Women's Human Rights
Widespread and systemic gender discrimination in Nepal has led to hundreds of thousands of women suffering from a reproductive health condition that leaves them in great pain, unable to carry out daily tasks and often ostracized from their families and communities, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
Uterine prolapse – a debilitating condition where the uterus descends from its normal position into the vagina - is rooted in discrimination that has severely limited the ability of women and girls to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives. Harsh working environments, early marriages and having too many children all contribute to the condition.
“This is an urgent human rights issue. Widespread uterine prolapse in Nepal goes back to the ingrained discrimination against women and girls that successive governments have failed to tackle adequately,” said Madhu Malhotra, Director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Identity and Sexuality and Identity Programme.
The Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release three women arrested last November at a protest at Mansoura University, said Amnesty International.
The organization said authorities should drop all the charges against the women, who are due to go on trial on Saturday 8 February. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.
By Manar Idriss, Sudan researcher at Amnesty International
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
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.
‘(1) Whoever commits, in a public space, an act, or conducts himself in an indecent manner, or a manner contrary to public morality, or wears an indecent or immoral dress, which causes annoyance to public feelings, shall be punished, with whipping, not exceeding forty lashes, or with a fine, or with both (2) The act shall be contrary to public morals if it is regarded as such according to the standard of the person's religion or the custom of the country where the act takes place.’
Article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Code of Sudan
A woman in Sudan can be stopped by the police, sent before a judge, and sentenced to a public flogging of forty lashes for wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
US President Barack Obama must urge Moroccan King Mohammed VI to scrap laws which see women and girls forced to marry their rapists, and teenagers facing jail for kissing in a public place, Amnesty International said ahead of a meeting between the two heads of state on Friday.
Several teenage survivors of sexual violence have committed suicide in recent months.
Public pressure to protect survivors of sexual violence had peaked in March 2012 when 16-year-old Amina Filali swallowed rat poison and killed herself, after being forced to marry the man she said had raped her.
“It is dreadful that this sort of attitude is enshrined in law. The Penal Code allows rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims. This discriminates against women and girls and provide them with little protection when they are subjected to sexual violence,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“[S]exual violence has played a prominent role in the conflict…It occurs during raids, at checkpoints, and in detention centres and prisons across the country. The threat of rape is used as a tool to terrorize and punish women, men and children perceived as being associated with the opposition.”
Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria
Since the start of the uprising in Syria in March 2011, some 100,000 people have died. More than 2 million people have fled across Syria’s borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. A further 4.25 million are displaced from their homes and communities within Syria. The conflict has been marked by a wide range of abuses by all parties, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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.
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.
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.
Women and children living in Somalia’s makeshift camps for displaced people face a high risk of rape and other sexual violence, Amnesty International said today after returning from a research trip to the country.
The organization’s researchers spoke with dozens of women and girls who felt at risk of sexual violence. Some of them, one as young as 13, had recently been raped. Most victims said they hadn’t reported the attacks to the police because they feared being stigmatized and had little confidence in the authorities’ ability or will to investigate.
“Women and children, who have already been forced to flee their homes because of the armed conflict and drought, now face the additional trauma of living under threat of sexual attack,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser.
“Many of the women we met live in shelters made of cloth and plastic sheeting which provide no security at all; in the context of the lawlessness which generally prevails in the country and the lack of security in these camps, it is hardly surprising that these horrific abuses are occurring.”
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.
(Ottawa) In a deeply troubling and unprecedented turn of events, Canada put forth text at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday which ignores an important need of rape survivors and fails to take account of recent international progress in tackling violence against women around the world.
Since 1994, Canada has led the negotiation of resolutions on violence against women in the UN Human Rights Council (and before 2006 the UN Commission on Human Rights), making the resolution progressively stronger each year. As such, it is all the more disappointing that this year’s draft resolution is so weak on the importance of sexual and reproductive health as an essential element in efforts to address violence against women.