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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Five Reasons to Be Excited About Passage of the Violence Against Women Act

Activists unite in Farragut Square in Washington, D.C. for the One Billion Rising event (Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy)

(Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy)

We did it! The groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was just passed by the House of Representatives and will now be sent to President Obama for his signature!

It’s been a long road to victory. I wrote earlier this year about the indefensible demise of VAWA in the last Congress. The last Congress missed a momentous opportunity to stand up for the safety of all women. So women – and men – stood up for themselves; on February 14, 2013, Amnesty International joined the One Billion Rising movement to stand up, walk out, and dance to end violence against women globally. We called for Congress to quit the partisan politics and finally pass a Violence Against Women Act that included ALL communities.

Since then, we have seen the new Congress introduce and pass VAWA in the Senate and now the House has followed suit.


We Danced with a Purpose: Amnesty and One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising in Washington, DC

Amnesty activists rise up with One Billion Rising in Washington, DC. ©Sarah K. Eddy

Yesterday, in Washington, DC I awoke to reports of thousands of women and men dancing in India, South Africa, Australia and around the globe in support of One Billion Rising, a public uprising in response to the human rights abuse of violence against women and girls. I saw a video of my friends at Flying Broom, a Turkish women’s organization, dancing in solidarity to support their campaign to end child marriage. And I read hundreds of tweets from people who had or were about to dance to end violence against women.

Amnesty International is proud to have joined with One Billion Rising to raise awareness – and to take action – to end violence against women and girls. We danced and raised our voices to stand as one with the estimated one billion women and girls whose lives have been touched by violence.


10 Reasons to Move to the Music and End Violence Against Women

One Billion Rising
On February 14th, Amnesty will join with V-Day in the One Billion Rising campaign to dance in solidarity with the estimated one billion women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetime.

Violence against women is one of the world’s most pervasive human rights abuses. It is also one of the most hidden. Globally, one woman in three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime and yet, justice for these abuses is all too rare.

In the U.S., the Violence Against Women Act is a groundbreaking law that helps break the cycle of impunity for violence.  Currently up for reauthorization in Congress, you can add your voice to ask for immediate action.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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