Congress, You’ve Been Given Homework: Pass I-VAWA!

(Photo Credit: Futures Without Violence).

(Photo Credit: Futures Without Violence).

Yesterday, an overflowing Congressional hearing room sat (and stood) captivated as witnesses described the ongoing struggle to end gender-based violence (GBV) globally to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

While it was exciting to be in a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill with many youth activists, all wearing bright Amnesty “Stop Violence Against Women” stickers, I will be the first to admit that the topic of the hearing wasn’t exactly uplifting. The global epidemic of violence against women is disturbing, astounding, and infuriating. Would there be any good news to report? Any glimmers of hope or progress that has been made?

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Why Won’t Congress Pass the International Violence Against Women Act?

Supporters of the Violence Against Women Act dance in Farragut Square as part of the V-DAY’s One Billion Rising dance party and rally to stop violence against women (Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).

Supporters of the Violence Against Women Act dance in Farragut Square as part of the V-DAY’s One Billion Rising dance party and rally to stop violence against women (Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).

As November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, approaches and the International Violence Against Women Act is poised for reintroduction in the U.S. Congress, the time is now to prioritize ending violence against women and girls worldwide.

Violence against women takes many forms, including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and acid attacks, to name just a few. It’s a global human rights crisis that exacerbates instability and insecurity around the world.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Real Afghanistan

Afghanistan has a thriving media and entertainment industry. Here, Tajik singer Farida performs during a 'Peace Concert' in Babur Garden in Kabul (Photo Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images).

Afghanistan has a thriving media and entertainment industry. Here, Tajik singer Farida performs during a ‘Peace Concert’ in Babur Garden in Kabul (Photo Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images).

By Maya Pastakia, Afghanistan Campaigner at Amnesty International

It is one of the most dangerous places in the world, following more than three decades of war.

Terrorist groups remain a force to be reckoned with, and its human rights record and abuses against women and girls are renowned.

But the stories you’ve heard about Afghanistan won’t prepare you for what the country is really like.

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Violence Against Women: When Will Nicaragua Wake Up?

There were over 32,000 complaints of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Nicaragua in 2012 (Photo Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images).

There were over 32,000 complaints of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Nicaragua in 2012 (Photo Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images).

By Liza Konczal, Amnesty USA’s Nicaragua Country Specialist

Less than 2 years after passing a law against violence against women (Law 779), the National Assembly of Nicaragua has weakened the protection it offers.

Near the end of September 2013, the Assembly voted to retract a part of the law that bans mediation in abuse cases. Women’s organizations in Nicaragua had worked arduously to reject mediation in the law, because the result could be re-victimization. Survivors of domestic abuse require protection of the law, not a chance to ‘work it out’ with their abusers.

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“I Knew I Could Not Be Silent”: How This Student Helped Free An Imprisoned Activist

The Urgent Action Network continues to be one of the most powerful tools student activists have (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

The Urgent Action Network continues to be one of the most powerful tools student activists have (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Anupriya Ghate, Individuals & Communities at Risk Campaigns Assistant

This post is the third in a three-part blog series commemorating the launch of Amnesty USA’s redesigned Urgent Action Network. Read on for how this updated tool will help activists make a stronger impact.

In the never ending stream of pamphlets, tri-fold boards, and issues on college campuses, students are often left wondering what impact their voice actually makes. As an Amnesty International student leader at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was able to show students that their voice had the power to impact the lives of people at risk of human rights violations around the world. I used the tools provided by Amnesty International’s Urgent Action Network to engage students and send their voices to the chambers of a legislature, into the ears of oppressors and through the bars of a jail cell.

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Will Rouhani Create Meaningful Reforms or Play Political Games?

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The global community recently celebrated the release of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and what appears to be dozens of others, among them political prisoners. However, we should reserve judgment regarding the future of human rights under the new administration in Iran until all those who remain unjustly imprisoned are freed and Iranians achieve the freedoms they have been demanding for several decades.

Sotoudeh, who had been detained in Iran since September 2010, was originally sentenced to 11 years in jail for “spreading propaganda against the system” and “acting against national security.” In reality, she is a lawyer who has defended many high-profile human rights campaigners, political activists, and juvenile offenders on death row. Throughout her career she publicly, but peacefully, challenged the Iranian authorities about the shortcomings of the rule of law and due process in the proceedings against her clients.

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