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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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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5 Reasons Congress Shouldn't Gut Violence Against Women Act

women protest violence against women

© STR/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate is poised to vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)– a key piece of legislation that, since 1994, aims to protect women in the U.S. from terrible acts of violence and exploitation.

But critical new protections in the bill – to protect Native American women, LGBT people and immigrant women in particular – are in danger of being left out. For example, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and others have indicated they may introduce an alternative bill that would strip out the amendments in VAWA that protect Native American and Alaska Native women.

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US: Don’t Abandon Afghan Women

“We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always . . . [it is] essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled in the reconciliation process.” -U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton speaking to female Afghan officials in 2010

President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s legacy on women’s human rights will face a defining moment with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

When the U.S. and NATO entered Afghanistan in 2001, one of the justifications of the mission was to ensure the protection of human rights, including women’s rights. More than ten years later, peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government and the U.S. jeopardize women’s human rights.

So where is the Obama Administration’s plan to protect and advance human rights in Afghanistan?

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New Legislation to End Violence Against Native Women

2012 marks a big step forward in reclaiming justice for Native American and Alaska Native women! On February 2nd, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Originally passed in 1994, VAWA has combined criminal justice, social services and community-based initiatives to enhance the prevention and response to violence against women.

This reauthorization is all the more crucial this year because VAWA now also incorporates the groundbreaking new protections for Native American and Alaska Native Women found in the SAVE Native Women Act, such as clarifying tribal civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders. These protections will help address many of the safety and justice challenges faced by Native women in the United States and documented in our 2007 Maze of Injustice report.

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Egyptian Court Ruling on “Virginity Tests” a Win For Women

Women protestors in Cairo. Photo by Sarah Carr

By now, almost everyone has heard the about the 18 women protestors in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who this past spring were detained, beaten, given electric shocks, strip searched and forced to submit to “virginity tests.”

But courageous action by two Egyptian women has led to a landmark ruling on these “tests” by an Egyptian court.

In July 2011 Samira Ibrahim and Maha Mohamed stood up for their rights and filed a case before the Egyptian administrative court to end “virginity tests” against female detainees.  Ibrahim was subjected to this abuse when she was arrested by the military for her participation in the March 9, 2011, protests that rocked the country.  Mohamed joined the case on the basis that as a protester, she feared she might be subjected to the same abuse if arrested by the military.

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No Woman, No Peace

mother and child refugees in Dadaab Kenya

© UNHCR/B. Heger

Just moments ago U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a comprehensive new plan by the U.S. government to help protect women and girls in conflict zones and ensure that peace processes include women.

The new plan by the Administration is the first ever U.S. national action plan and Executive Order to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.   Often dubbed “the women’s resolution,” UNSC Resolution 1325 recognizes that significant action is needed to protect women and girls from armed conflict and include them in peace-building.  States have been asked to create a national action plan to specifically address the issue of women, peace and security.

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US Senate Hearing Puts Women's Human Rights in the Spotlight

Tunisian women demonstrate for the protection of their rights in Tunis ©SALAH HABIBI/AFP/Getty Images

As the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa continue to unfold, serious concerns are emerging regarding the inclusion of women in the plans for new governance. In Egypt, for example, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men to topple a regime notorious for its human rights abuses and yet, now that those leaders have been forced to step down, women are too often finding their calls for an equal seat at the table rejected.

Yesterday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to highlight these concerns. “Women and the Arab Spring: Spotlight on Egypt, Tunisia and Libya” focused on women’s human rights and emphasized the need for the US to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Senator Boxer (D-CA), Senator Casey (D-PA), Senator DeMint (R-SC), Senator Shaheen (D-NH), and Senator Udall (D-NM) were all in attendance to discuss how the US Senate could work to support women in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Exciting Progress for Health Care Equality!

A mother holds her infant during a check-up at a clinic for low-income families. ©John Moore/Getty Images

As Amnesty International’s recent reports on maternal health  have highlighted, discrimination in health care in the United States is severe and pervasive. But recently introduced legislation would help end discrimination and improve the quality of health care in the United States.

Last month, Congresswoman Barbara Lee from California introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 (HEAA).  Passing this legislation will help eliminate disparities in access to health care and in health outcomes for communities of color. The HEAA ensures that a full range of culturally appropriate public health services are available and accessible to communities of color, and that services are available in the languages used by those communities.  The bill also provides training opportunities for health care workers to better address particular health issues facing marginalized communities.

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