Posts Tagged ‘Violence against women’

Women human rights defenders in focus at 43rd Human Rights Council

February 27, 2020

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bachelet, taking part in a panel discussion, held at the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday 25 February 2020, said that the Beijing Declaration should be celebrated but noted that the Plan of Action agreed at the event is still unfinished. According to Ms. Bachelet, the risks of setbacks to women’s rights are real, and growing. ….”Women’s rights are threatened and attacked” on many fronts, she warned, adding that there over this period there has been “a backlash and the resurgence of gender inequality narratives based on age-old discrimination”. Ms. Bachelet also welcomed the speech delivered to the Human Rights Council by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday. As part of his Call to Action for human rights [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/25/43rd-session-hrc-un-secretary-general-launches-call-to-action-on-human-rights/], He called on every country to “support policies and legislation that promote gender equality, to repeal discriminatory laws, to end violence against women and girls and to strive for equal representation and participation of women in all areas”.

Against this backdrop the NGO side eventWomen human rights defenders radically transforming a world in crisis” is most timely.

Wednesday 4 March 2020, 11:00 – 12:00, Room XXVII Palais des Nations, Geneva. This event is co-hosted by ISHR, Amnesty International, Global Fund for Women, Urgent Action Fund, Mesoamerican Initiative of women human rights defenders, and Just Associates (JASS).

Panellists:

  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Nazik Awad, Sudan
  • Aurelia Martin Arzu Rochez, Honduras
  • Luz Mary Rosero Garces, Colombia
  • Fatima Bentaleb, France
  • Hasmida Karim, Indonesia

Moderator:

  • Zephanie Repollo, Just Associates (JASS)

THE THREE WOMEN: audio from AfricanDefenders

December 1, 2019

AfricanDefenders & DefendDefenders launched on 29 November 2019 their audio campaign about African women human rights defenders and courage, simply called THE THREE WOMEN”. The story by Gentrix Barasa and beautiful Illustrations by Primordial M. Here is the first episode (https://twitter.com/hashtag/IAmTheThreeWomen) in the context of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence:

THE STORY OF MARTHA. A woman could be heard screaming from a distance in the town square. The distinct sound of a whip hitting her body could be heard reverberating throughout the town. A small crowd of onlookers were gathering around quietly, curious to see what was going on and to find out why this woman was being beaten. Nuru was rushing home so she could prepare lunch when she spotted the crowd of onlookers. Despite being aware that she would get in trouble with her father if she was late, she was drawn towards the woman.

“What is going on?” she asked the man standing beside her.

“Oh, Martha started with her nonsense again. They should beat that devil out of her.”

The men in the town, especially the elders, did not appreciate when women challenged societal norms. In their mind, Martha was turning their wives and daughters against them with all this talk of women’s rights and liberation. They had complained to the mayor of the town, Mr. Tapiwa, when they caught wind of the women’s march that Martha was organising.

“This one is from Tapiwa,” one of the policemen said before hitting Martha.

“I heard she is secretly a man,” Nuru heard a woman whisper, “why else would she behave like this? This is not how women are supposed to behave.”

“I heard she is just trying to break our marriages, so we are miserable and alone like her,” another whispered.

“She is a witch. She does not even have children and she is trying to tell us how to bring up our daughters.”

“I heard she is a prostitute. She is just trying to corrupt us,” the whispers continued.

“I feel bad for her, but she should know that activism is not the work of a woman,” a man chimed in.

The police eventually stopped harassing and beating Martha, before taking off. The crowd slowly dispersed, without offering her any help. Eventually, Nuru was the only one left.

She looked around nervously as if trying to make sure no one was looking. As much as she felt sorry for her, she was scared to go against the people of the town. She did not want to be an outcast like Martha. When she was sure no one was looking, she reached out for Martha’s hand helping her to her feet.

“Why did they do this to you?” Nuru asked, while watching the older woman wince in pain as she started walking.

“I was fighting for your rights.”

“What do you mean my rights?”

Martha gestured at a nearby bench for them to sit on.

“Don’t you want to live in a world where you have choices?” Martha asked.

“I do have choices. I make choices every day,” Nuru said defensively.

Martha looked at Nuru, slightly raising an eyebrow. “Did you know you could own property, get an education, be equal to your father and brothers?” Martha continued.

