Violence Against Women: When Will Nicaragua Wake Up?

There were over 32,000 complaints of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Nicaragua in 2012 (Photo Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images).

There were over 32,000 complaints of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Nicaragua in 2012 (Photo Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images).

By Liza Konczal, Amnesty USA’s Nicaragua Country Specialist

Less than 2 years after passing a law against violence against women (Law 779), the National Assembly of Nicaragua has weakened the protection it offers.

Near the end of September 2013, the Assembly voted to retract a part of the law that bans mediation in abuse cases. Women’s organizations in Nicaragua had worked arduously to reject mediation in the law, because the result could be re-victimization. Survivors of domestic abuse require protection of the law, not a chance to ‘work it out’ with their abusers.

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Why Executing the New Delhi Rapists Won’t Help the Women of India

Women call for the death penalty for the four men convicted of rape and murder today in New Delhi, India (Photo Credit: Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images).

Women call for the death penalty for the four men convicted of rape and murder today in New Delhi, India (Photo Credit: Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images).

By Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India

Today, a New Delhi court found four Indian men guilty of a December 2012 gang-rape and murder and sentenced them to death. A 17-year old convicted in the same case was sentenced to three years detention in a juvenile home on August 31. Another accused was found dead in his prison cell in March.

The rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi last year was a horrific crime and our deepest sympathy goes out to the victim’s family. Those responsible must be punished, but the death penalty is never the answer.

Far-reaching procedural and institutional reform, and not the death penalty, is needed to tackle the endemic problem of violence against women in India.

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Update in the Struggle to #SaveBeatriz!

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

In collaboration with Lyric Thompson, member of Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

On Wednesday, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice issued a shameful decision in the case of Beatriz, the young Salvadoran mother we wrote about earlier. She is currently in a high risk pregnancy and suffers from lupus and related health problems. Her doctors have recommended an abortion to save her life, yet the Salvadoran government refuses to give her access to the medical treatment that she needs.

In response to this violation of her human rights, nearly 200,000 Amnesty activists from over 20 countries have called on the Salvadoran government to #SaveBeatriz.

As part of this campaign to save Beatriz, we were shocked by yesterday’s ruling by the Salvadoran Supreme Court that Beatriz’s doctors cannot proceed with the abortion they say is necessary to save her life. This decision compounds the suffering already caused by the lengthy and unnecessary delays that the Court created prior to issuing this ruling, taking over a month and a half after Beatriz’s lawyers first filed the request for protection (amparo) on April 11.

The Court itself recognized Beatriz is now entering a very risky stage with regards to her health. And yet, the Court’s decision will continue to subject Beatriz to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by denying her the medical intervention she so urgently needs while her health continues to deteriorate.

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This Mother’s Day, It Was Motherhood, Not Rape, That Made Congo the Worst Place to Be a Woman

Save the Children's "State of the World's Mothers" report has named the Democratic Republic of Congo as the world's worst place to be a mother (Photo Credit: Leon Sadiki/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images).

Save the Children’s “State of the World’s Mothers” report has named the Democratic Republic of Congo as the world’s worst place to be a mother (Photo Credit: Leon Sadiki/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images).

In honor of Mother’s Day, Save the Children released its annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. I was saddened, but not surprised to see the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst place to be a mother.

Severe violations of women’s human rights in Congo are, unfortunately, a perennial subject of attention for me and numerous other rights activists. Typically those violations are associated with the long and bloody conflict that has spanned the country and concentrated in its most recent stages in the East.

Indeed, DRC has been plagued by almost two decades of conflict resulting in the suffering and death of millions of men, women and children. Most chillingly, the Congo conflict has become synonymous with rape and other forms of sexual violence, which are committed with impunity by security forces, including the armed forces of the DRC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC), and other armed groups. For this reason, it was ranked the worst place to be a woman by the United Nations just last year.

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Mumbai’s Urban Slums: Ground Zero for Human Dignity

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes.

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes by multi-national corporations. PHOTO: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

I’ve spent the past two weeks working with a number of NGOs focused on women’s human rights in the urban slums surrounding Mumbai. These communities are a ground zero for human dignity, where basic needs are not met and human rights are routinely crushed by poverty and the pace of urbanization.

The underworld I traverse each day exists within a global financial capital, a land of five-star hotels and luxury cars. The stark contrast illustrates the urgency of putting human dignity at the center of the dialogue about social change in an increasingly urbanized and inequitable landscape. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Nothing About Us Without Us: Women’s Voices Must Be Heard!

Earlier this month we wrote about the right to universal access to health care in the context of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Yet again this month, women’s health rights are being used as a political football.

The reversal of the Komen Foundation’s decision, in response to public outcry, only amplifies our newest concerns: the voices of affected people must play a role in all policy decisions.

I’m sure you’ve seen the now-infamous photo of an all-male witness panel at the February 17 hearing on contraception and religious freedom, held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Democratic minority nominated a woman for this panel—an average woman with experience of the implications of insurance companies denying coverage of birth control. She was denied as a witness by the majority GOP, apparently because she was deemed unqualified to speak to the issue. Two women were witnesses on the second panel, one a female physician.

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Join Amnesty's Inaugural Forum on Women's Rights Online

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Violence against women and girls and other forms of gender discrimination devastate the lives of millions of women and do not distinguish among nation, culture, or creed.

One in three women worldwide has been beaten, raped, or abused in her lifetime. Maternal mortality rates have actually risen in the US, and remain scandalously high around the world, with a woman dying a pregnancy-related death every 90 seconds. Lack of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care contributes to maternal mortality, sexually transmitted infections and other ill-health outcomes. Women continue to suffer disproportionately during armed conflict, accounting for 90% of all civilian casualties.

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Total Abortion Bans In Latin America Risk Women's Lives

nicaragua woman doctor

Countries around the world that strictly deny women’s access to abortion, including when such access could save their lives and health, also tend to have the highest rates of maternal mortality.

Most Latin American countries criminalize abortions, forcing girls and women to resort to unsafe, clandestine abortions.  According to the World Health Organization, “Death due to complications of abortion is not uncommon, and is one of the principal causes of maternal mortality” and of an estimated 300,000 hospitalizations.

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