Posts Tagged ‘International Women Human Rights Defenders Day’

Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2017: an anthology

December 7, 2017

When the UN adopted a landmark Resolution on the Protection of the Women Human Rights Defenders in 2013, the international community committed itself to supporting them and recognising the indispensable role they play in society. But instead of being applauded and recognised for their achievements, human rights defenders are increasingly being threatened and attacked, and portrayed as ‘criminals’, ‘terrorists’ or a ‘threat to traditional values’. In the worst cases, they’re imprisoned and killed. Women human rights defenders are attacked because they challenge injustice and break traditional gender norms and stereotypes in their societies.

To mark international Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day on Wednesday 29 November, I already posted AWID’s list of women who have been killed this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/04/remembering-women-killed-fighting-for-human-rights-in-2017/].

However there is a plethora of other sources on the issue of women human rights defenders issued around this international day and here follows ‘unfortunately’ just a (big) selection:

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Kate AllenDirector of Amnesty International UK, wrote in the Huffington Post (5 December 2017) under the title “Women Human Rights Defenders: Time To Speak Up For The Those On The Frontline Of Human Rights“.

Amnesty International has released a new report that lays bare the shocking threats that activists face around the world. It shines a light on the plight of women who’ve been killed or forcibly disappeared as a result of their campaigning work over the past 20 years….Berta Cáceres, for example, an indigenous and environmental rights defender in Honduras, was murdered in March last year after being threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project. Her daughter, Bertha Zuñiga, survived an armed attack in July this year, just weeks after being named the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras, the organisation her mother previously led. Justice is yet to be served……And what is so utterly frustrating is that most of these attacks could have been prevented if countries had taken their human rights obligations seriously. When crimes are not investigated and punished, a chilling message is sent out, leaving many women human rights defenders fearing for their lives or too scared to stand up for what is right. This is why we need governments to take heed of our report. They must publicly acknowledge the enormous contribution of women activists in the advancement of human rights, and take steps to prevent any further attacks on them by ensuring they’re adequately supported….In the face of rising populism, fundamentalism, inequality, and a backlash against women’s human rights, voices of women human rights defenders and the communities and movements they represent are now more important than ever.

Rohit David, in the Time son India (5 December 2017) wrote “Women who have been tortured for the environment

The year 2017 has been a tough year for women environment activists and environmental defenders, protecting their indigenous land and resources as they face increased crackdowns, violence, threats, intimidation and murder by state and non-state actors. At the UN environment assembly in Nairobi the women’s rights organisations held a tribute ceremony on Monday. They highlighted the important role of women human rights defenders for a pollution-fr ..  Read more at: //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/61926819.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Pratch Rujivanarom wrote in The Nation of 4 December 2017 about women in Thailand: “Hardships for female rights activists highlighted”

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FEMALE ACTIVISTS from every corner of Thailand have been victims of discrimination, lawsuits and threats to their families, Protection International has revealed.

Being a human rights activist was harder for women, as many of them had to look after their families and make a living while maintaining an active role campaigning for justice and basic human rights, the organisation’s coordinator, Pranom Somwong, said to mark International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders last Wednesday. “From the stories of women human rights activists across the country, we found that they are living in great distress,” Pranom said. “Not only do they have to face danger from their activism, they have to take care of their family. In the meantime they have a duty to go to court, gather evidence for their cases and earn money for litigation. ..“Moreover, we have found that since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) came to power in 2014, 179 women have been sued for their activities to defend their rights. They were discriminated against and branded as criminals, and it is common for many of them to be a defendant in more than five cases at the same time.”

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At an event titled “Side by Side WHRD (Women Human Rights Defenders) 2018” last Wednesday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Protection International disclosed the latest statistics on lawsuits against female human rights activists. They showed that most female activists were sued over the forest-encroachment issue and that the Northeastern Region had the highest number of cases against women activists. A land-rights activist from Chaiyaphum in the northeastern region, Oranuch Phonpinyo, said that poor people of every gender and age were most likely to be victims of unfair government policies, so many women also took on the considerable role of campaigning for their basic rights and justice. Oranuch said the statistics showed that the land-rights issue was the most prominent problem. Since the NCPO proclaimed its forest reclamation policy and enforced orders to take back forestland from encroachers, poor people across the country had been affected severely – especially in the Northeast.