Nuru stared into the distance with a look of longing. She had always wanted more for herself, but she had come to accept her life. Also, she was too scared to go against her father. “My father would never allow it, “she finally said.

Martha reached into her bag and retrieved a card. “This organisation can help you to learn more about your rights and can find you a good school. It is not his place to allow it. It is your right.”

Nuru hesitantly took the card and quickly pocketed it, afraid someone would see.

“I heard you are organising a march tomorrow.”

Martha nodded and handed her a flier with all the information about the march. “You don’t have to come to this if you don’t want to, but at least think about what I told you.”

Nuru nodded while gathering her things. She was still not quite sure if she would dare to go against her father, after all, who would take care of the house? “You are really nice,” Nuru said. She felt like Martha needed to hear some kind words. Then, Nuru took off.

Despite a restless night and the pain from the beating, Martha got up early the next morning to get ready for the march. The beating was the worst she had gotten since she started being outspoken about women’s rights. She had received calls and text messages all morning from people backing out of her march. It had worked – the beating had served as a warning to anyone planning to participate. Martha felt ashamed to admit it to herself, but they were really close to breaking her. She had tried so hard to not let them win, but that beating might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

She held out hope that at least one other person would show up, but she had been standing there for an hour. At that point, it was apparent that the march was a complete failure. In that moment, it was hard to remember why she was fighting so hard for this. As she sat down on the side of the road, with the sign Don’t tell me how to dress – tell them not to rape, next to her, a single teardrop ran down her face. With a sigh she reached out for the sign, resigning to go home. Instead of feeling the wooden base of the sign, she felt a hand touching hers. She looked up in panic, expecting to see the policemen from the previous day. Instead, it was Nuru.

“What are you doing here?” Martha asked in a confused tone, quickly drying her tears.

“We want to fight for our rights.”

“We?” asked Martha, even more confused. She then saw a group of women behind Nuru.

“We came to stand with you and all the women and girls in town,” Nuru said.

Martha smiled. She stood up grabbing the rest of the signs and handing them out to the group. They started chanting the slogans on the signs, marching towards Mr. Tapiwa’s office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE THREE WOMEN

Media have critical role in breaking silence on violence against women

November 23, 2019

Swapna Majumdar wrote in the Daily Pioneer of 22 November 2019 “Don’t muzzle their voices”  about what role the media can play in the discourse on violence against women, human rights and empowerment?  Can it help survivors? How can the media be leveraged to change perceptions and end gender-based violence?

These are some of the questions that came up at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+25) Summit held in Nairobi recently. A session focussed on the importance of the media in either shifting or perpetuating attitudes toward  gender-based violence in the context of the ICPD. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence-start-on-25-november-2019/]

“Violence against women is a human rights violation. Violence is about silencing us and the media is about breaking the silence. The media has a critical role to see that this silence is broken and women’s voices are amplified,” said Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia. … However, the persistence of social stereotyping and social attitudes towards women prevented them from seeking help and services. This is where the media can help as it continues to play a crucial role globally in key conversations. The way gender-based violence (GBV) is covered and reported in the news media can influence the way our communities perceive the issue,” she said.

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, an award-winning journalist from Samoa, agreed. “The media is a powerful tool in fighting GBV because they not only report on society but help shape public opinion and perceptions,” she contended. The Chief Editor of JiG, Jackson said that the language used by the media was critical and it had to be careful not to normalise sexual harassment, objectify women or blame survivors. Studies have shown that gender inequalities tend to get reinforced by media content that contributes to the normalisation of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. There is a tendency to reproduce stereotypes that associate violence by men as a symbol of their masculinity and power. Many news reports of violence against women tend to represent women as victims and as responsible for the violence.

Unfortunately, this is what has happened in Syria, according to Jafar Irshaidat, communications specialist, UNFPA, Syria. “We found that the media could play a harmful role in generating stereotyping and perpetuating certain myths about GBV. Their news reports also harmed survivors directly by disclosing their identities and shifting the blame away from the perpetrators. So we are working with the media on how they can change the narrative,” he said. This is where women journalists are making the difference.  In India, one of the important examples of how the media used its influence to impact positive change was seen by the reportage, by women journalists in particular, around the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012. This led to public mobilisation and the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013. This mandated the compulsory filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) in police stations, something that was neglected earlier. It also criminalised various kinds of attacks on women, including stalking, acid attacks and stripping.

