The ‘Arab Spring': Five Years On

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MANAMA, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 19:  A person holds a flower in front of a barbed wire fence as anti-government demonstrators re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain. Anti-government protesters were fired at with tear gas and rubber bullets as they marched to retake the roundabout, injuring several protestors at the site of two deadly previous confrontations between police and demonstrators. The Bahrain military has since backed off by order of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and instead police have been positioned to squelch the uprising.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MANAMA, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 19: A person holds a flower in front of a barbed wire fence as anti-government demonstrators re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Protesters took to the streets across the Arab world in 2011, pushing their leaders to end decades of oppression.

The Middle East and North Africa was engulfed in an unprecedented outburst of popular protests and demand for reform. It began in Tunisia and spread within weeks to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

6 reasons why we still need International Women’s Day

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Malika 'La Slammeuse' photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

Malika ‘La Slammeuse’ photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

By Shiromi Pinto

Since 1975, 8 March has been a rallying point for feminists worldwide. Established by the UN, it has traditionally been a moment to celebrate women’s achievements while highlighting serious inequalities between the sexes. But 41 years later, is it still necessary?

The answer is yes. Women and girls may have scaled unimaginable heights in politics, science, arts, sports and business, but they are still struggling. Not just for equal pay, which is a concern on so many people’s minds today – but for their basic human rights. Nowhere is this plainer than in women’s struggle for their sexual and reproductive rights. Here are six reasons why we think International Women’s Day is more important than ever. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How Tunisia is Taking Big Steps Towards Ending Sexual Violence

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VAWTunisia

By: Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA, Country Specialist for Morocco and the Western Sahara

This past week I traveled to Tunisia to watch my colleagues from Amnesty Tunisia hand deliver over 198,000 signed petitions from Amnesty International members worldwide, calling on the Tunisian authorities to end discrimination against women and girl survivors of sexual violence. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

TAKE ACTION: No One Should Have to Marry Their Rapist

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By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Each of us has autonomy over our own body: we all have the right to make our own decisions about our healthcare, reproduction, and sexual lives, and we should be able to do so without living in fear of violence or discrimination. No matter where you live, no matter who you are, it’s your body and your rights.

Yet far too many are deprived of the basic human rights over their own bodies, including the right to be free from violence, sexual, assault, and rape. Such violence against women is part of a global culture of discrimination, but in the Maghreb region of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, discriminatory legal provisions help enable rampant sexual violence against women and girls.

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Closing Morocco’s Rape Loophole is Just the First Step

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Zohra Filali holds a picture of her daughter, Amina, the week after she committed suicide. Amina took her own life by drinking rat poison in March 2012 after being forced to marry the man who allegedly raped her.

Zohra Filali holds a picture of her daughter, Amina, the week after she committed suicide. Amina took her own life by drinking rat poison in March 2012 after being forced to marry the man who allegedly raped her.

By Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. This post originally appeared in the International Business Times

Amina Filali was just 16 years old when, in the depths of despair, she decided to take her own life.

Several months earlier the teenager from Morocco had been forced to marry a man whom she said had raped her.

In March 2012, Amina lost all hope. She swallowed rat poison in her hometown of Larache and died shortly afterwards.

Up until last week, men accused of rape in Morocco were able to escape prosecution by marrying their victim, if the girl was aged under 18.

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THIS EXISTS: Law Allows Rapists to Escape Prison If They Marry Underage Victims

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Zohra Filali holds a picture of her daughter, Amina, the week after she committed suicide. Amina took her own life by drinking rat poison in March 2012 after being forced to marry the man who allegedly raped her.

Zohra Filali holds a picture of her daughter, Amina, the week after she committed suicide. Amina took her own life by drinking rat poison in March 2012 after being forced to marry the man who allegedly raped her.

Amina Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison in March 2012. She was 16 years old. Her desperate act showed the depth of her pain and despair: she must have felt that nobody was there to help her.

We soon learned that Amina had been raped in her small Moroccan town, by a man she was then forced to marry. Imagine being married to your rapist, to be forced to see that person all the time – it would be devastating.

He married her because Moroccan law allows rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim, if she is aged under 18.

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The Year of Rebellion

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Demonstrators' resilience in 2011 has changed the regional context for human rights © AP Photo / Tarek Fawzy

This week, we  approach the first major anniversary of the popular uprisings that began to sweep through the Middle East and North Africa last year. On January 14, 2011, Tunisia’s long time president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country to Saudi Arabia. Since December Ben Ali has been on trial – in absentia – along with about 40 other senior officials, for the killing of protesters.

The following weeks will be marked by the anniversaries of uprisings and the resignations of repressive dictators who were ultimately swept away by “a power governments cannot suppress” (transporting a Howard Zinn term to a different region).

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After the Uprisings, Women's Rights Must be Upheld

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By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

© Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

The theme of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence — “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women”— is a theme that resonates across the globe.  It’s especially timely in the Middle East and North Africa where we’ve seen unprecedented challenges to military regimes and repressive governments.

Throughout the region, women have joined with men in fighting against increased militarism and in calling for governmental and social reform.  We’ve seen women in the headlines of protest and revolution from Bahrain to Yemen, to Egypt to Tunisia and beyond.

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What Do Tunisia, Palau and the US Have in Common?

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Well, it isn’t ratification of the CEDAW treaty but all three countries have made the news lately when it comes to women’s human rights.

CEDAW, formally known as the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women is the most comprehensive international framework to secure women’s equality. And, as the fight for women’s human rights continues after the recent uprisings in the Middle East, CEDAW is now more vital than ever in the struggle for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are reforming their governments and women must be a part of this political revolution to ensure the success of these emerging democracies.

Here are some of the latest developments on CEDAW:
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