Vishal Gulati (in Nairobi at the invitation of United Nations Environment to cover its third annual session) wrote about: “200 environmental women defenders killed in 2017: Activists”.

This year has been the deadliest for environmental women defenders, with 200 assignations reported across the globe, and most of them were killed over land and forest conflicts, rights activists said on Monday. Paying a tribute on the inaugural day of the three-day third UN Environment Assembly here, they highlighted the important role of women human rights defenders for a pollution-free future. “Two hundred environmental and women human rights defenders have been assassinated this year, mostly killed over land and forest conflicts. Only last week, we lost Elisa Badayos from the Philippines. But these conflicts are greatly aggravated by pollution,” Priscilla Achakpa of the Women’s Major Group (WMG) said.

US NEWS on 30 November 2017 carried the Reuters story “Killing of Mexican Prosecutor of Crimes Against Women Sparks Outcry”

Wee on 29 November wrote in The MarySue: “5 Women To Remember on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day”

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day was created by the UN as a way of giving thanks and paying tribute to the women who have worked to increase women’s access to education, safety, and general independence around the world. So today at TMS we are going to talk about 5 women (2 historical and 3 modern women) who worked to ensure equality for women.

(1) Tawakkol Karman: the Yemeni journalist who became the face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising. In 2005 she, along with seven other female journalists, formed the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC).

(2) Sophia Duleep Singh: Goddaughter to Queen Victoria and exiled Indian royalty, Sophia Duleep Singh could have lived a life filled with royalty and opulence, but instead found herself called to the Suffragette movement in the United Kingdom.

(3) Peris Tobiko: Peris Tobiko was the first female Maasai member of Parliament to be elected in Kenya and was re-elected in 2017.

(4) Aida Kasymalieva: The youngest ever female member of the Kyrgyzstan parliament has made child marriage, domestic violence, and bride kidnapping an issue in her country, even when it causes other male members of parliament to walk out.

(5) Matilda Joslyn Gage: Considered too radical by many other suffragettes at the time, Gage was an unapologetic free thinker who supported not only just women’s right to vote but also provided her home as a stop on the Underground Railroad, supporting Civil Rights for African-Americans and Native peoples.

Indigenous Voices of Asia (IVA) published on 29 November “Philippines: CPA Statement on the Occasion of International Women Human Rights Defenders Day”

Today, in commemoration of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) pays its highest tribute to all women activists who valiantly fight for women’s human rights against all forms of discrimination, inequality, and economic and political oppression. We especially honor women human rights defenders who work tirelessly and selflessly to promote indigenous peoples’ collective rights to our lands, territories and resources against land grabbing and plunder by the state and private corporations……There is a growing peoples’ resistance on state fascism and tyranny, which was seen in the series of protest caravans during the past three months, including the protest caravan led by indigenous peoples and Moro people in September. In response, President Duterte plans on a crackdown against left-leaning organizations on the basis of their alleged conspiracy with communists, and arresting not only communist rebels but also “all legal fronts aiding the left”. Duterte also issued Proclamation 360 on November 23, which terminated the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Peace has become obscured and human rights have lost meaning and force under the current regime…..

Also in the Philippines the Women’s rights group Tanggol Bayi on Wednesday said women human rights defenders are facing “graver challenge” under the Duterte administration. In a press statement, Tanggol Bayi, in which name translates to Defend Women in English, convenor Gerifel Cerillo said Duterte’s words and actions are inciting state forces to commit further violence against human rights defenders, most of whom are women. “Duterte’s words and actions do not only smack of machismo and sexism. These are words and actions of an avowed fascist, one who flaunts state violence and terror on the poor majority to maintain a status quo that is inimical to the interests of the Filipino women and people,” Cerillo said as their group celebrated the International Women Human Rights Day on Wednesday.

On 29 November, 2017, to mark International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2017, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre made public a short video about women human rights defenders working on business and human rights – includes statistics from their database

On International Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Day, marked every year on 29 November, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls upon governments and armed groups in the MENA region to free all detained WHRDs.