“Women journalists have made significant contribution to changing the narrative and defending human rights through their reporting on gender-based violence,” stated Krishanti Dharmaraj, Executive Director, Centre for Women in Global Leadership (CWGL).  The CWGL, a global women’s rights organisation based out of Rutgers University is the founder and coordinator of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, an international campaign used by activists around the world to eliminate of all forms of GBV.

“Women journalists who cover stories about gender-based violence are human rights defenders in their own right. They often face challenges, including misogynistic attacks online and offline, as a result of their work. “They also face the challenge of dealing with their own trauma as they help another girl or woman secure justice,” says Sarah Macharia, Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP). The GMMP is the largest and longest-running research and advocacy initiative on gender equality in the world’s news media.

Implemented collaboratively with grassroots and national-level women’s rights groups, other civil society organisations, associations and unions of media professionals, university students and researchers around the world, the GMMP aims to advance gender equality in and through the media by gathering evidence on disparities in portrayal, representation and voice of women compared to men.

The latest GMMP study showed a decline in stories that focussed on gender violence, including issues such as rape, sexual assault, family violence, female genital mutilation and trafficking. At the same time, there were progressively higher proportions of women as sources in GBV stories.

“In 2005, women were 38 per cent of the people seen, heard or spoken about in the stories, compared to 46 per cent in 2015, a rise of almost 10 points in 10 years. At least three quarters of those who experience gender-based violence are women and yet, they constitute less than one half of people interviewed or are the subject of these stories,” said Sarah Macharia, GMMP coordinator. However,  even women journalists are reporting fewer of the stories. Macharia pointed out that in 2010, women journalists reported 41 per cent of the stories, compared to 30 per cent in 2015, a fall of 11 per cent in five years.

Last year, a survey conducted by the International Women’s Foundation and Troll Busters found women journalists, who experienced online abuse, reported short-term and long-term emotional and psychological effects. About 40 per cent had avoided reporting certain stories as a result of these incidents.

In India, the #MeToo movement has been a catalyst to tackle GBV violence in the media with many women journalists coming out to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment. However, hardly any media organisation has provided physical security, legal advice and psychological support to women journalists affected by sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Women journalists face a triple risk:  Risk as every other woman; the same risks as their male colleagues and risks that impact them specifically because they are women journalists. Unless impunity for attacks on women journalists ends, these risks will continue to impact their work.

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/columnists/don—t-muzzle-their-voices.html

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence start on 25 November 2019

November 19, 2019

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

In support of this civil society initiative, the UNiTE campaign [United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign] calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations.

2019

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2019 - Generation Equality stands against rape

In 2019, the UNiTE campaign will mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, from 25 November to 10 December, under the theme, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”

While the names, times and contexts may differ, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual violence, and abuse, in times of peace or war. Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalized. Exact numbers of rape and sexual assaults are notoriously difficult to confirm due to frequent latitude and impunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors, and their subsequent silence. In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc, and others, have put the spotlight on the issue of sexual violence and have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored anymore.

As an example see my anthology of 2017: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/07/women-human-rights-defenders-day-2017-an-anthology/

That is why, under the umbrella of UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign that marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the UNiTE Campaign is calling on people from all walks of life to learn more and take a stand against the pervasive rape culture that surrounds us. You can share your photos, messages and videos showing how you are participating in the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #OrangeTheWorld and #GenerationEquality. You can also join the conversation on social media by sharing the campaign materials that you can download here.

For more information about “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape” and action ideas, see this year’s concept note.

Subscribe to the mailing list for updates.

https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism

What the next session of the Human Rights Council will do with Human Rights Defenders

June 9, 2016

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 32nd regular session at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 13 June to 1 July 2016. The Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights published its preview called “Alert to the Human Rights Council’s 32nd session”. This special issue of the ISHR Monitor is worth reading in full, but for those with special interest in human rights defenders here are some of the highlights:  Read the rest of this entry »

Broad coalition of NGOs at UN condemns Egypt’s treatment of women human rights defenders

March 23, 2015

During the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on Egypt in the UN Human Rights Council on 20 March 2015 the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (for the composition see below), made a forceful statement about the terrible situation of women human rights defenders in that country.

