UPDATE to An Ongoing Cycle of Violence

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The cycle has ended, at least in this case.  Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen today commuted the death sentence of Gaile Owens who had been scheduled for execution on September 28.  She was sentenced to death for soliciting the murder of her husband, but her case garnered widespread publicity because of severe abuse she had endured at his hands.

Governor Bredesen cited similar cases as his reason for granting clemency, stating:

As heinous as the crime was, the record of how Tennessee has dealt with similar cases over the last century makes it clear that her death would have been a terrible miscarriage of justice.

Gaile Owens could be eligible for parole as early as 2012.

Iranian Lawyer Shadi Sadr Released!

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We’re happy to bring you some good news in the case of lawyer and human rights activist Shadi Sadr.

We’ve all watched with dismay during that last 2 months as Iran has cracked down on hundreds of thousands of people who have poured into the streets to protest the contested results of June’s presidential election. Behind the scenes, Iranian authorities have conducted a campaign to silence dissident voices — like human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani — through arbitrary arrests and detention.

It was as part of this campaign that Shadi Sadr was detained last month. On July 17, Sadr was walking on a road in Tehran when men in civilian clothes grabbed her and attempted to push her into a car. Sadr lost her headscarf and coat in the ensuing struggle but managed briefly to escape. She was quickly recaptured and beaten with batons, and then taken away in the car.

We are relieved to report that after more than a week in custody, Sadr was released on bail, thanks in part to appeals from Amnesty activists worldwide. Amnesty International is monitoring her situation and will issue further updates as they become available.

Women's Rights on the Line

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A vote in Congress tomorrow (6/10) will decide the fate of a new Office of Global Women’s Issues, a key provision of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

The creation of this office would mean major advancements in healthcare, poverty reduction and U.S. foreign policies aiming to empower and improve the lives of women worldwide. But opposition groups are trying to de-rail this piece of legislation by spreading misinformation about what this office would really do. They claim that this legislation would hurt women’s rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This new office is about:

  • helping the U.S. meet its foreign policy goals of economic stability and poverty reduction
  • advancing the global fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other health crises, and
  • pushing the United States to finally take a leadership role in the fight to end violence against women and girls globally

These last moments really count and your Representatives need to hear that you care about women’s rights.  Please take a moment today to tell Congress to support the Office for Global Women’s Issues.  Thank you!