In Saudi Arabia,  GCHR welcomed this news [re women being allowed to drive] with great enthusiasm, however unfortunately the precedent of arrest is stronger than the precedent of freedom when it comes to issues related to women in Saudi Arabia….It’s not possible for human rights defenders to work freely in Saudi Arabia right now, with almost all of them in jail or ceasing work. Most recently, on 10 November 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh sentenced woman human rights defender and Internet activist Naima Al-Matrood to six years in jail followed by six years of a travel ban. Al-Matrood was arrested on 13 April 2016 at the Directorate of Public Investigation in Al-Dammam. She was charged with allegedly participating in a number of anti-state demonstrations and rallies, being linked to a media cell, and violating public order by creating two social networking accounts on Twitter and Facebook to demand the release of some detainees. Al-Matrood has actively contributed to the peaceful human rights movement in the Eastern Province. Her health is deteriorating because of anemia, which has caused her vision to weaken.

In Iran, many people who campaign for women’s rights have been jailed and the country treats WHRDs more harshly than others, jailing them for lengthy sentences despite illness and separating them from their families.
Atena Daemi, who has campaigned for women’s rights and against the death penalty, has been imprisoned since November 2016 after being convicted of charges that were based solely on her peaceful human rights activities……..Narges Mohammadi, former Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) and President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, remains in prison….
Even after their release, WHRDs remain imprisoned in their country, unable to leave due to travel bans. Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ..continues to be banned from travelling. She was released in September 2013 after having spent over three years in prison. She was given a 20-year travel ban.

In Syria, Razan Zaitouneh and Samira Al-Khalil were kidnapped from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) offices with two male colleagues by armed, masked gunmen in Douma on 9 December 2013 and have been held ever since. There has been no word of their health or circumstances since they were abducted almost four years ago. …

(see also GCHR’s 2016 report Before It’s Too Late: Tangible Protection Mechanisms for Women Human Rights Defenders in the MENA Region and Beyond).

On 29 November the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on States to Recognize and Protect the Work of Women Human Rights Defenders

The IACHR observes with great concern that in recent years defending human rights in the Americas has become an extremely dangerous activity. Human rights defenders are regularly victims of criminalization, arbitrary detentions, killings, attacks, and threats, among other acts of violence. The information received by the IACHR demonstrates the seriousness of the situation in the region: in 2016 three quarters of all killings of human rights defenders in the world occurred in the Americas. Women human rights defenders face specific challenges in carrying out their defense of human rights, including the discrimination they are subject to because of gender stereotypes ascribed to their sex.

The IACHR notes that a context of structural violence and discrimination against women continues to exist in the region. In this context and while defying macho stereotypes that disapprove their participation in public life, women human rights defenders face a situation of particular vulnerability. They are exposed to misogynistic attitudes, threats of sexual aggression, gender-based defamation and questioning their “femininity” or sexuality. In this respect, the stigmatization and delegitimization have a different impact on women human rights defenders, given that many of these acts cause harm and violence to their gender condition. Additionally, in several occasions there is an intersection with racial discrimination when women defenders are indigenous or Afrodescendent.

Open Democracy of 29 November carries AWID’s “This is why we fight: Interview with Isabel Flota Ayala

AWID spoke with Isabel Flota Ayala, an indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF) about people who fought bravely for her communities.

Isabel Flota Ayala, indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF). Photo: AWID.

AWID spoke with Isabel Flota Ayala, an indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF). She spoke lovingly about people who fought bravely for her communities, including Griselda Tirado Evangelio, a human rights lawyer and part of Oganización Independiente Totonaca (OIT) a group that was defending the land rights of indigenous people in Mexico, and Alberta “Bety” Cariño Trujillo, who was a human rights defender and director of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos), a community organization in Oaxaca, Mexico, through which she fought for the right to resources and autonomy of indigenous people in her community. Griselda was assassinated just outside her family home in 2003. Bety was killed by gunfire during a peaceful solidarity caravan, in a case that still remains “unsolved.”

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) focused on Bahrain: “Interrogation, travel bans, arrest, and torture are but some of the challenges routinely faced by women humanrights defenders in Bahrain. On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day we reiterate the call fortheir protection.

