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Posts tagged ‘women’s rights’

No Means No – Not “I do.”

W1403EAWMN1This month, lawmakers in Mozambique will debate revisions to the Criminal Code that would allow a rapist to escape punishment – by marrying the woman he attacked.

No means no – not “I do.” It forces survivors to endure the unthinkable.

If you were a woman or girl in Mozambique, not only could this law greatly increase social pressure to marry your rapist, it would actually prevent police from launching an investigation unless you (or a parent or guardian if you are a minor) made an official complaint.

It’s a gross violation of women’s rights.

Shine a light on this draconian bill and help Amnesty stop it before it becomes law.

Morocco had a law like this. It was repealed in January.

Why? How?

Because of outrage over the case of Amina Filali. She was forced to marry a man whom she said had raped her. In 2012, Amina lost all hope and swallowed rat poison and died shortly afterward.

She was just 16 years old.

When we raise our voices together, we can make a difference. Raise a furor over this bill – take action with Amnesty.

Thank you for standing with women and girls in Mozambique.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Japanese Culture of Silence

End the Japanese “culture of Silence” toward crimes against women!
Stalker Zero

by Ikumi Yoshimatsu

As a victim of stalking and intimidation in Japan, I am asking Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take action to change the culture of silence toward crimes against women in my country. To help encourage the Japanese government to address this issue, I’m also asking US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to speak out and join these efforts.

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I am the first Japanese woman to be crowned Miss International in the 52-year long history of the pageant. Since winning my crown in October 2012, I have been the victim of stalking, intimidation, threats, extortion and blackmail by a powerful Japanese talent agency executive known to have ties to organized crime. This man tried to abduct me from a TV studio, made threatening calls to my family, and hired private investigators to stalk me, peep into my windows and photograph my home.
The Japanese organizers of the Miss International 2013 world grand prix even asked me to “play sick” and “keep quiet” in order to appease my stalker after he made threatening phone calls to their sponsors. Because of this, I became the first Miss International titleholder in the 52-year history of the pageant prevented from passing my crown to my successor. I fear for my life and require 24hr security.

I went to the police with more than 30 exhibits of evidence including recordings and photographs. As is typically the case in Japan, the police did nothing more than offer to increase patrols in my area. They did nothing to assure my safety or to punish my stalker.

In an unprecedented move, I became the first Japanese women ever to publicly name her tormentor and went public with my story. In sharp contrast to strong global coverage in the foreign media, not a single Japanese newspaper or TV station has covered the story out of fear of reprisal from my stalker who is linked to organized crime. My blog has been read by millions of people and thousands have written messages of support and shared their own stories of fear, intimidation and violence.

SIGN IKUMI’s PETITION

Japan is plagued by a “culture of silence” toward crimes against women that has been the standard for centuries. Out of all the industrialized nations, Japan is one of the lowest ranking countries on Gender Equality — a disgraceful 105 out of 136 countries.

At the same time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been a strong and vocal supporter of women’s rights. He has called time and time again for a “society in which women shine.” His strong leadership on this issue would be a game-changer. As the first female US Ambassador to Japan — and a long-time supporter of human rights and women — Ambassador Kennedy can help encourage my government to do more by speaking out in support of my campaign.

As a first step, I’m asking that the Japanese government establish a task force to investigate stalking and violence against women with the objective of laying out an immediate national strategy to address these issues and offer real protection for women.

We need strict anti-stalking laws and strong punishment for perpetrators of crimes against women. We need a police force that will protect women and immediately act to prevent stalking and intimidation. We need restraining orders granted by the courts for any woman who has been threatened, BEFORE she is actually harmed, murdered, or forced to commit suicide. We need media that report on these issues without fear. Without protecting the women of Japan, our country will never enjoy the economic and moral benefits of a truly equal society.

SIGN IKUMI’S PETITION

Ikumi Yoshimatsu
Miss International 2012
Sent from Change.org

Rape In Delhi India

Concerning a petition about the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi.

Dear Gabriel,

This message is from Namita Bhandare who started the petition “President, CJI: Stop Rape Now!,” which you signed on Change.org.

