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Women's Human Rights

    January 25, 2015

    By Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program

    The streets are empty. The prisons are full. The fourth anniversary of Egypt’s “25 January Revolution” is passing largely in silence, with many of the young activists who led it now firmly behind bars.

    For many women in Egypt, this Sunday will bring back particularly bitter memories – of a brief moment when it seemed that a better future was finally within reach.

    Women stood alongside men throughout the 2011 uprising. However, in the years since they have faced a rising tide of violence and discrimination.

    And nowhere is safe.

    Shocking testimonies uncovered by Amnesty International show women enduring violence at the hands of their partners, the public and the police.

    Women are not safe at home. One woman told Amnesty International of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband:

    January 21, 2015

    Recently, the Salvadoran authorities refused to pardon Guadalupe, a young woman currently serving a 30-year jail sentence after suffering a miscarriage. One of her chief advocates is Morena Herrera. Here, the ex-freedom fighter, staunch feminist and sexual and reproductive rights campaigner tells us why El Salvador’s abortion ban needs to go.

    “I was a guerrilla fighter. I was an activist for social change since I was young,” says Morena Herrera. When the civil war ended in 1992 and the Peace Accords were signed, she knew that the fight was far from over.

    “Those accords left big holes when it came to women’s rights,” she says. “I realized I had to fight another way. Women’s rights are human rights and they have to be a priority.”

    Since 2009, Morena has been fighting “another way” through the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a collective she heads today.

    November 27, 2014

    By Cindy Ko and Adotei Akwei from Amnesty International USA

    It is time for the Obama administration to ensure implementation of standardized sexual assault policies aimed at helping ensure that Indigenous survivors of sexual violence  can access medical treatment and support services. Indigenous women face disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) compiled statistics that show over one in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetimes. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general.

    In order to achieve justice, survivors frequently have to navigate a maze of tribal, state and federal law. These complex jurisdictional rules undermine equality before the law and often allow perpetrators to evade justice. At all levels, law enforcement and justice systems are failing to ensure justice for Indigenous survivors of sexual violence – their cases may not be investigated, vital evidence may not be collected via a “rape kit” and their cases may never be prosecuted.

    October 31, 2014

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

    Events being reported in the Canadian media have launched a national conversation about violence against women. It is a difficult but important conversation about why so many people—mainly but not exclusively women—continue to experience violence, and in particular sexual violence, and very often feel unwilling or unable to report it; as well as why we as a society have failed to stop it.

    In talking about allegations of sexual violence and harassment we are talking about some of our most fundamental human rights that each and every one of us possesses.

    We are talking about our basic human right to live free from rape and other violence.  We are talking about the right to equality. Despite having these rights enshrined in international human rights law and in our own domestic laws, at least one third of women globally experience violence at some point in their lives. This statistic applies whether you live in Canada or Morocco. And women in other countries, as in Canada, are unlikely to report acts of violence or harassment to the authorities.

    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 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?

    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.

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