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Women's Human Rights

    March 14, 2019

    Speaking to Amnesty is not a crime

    The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    “The charges against the activists are the latest example of the Saudi authorities abusing legislation and the justice system to silence peaceful activists and deter them from working on the human rights situation in the country. This trial is yet another stain on the Saudi authorities’ appalling human rights record, and shows how empty the government’s claims of reform really are,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    March 12, 2019

    Responding to reports that Brazilian police have arrested two men in Rio de Janeiro over the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March 2018, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This week marks one year since Marielle Franco was brutally killed, in an attack which devastated the many communities whose rights she fought to defend. Marielle’s killing was a blatant attempt to silence a brave human rights defender, who had devoted her life to advocating for women, LGBTI people and black youth in Rio favelas.”

    “These arrests are the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings. We are calling for the Brazilian authorities to ensure that investigations are independent and impartial, and to bring all those responsible, including those who ordered the crime, to justice in fair trials.”

    “There is no better way to honour Marielle Franco’s amazing legacy than by committing to protect human rights defenders and ensuring they can safely continue their vital work.”

    February 28, 2019

    The Hong Kong authorities must not return two sisters to Saudi Arabia where their lives would be in grave danger, Amnesty International said.

    The women, who are aged 18 and 20 and are known as Reem and Rawan, fled Saudi Arabia after suffering repeated beatings by male family members and being treated “like slaves”. They arrived in Hong Kong last September when trying to reach Australia. They were blocked from continuing their journey by Saudi consular agents at Hong Kong International Airport. The sisters subsequently learned that their passports had been revoked, making it impossible for them to extend their visas to remain in Hong Kong.

    The sisters have been allowed to stay in Hong Kong as “tolerated” overstayers. That period of toleration is set to expire on 28 February. Hong Kong authorities could extend the period of toleration, which would allow the women to explore third country resettlement options.

    January 24, 2019

    Amnesty International has obtained new reports of torture and abuse inflicted on a group of Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been in arbitrary detention since May 2018. These reports follow similar testimonies from November 2018 into the torture of a number of the activists, and highlight the urgent need to allow independent monitors access to those in detention, the organization said today.

    According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

    One woman activist was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month. According to another account, two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. One activist reported that interrogators had forced water into her mouth as she was shouting while being tortured. Others reported being tortured with electric shocks.

    December 17, 2018

    In response to today's ruling by a court in El Salvador in the case of Imelda Cortez, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International Director at the Americas, said:

    “It is encouraging to know that Imelda Cortez has finally received justice. The authorities in El Salvador have taken a step in the right direction to protect the human rights of girls and women in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.”

    “Amnesty International welcomes the fact that Imelda will be released after being detained for more than a year, but we must not forget the other girls and women who continue to face injustice in El Salvador just because they are women.”

     

    If you would like more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    December 09, 2018
    Amnesty publishes review of human rights in 2018

    Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year.

    The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic policies has placed freedoms and rights that were won long ago in fresh jeopardy.

    “In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonize and persecute already marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “But it is women activists who have offered the most powerful vision this year of how to fight back against these repressive leaders.”

    November 19, 2018

    Alisa Lombard is an associate with Maurice Law, Canada’s first national Indigenous-owned law firm, and the lead on a proposed class action law suit in Saskatchewan brought by two women who claim having been forcibly or coercively sterilized between 2000-2010. Over 60 women have reached out reporting they were sterilized without proper and informed consent, most from Saskatchewan, and also from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.

    We spoke with Alisa the week the issue of the ongoing practice of forced and coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women and girls in Canada became headline news, prompting calls for urgent action to end this human rights violation and provide justice for the survivors.

    August 01, 2018

    The arrest of two more prominent women human rights activists in Saudi Arabia is further proof of a crackdown that shows no sign of relenting, Amnesty International said today.

    Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada were detained earlier this week, Amnesty International has learned. They have both been repeatedly targeted, harassed, and placed under travel bans for their human rights activism.

