Tell the United Nations: Protect #MyBodyMyRights!

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I’ve just come from opening week at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), when thousands of women’s rights activists and member state delegations descend on New York to review the current state of affairs for women and girls globally and recommend actions states can take to advance gender equality and promote female empowerment.

Many of the events this week are calling attention to sexual and reproductive rights as a primary barrier to development progress and the enjoyment of rights and dignity for all. The priority theme for the CSW this year is a review of progress for women and girls under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

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ACT NOW: Take Action to Fight Back Against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

In January, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law. This act imposes a 14-year prison sentence for attempting to marry a partner of the same sex.

Nigerians convicted of same-sex public displays of affection, or of participating in organizations or meetings related to LGBT issues face ten years of jail time.

In the weeks since President Jonathan signed the law, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in anti-LGBT mob violence and the arrest of dozens of LGBT people.

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What Everyone Ought to Know About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

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NOTE: This text is from a New York Times Letter to the Editor in response to the article “Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill.”

The new antigay law in Uganda is alarming and, sadly, not shocking. You note that it follows the passage of similar legislation in Nigeria and fits within a growing trend that Amnesty International reported on last July.

The developments in Uganda and Nigeria underscore the depth to which many African leaders are determined to go, not only to discriminate against a segment of their populations, but also to incite hatred and potentially acts of violence. It is a failure of their obligations, internationally and regionally, to protect the rights of people living within their borders and a failure of governance.

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Sneaky Tricks Putin is Pulling to Stave Off Criticism During the Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist

President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.

The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.

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6 of President Vladimir Putin’s Most Oppressive Laws

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NOTE: This blog post has been updated in several places for clarity.

The Olympics are right around the corner. But while Shaun White practices his Double McTwist 1260 and Ashley Wagner works on nailing a pearl spin, President Vladimir Putin is perfecting the art of repression.

Since he was inaugurated as President of the Russian Federation, Putin has orchestrated a number of changes in Russian law effectively criminalizing any criticism of him and Russian security forces. The new Draconian laws are having a terrible impact.

With Sochi fast approaching, here are 6 of Putin’s most oppressive laws. But unlike White and Wagner’s routines, we’re not looking forward to seeing these at the Olympics:

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