Just days ago, Nedal al-Salman was advised that a travel ban prevented her leaving Bahrain. Al-Salman is the Head of International Relations and Women & Children’s Rights Advocacy at Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and is active in the promotion of women’s rights in Bahrain…This is the second travel ban al-Salman has received in two years; a restriction imposed simply due to her legitimate work in defence of human rights….Zainab Al-Khamees – a woman human rights defender and member of the Bahrain Human Rights Society – was prevented from traveling and summoned to Court in October this year …Jalila al-Salman – a teacher and the former vice president of the (now dissolved) Bahraini teachers’ association– also faces a travel ban. She was previously arrested and detained and tortured for her alleged role in coordinating a teachers’ strike following protests calling for government reform. Jalila al-Salman and her colleagues faced charges of ‘calling for and inciting the overthrow and hatred of the ruling system, possessing anti-political system pamphlets, spreading malicious and fabricated news and taking part in illegal gatherings.’ Nazeeha Saeed – correspondent for Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya and France24 – has been charged with ‘unlawfully working for international media.’ Saeed has previously been detained, and subjected to torture, ill-treatment, and humiliation by police. She as well is banned from travel. These women human rights defenders are subject to reprehensible treatment in response to their activism and commitment to human rights issues.

IPS has a special series of articles that cover the 16 days activism that start on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.   “Women Activists are Targets of Gender-Biased Violence”

Fanny Kaekat, indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people, has spent her life defending the territories of indigenous communities in southeastern Ecuador from the threat of mining. She poses at the 14th Latin American Feminist Meeting, in Montevideo, in front of a poster that reads: "my body, my territory", a slogan of women human rights defenders. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Fanny Kaekat, indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people, poses at the 14th Latin American Feminist Meeting, in Montevideo, in front of a poster that reads: “my body, my territory”, a slogan of women human rights defenders. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Veiled and direct threats, defamation, criminalisation of activism, attacks on their private lives, destruction of property and assets needed to support their families, and even murder are some forms of gender violence that extend throughout Latin America against women defenders of rights. They want to throw us off our land, they do not leave us alone. The helicopters fly at midnight, there are rumours that they are going to attack us,” Fanny Kaekat, an indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people in Ecuador, who for decades have been resisting the harassment of mining companies interested in the gold in their territories in the southeast of the country.

The violence against women rights activists was one of the main topics discussed at Eflac, which brought together some 2,000 feminists between Nov. 23 and 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which marks the start of 16 days of activism to eradicate a problem that is growing rather than declining in the region. This is shown by the report “Commitment to Action: Public Policies to Eradicate Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean”, launched on Nov. 22 by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which stresses that the region has the highest rates of gender violence not perpetrated by a partner and the second highest committed by an intimate partner……

The local newspaper of Krugersdorp in South Africa (24 November 2017) must be representative of a host of articles on this topic: “#Count me in: together moving a non-violent SA forward”

The white ribbon is the symbol of support for the 16 Days of Activism campaign. It symbolises peace, and the commitment to never commit or condone violence against women and children. Photo: bigissue.org.

…In 1998, South Africa nominated the 16 Days of Activism campaign as the blue-print for curbing violence in the country, and uses it as a time to educate communities about abuse, which includes rape, murder, assault, financial abuse, starvation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, abduction, sexual harassment, human trafficking, incest, child labour and any act of doing something against the other person’s will. The 16 Days of Activism campaign also tells people how to get help when you or someone you know has been abused. The campaign has seen various governmental departments involved in acting against abuse, as well as initiatives, themes, talks, organisations and activities helping to eradicate abuse by providing information. As one of the strategic ways of fighting abuse and inequality, the government went so far as to establish a ministerial portfolio, the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities in May 2009, to put emphasis on not only equality but also the access to development opportunities for vulnerable groups in South African society. The Department aimed to steer the equity, equality and empowerment agenda of the government with regard to groups of people who are treated as insignificant, and previously disadvantaged communities in each of the three sectors.

Finally, although technically not issued in the context of the Women Human Rights Defenders Day, I refer to the piece by Aynslee Darmon in ET Canada of 6 December 2017 entitled  Angelina Jolie Is Fighting For Female Empowerment Through Art: ‘Help Them Tell Their Stories’

At The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast on Wednesday, Angelina Jolie delivered a powerful speech calling for female empowerment. Calling it an international battle, Jolie is encouraging female empowerment through art…“We don’t have to keep our heads down, we don’t have to think that the film we make or our comment on politics, or a joke we tell on stage could land us in prison where we might be tortured or punished,” Jolie, 42, added. “We don’t have the censorship. We don’t have to worry what acting in a play or singing on television will bring violence or dishonour to our families. We don’t have to tailor our clothes or our opinions to when it’s acceptable to religious authorities or violent extremist groups. We are not shunned and considered immoral because we dare to speak our mind about why we consider to be wrong as a society. We have the right to think thoroughly and to speak freely and to put forward our ideas on equal terms. There are women across the world who face serious danger and get hurt just trying to have a voice and an opinion.”


sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/women-human-rights-defenders_uk_5a2692dce4b087120d865f21

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/developmental-issues/women-who-have-been-tortured-for-the-environment/articleshow/61926819.cms

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/200-environmental-women-defenders-killed-in-2017-activists-117120401285_1.html

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30333107

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-30/killing-of-mexican-prosecutor-of-crimes-against-women-sparks-outcry

https://www.themarysue.com/5-women-to-remember/

https://iva.aippnet.org/philippines-cpa-statement-on-the-occasion-of-international-women-human-rights-defenders-day/

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/29/1763688/women-human-rights-defenders-say-they-face-graver-challenge-under

https://ifex.org/middle_east_north_africa/2017/11/29/women-rights-defenders/

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/iachr-calls-states-recognize-and-protect-work-women-human-rights-defenders

https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/isabel-flota-ayala-awid/this-is-why-we-fight-interview-with-isabel-flota-ayala

http://www.ishr.ch/news/bahrain-women-human-rights-defenders-must-be-protected

https://www.awid.org/whrd-tribute

http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/women-activists-targets-gender-biased-violence/

https://krugersdorpnews.co.za/340928/count-me-in-together-moving-a-non-violent-sa-forward/

Angelina Jolie Is Fighting For Female Empowerment Through Art: ‘Help Them Tell Their Stories’

 

Remembering women killed fighting for human rights in 2017

December 4, 2017

Source: Remembering women killed fighting for human rights in 2017 | AWID

International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders: Agents of change under pressure

December 1, 2016

On 29 November 2006, Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) from around the globe gathered in Colombo, Sri Lanka and declared this day as theirs. November 29th therefore became the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and is now celebrated all over the world in recognition of the courageous work that they do to defend their own and other women’s rights.

There are too many activities that could be reported in the context of this anniversary [see earlier posts on WHRDs https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/] but here a few (seven) links that could have escaped your attention: Read the rest of this entry »

A Documentation Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders

December 3, 2015

A new publication “Gendering Documentation: A Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders” (http://www.omct.org/files/2015/12/23505/gen_doc_manual_final.pdf) has come out to mark International Women Human Rights Defender Day (29 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December). It has been produced by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. The manual will be posted in pdf format in coming days on the website of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition: www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.orgwomen human rights defenders

Gendering Documentation: A Manual For and About Women Human Rights Defenders is designed for use by those who document Read the rest of this entry »

16 days of Activism: Stop Violence against SRHR defenders

November 24, 2015

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) calls for an end to the violence directed at SRHR defenders, as well as their recognition and protection as Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs). For those who are not familiar with the term: SRHR stand for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.The 16-day campaign encourages all to share stories and experiences on social media using the hashtags #SRHRvoices #SRHRheroes, speak out for the recognition of SRHR defenders as Women Human Rights Defenders and demand their protection.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign links two international days of action: 25 November, International Day of Action for Elimination of Violence against Women, and 10 December, International Human Rights Day. In between falls 29 November, International Women’s Human Rights Defenders Day.

WHRDs who work on sexual and reproductive rights issues have been recognized at particular risk of grave consequences because of their work, as they are often perceived to be “challenging accepted socio-cultural norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, […] and the role and status of women in society“. Not only are the advocacy efforts of SRHR activists often shunned, ignored or feared by broader society, but they often find their own lives and well-being at risk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ongoing police harassment against Imelda Urio and 35 other human rights defenders in Tanzania

November 23, 2015

With International Women Human Rights Defenders Day coming up (29 November) I will pay special attention to questions that concern them. Here a case of police harassment from Front Line concerning Tanzania:  Read the rest of this entry »

Solomon Islands hold exhibition on human rights of women

December 1, 2014

The Solomon Islands do not figure prominently in any blogs on human rights. So this is special:  An exhibition highlighting the recipients of the US Department of State International Women’s Award was held last Saturday at the King Solomon Hotel, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women Campaign, which started last Tuesday. It was organised by SEIF PLES (Gender-based Violence Crisis and Referral Centre) to mark International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (IWHRD).

