Peace in the Home and Peace in the World: Help End Violence Against Women!

By Tarah Demant, Co-Chair of Amnesty International USA Women’s Rights Co-Group

A life free from violence is a fundamental human right, yet daily, women and girls are targeted specifically because of their sex or gender, and violence in communities often affects women disproportionately. Violence against women is a global epidemic; no country or community is immune.

Violence against women is used as a tool of discrimination, control, and intimidation, and it restricts women’s choices and increases their vulnerability to further injustices. 1 in 3 women will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime, yet violence against women affects us all. Consider the following cases:

  • In Sudan, women can be can be stopped by the police, arrested, jailed, and even sentenced to public flogging for nothing more than wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
  • In Egypt, women protesters have faced harassment and assault while Egypt’s political leaders have remained silence about the rampant sexual violence and discrimination.
  • In Syria, more than 2 million people have fled the armed crisis, and now tens of thousands of women and girl refugees in Jordan risk further violence simply because they have no safe access to a toilet.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, often ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman, women human rights defenders provide grassroots assistance to civilians, yet they themselves face intimidation, attack, rape, and sexual violence for their efforts.
  • In Bangladesh, women human rights defenders work for the rights of indigenous people throughout the country, yet 17 years after the disappearance of a high-profile Pahari activist, her family and community still waits for justice.
  • In Honduras, women human rights defenders are threatened with sexual violence for championing human rights throughout the country.
  • In Mexico, Miriam López Vargas and hundreds of other women wait for justice after torture and rape by Mexican soldiers.

What these cases have in common is a global culture of discrimination and violence against women as well as impunity for those who commit gender-based violence. And this year’s theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women highlights the relationship between heightened militarism and communal and interpersonal violence.

Despite a culture of violence and discrimination women around the world are raising their voices against violence and discrimination, demanding their basic human rights, and standing against intimidation and fear. Today, what unites women internationally is their vulnerability to the denial and violation of their fundamental human rights, and their dedicated efforts to claim those rights.

You can join them this 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence as we join activists worldwide from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 to help end violence against women. This year, we’re highlighting the seven cases above – in each instance, you can learn more, take action, and stand with women demanding their rights!

Imagine a world without violence against women. Join us this 16 Days to make that vision a reality.

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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