About Cristina Finch

Cristina M. Finch currently serves as the managing director for the women’s human rights program at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and as an adjunct law professor at George Mason University School of Law. At AIUSA, Cristina focuses on women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and multilateral issues. Prior to joining AIUSA in October 2009, Cristina served as senior counsel to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from 2005 to 2009. As senior counsel, Cristina provided legal and policy expertise on a range of human rights issues including hate crimes, immigration, military, judicial nominations, work/family legislation, international issues, and the separation of church and state. Before HRC, she served as legislative counsel to Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL); as house legal counsel to the Congress of the Republic of Palau; as an associate at the law firm of Thiemann, Aitken and Vohra; and, as a fellow at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to attending law school, Cristina worked for Rep. Jim Barcia (D-MI). Cristina is also a former AIUSA intern. She holds a JD from George Mason University, and a BA from the University of Michigan.
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What Do Tunisia, Palau and the US Have in Common?

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:

Amnesty Activism at Work: Dump DOMA!

Amnesty International activists take part in Gay Pride in Paris

On Tuesday, Amnesty International staff delivered the signatures of Amnesty activists and supporters to the U.S. Senate urging them to repeal DOMA and end discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

DOMA – or the “Defense of Marriage Act” – is a discriminatory law that denies lawfully married same-sex couples the right to access federal protections and benefits.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) which would repeal DOMA and take an important step towards ending discrimination against same-sex couples.  Amnesty International submitted a letter of support for the Act and delivered the petitions directly to the Committee to show our support!


UN Women: Ruling Women In!

Yesterday I attended the launch of UN Women’s new report: “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice.” Launched on January 1, 2011, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women, works to integrate gender into the UN and global foreign policy.

UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Michele Bachelet addressed a crowd of more than a hundred human right defenders, advocates and UN officials in New York detailing the findings of the new report.

“Progress of the World’s Women” focuses on women’s access to justice and the existing barriers, both legal and social, that keep women from exercising their rights. The report shows that while significant legal reforms have been made, women still face persistent discrimination that hinders our, and the world’s, ability to make progress. As Under Secretary Bachelet declared: “In too many countries the rule of law rules women out.”


Take Pride in the Latest UN Resolution

Amnesty International activists take part in Gay Pride in Paris, 28 June 2008.

This past Friday, June 17th, was a remarkable day for the advancement of international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of LGBT persons.

All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception. But all too often across the globe LGBT people are targets of discrimination and horrific acts of violence.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity continually leads to abuse in the form of violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution. These methods of persecution, which include criminalization in many places, violate the human rights of LGBT people.


Gaddafi Uses Rape as a Weapon of War?

Protest for Libyan Rape Victim Iman al-Obeidi

Libyan-American women protesting in support of Libyan rape victim Iman al-Obeidi in Washington, DC. ©Getty Images

Amidst reports of hundreds of rapes by Gaddafi forces in Libya, I appeared on Alhurra TV last week to discuss this brutal human rights violation. Watch the clip (in Arabic only) here.

Amnesty International remains concerned about violence against women in the midst of the political turbulence of the Arab Spring uprisings. The use of rape and other forms of sexual violence in Libya as weapons of war are efforts to intimidate, punish, humiliate, and control women and their communities.

These rapes and other forms of sexual violence constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the crime of torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Human Rights Don't Discriminate: Join Us For Pride Month

Amnesty International activists take part in Gay Pride in Paris

Join us in celebrating Pride Month this June by standing up for LGBT rights!

Pride Month is the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots where courageous members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stood up to police brutality and discrimination at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This resistance galvanized the LGBT community and gave birth to the modern LGBT rights movement.


Tell Congress: Pass Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011

On Sunday you called your mom. Today, call on your elected officials to protect maternal health.

This Wednesday, May 11, a Mother’s Day briefing on Capitol Hill will shine a light on the maternal health care crisis in the United States. Featured guest Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and director of No Woman No Cry, will join Amnesty International researcher Nan Strauss and others to advocate for the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.

Drafted to address some of the most pressing recommendations in Amnesty International’s report on maternal mortality in the US, Deadly Delivery, this innovative bipartisan legislation would:


Antibullying Hearing: Send in Your Personal Stories and Make History!

© Getty Images

On May 13, 2011, for the first time in history, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will host a ground-breaking hearing addressing inter-student violence (including, verbal and physical assaults, teasing, bullying and any other form of harassment)  targeted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.

A 2009 study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network surveyed middle and high school students across the country and found that nine out of ten students reported experiencing harassment at their school within the past year based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, two-thirds said they felt unsafe at school because of who they are.

Harassment to LGBT individuals is a violation of their right to security of person and freedom from discrimination. All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights-without exceptions.


Speak Out in Solidarity with Egyptian Women!

From the moment protests began in Egypt on January 25, women have been on the frontlines, demanding respect for the human rights of all Egyptians.

On Tuesday, in honor of International Women’s Day, women assembled in Tahrir Square to claim their human rights, the Washington Post reported. However, the demonstration was marred by an angry mob of men who beat and sexually assaulted the female marchers, insisting that a woman could never be president and objecting to women’s demands to have a role in drafting a new constitution.

Image: © Ramy Raoof

The Washington Post reported, “Everyone was chased. Some were beaten. They were touching us everywhere,’ said Dina Abou Elsoud, organizer of the ambitiously named Million Woman March.”

In contrast to the status of women in Ancient Egypt, a period in Egyptian history which gave rise to powerful female leaders such as Queen Hatshepsut and Queen Cleopatra, women in Egypt today are underrepresented and sexually harassed. The gender-based violence seen in Tahrir square on Tuesday points to the long and difficult struggle that still lies ahead for women in Egypt to fully enjoy their rights.

According to a survey conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s rights, 98 percent of foreign women and 83 percent of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed in Egypt. In addition, “20,000 women or girls [are] raped every year,” as cited in an article by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST