About Angela Chang

Angela T. Chang is Amnesty International USA's Associate Director of Government Relations in the Advocacy, Policy and Research Department. She began her work at AIUSA in 2008 as an intern with the Individuals at Risk campaign, and currently works on AIUSA's Stop Violence Against Women projects. Specifically, she assists with AIUSA's advocacy on the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) and as lead advocacy coordinator of AIUSAís Maze of Injustice work, which seeks to address the appalling epidemic of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States. A graduate of the University of California at Davis, she holds a B.A. in International Relations, and is fluent in both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
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A huge step forward: IVAWA passes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee!

The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) (S.2982) just passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee! The IVAWA is the first comprehensive piece of legislation in the United States aimed at ending violence against women and girls around the world – it would support innovative programs to help victims, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent violence.

This is a HUGE and long awaited step forward to passing this landmark piece of legislation that will help to prevent and respond to violence against women globally. Many thanks to all of our incredible activists and supporters who have taken action to help pass IVAWA – we would not have gotten this far without your dedication and activism. Your calls, letters, emails and faxes to your members of Congress have been critical to educating our elected representatives about this important issue and crucial to shoring up their support (and their votes!) for IVAWA!

BUT WE ARE NOT DONE YET. While passage of IVAWA in committee is a huge step forward, we still have to pass IVAWA in the House of Representatives and bring the bill to the floor of both the House and Senate for a full floor vote! Time is running out as Congress begins to wrap up but we can do this! Please continue to reach out to your elected officials – let your Senators and Representatives know that you want to help end violence against women and girls globally and ask them to PASS IVAWA NOW! Let them hear your voices – that it is UNACCEPTABLE that one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates of domestic violence reaching 70% in some countries.

We can make a difference – tell Congress to pass IVAWA now.

Crank It Up – We are Calling on All Crows to help end violence against women around the world!

Earlier this morning, Chad Stokes – lead singer of State Radio and co-founder of women’s empowerment organization Calling All Crows – stopped by the Amnesty DC office along with co-founder and Chairwoman Sybil Gallagher and Co-Executive Director Matt, for a quick visit as they prepped for a sold-out acoustic set tonight in Vienna, VA.

Calling All Crows and State Radio has been working closely with AIUSA to support and pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) in Congress this year.  On their recent tour, State Radio and Calling All Crows has been highlighting IVAWA and the impact that passage of such a monumental bill would have in places such as the DRC where mass rapes were reported earlier this year, by calling on fans to reach out to their members of Congress in support of IVAWA!

CRANK IT UP – check out State Radio’s inspiring song and video “Calling All Crows” below. And to find out more about State Radio’s tour and the incredible activism that State Radio is engaged in, check out their website here.

As many of you already know, IVAWA creates a comprehensive, integrated approach to preventing and responding to violence and places women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. It has the potential to reform social attitudes and address the underlying human rights abuses that leave women exposed to violence. AIUSA has been working hard with our coalition partners, our incredible grassroots, grasstops and of course State Radio and Calling All Crows, to pass IVAWA now! Your activism and support has and continues to be critical to passing IVAWA – so keep it up and TAKE ACTION NOW by:

Canada Endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On November 12th, Canada joined the majority of the world in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Declaration is a non-legally binding human rights instrument which affirms universal standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of all Indigenous Peoples.

Adopted by the United Nations in 2007, the United States was one of four countries, along with Australia, New Zealand, and Australia, that voted against the Declaration. Australia and New Zealand reversed their initial positions, and now, with Canada’s endorsement, the United States remains the only country that has not yet endorsed the UNDRIP.

It is past-due time for the United States to endorse the UNDRIP. Unqualified support for the Declaration is fundamental to ensuring that the United States follows international human rights standards for Indigenous Peoples, who are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples in the world. In the United States, nearly 24% of indigenous people live in poverty. Endorsement of the Declaration is critical to demonstrating U.S. commitment to upholding the rights of, and addressing the issues faced by indigenous populations here at home.

In April 2010, the United States announced it would formally review its position on UNDRIP. While we are heartened by President Obama’s leadership in reviewing the U.S. position on the Declaration – we continue to urge that the United States endorse the UNDRIP immediately and without qualifications, affirming U.S. commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous people both at home and abroad. Show President Obama your support for the UNDRIP by taking action NOW!

Eleni Orphanides contributed to this post.

From Suffrage to CEDAW – Celebrate Women's Equality Day!

Happy Birthday 19th Amendment!

Believe it or not, it’s only been 90 years since the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote in our democracy was made part of the Constitution. Since 1971, we’ve celebrated the anniversary of August 26, 1920, as Women’s Equality Day.

One great way to celebrate would be to make sure that every eligible woman is registered to vote. That includes women turning 18 and those who have recently become naturalized citizens. After all, as important as the right to vote is, it’s even more important to use the vote to help shape the direction of our nation. So make sure you’re registered and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Women’s Equality Day is also the perfect time to consider what the United States can do to advance women’s rights as human rights. A good place to start is with CEDAW – the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

CEDAW, also known as the Women’s Treaty, is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. CEDAW helps women and girls by offering a practical blueprint for ending discrimination, stopping violence against women and trafficking of women and girls, ensuring education and vocational opportunities, and increasing political participation including the right to vote and to hold political office.

The United States played an important role in drafting CEDAW, which the United Nations adopted in 1979. But the U.S. remains one of only seven countries, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and three small Pacific Island countries (Nauru, Palau and Tonga), that have not yet ratified CEDAW.

That could change this year. It takes the votes of 67 senators to ratify a treaty, and President Obama and over 100 national organizations have expressed their support for the treaty’s ratification.

Ratifying the CEDAW treaty would continue America’s proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights, and it would strengthen the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls in countries around the world.

The CEDAW website – www.cedaw2010.org – has more information about CEDAW along with practical suggestions on how you can help the treaty become ratified.

In Honor of International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples…

TODAY August 9th 2010, marks the 17th annual International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples represents an effort to further strengthen international cooperation in solving the problems faced by Indigenous communities in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

Help us honor this day: Call on President Obama to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) now!

Indigenous Peoples are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples in the world. They continue to suffer persistent and widespread discrimination and other grave human rights violations. Past and ongoing colonization and land and resource dispossession have resulted in their impoverishment. The plight of indigenous peoples has most recently been captured in this beautiful photo exhibit created by Dana Gluckstein.

In the United States, nearly 24% of Indigenous persons live in poverty. And Native women in the U.S. are particularly vulnerable – more than one in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetime and face rates of sexual violence 2.5 times greater than that of women in general in the U.S.  Read Amnesty’s 2007 Maze of Injustice report for more information about the situation facing Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a non-legally binding human rights instrument which affirms universal minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well being of all Indigenous Peoples. It recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples, as both a collective and as individuals, to fully enjoy their basic human rights – including Indigenous cultural rights and identity and the right to education, health, employment, and language. The UNDRIP publicly opposes discrimination against Indigenous Peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.

In 2007, the UNDRIP was adopted by the United Nations after a vote by the overwhelming majority of states. The United States was one of four countries, along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, that voted against the Declaration. However, earlier this year the Administration announced that it was formally reviewing the U.S. position on the Declaration – voice your support and let President Obama know you want to see the U.S. endorse the UNDRIP now!

Congress passes Tribal Law and Order Act provisions in H.R. 725!

HUGE thanks and a heartfelt congratulations to everyone who has been involved in Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women work, and in particular, the work to end sexual violence and rape against Native American and Alaska Native women in the U.S.

The House just passed H.R. 725, to which the Tribal Law and Order Act was attached as an amendment, by a vote of 326 yays to 92 nays. This historic and long-overdue legislation will now go to President Obama to be signed into law!!

This will be the major solution for the long-overdue problem of disturbing rates of sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.

In 2007, Amnesty International published a report titled Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA that exposed the disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence that Native American and Alaska Native women suffer in this country. Additionally, it detailed the complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdictions that often allows perpetrators, 86 percent of them non-Native men, to rape with impunity. This maze currently dictates that authorities need to establish whether the crime took place on tribal lands and whether the perpetrator was Native or non-Native before prosecuting, meaning that critical time is lost. This leads to inadequate investigations or a failure to respond.

The provisons of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 will remedy this maze as it will enhance the criminal justice system by improving coordination and communication between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies as well provide beginning steps to empower tribal governments to take more direct action in cases of violent crime. In time it will decrease the high levels of rape and finally provide Native women with effective recourse if they are sexually assaulted. This is a major victory for Native women as it is a critical step toward ensuring that Native women’s human rights are recognized.

Our deepest respect, appreciation and congratulations to all of our members and activists, tribal leaders and Native advocates, friends, family and colleagues – without you this incredible victory would not have been possible.

This is it – act NOW to pass the Tribal Law and Order Act

Two Native American women were gang-raped by three non-Native men in Oklahoma. Because they were forced to wear blindfolds, however, support workers were concerned that the women would be unable to say whether the rapes took place on federal, state or tribal land. Because of jurisdictional complexities and the uncertainty of the locations of these crimes, the women may never see justice served.

It is time to help make a difference in the lives of Native American and Alaska Native women and put an end to the sexual violence that Native women face at a rate that is 2.5 times greater than that of women in the U.S. in general. Passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act will help to do just that.

