The Quick Way You Can Take Action for Syrian Women Facing Gender Violence

16_days_logo_englishTo get to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian women and girls had to face a gauntlet of deadly violence including extortion, trafficking and abuse. Once in the camps, they expected to find safety.

What they found, according to Amnesty International researchers, was more danger and the threat of gender violence.

A majority of the 2.9 million Syrian refugees are women and children. Having fled violence, and often surviving a treacherous journey across the Syrian desert, these refugees sought safety and shelter in the camps. More than 120,000 of them made their way to the Za’atri camp, making it the largest refugee camp in Jordan.

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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.

Our Response to President Vladimir Putin’s New York Times Op-Ed

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit: Mikhail Kireev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images).

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit: Mikhail Kireev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images).

In his New York Times opinion piece regarding Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin argues against the recently proposed U.S. military strike on Syria. Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones armed intervention in Syria. However, some of President Putin’s arguments obscure Russia’s own role in blocking a resolution to the human rights crisis in Syria.

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Inside the Divided Town That’s Become a Microcosm of the Syrian Conflict

Syrian rebels fighting pro-regime forces gather along a road in Deir Ezzour (Photo Credit: Getty Images).

Syrian rebels fighting pro-regime forces gather along a road in Deir Ezzour (Photo Credit: Getty Images).

By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Researcher

A different version of this article has appeared on http://www.newstatesman.com/.

Once a thriving hub of Syria’s oil industry, today Deir Ezzour has become a bleak microcosm of Syria’s conflict. The town, on the banks of the Euphrates River, some 280 miles north-east of the capital, is divided. Half is under the control of Syrian government forces. The other half is in the hands of armed opposition fighters, who also control much of the surrounding areas all the way to the Iraqi border.

Few outsiders make it to this isolated region. No human rights organizations and only a handful of journalists have visited the town. The opposition-controlled section of Deir Ezzour is the only area I can access, as the Syrian government has banned Amnesty and other human rights organizations from areas of the country it controls. The streets are eerily quiet and much of the town is in ruins. Many of the residents have fled. The empty shells of burned and bombed-out buildings line the streets – a testament to the unrelenting air strikes, artillery, mortar and tank shelling by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

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6 Steps For Syria We Want to Hear in Obama’s Speech Tonight

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Amid a swirl of political developments, President Obama is set to deliver a national televised speech on Syria at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight. The speech was originally expected to be an effort by the White House to argue for a U.S. military strike targeting Syria. But now there’s talk of U.N. Security Council proposals to remove Syria’s chemical weapons from the country, for presumed eventual destruction. And against a backdrop of growing domestic opposition to a U.S. military strike, the U.S. government is changing its political posture in response.

Given the rapidly shifting geopolitical landscape, it is difficult to know for sure what President Obama will say in a few short hours. Indeed, it’s likely that White House advisers are themselves still editing the President’s script as you read this.

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Justice for Syrians in 6 Steps [INFOGRAPHIC]

SYRIA INFO

Congress is debating whether to authorize the President to use force in response to allegations that Syria used chemical weapons against opponents of the government.

Although Amnesty International has not taken – and is not likely to take – a position on the appropriateness of armed intervention, we believe the debate in Congress is inadequate, as it does not address many of the pressing issues of the Syrian crisis.

Accordingly, we have identified several steps that should be taken in response to this crisis, no matter where one lands, for or against, the use of force. They are as follows:

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Have You Seen What’s Happening to Syrian Refugee Women and Girls?

By Maha Abu Shama, Syria Campaigner at Amnesty International

“We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.

Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls.

“I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.

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3 Things G20 Leaders Can Do Now For Syria

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Photo ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Easing the suffering of millions of civilians affected by Syria’s ongoing armed conflict must be a top priority for world leaders meeting at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg.

The G20 is made up of some of the world’s wealthiest countries and includes states with strong ties to each of the sides in Syria’s armed conflict.

Working together, these powerful countries can and must come up with a plan of action to ease the current humanitarian crisis.

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