There is a rural area in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa where the maternal mortality rate more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Why are women so at risk for dying during childbirth in this province? The reasons are complex and inter-related but many factors can be addressed by the provincial Minister of Health. And we are demanding that he does. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is an opportunity to draw the attention of political and cultural leaders, the media, and the broader public to the human rights of LGBT people.
This IDAHOT, Amnesty International reaffirms our core belief that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to exercise their full human rights, and we stand in full solidarity with LGBT people whose fundamental rights are endangered.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face disproportionately high levels of discrimination when accessing health care, education, housing, and employment. In almost 80 countries, consensual same-sex conduct remains criminalized; even where homosexuality has been decriminalized, LGBT people are frequently subject to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, imprisonment, torture, and other violence.
Sarah Hager, Chair of the Southern Africa Co-Group, contributed to this post.
A few hours ago, the world learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela. There are few people in the world who inspired so much reverence and devotion. Through all he did to advance human rights issues, Mandela became a living symbol of love and forgiveness, perseverance and redemption.
Mandela’s courage helped change our entire world. His life of political struggle and self-sacrifice became, and remains, an example to millions around the globe. His name is now synonymous with the struggle of people everywhere for freedom, equality and justice and is a reminder that we must stay determined to confront injustice.
Remember those who feel forgotten. Stand with those who feel alone. Speak for those who have been silenced. Know that alone I have power; together we are invincible.
Amnesty USA was approached by the U.S. producers of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because, as Harvey Weinstein reiterated at the Washington, D.C. premiere, he felt it was critical the story of President Mandela be exposed to as many people as possible in the hopes of inspiring social activism to make positive change in the world. Since this is exactly what Amnesty does – urge people to take action to create change – it was a natural fit.
To the world, he is known as Nelson, an English name given to him by a teacher on his first day of school. To many South Africans, he is known by his Xhosa clan name: Madiba. And there is another name Nelson Mandela is known by, one that reflects the place he holds in the hearts of South Africans: “tata” or “father.”
Today, the former South African President and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, father of South African democracy and role model for human rights defenders everywhere, turns 95. It would be a notable milestone for anyone, but all the more incredible for Madiba because of the human rights issues he has helped advance during his lifetime.
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.
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?
In the wake of contested presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008, Zimbabwe experienced high levels of political violence. Amnesty International documented deaths, disappearances, torture, and arrests of civilians, political opposition members and civil society. Citizens were rounded up and taken to “re-education camps,” which were mostly school buildings in rural areas, where they were forced to pledge allegiance and sing songs in support of President Robert Mugabe’s political party, ZANU-PF. Women were also brutally raped, often by multiple perpetrators.
Zimbabwe has not signed the Rome Statute, so they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court unless referred by the UN Security Council. However, South Africa has signed the Rome Statute and in doing so, made a commitment to pursuing international justice. A South African court previously held that the country has a requirement under this commitment to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of torture in Zimbabwe who cross the border into South Africa-but prosecutors declined to do so and the government appealed that decision.
On February 14th, Amnesty will join with V-Day in the One Billion Rising campaign to dance in solidarity with the estimated one billion women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetime.
Violence against women is one of the world’s most pervasive human rights abuses. It is also one of the most hidden. Globally, one woman in three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime and yet, justice for these abuses is all too rare.
In the U.S., the Violence Against Women Act is a groundbreaking law that helps break the cycle of impunity for violence. Currently up for reauthorization in Congress, you can add your voice to ask for immediate action.
By Suzanne Trimel, Media Relations Director
Starting rumors in the art world that new paintings have surfaced by a Chinese artist supposedly killed 20 years earlier in the Tianamen Square uprising are at the heart of the latest mystery novel, Ghost Hero, by the prize-winning crime writer S.J. Rozan.
With its taut, heart-thumping plot, the book is another treat for lovers of Rozan’s series about the private investigator Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith.
But what gives the book special focus for human rights activists is Rozan’s spotlight on China’s efforts to crush freedom of expression following the arrest last spring of the artist Ai Weiwei and China’s continued imprisonment of the Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo for his writings critical of the government.