Read the rest of this entry »

This is how Zimbabwe celebrated Women Human Rights Defenders Day:

November 30, 2013

Scores of peaceful marchers from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were beaten and some arrested by police in anti-riot gear on Friday. The women were on their way to the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, where they submitted a petition outlining the needs and expectations of Zimbabwean women in the context of the on-going campaign against gender-based violence. WOZA leader Jenni Williams said baton-wielding officers, who were accompanied by dogs, pounced on the group of women, chasing and beating them up.

She added: “We have long argued that police in Bulawayo have seemingly a tribal and regional agenda. Why is it that when we demonstrate in Bulawayo our demos are either stopped before they even start or our members are beaten up? Yet I can go to parliament (in Harare) and nobody will arrest me?”Some women were arrested and then released without charge three hours later, at the intervention of the officer in charge at Drill Hall in Bulawayo, who simply said the women were free to go, without offering any explanation why the women had been violently and brutally arrested in the first place. Williams explained: “He just came in and said we could go, there was no problem. We said to him ‘Just like that? When people have been beaten up and dogs almost set on them and you say there is no problem?’.” The WOZA leader, who has been arrested more than 50 times, expressed concern at the heavy-handedness of Bulawayo police.

WOZA activists brutalised on Women Human Rights Defenders Day | SW Radio Africa.

Today Women Human Rights Defenders Day: there is a lot of work to be done

November 29, 2013

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) celebrates International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (29 November 2013) by focusing on 4 areas:women human rights defenders

1. Tools for Defence
The Online Directory of Urgent Responses for WHRDs is a mapping of “Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk”. The Online Directory outlines the diverse responses that exist and, where available, are specific to WHRDs. It is a tool for WHRDs to locate the best resources available for their protection, support, and wellness. Two new areas have been added: Digital Security and Training opportunities. http://urgent-responses.awid.org/

2. Training
Given the risk specialized training on various aspects of safety and protection are intended to strengthen the capacity of WHRDs to respond or prevent attacks. These training programs address the gender dimension that highlight subtle risks that WHRDs miss when they are exposed to gender based violence and gender specific risks. It is important that they multiply this knowledge with other WHRDs and members of the communities they work with.

3. Digital Security
Women defenders face many unique threats and obstacles both offline and online. Technology is transforming activism, and the promotion and defence of human rights but awareness there are also digital dangers to WHRD’s freedom of expression and association online and knowing how to communicate securely is important in ensuring a holistic approach to security for WHRD’s. WHRD IC hosted a train-the-trainer workshop for a global group WHRDs in digital security and is currently supporting their in-country activities. In 2014 it will assist WHRDs to access further training in digital security. Examples of attacks:
– On 21 September the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network’s (LACWHN) website was hacked and disabled. The attack occurred immediately following the launch of several campaign activities on September 19th and 20th including the #28SAbortoLegal social media campaign as well as the posting of a photo album and posters. This was a deliberate attempt to silence legitimate feminist voices, suppress dissent and stifle women’s political participation in the public sphere on these issues by stigmatisation and sabotage.
http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/statement_whrdic_LACWHN.php <http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/statement_whrdic_LACWHN.php>
– In 2012 the offices of Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) were raided, staff arrested and authorities confiscated documents, computers and other material from the centre. They demanded passwords and read emails and correspondence, which seriously compromise the privacy and security of staff and members of WONETHA.
4. Celebrate, honour, remember
This tribute takes the form of an online photo exhibition <https://plus.google.com/photos/110714837166729000165/albums/5947969816908571489>  launched on November 25th 2013, Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a special slide show featuring 16 WHRDs from around the world and will end on December 10, International Human Rights Day. The tribute features photographs and biographies of women’s rights leaders from around the world. Each day of the campaign AWID will share the story of a WHRD(s) on its website as well as through Facebook and Twitter using hashtags #16days and #AWIDMembers and link back to the full online exhibit which will commemorate and celebrate the work and lives of WHRDs who have passed away since January 2011. http://www.awid.org/eng/Our-Initiatives/Women-Human-Rights-Defenders/WHRD-Tribute.

The new THF Digest of Human Rights Awards features several awards for women human rights defenders: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/