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On Monday morning a small group of us took our petition with 109,000+ signatures to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. We presented the three-volume petition, along with your signatures and suggestions. In case you’d like to write directly to Justice Verma directly his email is: justice.verma@nic.in. The commission will be receiving suggestions and recommendations until January 5.

Meanwhile, we will continue with this campaign and keep it updated. As next steps we are writing to various MPs asking them to put pressure on the Government to give priority to the pending bills relating to women safety.

I wish you all a very happy and safe new year.
Thank you for your support.

Namita Bhandare

View the petition

Keep The Light Burning

Dear Gabriel,

ye2012_generic_rcWhen Amnesty founder Peter Benenson published his “Appeal for Amnesty” in 1961, little did he know he lit the fuse of a human rights revolution.

It was as if people were waiting for this signal.

Fast-forward to today and it is hard to believe the scale of the transformations that followed. Women’s rights, children’s rights, indigenous rights, workers’ rights, the rights of disabled persons – all of these have been strengthened by international standards and in the public consciousness.

Each of these human rights achievements sprang from the ideals and efforts of a movement powered by people like you.

When you support Amnesty International USA, you are a part of this heroic history. If you give right now, your gift will unlock matching funds – but only until Dec. 31.

When Peter lit the first Amnesty candle, he was reminded of the words of a 16th-century man who faced persecution with these words (paraphrasing), “We have today lit such a candle as shall never be put out.”

We free the unjustly imprisoned.
1966, 1,000 prisoners of conscience released since founding

We are recognized for our groundbreaking work.
1977, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for work to secure freedom and justice

We break the chains of oppression.
1986, Members write to 10,000 people of influence around the world urging them to pressure the South African government to end human rights abuses under apartheid

We elevate human rights.
1993, After intense lobbying, United Nations establishes UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

We turn torturers into outlaws.
2002, International Criminal Court treaty enters into force after years of lobbying

We defend the defenders.
2010, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is finally set free after spending some 15 years under house arrest
For 50 years, supporters like you never let Peter’s light fade. Today we are three million members strong and growing with each human rights success.

I am so proud of what Amnesty has become, and so hopeful for what it can be.

To unleash the extraordinary achievements of tomorrow, we need your investment in this movement today. I urge you to take advantage of our matching gift challenge before it ends on Dec. 31.

LIGHT THE WAY: Donate to Amnesty today.

Together we can deliver hope for humanity.

Frank Jannuzi
CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Kites for Afghan Women

Dear Gabriel,

Last month, you and 18,000 other activists took action in support of Afghan women in advance of our “Shadow Summit” for Afghan Women’s Rights. You submitted messages of solidarity and support, and your words of encouragement soared far into the sky on the first day of the NATO summit in Chicago to let the world’s leaders know that we care about women’s rights.

They listened.

The Shadow Summit for Afghan Women’s Rights was a true testament to what AIUSA is capable of achieving when we all work together. At the very last minute, the government of Afghanistan invited three women to join the Afghan delegation at the NATO summit.

Amnesty International’s Shadow Summit speakers included prominent Afghan women’s rights leaders Afifa Azim, Manizha Naderi, Hasina Safi and Mahbouba Seraj, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of the best-seller “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana”, and Jerome McDonnell, host of Chicago Public Radio’s program “Worldview”, moderated the panel discussions. You can listen online to the first panel.

After the program, Shadow Summit participants headed out to Chicago’s Navy Pier with your messages and flew the kites in solidarity with Afghan women. To see pictures from the event, check out our album.

After the kite action, Mahbouba, Afifa and Hasina expressed their gratitude for Amnesty’s support in creating such a crucial opportunity to have their voices heard, and their hopes that we will all continue to work together to demand Afghan women’s political participation and representation as the transition unfolds – and beyond.

Afifa Azim, director and co-founder, Afghan Women’s Network, said:

“We want the world to know that the women of Afghanistan are not victims. They are active members of society and agents of change who worked very hard, even when it was underground, to make sure children were being educated and progress was being made. We cannot go back to the darkness and we expect to be heard as the new policies are being made. We are asking the U.S. and the international community to support us.”

