Faso also has one of the world’s lowest rates ofcontraceptive use – only 17% of women. Many are denied contraception or use it in secret, out of fearof their husbands or in-laws.The end result is that by the time they are 19 years old, most girls are married, and nearly half of them are already mothers. They are raising children when they are still children themselves, in a country withone of the highest rates of maternal death in the world.

    TAKE ACTION to end early and forced marriage in Burkina Faso.

    March 05, 2016

    International Women’s Day, March 8, is a rallying point for feminists worldwide. Established by the United Nations in 1975, it is a day to celebrate women’s achievements while highlighting remaining gender inequalities. But 41 years later, is it still necessary?

    YES! Women and girls may have scaled unimaginable heights in politics, science, arts, sports and business, but gender equality is not yet a reality anywhere in the world. Here are eight reasons why International Women’s Day is still so needed.

    January 06, 2016

    The UN’s welcome decision to investigate new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic again highlights the need for further reform and for perpetrators to be brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in CAR, Mr. Onanga-Anyanga, confirmed yesterday that UNICEF staff had interviewed four girls reported to have been abused by peacekeepers. He called on troop-contributing countries to open their own investigations and offered support from the UN Office of Internal Oversight.

     “The reports of further allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse are deeply disturbing and highlight just how much needs to be done to stamp out this recurrent practice. The investigation is a welcome sign of good intent, but promises of zero-tolerance must be kept, and those responsible brought to justice in fair trials,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International deputy regional director for West and Central Africa.  

    November 30, 2015

    Released Monday 30 November 2015, 00:01 Mexico Time (06:00 GMT)        

    El Salvador’s extreme anti-abortion law is having a devastating effect on the lives of scores of children whose mothers, having suffered miscarriages or other obstetric emergencies, are being held behind bars accused of having illegal abortions, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    Separated families, broken ties, reveals how children of women jailed under the absurd anti-abortion law are often left facing difficult financial circumstances and prevented from staying in touch with their mothers.

    “Each time authorities in El Salvador unfairly lock up a woman for having a miscarriage or suffering pregnancy related complications, they are also condemning her children to a life of poverty and trauma,” said Astrid Valencia, Central America Researcher at Amnesty International.

    October 23, 2015

    Authorities in the Indonesian region of Aceh must immediately repeal a controversial new bylaw which imposes harsh flogging sentences for consensual sex in some instances and could make it easier for rapists to escape justice, said Amnesty International today.

    Aceh’s new Islamic Criminal Code (Qanun Jinayat) came into effect today, imposing caning sentences for consensual sexual relationships outside marriage and same-sex relations, punishable by up to 30 lashes and up to 100 lashes, respectively. It also introduces unacceptable hurdles for those reporting rape along with punishments for anyone deemed to have made false allegations.

    “To punish anyone who has had consensual sex with up to 100 lashes is despicable,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Campaigns Director.

    October 09, 2015

    A recent revelation by satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani that she was forced to undergo a “virginity and pregnancy test”, prior to her trial for a charge of “illegitimate sexual relations” for shaking hands with her lawyer, has added another stain on Iran’s shameful record of violence against women, Amnesty International said today.

    In a note written by Atena Farghadani leaked from prison, which has been seen by Amnesty International, she says the judicial authorities took her to a medical centre outside the prison on 12 August 2015 and forced her to submit to the tests, purportedly with the purpose of investigating the charge against her.

    “It is shocking that on top of imposing a ludicrous charge on Atena Farghadani for the ‘crime’ of shaking hands with her lawyer, the Irania

    The authorities have forced her to undergo a ‘virginity and pregnancy test’,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    September 28, 2015

    Released 28 September 2015, 00:01 Mexico time (05:00 GMT)

    Chile’s draconian anti-abortion law is treating women as second-class citizens and putting their lives and health at risk, said Amnesty International amid a heated congressional debate to modify the legislation.

    “Chile’s outrageous abortion ban creates a climate of fear among health professionals whose first thought is often to report a woman or a girl to the police for a suspected abortion rather than give them life-saving treatment. It creates a two-tiered health system in which women are seen as mere child-bearing vessels,” said Fernanda Doz Costa, Researcher on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Americas at Amnesty International.

    September 25, 2015

    Amnesty International Ireland joined with the Abortion Rights Campaign fourth annual March for Choice in Dublin today, to highlight the fact that criminalising women for having abortions is an abuse of their human rights.

    Amnesty International’s global My Body My Rights campaign has Ireland as a focus, because we have one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in the world. Not only are women and girls denied their human right to access safe and legal abortions, at a minimum where they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, their heath is at risk or there is a fatal or severe foetal impairment.  Irish law also criminalises any woman or girl - and her healthcare provider - if they have an abortion outside of the very limited scope of the 2013 Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act.

    Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

    August 13, 2015

    Reports that an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after she was repeatedly raped, allegedly by her step father, gave birth today are a tragic reminder of the urgent need for Paraguay to repeal its draconian anti-abortion law, said Amnesty International.

    “We are very pleased to hear that both ‘Mainumby’ and the newborn are in good health but she is lucky to be alive. Only time will tell the true extent of the physical and psychological consequences of her tragic ordeal,” said Erika Guevara, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  
     
    “The fact that ‘Mainumby’ did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape-victim and a child.”

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