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Women's Human Rights

    April 07, 2015

    Released Tuesday 7 April at 05.30am GMT (10.00am Kabul time)

    Women human rights defenders in Afghanistan who face mounting violence - including threats, sexual assault and assassinations - are being abandoned by their own government despite the significant gains they have fought to achieve, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Their Lives On The Line documents how champions for the rights of women and girls, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, police and journalists as well as activists have been targeted not just by the Taliban but by warlords and government officials as well. Laws meant to support them are poorly implemented, if at all, while the international community is doing far too little to ease their plight.

    April 02, 2015

    Spurious charges have been brought against a women’s rights activist and 16 others after they testified as witnesses against the security forces, in a clear attempt by the Egyptian authorities to skew the scales of justice, said Amnesty International ahead of their trial hearing on 4 April.

    Azza Soliman, founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, is one of 17 witnesses who came forward to give evidence about the killing of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, an activist and poet who was shot dead on 24 January 2015 by security forces during the dispersal of a peaceful march in Cairo to commemorate those who died during the 2011 “25 January Revolution”. All those who came forward as witnesses are now facing charges of protesting without authorization and disturbing public order.

    “The fact that the authorities are resorting to blatant intimidation tactics to silence witnesses shows just how the criminal justice system in Egypt is being used as a tool of repression,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    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 27, 2015

    Amnesty International to launch report on mounting threats and attacks on women human rights defenders in Afghanistan

    On 7 April 2015, a new Amnesty International report will document how women human rights defenders in Afghanistan are facing growing attacks and violence from all sides – Taliban, local commanders, government officials and family members.

    Institutional indifference by the Afghan authorities mean most women defenders lack adequate protection and perpetrators are almost never held to account.

    The report will be launched with a press conference in Kabul on 7 April, which will be attended by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty as well as Afghan women rights activists. Spokespeople are available in Kabul and London.

    On 8-9 April, Amnesty International will also co-organize a human rights conference in Kabul together with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

     

    March 18, 2015

    El Salvador’s government must take the opportunity to reform its draconian abortion law, said Amnesty International today as the country responds to a series of recommendations, mostly relating to abortion and gender discrimination, during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    "El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world, criminalizing abortion on all grounds, even when a woman or girl’s life or health is in danger and even in cases of rape and incest. This restrictive law has put women and girls at the brink of death,” said Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara Rosas.

    “El Salvador is expected to accept its duty to provide access to sexual health services and contraception, as recommended by states at the UN. We would welcome that step forward. But picking and choosing which recommendations to follow may leave in place a total ban on abortion. Dozens of women are in jail for pregnancy-related complications, some of them facing up to 40 years behind bars.”

    March 12, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must immediately drop charges and release five women activists who were detained for calling for an end to sexual harassment, Amnesty International said.

    The five women - Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Li Tingting, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong -were criminally detained on Thursday for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” If convicted each face a maximum of five years in prison.
    “Demanding that women are not sexually harassed is in no way a criminal act,” said William Nee, Amnesty International China Researcher.

    “The charges against all five women should be dropped and the women immediately and unconditionally released. The Chinese authorities should be working with these women to address sexual harassment, not persecuting them.”

    The women have been detained since last Saturday when they were taken into police custody ahead of events they had planned for International Women’s Day on 8 March. All five women are now believed to be held at Haidian Police Station in Beijing.

    March 11, 2015

    Iran’s Parliament is in the process of adopting two bills—Bill 446 and Bill 315—that threaten to send Iran back several decades to a precarious time for women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.

    Since 2012, Iran has eliminated funding for the state Family and Population Planning Program, which oversaw the delivery of family planning and reproductive health services, including free condoms and modern contraceptives across the country. These initiatives are part of a misguided plan to accelerate population growth and, if continued, they will leave women and girls in Iran with a future shaped by increased inequality, discrimination, poor health, limited choices, and restricted freedoms.

    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 10, 2015

    Women in Iran could face significant restrictions on their use of contraceptives and be further excluded from the labour market unless they have had a child, if two proposed laws are approved, says a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    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.

    March 05, 2015

    Ottawa -  This evening, over 400 people are expected to attend the Ottawa-Gatineau area’s largest International Women’s Day celebration.

    “As feminists we work on serious, often life and death issues, such as violence against women,” said Kelly Bowden from Oxfam. “Tonight we will come together for something more upbeat—to celebrate our achievements and to laugh a little at the same time.”

    Themed “Join the Feminist Party”, the event will include a mock election debate on women’s rights issues moderated by Amal Wahab from Live 88.5FM. “The last time federal political party leaders held a debate on women’s issues was in 1984,” said Jackie Hansen of Amnesty International Canada. “If held today, many of the same issues could be discussed. Tonight our line-up of satirical panelists will imagine what a debate on the issues that matter to women and girls in Canada could look like in 2015.”

    March 03, 2015

    Myanmar’s parliament mustreject or extensively revise a series of proposed laws that would entrench already widespread discrimination and risk fuelling further violence against religious minorities, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.

    A package of four lawsdescribed as aimed to “protect race and religion” – currently being debated in parliament – include provisions that are deeply discriminatory on religious and gender grounds. They would force people to seek government approval to convert to a different religion or adopt a new religion and impose a series ofdiscriminatory obligations on non-Buddhist men who marry Buddhist women.

    “Myanmar’s Parliament must reject these grossly discriminatory laws which should never have been tabled in the first place. They play into harmful stereotypes about women and minorities, in particular Muslims, which are often propagated by extremist nationalist groups,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    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

    El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly must vote today to overturn horrifying injustice and pardon a woman imprisoned for 30 years after having a miscarriage, said Amnesty International today.

    “Guadalupe” was just 18-years-old when she was imprisoned in 2007. She received a 30 year sentence after authorities suspected she could have actively terminated her pregnancy.  Members already voted on 16 January and “Guadalupe” lost her plea by just one vote. They will vote again today.

    “Today El Salvador has the chance to rectify a terrible injustice perpetrated against this young woman. She has already spent seven long years in prison away from her family and her release cannot come a moment too soon,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International.

    Abortion is totally banned in El Salvador, even if the pregnancy could kill the woman. Some women, mainly those living in poverty, who have a miscarriage are automatically criminalized.

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