About Cristina Finch

Cristina M. Finch currently serves as the managing director for the women’s human rights program at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and as an adjunct law professor at George Mason University School of Law. At AIUSA, Cristina focuses on women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and multilateral issues. Prior to joining AIUSA in October 2009, Cristina served as senior counsel to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from 2005 to 2009. As senior counsel, Cristina provided legal and policy expertise on a range of human rights issues including hate crimes, immigration, military, judicial nominations, work/family legislation, international issues, and the separation of church and state. Before HRC, she served as legislative counsel to Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL); as house legal counsel to the Congress of the Republic of Palau; as an associate at the law firm of Thiemann, Aitken and Vohra; and, as a fellow at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to attending law school, Cristina worked for Rep. Jim Barcia (D-MI). Cristina is also a former AIUSA intern. She holds a JD from George Mason University, and a BA from the University of Michigan.
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Dear Congress: Let’s Get Moving Together! Reauthorize VAWA Now!

VAWA rally in washington dc

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Monday in Washington, D.C. the National Mall was packed with hundreds of thousands of eager people who witnessed President Barack Obama sworn in for his second term.  During his speech, President Obama reminded us of our “vow to move forward together” on the challenges we face together as a country. Today, we say to Congress: time for you to move together to pass an inclusive Violence Against Women Act!

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have just announced that the two chambers are jointly reintroducing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law that since 1994 has sent the message that violence against women is criminal and that has helped to ensure that the millions of women who experience domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking receive the protection and support they need.

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The Indefensible Demise of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

women protest violence against women

© STR/AFP/Getty Images

As the clock counted down the few remaining minutes of the 112th Congress, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) failed to reach the finish line in a politically and ideologically divided Congress. Since 1994, VAWA has ensured that millions of women who are experiencing domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking receive the protection and support that they need through legal and social services.  After 18 years of bipartisan support, Congress’s failure to reauthorize VAWA is an outrageous and indefensible roadblock to the goal of ending violence against women and fulfilling the right of all women to live lives free of intimidation and violence.

Inexcusably, House Republican leaders’ opposition to full inclusion of all at-risk communities eventually doomed the legislation.  Congress’s inability to act means that millions of women and men will be left without access to some of the critical resources and protections contained in VAWA reauthorization.

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Congress’ New Year’s Resolution Should Be to Pass an Inclusive VAWA

VAWA rally in washington dcAs Congress gets ready to take its holiday break, time is running out to pass an inclusive Violence Against Women Act that protects ALL communities.

Talks between Congressional leadership in the House and the Senate continued over the weekend with no final agreement announced yet.  Republican leadership is still refusing to include crucial provisions to protect Native women from violence.  But with less than two weeks until the end of the year, Congress MUST act quickly to pass a just and fair VAWA that is inclusive of ALL communities, including Native American and Alaska Native women. Last week, Sarah Deer, an Assistant Professor at William Mitchell College of Law and a member of Amnesty International USA’s Native American and Alaska Native Maze Advisory Council, provided an update on what is at stake if  the Tribal provisions are left out of VAWA. Sarah appeared on MSNBC over the weekend to discuss the realities of violence against Native women and why it is so critical for the Tribal provisions to be part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Watch the short clip here and then take action by calling Majority Leader Cantor at 202.225.2815 and telling him to pass a VAWA that protects everyone, including Native women.

Afghan Women Spoke and Congress Listened

afghan women protest

Afghan Young Women for Change (YWC) activists, holding placards which read “where is justice?”, take part in a protest denouncing violence against women in Afghanistan in Kabul on April 14, 2012.

The U.S. Senate took a critical step to prioritize security needs of Afghan women and girls! Yesterday, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act of 2012.

If enacted, this crucial piece of legislation would require the Department of Defense to develop a three-part strategy to promote and support the security of Afghan women and girls during and after the security transition process. The bill would support Afghan women’s rights by:
• Improving monitoring and response to women’s security conditions.
• Increasing recruitment and retention of women in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by reducing barriers to women’s participation.
• Improving gender sensitivity among ANSF personnel by requiring training related to the human rights of women and girls and by strengthening enforcement and accountability.

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Three Reasons Why I Can’t Wait For Thursday

eve ensler

Eve Ensler will keynote the XX Factor on October 4th.