We won’t give up on the fight for women’s human rights around the world. With your continued support, we know it is possible to achieve.

Thank you for taking action. Together we’re making a difference and we look forward to the next steps.

Cristina M. Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Fly Kites for Afghan Women

Dear Gabriel,

Want to do something symbolic and meaningful for women’s rights on Mother’s Day?

Help us fly kites for women’s rights.

This Mother’s Day, Amnesty is inviting you to write a message of solidarity for Afghan women. We’ll put it on a kite — kite flying is a popular pastime in Afghanistan — and fly it during the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 20-21, where President Obama and Afghan President Karzai will be discussing Afghanistan’s transition.

Send your message of solidarity sky high. Write a note supporting Afghan women’s rights by Mother’s Day, May 13.

Why kites? Because while women and girls in Afghanistan make kites, they are not free to fly them because it’s considered socially unacceptable. Kites can therefore be a powerful symbol of discrimination against women and their exclusion from politics in Afghanistan.

Although the NATO Summit will discuss Afghanistan’s future, Afghan women won’t even be at the table! Unacceptable! That’s why Amnesty is holding a NATO Shadow Summit to bring this critical subject in front of NATO. After our event, we’ll fly your kites in front of the NATO Summit to make sure that these world leaders see our message: Don’t abandon Afghan women!

Despite modest gains over recent years, women and girls still face widespread human rights abuses including exclusion from political life, gender-based violence and discrimination. For example, President Karzai has publically endorsed a “code of conduct” allowing husbands to beat their wives.

Is this progress? We think not. There is real danger that women’s rights will get thrown under the bus as the U.S. searches for a quick exit from Afghanistan.

Women and girls in Afghanistan cannot afford to wait. Masiha Faiz, a defense attorney for Medica Mondiale, a women’s rights NGO, said that she’s been attacked for defending women accused of “moral crimes,” like fleeing abuse. The government does little to support human rights defenders like Masiha.

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton told women Afghan officials, “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.”

Yes, we will stand with Afghan women, always. This is a defining moment for the U.S. government to show that it will not abandon women. There is no peace without women’s and girls’ human rights.

Write your message of solidarity supporting Afghan women’s rights today — for Mother’s Day, for all days.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Gender & Pay Equality

Gabriel,

Scott Walker is at it again.

First the radical right-wing Wisconsin governor launched a surprise attack on workers’ rights, drawing a massive backlash from Wisconsin voters. Now he’s trying to roll back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace.

That’s right – just this Thursday, Walker repealed an Equal Pay law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court.

Sign the DGA petition right now to tell Governor Walker that we will not let this latest assault on women’s rights prevail without a fight.

You might think a million signatures on Walker’s doorstep demanding a recall election would make the Koch brothers’ favorite governor think twice before pushing a radical right-wing agenda – an agenda that makes it easier for employers to discriminate against female workers and other groups.

You might think that Walker would care that Wisconsin women make 75 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts make.

You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

Join the thousands of people who – like me – are outraged that Governor Walker repealed this important Equal Pay law.

If we don’t stop Scott Walker right now, Republican governors across the country will follow his lead. Add your name and help us fight back.

First it was workers, now it’s women. Governor Walker’s rolling over our rights and on June 5, he’ll have to face the music.

We cannot let up now.

Thanks for your support,

Kate Hansen
Communications Director
Democratic Governors Association

Government Mandated Medicine

Gabriel —

Last week, I told you Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was getting ready to sign the “ultrasound bill,” an atrocious proposal that would force all women considering abortions to get ultrasounds and require their doctors to ask if they’d like a picture.

Well, he signed it.

We didn’t stop the bill this time, but we did make sure the entire country knew exactly what was going down in Virginia.

There are still 450 other bills on birth control and abortion in state legislatures across the country. With a far-right faction of the GOP holding a majority in many of them, it’s unclear how many we can stop. But let me just say this: We need to be prepared to win in November.

As long as women’s rights are being attacked, we’re going to keep fighting back — in Congress and in the states.