“The systematic judicial harassment faced by many women human rights defenders is highlighted through the emblematic case of the seven women defenders2 arrested on 21 June 2014 for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law (No. 107), who faced arduous hassles including prolonged pre-trial detention. Their sentence was finally reduced to two years of imprisonment and two years of surveillance by the appeals court in December 2014. [The seven are: Ms. Sanaa Seif, Ms. Yara Sallam, Ms. Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Ms. Salwa Mihriz, Ms. Samar Ibrahim, Ms. Nahid Bebo and Rania El-Sheikh]

Furthermore, we strongly condemn the killing of Shaimaa ElSabbagh during a peaceful protest on 24 January 2015. She was taking part in a gathering to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 25 January revolution. We call on the Egyptian government to ensure a prompt, independent and effective investigation to identify the perpetrator and hold them to account. In this connection, we are deeply concerned that Azza Soliman from the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), who was witness to the incident and testified before the Prosecutor’s Office, is now targeted as a suspect and charges have been brought against her under the public assembly law.

Finally, we express our continued dismay over sexual violence against women in online and offline public spaces. Though a national strategy to combat violence against women has been announced, we emphasise the need for it to be comprehensive and holistic with involvement of all relevant ministries and stakeholders, as well as adequate budget allocation. During the UPR, the government highlighted a new amendment to the Penal Code article 306, which addresses sexual harassment. This amendment is far insufficient in its scope as it only considers sexual harassment a crime if the intent of the perpetrator is proven to be related to obtaining sexual benefits…”

The Coalition members:  Amnesty International, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Centre for Reproductive Rights, Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, Coalition of African Lesbians, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights First, Information Monitor (INFORM), International Federation for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia-Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Isis International, ISIS Women’s International Cross- Cultural Exchange, Just Associates (JASS), The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM), MADRE, Nazra for Feminist Studies, Peace Brigades International, Rainbow Rights Project Inc, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, WOmen’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), World Organisation against Torture (OMCT).

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 »

Tribute: Remembering Women Human Rights Defenders

November 26, 2014

As part of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (November 25 – December 10, 2014) AWID is honoring Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Who Are No Longer With Us.

The tribute was first launched at AWID’s 12th International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development, held in April 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. The new version of the tribute takes the form of an online photo exhibition launched on 25 November, Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day with a special slide show featuring 16 WHRDs from around the world. The tribute features photographs and biographies of 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.

An example is Sunila Abeyesekera a lifelong women human rights defender from Sri Lanka, who played a lead role in the global women’s rights movement for over 40 years to be honored on 29 November which is International Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/sri-lankan-hrd-sunila-abeysekera-dies-tribute-by-a-paper-bird/]

About one third of those honored in this tribute were killed or disappeared due to their activism. Women like Agnes Torres, from Mexico, Cheryl Ananayo, from the Philippines who was assassinated as she struggled against a mining company; Colombian women’s human rights defender Angelica Bello who died in suspicious circumstances; and Petite Jasmine, board member of Swedish sex worker’s rights organization Rose Alliance who was murdered by the father of her children, who had threatened and stalked her on numerous occasions.

WHRD Tribute / Women Human Rights Defenders / Our Initiatives / Homepage – AWID.

Attempted attack at home of human rights defender Amina Mohamed in Kenya

January 24, 2014

On 21 January 2014, a group of unidentified armed men attempted to break in to the house of human rights defender Ms Amina Mohamed. She was recently warned that a gang, hired by a young man involved in a lawsuit she is working on, was planning to “punish” her and her family for her activism on gender-based violence. Amina Mohamed is a community activist, and member of Bunge la Wamama Mashinani (The Women’s Parliament at the Grassroots), the women’s branch of the Bunge la Mwananchi movement (The People’s Parliament). Amina Mohamed has particularly been vocal on issues of gender-based violence in KenyaFrontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped Read the rest of this entry »

UN resolution on women’s rights defenders passed General Assembly Committee but..

November 28, 2013

A UN General Assembly committee has agreed a landmark first resolution on women human rights defenders, but compromise forced some weakening of the text. A Norwegian-led coalition, which prepared the resolution, had to delete language that condemned “all forms of violence against women” to get the text passed by consensus late Wednesday 27 November. Read the rest of this entry »