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Women's Human Rights

    April 29, 2015

    The ‘rescue’ of almost 300 women and girls by Nigeria’s military from Boko Haram is an encouraging development but only a small step in securing the safety of the thousands of women and girls abducted by the armed group since 2014, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization is also calling on the authorities to ensure that the trauma of those ‘rescued’ is not exacerbated by lengthy security screening in detention.

    “This development is just cause for celebration and undoubtedly an immense relief to the women, girls and their families. But this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are thousands more women and girls, and men and boys who have been abducted by Boko Haram,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.

    The military said they ‘rescued’ the women in an offensive against the armed group in the Sambisa forest area in the north-east.

    April 27, 2015

    April 23, 2015

    "I believe my sister would not be alive today if it were not for all the people in China and across the world that spoke up for her. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all the Amnesty International supporters everywhere who expressed concern and offered help to my sister, her life has been saved as a result"

    -Li Dehuai, brother of Li Yan 

    We are pleased to share the good news that the death sentence on Li Yan has been overturned!

    Li Yan had been sentenced to death in China for killing her abusive ex-husband. Her sentence is now commuted to the death sentence with a two-year reprieve. Under the Chinese law, death sentences with a two-year reprieve should be commuted to life imprisonment upon the expiration of the two-year period, as long as the prisoner does not commit another crime during the period of suspension.

    April 24, 2015

    The Chinese authorities are sending mixed messages over domestic violence as they commute the death sentence of a woman that killed her violent husband but continue to persecute five women’s rights activists, said Amnesty International on Friday.

    Li Yan, 44, was given a two year reprieve by a court in Sichuan province, in southwest China. The death sentence is expected to be commuted to a prison term after two years of good behaviour. The change comes after the Supreme People’s Court ordered an unprecedented retrial last June. 

    “The reprieve for Li Yan could prove a landmark verdict for future cases where domestic violence is a mitigating factor. With her case, the highest court in China has sent a clear message that judges must not ignore domestic violence,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Yet, the continued persecution of five young activists that campaign to prevent violence against women casts a dark shadow on this ruling.”

    April 23, 2015

    Never am I seen as strong, as proud, as resilient, never as I am
    Finally given the stars laid to gaze at them on back roads and in ditches on ghostly stretches of forgotten pebbled pathways your vastness swallows me. Do I fall in your line of sight? Do you see me now?
    Because I get this feeling that your eyes they curve around me
    —Exerpt from “Your eyes,” a poem by Helen Knott, an Indigenous woman from Fort St. John, BC

    April 17, 2015

    Meet, from left to right, members of China’s Women’s Rights Action Group Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Li Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan © Private. 

    These five Chinese activists decided to mark International Women’s Day in 2015 by launching a campaign against sexual harassment. They had made stickers to distribute, printed with slogans like “Go police, go arrest those who committed sexual harassment!” This was not their first event organized to raise public awareness on gender equality issues. They had staged “Occupy the Men’s Toilets” to challenge the lack of public facilities for women, and had attended demonstrations in wedding dresses spattered with red ink to protest domestic violence.

    April 15, 2015

    By Craig Benjamin and Jackie Hansen

    Last month, federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt disclosed previously unreleased RCMP statistics about the numbers of murders committed by Indigenous men. The Minister appears to believe that these figures support the federal government’s current approach to the issue, including the ongoing refusal to hold a public inquiry or initiate a comprehensive, coordinated national action plan.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Responding to the letter from Commission Paulson, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), stated, “We are absolutely shocked and appalled that the RCMP would hastily release these serious statistics without providing a full, publicly accessible report detailing how they are collecting and compiling this information.”

    April 13, 2015

    Following the 2001 US-led intervention to oust the Taliban regime, the Afghan government pledged to advance women’s rights. Today, despite the fall of the Taliban, women human rights defenders frequently come under attack and even face death for the work that they do. The number of women civilian casualties is increasing while overall civilian casualties are on the decline. This targeting of women--in particular those working in the public sphere and those defending women's human rights--must stop. 

    Many Afghan women human rights defenders have been killed or threatened because of their gender and because of their activities, and some have fled the country. They face intimidation and attacks by powerful and conservative elements in society, including members of the government and authorities, and the Taliban and other armed opposition groups who perceive their work as defying cultural, religious and social norms about the role of women in society. Others are threatened or attacked by family members who may be embarrassed by their outspokenness or their work.

    April 13, 2015

    The Chinese government must drop all charges against each of the five women activists released on bail late on Monday, Amnesty International said today.

    Arrested for campaigning against sexual harrassment

    The five activists - Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Wu Rongrong, Li Tingting and Zheng Churan - arrested and detained on 7 March for planning to mark International Women’s Day by launching a campaign against sexual harassment.

    “The decision to release all five women is an encouraging breakthrough,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The authorities must now follow through and drop all charges and restrictions against the women.”

    April 09, 2015

    The Government of Afghanistan must turn its human rights commitments from words into reality, Amnesty International said today at the conclusion of a two-day conference in Kabul on the future of human rights in the country.

    The conference, organized by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) with Amnesty International’s support, brought together around 250 people – including roughly equal numbers of women and men – from the country’s 34 provinces. Discussion focused on ways forward through the country’s major human rights challenges.

    “This is a critical and delicate time for Afghanistan with its new government and the withdrawal of international forces, and possible peace talks on the horizon amid a surge in violence from armed opposition groups,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, who addressed the conference.

    April 07, 2015

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

    Afghanistan is a dangerous place. It’s particularly dangerous for women, who all too often experience threats and violence simply because of their gender. Women in the public sphere, whether they are doctors, engineers, police officers, or politicians, are seen as stepping outside of social, cultural, and religious norms and are at particular risk. And the courageous women and men who take a stand to defend women’s human rights are at perhaps the greatest risk. The story of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan is a story of hope, courage, and resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

    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



    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.”


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