Say that you’re ready to stand with Democrats as we stand up for women. Add your name today.

We’re taking on this fight both nationally and in the states. In Virginia, that meant helping to fund the state party’s rapid response communications team — they pushed back on the ultrasound legislation, supported the Democrats who opposed it, and publicized peaceful protests of it at the capitol. That work helped put this bill on the national radar.

Right now, New Hampshire, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, and many other states are considering similar legislation.

The Texas legislature is in the midst of a bitter fight to eliminate state support for a wide range of women’s health services. They’ve already eliminated two-thirds of their funding for women’s health, closing more than half of the state’s Planned Parenthood and other clinics. And now they’re voting to reject aid for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. They claim they’re doing this to fight abortion, but what they’re actually doing is denying hundreds of thousands of women access to basic health care.

Clearly, this fight is about more than abortion and birth control.

I won’t stop speaking out across the country about a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and Democrats in the states won’t stop pushing back against these bills.

I hope you won’t stop fighting either.

Support the fight state by state and nationwide. Stand with the Democrats today:

http://my.democrats.org/Stand-for-Women

Thanks,

Debbie

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Chair
Democratic National Committee

Youth Foundation in Rwanda

Fair Children Youth Foundation (FCYF)

Our foundation was created in 2003 to restore human rights and to rebuild lives and community in Rwanda. FCYF is a nationally registered non-profit organization based in Musanze, a beautiful area in north Rwanda that suffered excessively from consequences of civil war, genocide and disease, because of its exposed border location with DRC and Uganda. Since 2008, FCYF has created:

– a school for deaf children and youth

– a vocational training center and cooperative for teenage orphans, who have missed out on formal education through taking care of their younger siblings after parents died

– a kindergarten

– a primary school which has come top in examination results in its district since its first year of opening

FCYF also provides infrastructure advice and training for hundreds of widows in agricultural cooperatives and trade associations. The foundation leads community workshops in child and women’s rights, nutrition and health, and HIV/AIDS prevention. It facilitates health insurance for the most marginalized households and it has created a highly successful volunteer mentoring program for orphaned households.

Through these community based and led programs and projects, FCYF has opened the door for many hundreds of children, women and marginalized people in Musanze to access formal education, vocational training and income-generating opportunities. The foundation also welcomes international volunteers each year from many countries, in a spirit of fraternity and mutual desire to learn and grow global community together.

Your generous donation will enable our foundation to widen its reach throughout and beyond Musanze district. Even a few dollars given to one of FCYF’s programs can make a life changing difference to an orphan or widow struggling to raise a family alone. If you would like to support a particular program, please note this on your donation comment.

Nobel Prize Winner In Jail

From Amnesty International

If the Chinese government had it their way, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo would never receive his rightful recognition.

Earlier this month, three women were named recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting women’s rights and women’s participation in peace-building. Yet, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, still languishes behind prison bars for seeking to promote peaceful political and social reforms in China.

In the days surrounding International Human Rights Day (December 10), you can shine a light for Liu Xiaobo and for others whose rights have been denied.

We’re asking you to take one simple action: Write a letter.

This can be a letter of passion and outrage to a government guilty of repressing free expression and denying other human rights.

Or it can be a letter of solidarity and hope sent directly to someone who needs reassurance that they are not alone.

Liu Xiaobo is just one case featured in this year’s annual Write for Rights – Global Write-a-thon – Amnesty’s largest global human rights event. Sign up now and let your letters be counted!

Since Amnesty’s founding 50 years ago, people throughout the world have joined together in classrooms, coffee houses and community centers to take action. They were united by a simple, yet powerful, tool for change – the letter.

Need proof that written words are powerful? Look no further than Liu Xiaobo – whose words of hope and freedom are seen as such a threat by authorities in China that they have imprisoned him because of them.

Now he and others need you to carry their torch by picking up a pen. You don’t need to be a Nobel Prize winner to Write for Rights! Stand with human rights supporters around the world by joining the Global Write-a-thon.

With hope,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Campaign Director
Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

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