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Women's Human Rights

    September 21, 2015

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

    I had great hopes for Thursday night’s Globe and Mail’s debate on Canada’s economy. After media attention surrounding the invisibility of women’s rights and gender equality issues in the federal election debate hosted last month by Maclean’s, and the flurry of media attention shortly thereafter around the failure of all federal political party leaders to agree to participate in a nationally broadcast leader’s debate on these issues, my expectations were high. Women’s rights and gender equality issues were on the radar!

    September 16, 2015

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

    In May 2015, Meenakshi Kumari, her 15 year old sister (whom we are not naming because she is a minor), and other family members fled their village in India’s Uttar Pradesh state after an all-male village council ordered them to be raped and paraded naked through the streets as punishment for their brother eloping with a higher-caste woman. Meenakshi took the courageous step of reporting what happened to the authorities, and her case was taken all the way to India's Supreme Court.
     

    Today, the Supreme Court of India recognized the risks to Meenakshi and her family and ordered the Delhi Police to provide the family with protection. But this isn’t over yet. The family must receive justice and reparation, and if they are unable to return to their village they must receive support to rebuild their lives in another community.

    September 14, 2015
    Amnesty International has been in the news recently for our position on how to protect the human rights of sex workers of all genders (women, men, gender non-conforming). There’s been much confusion and misinformation in the media and on social media. So we wanted to set the record straight. Amnesty International is AGAINST: Human trafficking in all its forms Any sexual exploitation of children Violence and discrimination against sex workers Amnesty International is FOR: Protecting the fundamental human rights of every person on this planet, including sex workers, without discrimination Comprehensive measures to address social and economic inequalities that deny many people choices in how they earn a living Effective programs to support individuals who wish to leave sex work Enforcement of state obligations to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, including providing support to victims Can you sum up what this is all about and what Amnesty is calling for?
    September 09, 2015

    By Gopika Bashi, Women’s Rights Researcher, Amnesty International India

    On 24 August, Amnesty International India launched a petition regarding two Dalit sisters who had been told they had been ordered to be raped and paraded naked by a khap panchayat - an unelected village council - in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh in northern India, as ‘punishment’ because their brother had eloped with a married woman from a dominant caste.

    Amnesty offices around the world circulated similar petitions, so that our supporters globally would have an opportunity to take action. Over 500,000 people have so far signed these petitions.

    Some media organizations have subsequently released reports which have questioned the petition. Some have said that members of the gram panchayat – the elected village council – and members of the dominant caste have denied the allegations. Others have claimed that Amnesty did not investigate the case.

    Unfortunately, these reports have taken the attention away from the situation of the sisters themselves, who along with their family still fear for their safety.

    August 07, 2015

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

    Watch this short video by Up for Debate supporters!

    My number is 0. Zero is the number of times that women’s rights and gender equality were discussed in the Maclean’s debate on August 6, the first federal leader’s debate of the 11 week election campaign.

    Zero is the number of times that ‘human rights’ were mentioned in the two-hour debate.

    The word ‘woman’ was mentioned four times—three times in reference to women and men in the military, and once as a passing reference to a particular woman.

    The debate focused on four thematic areas—the economy, environment, democracy, and foreign affairs/security. What were the missed opportunities to discuss women’s rights and gender equality? Here are some of the questions that could have been explored.

    July 22, 2015
    If you’re a girl in Burkina Faso, chances are your childhood won’t last long. Forced early marriage is common, as is early pregnancy.

    If you’re a woman, you may be denied contraception, simply because you don’t have your husband’s permission. And if you do manage to get contraception, you may be forced to use it in secret for fear of being accused of adultery by your partner or in-laws.

    If you’re a rape survivor, pregnant as a result of that assault, you must pay for your own emergency medical care – something that is out of reach for most victims.

    It’s an unsustainable situation. Burkina Faso’s girls want their childhoods back. Their mothers, aunts and sisters are fed up of being side-lined from the decisions that affect their lives. Stand with them today.

    May 27, 2015

    To mark the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28, Paul Hunt, former UN expert on the right to health, tells us about one special girl who inspired his work.

    About a decade ago, I travelled to the north of Uganda, still a conflict-zone at that time. Accompanied by soldiers, we went off the beaten track to a sprawling, dusty camp for internally displaced people (IDP).

    There I met someone who symbolized the deep injustice that arises when health-rights are denied. About 14 years old, she was sitting outside her small hut where she lived with her family. Some of her limbs were huge and sharply disproportionate to the rest of her body. She was suffering from a severely disfiguring disease called lymphatic filariasis – commonly known as elephantiasis.

    She explained that she went to school but was mocked and bullied. She could not stand the abuse so she left school. This teenage girl was the victim of multiple human rights abuses: of the rights to health, education, and equality.

