World Report 2002 Section on Women's Rights

World Report 2001 Section on Women's Rights

World Report 2000 Section on Women's Rights

World Report 1999 Section on Women's Rights

World Report 1998 Section on Women's Rights


Systematic Violations of Women's Rights in Afghanistan
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Women in Afghanistan have suffered a catastrophic assault on their human rights during more than twenty years of war and under the repressive rule of the Taliban. Now, as women face further peril with the intensification of conflict following the September 11 attacks on the United States, the international community must make a firm commitment to uphold women's human rights in any post-conflict settlement. The impunity that has characterized Afghanistan's civil war must not also come to characterize Afghanistan's post-conflict reconstruction and development. Throughout Afghanistan's civil war, the major armed factions - primarily the Taliban and the United National Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (commonly known as the "United Front" or by its previous name, the Northern Alliance), a coalition of mainly Tajik, Uzbek, and ethnic Hazara parties - have repeatedly committed serious abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law. Women have borne the brunt of this violence and discrimination. In the civil war, women have suffered massive, systematic, and unrelenting human rights abuses that have permeated every aspect of their lives. Both Taliban forces and forces now grouped in the United Front have sexually assaulted, abducted, and forcibly married women during the armed conflict, targeting them on the basis of both gender and ethnicity. Thousands of women have been physically assaulted and have had severe restrictions placed on their liberty and fundamental freedoms.
(C1305) 11/01, 25 pp., $3.00
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Helsinki Watch has been monitoring human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war in both Croatia and Bosnia- Hercegovina since the conflict began two years ago. The original volume in this series documented the appalling brutality inflicted on the civilian population and called on the U.N. Security Council to take appropriate steps to prevent and suppress genocide and to establish an international war crimes tribunal to try and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia. While the proposal for a war crimes tribunal has gained some momentum, international efforts have focussed mainly on the need to deliver humanitarian aid to those besieged. Little or nothing has been done to end the intense bombardment of the areas under siege or to stop the systematic process of “ethnic cleansing.” Despite the weighty evidence contained in these reports and other evidence that has been presented to the United Nations, extreme abuses continue in Bosnia-Hercegovina without respite. In short, no effective actions have been taken to end the suffering and the world's nations as parties to the Genocide Convention and the U.N. as its sponsor have utterly failed in meeting their treaty obligations to take appropriate measures to stop genocide.
(0979) 4/93, 460 pp., 1-56432-097-9, $20.00/£14.95
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Discrimination Against Women Under Botswana’s Citizenship Act
Recent events indicate that the government of Botswana is continuing to enforce provisions of the Botswana Citizenship Act that discriminate on the basis of sex, in defiance of a 1992 Botswana Court of Appeal decision holding those provisions unconstitutional and contrary to international human rights standards. The enforcement of the Act perpetuates discrimination on the basis of sex and undermines the authority of Botswana's highest court.
(A607) 9/94, 20 pp., $3.00/£1.95
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Violence Against Women in Brazil
The Brazilian government is failing to prosecute violence against women in the home fully and fairly. Despite ever-increasing domestic violence (particularly wife-murder, battery and rap) impunity and discriminatory treatment in favor of the perpetrators of domestic violence are still the rule in the Brazilian justice system. Over 70 percent of all reported cases of violence against women take place in the home. Of these reported cases, a statistically insignificant number never result in punishment of the accused. In this report, the Women's Rights Project of Human Rights Watch and Americas Watch make a series of recommendations designed to promote equal protection of the law in Brazil without regard to gender.
(0480) 10/91, 80 pp., ISBN 1-56432-048-0, $7.00/£5.95
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Women are murdered, beaten, raped, traded as chattel, denied their independence, and marginalized in many ways—often with the active participation or deliberate indifference of government officials. This state of neglect has dramatically changed over the last two decades as women’s groups mobilized to challenge gender-related abuse. Increasingly, they are also collaborating with human rights organizations. Working together, the two movements are exchanging information and developing strategies for protecting and promoting women’s rights that are not only morally persuasive, but also legally enforceable. The Global Report is the culmination of five years of work gathering evidence of the role that governments play in perpetrating, encouraging, condoning, and tolerating seven categories of abuse: rape as a tactic of war and political repression; trafficking of women into forced  prostitution; custodial violence against women; abuses against women workers; domestic violence; sexual abuse of refugee women; and human  rights violations related to reproduction and female sexuality. We also recommend specific actions that governments and the international  community should take to combat these violations.
(5469) 8/95, 480 pp.
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From The Household To The Factory:
Sex Discrimination in the Guatemalan Labor Force

Women in Guatemala's largest female-dominated labor sectors face persistent sex discrimination and abuse, Human Rights Watch charges in this report. The 147-page report examines two sectors, export processing and private households, which employ tens of thousands of women sewing clothes for sale in the United States and working as live-in domestic workers. The report, From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemalan Labor Force, also finds that some U.S.-based clothing retailers contract with Guatemalan "maquilas," or export-processing factories, that discriminate against women who are pregnant. The Guatemalan labor code protects women workers from this type of discrimination, but is rarely enforced in the maquila sector. Meanwhile, women and girls working in private households do not have adequate legal protection, and are frequently subject to sexual assault and other abuses by their employers.
(2696) 02/02, 147 pp., $15.00
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A Weapon of Terror
As documented cases of politically motivated rape, massacres, forced disappearance, and violent assaults on entire neighborhoods have increased greatly since the end of 1993, reports from women’s rights groups in Haiti reveal that women are targeted for abuse in ways and for reasons that men are not. Uniformed military personnel and their civilian allies have threatened and attacked women’s organizations for their work in defense of women’s rights and have subjected women to sex-specific abuse ranging from bludgeoning women’s breasts to rape.
(B608) 7/94, 28 pp., $5.00/£2.95
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Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India’s Brothels
Hundreds of thousands of women and children are employed in Indian brothels—many of them lured or kidnapped from Nepal and sold into conditions of virtual slavery. The victims of this international trafficking network routinely suffer serious physical abuse, including rape, beatings, arbitrary imprisonment and exposure to AIDS. Held in debt bondage for years at a time, these women and girls work under constant surveillance. Escape is virtually impossible. Both the Indian and Nepali governments are complicit in the abuses suffered by trafficking victims. These abuses are not only violations of internationally recognized human rights but are specifically prohibited under the domestic laws of both countries. The willingness of Indian and Nepali government officials to tolerate, and, in some cases, participate in the burgeoning flesh trade exacerbates abuse. Even when traffickers have been identified, there have been few arrests and fewer prosecutions. Rape for Profit focuses on the trafficking of girls and women from Nepal to brothels in Bombay, where they compose up to half of the city’s estimated 100,000 brothel workers.
(155X) 6/95, 96 pp., ISBN 1-56432-155-X, $7.00/£5.95
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A Crime of War
Since January 1990, the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of a brutal conflict between Indian security forces and armed Muslim insurgents demanding independence or accession to Pakistan. This report documents the use of rape as a means of targeting women whom the security forces accuse of being militant sympathizers, and in raping them, how the forces attempt to punish and humiliate an entire community.
(C509) 5/93, 19 pp., $3.00/£1.95
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(C1005) Indonesia -- The Damaging Debate on Rapes of Ethnic Chinese Women, 9/98, 12pp., $3.00


Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan
Thousands of Thai women are "trafficked" every year into Japan, where many of them endure slavery-like conditions in the Japanese sex industry, Human Rights Watch said in a this new report. According to the 227-page report, "Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan," the women are typically promised lucrative jobs by traffickers in Thailand, but arrive in Japan to find themselves trapped in "debt." To repay these exorbitant sums - usually US$25,000 to US$40,000 - they must work for  months, or even years, without pay, under highly coercive and abusive conditions.  Japanese officials have publicly expressed their concern for the victims of trafficking. But over the course of a six-year investigation in both Japan and Thailand, Human Rights Watch found that the Japanese government has taken no concrete steps to stamp out the practice.The report notes that both the Japanese and Thai governments are participating in the drafting of a United Nations anti-trafficking protocol that will influence governments' response to trafficking in persons worldwide. The negotiations resume next month, and Human Rights Watch calls on the Japanese and Thai governments, as well as all other participating states, to ensure that the protocol includes strong provisions for the protection of the human rights and physical safety of trafficking victims.
(2521) 9/00, 228pp., $15.00 
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The Widespread Rape of Somali Women Refugees in North Eastern Kenya
While the tragedy in Somalia made daily news, the plight of thousands of refugees in neighboring Kenya remains unpublicized. Since 1992, approximately 300,000 Somalis have fled across the 800 mile Kenya-Somali border, most of them women and children. Many were the victims of violence, including rape, as they fled war-torn Somalia. They came to Kenya to escape these dangers only to face similar abuse while enroute to or living in the refugee camps.
(A513) 10/93, 25 pp., $3.00/£1.95
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"Promises Betrayed: Denial of Rights of Bidun, Women, and Freedom of Expression" 
Human Rights Watch today called on Kuwait to revoke laws that discriminate against women and long-term non-citizens of Kuwait. In a report issued before the opening of the Kuwaiti National Assembly on October 28, Human Rights Watch also called on Kuwait to amend its Penal Code and Printing and Publications Law to protect freedom of expression. The 38-page report, "Promises Betrayed: Denial of Rights of Bidun,Women, and Freedom of Expression," details Kuwaiti laws and practices which systematically  discriminate against women and stateless Bidun, and laws which  criminalize free expression by journalists, academics, and writers.  These laws contravene Kuwait's international treaty obligations,  including the six human rights  treaties that Kuwait has signed since  1968.  Human Rights Watch said that Kuwaiti women face severe discrimination in both public and private life. Under Kuwaiti penal law, men who kill female relatives in so-called "honor crimes" serve a maximum three-year sentence and are not prosecuted for murder. Women are banned from voting and standing for election, cannot contract their own marriage or divorce without the agreement of a male guardian or judge, and are barred in practice from many public positions, including serving as judges. 
(E1202), 10/00, 43pp., $5.00 
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 Mexico -- A Job or Your Rights: Continued Sex Discrimination in Mexico’s Maquiladora Sector
In this report Human Rights Watch documents the Mexican government's failure to enforce its own labor laws in the export processing (maquiladora) sector. In violation of Mexican labor law, maquiladora operators oblige women to undergo pregnancy testing as a condition of work. Women thought to be pregnant are not hired. Among the corporations engaging in this practice, which violates both Mexican and international law, are such international corporations as Landis & Staefa, Samsung Group, Matsushita Electric Corp., Sunbeam-Oster, Sanyo, Thomson Corporate Worldwide, Siemens AG, and Pacific Dunlop. However, the vast majority of companies engaging in this practice are U.S.-owned, including Lear, Johnson Controls, and Tyco International. The Human Rights Watch report, "A Job or Your Rights: Continued Sex Discrimination in Mexico's Maquiladora Sector," documents how companies demand that women produce urine specimens for pregnancy exams and how maquiladora doctors and nurses examine women's abdomens or require them to reveal private information about menses schedule.
(B1001)12/98,79pp., $7.00
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Sex Discrimination in Mexico's Maquiladora Sector
