About Sarah Hager

Sarah Hager is a volunteer leader at Amnesty International USA, serving as Chair of the Southern Africa Co-Group where she guides the efforts of Country Specialists monitoring human rights in twelve countries. Sarah provided crisis intervention and trauma therapy counseling services to rape survivors for seven years after college before returning to graduate school. Her Master's level coursework focused on the intersection of law and psychology and in law school, Sarah concentrated on international law and public policy. She has traveled to Russia and Thailand to complete legal research on national and international terrorism policies and the impact of HIV/AIDS policies on women. Sarah also worked in South Africa at the Legal Aid Board where she assisted with criminal defense and appellate cases as well as civil litigation challenging violations of constitutional rights. She has published a paper examining the international soft law regarding internally displaced persons and the ability of international actors to regulate behavior of States that displaces persons within a sovereign border, utilizing Zimbabwe as a case example. Sarah also volunteered as a statement taker for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Diaspora project. Sarah has a Master's degree in Clinical Forensic Psychology from Drexel University and a law degree from Northwestern University. She currently practices law in Washington DC.
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HAPPENING NOW: Mozambique Debating Rape-Marriage Legislation

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

Imagine if you reported a rape, only to discover the law is on the side of your rapist.

A couple months ago, we shared the story of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl in Morocco who was forced to marry the man who raped her. Months after being married, Amina committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region.

In January, nearly two years after Amina’s death, the widely-criticized clause in Morocco’s Penal Code sanctioning the marriage was finally abolished.

But elsewhere in Africa, the struggle is far from over.

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THIS EXISTS: Country Where A Teenager Was Arrested For Ordering T-Shirts

Angolan riot policemen stand in front of hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the killings of two young opposition activists in Luanda (Photo Credit: Estelle Maussion/AFP/Getty Images).

Angolan riot policemen stand in front of hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the killings of two young opposition activists in Luanda (Photo Credit: Estelle Maussion/AFP/Getty Images).

The rights to freedom of assembly and expression are guaranteed in the Angolan Constitution. Nevertheless, the Angolan government has become increasingly oppressive against peaceful protesters, journalists, and opposition politicians.

A new generation of young Angolans have come together to speak out against the regime and call for political change. A wave of protests that began in early 2011 continues to thrive in the face of government restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.

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#Remember #Noxolo, Murdered in South Africa Without Justice

A group of people from the gay, lesbian and transgender community in South Africa demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town (Photo Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP/GettyImages).

A group of people from the gay, lesbian and transgender community in South Africa demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town (Photo Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP/ GettyImages).

We often hear the egregious acts of violence perpetrated against women in South Africa. Yet the headlines often forget to mention the violence carried out against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. Violence directed at individuals perceived to be LGBTI has steadily increased, yet there has been a consistent failure of police authorities to address these acts of targeted violence.

April 24, 2013 marks the two year anniversary of the brutal death of Noxolo Nogwaza. The 24-year-old was raped, repeatedly beaten and stabbed, apparently because of her sexual orientation. Two years after her death, no progress has been made into the investigation of her murder and her killer(s) remain at large.

To mark the two year anniversary, Amnesty International, together with Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC), a local community-based organization, are organizing a Day of Commemoration in honor of all LGBTI individuals murdered due to their sexual orientation. A short memorial service will be held and participants will be given the opportunity to write messages of hope/condolence which will remain at the site as a memorial.

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Arresting Referendum in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe voted Saturday on whether to adopt its first constitution. Until now, the country operated under a vastly revised document called the Lancaster House Agreement, the de-colonization plan between Rhodesia and the UK. Despite poor turn-out and general apathy for the process, poll monitors initially indicated the constitution would be adopted with a substantial “yes” vote and the Zimbabwe Election Commission just affirmed.

There were incidents of intimidation reported; however, as the day progressed, so did arrests. On Sunday, four officials in the MDC-T political party were arrested. Beatrice Mtetwa (A personal hero of mine-if you’ve ever met her, know of her work, or met any of the multitudes of people she defends in the battle for human rights and dignity, you understand why.) was also arrested for obstruction of justice when she arrived at the police station to serve as their attorney. The irony of arresting a woman fighting for justice for obstruction by those who consistently obstruct it is not lost on me. As of this writing, she is still detained by the police-in defiance of a judicial court order demanding her release. Beatrice and the others appeared in court this morning for a bail hearing and Beatrice will remain in jail until another hearing tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. Harare time.

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Violence in South Africa

South African police  block a march by protesting miners in Rustenburg after a security crackdown in the restive platinum belt where officers shot dead 34 strikers (Photo Credit: Alexander Joe/AFP/GettyImages).

South African police block a march by protesting miners in Rustenburg after a security crackdown in the restive platinum belt where officers shot dead 34 strikers (Photo Credit: Alexander Joe/AFP/GettyImages).

The prevalence and acceptance of violence in South Africa is disturbing. Almost 20 years after the fall of Apartheid, it is still a country deeply divided along racial, ethnic and political lines. The recent attack on a Mozambican taxi driver is simply one such example. One need only look to the police attacks on protesting miners in Johannesburg that led to the deaths of 34 miners and more than 70 injuries in 2012, or the fact that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of violence against women (and children) in the world, to understand how violence threatens this “Rainbow nation.”

Violence is not something only perpetrated in the townships of the country, but rather it is perpetrated at, and by, the highest echelons of society. When a country allows individuals who are specifically tasked to protect its citizens, such as police officers and civil servants, to commit acts of atrocity with little to no reprisal, what is the hope that ordinary citizens will not resort to such violence? Who are our role models?

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