    May 03, 2015

    A significant gulf in average wages between women and men. A severe shortage of affordable housing and quality childcare. An economic development model that depends on fly-in workers, labour camps and long shifts away from home that strain family life. Serious problems of drug dependency and alcohol abuse affecting all communities. And persistent gaps in basic services and supports for families, especially single parents.

    One of the fastest growing economies in Canada has drawn young workers and families from across the country to live and work in Fort St. John, BC. It has also created perfect storm conditions both to fuel violence and to deny adequate protection to those at risk.

    Add to this the unresolved legacy of past violations of Indigenous peoples' rights and continued discrimination facing First Nations and Metis persons, and it's not surprising that that we have heard so many moving and indeed shocking stories of sexual assaults and other violent attacks, murders and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls.

    April 23, 2015

    Never am I seen as strong, as proud, as resilient, never as I am
    Finally given the stars laid to gaze at them on back roads and in ditches on ghostly stretches of forgotten pebbled pathways your vastness swallows me. Do I fall in your line of sight? Do you see me now?
    Because I get this feeling that your eyes they curve around me
    —Exerpt from “Your eyes,” a poem by Helen Knott, an Indigenous woman from Fort St. John, BC

    April 15, 2015

    By Craig Benjamin and Jackie Hansen

    Last month, federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt disclosed previously unreleased RCMP statistics about the numbers of murders committed by Indigenous men. The Minister appears to believe that these figures support the federal government’s current approach to the issue, including the ongoing refusal to hold a public inquiry or initiate a comprehensive, coordinated national action plan.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Responding to the letter from Commission Paulson, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), stated, “We are absolutely shocked and appalled that the RCMP would hastily release these serious statistics without providing a full, publicly accessible report detailing how they are collecting and compiling this information.”

    April 07, 2015

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

    Afghanistan is a dangerous place. It’s particularly dangerous for women, who all too often experience threats and violence simply because of their gender. Women in the public sphere, whether they are doctors, engineers, police officers, or politicians, are seen as stepping outside of social, cultural, and religious norms and are at particular risk. And the courageous women and men who take a stand to defend women’s human rights are at perhaps the greatest risk. The story of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan is a story of hope, courage, and resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

    April 01, 2015

    By Elise Auerbach, AIUSA

    As if it weren’t bad enough. Iranian women face persistent systemic discrimination in terms of family law. New legislation being considered by Iran’s parliament is intended to roll back many of the gains women have made in the past decades and consign them to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

    And on top of that, if they dare to protest about the inequities they suffer, they are sentenced to long prison terms, to be served in prisons where unsanitary conditions and medical neglect can quickly undermine their health.

    March 11, 2015

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

    Campaigning against laws in Iran which discriminate against women and girls has just gotten a whole lot harder for Bahareh Hedayat and other activists with the Campaign for Equality, as Iran moves to enact laws set to turn Iranian women and girls into baby-making machines. Bahareh is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for her peaceful activism in support of gender equality.

    March 09, 2015

    By Stella Jegher, Amnesty International Switzerland

    This International Women’s Day, we look back 20 years to a historic UN meeting in Beijing that saw world leaders make bold commitments to women’s rights. Stella Jegher, Chair of the Amnesty International Women’s Human Rights Network, sheds light on how Amnesty made a difference to the debate then – and continues to do so now.

    Twenty years ago, in the autumn of 1995, the city of Beijing witnessed a historic moment for women’s rights: People from all over the world travelled to China for the UN's fourth World Conference on Women. Five thousand government delegates from 189 countries, thousands of journalists and over four thousand NGO representatives gathered for the official Conference in Beijing.

    Fifty kilometres away in the town of Houairou, 35,000 people met at the largest ever NGO meeting on women's human rights. As one of the NGOs allowed to attend both meetings, Amnesty was able to bring the demands of women's organizations in Houairou to the UN conference in Beijing.

    March 09, 2015

    By Dr. Renu Adhikari, Nepal

    Yesterday, the world celebrated International Women's Day. Today, world leaders descend on the United Nations in New York to take stock of how much they have achieved in the 20 years since a historic meeting in Beijing, where they promised to protect and promote the rights of women and girls everywhere. Dr Renu Adhikari will be among the many activists in New York. She tells us what progress she’s seen over the last two decades.

    I have worked on women’s rights for the last 24 years in Nepal. I started out working on trafficking and HIV. I had met a girl who had been trafficked and her story made me re-think whether I should continue being a medical doctor or do something in women’s rights. At that time, I had no idea what an NGO was. Still, in 1991 I created the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) out of my passion for women’s rights.

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