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Women's Human Rights

    October 16, 2014

    Released  08.00 BST - 16 October 2014

    Repressive and discriminatory legislation enacted over the last 18 months in Uganda has led to increasing state repression, violence and homophobic and gender-based discrimination, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

    “Rule by Law” – Discriminatory Legislation and Legitimized Abuses in Uganda, launching today in Uganda’s capital city Kampala, details how three pieces of legislation have violated fundamental human rights, fuelled discriminatory abuses and left individuals unable to seek justice.

    “Repression in Uganda is increasingly state sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.  

    “The government must act now to revise these toxic laws, which threaten the core of human rights in Uganda.”

    October 14, 2014

    By Shiromi Pinto

    Yoshi Garcia is a Salvadoran activist and self-styled “DJ with a conscience”. Aged 24, her interest in gender equality issues started when she was around 14. Since then, she has joined numerous campaigning organizations, including Agrupaçion (the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) and Jovenes Voceras y Voceros en los DS y DR (Youth Voices for Sexual and Reproductive Rights). Here, she tells us how she became a passionate advocate against El Salvador’s total abortion ban.

    September 26, 2014

    By Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty International

    “Nearly every woman in Afghanistan has a painful story to tell,” says Dr Lima, an Afghan woman who decided to take action after witnessing harrowing cases of rape and violence against women in her country.

    Lima works to empower women who are at are at risk of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. She is a professional gynaecologist with a secret and dangerous sideline.
    “When I started working, I would not help people when they came to me for an abortion. I would say no,” she says.

    It was a predictable reaction in a country where abortions are illegal in the majority of circumstances, but in 2006 Lima was confronted with a story that brought home the devastating scale of the hardships faced by Afghanistan’s women. It would change her mind on the need for access to safe abortion and would lead her to offer abortion, contraception and other forms of help to women when they found themselves with nowhere to turn.

    September 25, 2014

    Originally Released  25 September 2014 13:30 GMT

    The government’s repressive and outdated total ban on abortion is blighting the lives of women and girls in El Salvador, pushing them to unsafe, clandestine abortions or forcing them through dangerous pregnancies, Amnesty International said today. Those terminating their pregnancies could face years in prison.

    Amnesty International’s recent report, On the brink of death: Violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador, charts how the country’s restrictive law results in the deaths of hundreds of women and girls who seek clandestine abortions. The criminalization of the practice has also resulted in those suspected of undertaking an abortion facing long prison sentences. 

    “The horrific repression that women and girls in El Salvador face is truly shocking and akin to torture. They are denied their fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies and are severely punished if they dare to do so,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, who launched the report in San Salvador today.

    September 24, 2014

    Remember Beatriz?

    She nearly died last year because the government of El Salvador refused to let her terminate the pregnancy that was making her fatally ill—a pregnancy in which the fetus was unlikely to survive because it was missing large parts of its brain.

    Every year, thousands of women and girls are denied their human rights by El Salvador’s total abortion ban. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 years old and pregnant because they were raped, or whether the pregnancy is a risk to their lives: El Salvador’s abortion laws force them to carry the pregnancy to term.

    Women who have a miscarriage can be jailed for up to 50 years for aggravated homicide, because the state suspects them of having a clandestine abortion.

    With no comprehensive education about sex and relationships, and obstacles to accessing contraception, El Salvador has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America. And more than half of all deaths of pregnant teens in the country are due to suicide.

    September 23, 2014

    The abandoning of a draconian anti-abortion bill that threatened the health, dignity and lives of women and girls in Spain is a step in a positive direction, Amnesty International said today.

    “We’re glad that the Spanish Prime Minister has finally scuppered this retrogressive anti-abortion bill, but the fact remains it should never have been on the legislature’s books in the first place,” said Esteban Beltrán, Director at Amnesty International Spain.

    “The government must not control decisions women and girls make about their lives and health, and fully implement the recommendations by international human rights bodies.”

    The proposed bill presented a series of obstacles to accessing a safe and legal abortion. For example, a woman or girl seeking an abortion would have to obtain two certificates from doctors at different centres, confirming any risks to the life and health of the woman and the foetus. She would also be obliged to receive counselling and information on non-medical issues, and then to wait seven days during a “reflection” period.