The Tribal Law and Order Act, attached as an amendment to H.R. 725, is now up for a full floor vote in the House. WHEN it passes, the legislation will go straight to the President to be signed into law.

YOU can make a difference!

TAKE ACTION now and send a letter of support urging your Representative to vote for H.R. 725 with Tribal Law and Order provisions attached, when the bill hits the House floor this week!

Victory! Tribal Law and Order Act Passes in the US Senate!

HUGE VICTORY for human rights happened this past Wednesday when the Senate passed H.R. 725, the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010, which included the majority of the provisions in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009!

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 is a historic, bi-partisan effort to tackle the complex jurisdictional maze that allows violent crime against Indigenous women, and in particular, sexual assault and violence against Native American and Alaska Native women, to go unpunished and unabated.

Championed by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) in the Senate and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) in the House, the Tribal Law and Order Act represents an important step forward in combating violence against Native American women.  Violence that is an ongoing violation of Native American and Alaska Native women’s most fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Amnesty International detailed this violence in our 2007 report entitled Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA.  The report revealed shocking statistics of violence such as the fact that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than two and a half times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general.  The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 is in direct response to concerns raised by tribal leaders, tribal organizations, Native American and Alaska Native women and the AIUSA report, which helped bring widespread attention to the high rates of crimes on tribal lands and the obstacles that victims face in securing justice.

The Act will help abate the violence in Indigenous communities by clarifying the responsibilities of, and increasing coordination and communication among, federal, state, and tribal governments with respect to crimes committed in tribal communities.  The bill also provides assistance to tribal governments by arming them with the necessary authority, resources, and information to address crimes committed on tribal land.  In addition, it helps shed light on the elevated levels of violence in Indian Country by increasing the standardized collection and distribution of criminal data among all levels of government responsible for responding to and investigating crimes in tribal communities, including the data necessary to establish whether or not crimes are being prosecuted.


Buzz on the Hill: Maternal Health Briefing

On April 14th, 2010, over 60 hill staff and concerned activists came out for a congressional health briefing titled “Does the New Health Care Reform Law Address Barriers Women Face When Seeking Maternal Health Care?” hosted by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary. At the request of Chairman Conyers, the briefing featured our very own Nan Strauss, Amnesty International USA’s lead researcher on our most recent report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Crisis, as well as two Congressional Research Service (CRS) specialists on Medicaid.

Nan’s compelling presentation on the maternal health care crisis highlighted that while significantly needed strides were made with the passage of health care reform, the magnitude of the maternal health crisis in the U.S. continues to claim the lives of 2 – 3 women every day. Using individual stories as well as global statistics, Nan explained that in the United States:

  • Two to three women die every day of complications resulting from pregnancy or childbirth
  • Maternal deaths in the US are more likely than in 40 other countries
  • Black women are nearly four times more likely to die than white women. In high-risk pregnancies, these disparities increase dramatically
  • Many inner city hospitals are chronically understaffed. Again, women of color are more likely to seek care at understaffed hospitals than white women
  • Nearly half of maternal deaths and ‘near-misses’ could have been prevented with better access to good quality maternal health care
  • Although health care reform has many provisions that will help women, such as ending discriminatory insurance practices based upon ‘pre-existing conditions,’ many of the underlying conditions responsible for the appalling rates of maternal deaths in the US, continue to exist

As the next step after health care reform, she said, Amnesty International is calling for the establishment of an Office of Maternal Health within the Department of Health and Human Services.

You can take action here by writing to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and asking her to work with President Obama to establish an Office of Maternal Health.

Mona Luxion contributed to this post.

UN sends a strong message to U.S. about the state of its indigenous people

The United Nation’s first report on The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, released on January 14, 2010, contains figures and an assessment that are both shocking and illuminating, even to those who are familiar with indigenous rights issues. The report evaluates the state of indigenous populations in specific countries and situations, in both the developed and developing world.

The report states that,

“Indigenous peoples suffer from the consequences of historic injustice, including colonization, dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, oppression and discrimination, as well as lack of control over their own ways of life. Their right to development has been largely denied by colonial and modern States in the pursuit of economic growth”

The United States is by no means exempt from the report’s critique. Despite increased state and federal acknowledgment of the challenges that Native Americans and Alaska Natives face in the U.S., the U.S. has made only incremental change and continues to generate appalling statistics and significant disparities. A recent study that applied the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index (HDI) – which measures health, education and standard of living — to indigenous populations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand found that while the U.S. ranked seventh overall (globally), U.S. American Indians and Alaska Natives ranked thirtieth.

The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples notes that nearly a quarter of Native Americans and Alaska Natives live below the poverty line in the U.S., compared to about 12.5 percent of the total population, and pinpoints the direct relationship that the educational deficit has upon economic opportunities and employment rates.