On Thursday October 4th, Amnesty International will be holding our 2nd Annual Women’s Rights Forum in Washington, D.C.

The XX Factor: Town Hall on Women’s Rights, will bring together human rights defenders, issue experts and grassroots activists on women’s human rights work to talk about the frontline women’s rights issues in the United States, and around the world. That, in and of itself, is worthy of excitement. But that isn’t all!

Here are 3 reasons to get excited about this year’s XX Factor.

1. With little more than a month until the U.S. elections, now is the time to set our agenda for the rights of women and girls for the next four years. Our panelists – Kierra Johnson, Executive Director at Choice USA, feminist scholar Linda Hirshman and Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President of the National Women’s Law Center, will tackle issues ranging from women’s economic status to reproductive freedom, as well as the importance of women’s political participation in November, and beyond.

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U.S. Releases Its First-Ever Strategy to End Violence Against Women Globally

survivors of sexual violence in colombia

Survivors of sexual violence unite in Bogotá, Colombia.  1 in 3 women will be victim of violence worldwide. (Photo Corporación Sisma Mujer)

The U.S. government has just released its much anticipated global strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence. The strategy, and accompanying Executive Order, will help ensure that the United States effectively prevents and responds to gender-based violence globally.

This new strategy for the first time puts the full weight of U.S. foreign policy and international assistance behind efforts to end this global human rights violation.

Why is this strategy needed?  Because an estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In countries from Nicaragua to Afghanistan to the United States, violence against women is global epidemic.

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Congress Introduces Legislation to Bring Women to the Peacemaking Table

Women Call for Peace in Congo

Congolese women demonstrate for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo on August 1, 2012. (PHIL MOORE/AFP/GettyImages)

Peace is hard to come by. And a peace that is robust and lasting is all the more difficult to secure when a major stakeholder is left out of the peace process: Women.

Today, the US Congress took a big step in recognizing the critical role that women all over the world play in the prevention and resolution of violent conflicts through the introduction of the Women, Peace and Security Act (WPS) of 2012 (H.R 6255, S.3477).
Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the WPS Act will ensure that the US promotes the meaningful inclusion and participation of women in all peace processes that seek to prevent, alleviate, or resolve violent conflict. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Reasons It’s Critical to Reauthorize VAWA Now

VAWA rally in washington dc

Activists rally on Capitol Hill June 26, 2012 for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. (Getty Images)

Congress is running out of time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), critical legislation that combines criminal justice, social services and community-based initiatives to prevent and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking.

This spring we told you about the debate in the Senate to pass an inclusive bill that included critical new provisions to protect and support Native American and Alaskan Native women, immigrant women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Although the Senate managed to pass an inclusive bill, one step forward has meant two steps back as Congress continues to stall on protecting women from violence.

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Disturbing Video Reported to Show Taliban Execution of Afghan Woman

An appalling video has surfaced that shows what news reports have said is the execution of an Afghan woman in Parwan province by Taliban commanders for alleged adultery.  The video shows a woman who has been identified as a 22 year old woman named Najiba, sitting in the dirt as a man walks up behind her and shoots her multiple times.

In the video, a crowd of men has gathered to watch the execution.  As the woman is shot once, then three times, and then eventually nine times, the crowd cheers.

Amnesty International is seeking further information about the facts of the case but multiple news sources have reported that the woman was accused of adultery by two Taliban commanders who staged a fake trial and may have used the charge as a way to “save face” as they fought about the woman.

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Congress Takes Step to End Violence Against Women Globally

violence against women rally in peru

Protesting violence against women in Lima, Peru on April 28, 2012. (Photo Geraldo Caso/AFP/GettyImages)

Today, Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Nita Lowey, and Howard Berman, re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill that will help end the epidemic of violence against women and girls around the world.

Amnesty has long supported this crucial piece of legislation that would make ending violence against women a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the U.S. Government. IVAWA would coordinate and improve U.S. government efforts to stop the global crisis of violence against women and girls.

For example, when the US responds to humanitarian crises, IVAWA will ensure the US addresses the needs of women and girls who are vulnerable to attacks in camps for refugees and internally displaced people.  The bill also provides support to and help builds the effectiveness of non-governmental and community-based organizations working to end violence against women and girls globally.

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