    September 18, 2014

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

    The disappearance of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls in April 2014 led to a worldwide social media campaign to #BringBackOurGirls. Tens of thousands of Amnesty International supporters signed our petition targeted at the Nigerian authorities. The world watched, and waited. Then the social media campaign faded and the issue disappeared from the headlines. Five months later the girls are still missing. And in the intervening months many more girls, boys, women, and men have been kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters.

    September 09, 2014
    Am I Next - Indigenous women send messages to Canadian government

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


    The images are haunting. The message shocking. “Am I next?”

    Holly Jarrett, cousin of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman murdered in Halifax, NS in February, launched the “Am I next?” social media campaign on Saturday, September 6. It plays on the word “ain,” a term of endearment in her native Inuktituk. Given the alarmingly high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, it is meant to draw attention to a question that Indigenous women and girls have to ask themselves—will they be the next to vanish?

    August 13, 2014

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her family left Sudan and arrived in Italy on July 24, 2014. 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. 

    She arrived in New Hampshire on July 30th to begin a new life with her husband and children. According to Ibrahim’s brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said Ibrahim had been granted asylum by the U.S. government. “I am so relieved,” Daniel Wani, Ibrahim's husband, said to reporters at the airport. 

    Thank you for the part you have played in this remarkable story!

    Visit Case Updates for the most recent updates on current and past Amnesty International actions

    August 01, 2014

    Governments across Europe and the European Union (EU) must swiftly sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention, a new continent-wide tool to prevent and combat violence against women and girls as well as domestic violence, Amnesty International said as the treaty enters into force on 1 August. 

    “Beaten, raped, harassed or subjected to female genital mutilation, many women and girls in Europe suffer in silence as they are denied the means to extricate themselves from situations they view as hopeless. Europe must wake up to this reality,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy. 

    “The Istanbul Convention is a powerful tool to tackle comprehensively this extensive human rights abuse which blights the lives of millions of women on a daily basis in Europe. Governments across Europe and Central Asia must now show political will and put it into concrete action.”

    July 30, 2014

    The Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling that Guatemalan authorities failed to investigate the tragic murder of a teenage girl sends a strong message to governments around the world that failure to address violence against women will not be tolerated, said Amnesty International ahead of a press conference on the ruling in Guatemala City today.

    The case was brought by the mother of María Isabel Veliz Franco, a 15-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted, tortured and brutally murdered in Guatemala in 2001. On Monday 28 July, the court found that not only had Guatemalan authorities failed to properly investigate the murder, but that they had failed to address and resolve the ingrained culture of violence and discrimination against women that permeates Guatemalan society, which led to a flawed investigation. 

    July 24, 2014

    The Irish authorities must take urgent action to bring the country’s flawed abortion laws in line with its international human rights obligations, Amnesty International said following the UN Human Rights Committee’s strongly worded criticism of the Ireland’s stance on abortion.

    The UN Committee, which monitors states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, found today that Irish abortion laws violate human rights and are in serious breach of the country’s international obligations.

    It stated its concern that terminating a pregnancy is criminalized in most circumstances in the country, carrying a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Women and girls who, for example, have been raped, who are carrying a non-viable pregnancy or whose health is at risk, are forced to either carry the pregnancy to term or travel outside the country to obtain abortions.

    July 14, 2014
    In a landmark decision the Supreme Court in China has overturned the death sentence of Li Yan for the murder of her violent husband after enduring months of domestic abuse.

    Li Yan, from Sichuan province in Southwest China, was sentenced to death in August 2011 for the murder of her husband Tan Yong, in late 2010. She was facing imminent execution after previous appeals had failed.

    Li Dehuai, Li Yan’s brother, received news that earlier in May the Supreme Court had sent the case back to the Sichuan Provincial High People’s Court for a retrial.

    The court's decision is a rare reversal on the back of intense pressure internationally and within China to commute Li’s sentence. We highlighted Li Yan’s case as an Urgent Action and our SMS Action Network sent 11,011 messages to the Chinese authorities urging them not to implement her death sentence.

    Thank you to everyone who took action and stood up for Li Yan.

    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.

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