    “This unprecedented level of persecution of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia is a disturbing sign that the crackdown is far from over,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.

    “These brave women represented the last vestiges of the human rights community in the country, and now they too have been detained. Saudi Arabia’s new leadership under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has crushed any space for the existence of human rights defenders in the country.

    August 01, 2018

    As a new law banning the wearing of face coverings in public comes into force in Denmark, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director Fotis Filippou said:

    “All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa. 

    “Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates women's rights to freedom of expression and religion.

    “If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalizes women for their choice of clothing - making a mockery of the freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

    Background

    The Danish ban follows similar recent bans on full face veils in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and parts of Switzerland.

    May 31, 2018

    Since May 2018, authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested some of the country’s most prominent women human rights defenders. These courageous activists have peacefully advocated for the right of women to drive, an end to the male guardianship system, and for justice and equality. They have done nothing wrong, have not been charged with any crime, and should be released immediately and unconditionally. 

    We need you to take action online to support women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. 

    Saudi officials monitor social media and are sensitive to international pressure. This is why Amnesty International’s actions directly target the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa and official Saudi government social media feeds to:

    April 23, 2018

    As the space for civil society to peacefully advocate in support of human rights shrinks, being a human rights defender is getting increasingly dangerous. Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are experiencing harassment and violence—both on and offline—because of what they’re advocating for AND because of their gender. The space for WHRDs to safely advocate for human rights, is getting even smaller. And the space for women of colour, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized women to advocate in support for human rights is even smaller still.

    March 07, 2018

    It’s March, and like many working parents, I’m making plans for the nine weeks when school is not in session this summer. Last year I naively thought that my child and I could have a chat, I’d book camps, and everything would be set. Oh, how I learned! I am more prepared this year and am in the midst of immense internet research and an intense series of complex negotiations involving myself, my child’s other parent, my child, my employer, organizations I work with (lest I book my vacation during a peak time on the human rights calendar), my family and close friends who live across the country, the parents of my child’s closest friends, my own playmates whom I want to go on camping adventures with, my bank account, and the weather forecaster.

    July 24, 2017
    Thousands of South Sudanese women and girls, and some men, who have been raped in ethnically-charged sexual attacks in the ongoing conflict are battling mental distress and stigma with nowhere to turn for help, Amnesty International revealed in a new report out today.   “Do not remain silent”: Survivors of Sexual violence in South Sudan call for justice and reparations, reveals aggravated acts of sexual violence against thousands of people across the country since hostilities began in December 2013. The report is the result of a joint research project between Amnesty International and 10 South Sudanese human rights defenders who cannot be named due to fear of reprisals from the government of South Sudan.  
    April 24, 2017

    Amnesty International Ireland Release

    Overwhelming vote for complete constitutional and legal reform an important vindication of women’s and girls’ human rights

    Amnesty International today applauded the Citizens’ Assembly’s resounding vote against retaining the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s Constitution, and its vote to give the Oireachtas unrestricted power to legislate for abortion. It described the Assembly’s two-thirds majority vote for access to abortion on request at least in early pregnancy, and even greater majority votes for later gestational limits in specific circumstances, an important vindication of women’s and girls’ human rights.

    March 17, 2017

    Johannesburg --The Angolan government must allow protesters to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said ahead of a planned demonstration in Luanda for a women’s right to have an abortion.

    The protest, scheduled for March 18, 2017, is in response to the new draft penal code currently before parliament, which punishes without exceptions those who have or perform an abortion with up to 10 years in prison.

    “We have often seen Angolan police use unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful demonstrators,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    Parliament approved an amendment on abortion on February 24 as part of the process of replacing Angola’s penal code from the 1886 colonial-era version. The government had proposed a bill that would criminalize abortion, except in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is in danger. But parliament rejected that proposal and made abortion, without exceptions, illegal. The final vote on the draft penal code is slated for March 23.

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