Maquiladoras, or export-processing factories, along the U.S.-Mexico border account for over U.S.$29 billion in export earnings for Mexico and employ over 500,000 workers. At least half of the Mexicans employed in this sector, mainly in assembly plants, are women, and the income they earn supports them and their families at wages higher than they could earn in any other employment sector in northern Mexico. These women workers routinely suffer a form of discrimination unique to women: the maquiladoras require them to undergo pregnancy testing as a condition of employment and deny them work if they are pregnant; if a woman becomes pregnant soon after gaining employment at a maquiladora, in some instances she may be mistreated or forced to resign because of her pregnancy. Maquiladora operators target women for discriminatory treatment, in violation of international human rights and labor rights norms. And despite its international and domestic legal responsibility to ensure protection for these workers, the Mexican government has done little to acknowledge or remedy violations of women's rights to nondiscrimination and to privacy. For the Mexican government, there are economic disincentives to regulating closely the conduct of these companies, given the number of people the maquiladora industry employs and the amount of foreign currency earnings it produces.
View the summary and recommendations of this report.
(B806) 8/96, 58 pp., $7.00/£5.95
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Crime or Custom Violence Against Women in Pakistan
October 1999 (2416)
In the wake of the military takeover in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch released this major report on the state of women's rights in the country. The 100-page report, Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan, documents a virtual epidemic of crimes of violence against women, including domestic violence rates as high as 90 percent, at least eight reported rapes every 24 hours nationwide, and an alarming rise in so-called honor killings.Violence against women has risen to staggering levels. Women's low social status and a long established pattern of active suppression of women's rights by successive governments has contributed to the escalation in violence. No government has acknowledged the scale and severity of the problem much less taken action to end the violence against women. When a Commission of Inquiry for women convened by the Pakistan Senate described domestic violence as one of the country's most pervasive violations of human rights, its findings were brushed aside by the Sharif government. As a result of such dismissive official attitudes, crimes of violence against women continue to be perpetrated with near total impunity.
(2416), 10/99, 101 pp., ISBN 1-56432-241-6 , $10.00
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Contemporary Forms of Slavery in Pakistan
Throughout Pakistan employers forcibly extract labor from adults and children, restrict their freedom of movement, and deny them the right to negotiate the terms of their employment. Employers coerce such workers into servitude through physical abuse, forced confinement, and debt-bondage. The government of Pakistan is complicit in these abuses, both by the direct involvement of the police and through the state's failure to protect the rights of bonded laborers. It rarely prosecutes or punishes employers who hold workers in servitude, and workers who contest their exploitation are often imprisoned under false charges. We call on the government of Pakistan to comply with its own national laws as well as with international human rights and labor laws outlawing bonded labor, to ensure that all workers are allowed to organize and be represented by unions, and to prosecute to the full extent of the law employers who have held workers in bonded labor and those who have physically or sexually abused bonded laborers.
(1541) 7/95, 96 pp., ISBN 1-56432-154-1, $7.00/£5.95
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Police Abuse of Women in Pakistan
Over 70 percent of women in jail in Pakistan report sexual abuse by police officials. Despite the high incidence of rape and sexual torture of female detainees, no police official has been subjected to criminal punishment for these abuses. Moreover even basic protections -- including requirements that female detainees be interrogated only in the presence of a female officer are routinely violated. Over 60 percent of women prisoners in Pakistan are detained under the Hudood Ordinance, penal laws prohibiting sex outside of marriage, which have had a devastating impact on women's rights. In some cases women have been imprisoned because they were unable to prove a rape charge and were thus charged with impermissible sex and imprisoned pending trial. Double Jeopardy, co-authored by the Women's Rights Project and Asia Watch, documents many cases of women who have been victims of Pakistan's discriminatory legal system and of police abuses and also makes recommendations to the government of Pakistan to end these abuses.
(0634) 5/92, 100 pp., ISBN 1-56432-063-4, $10.00/£8.95
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Violence against Women in Peru’s Armed Conflict
Throughout Peru’s twelve-year internal war, women have been the targets of sustained, frequently brutal violence committed by both parties to the armed conflict often for the purpose of punishing or dominating those believed to be sympathetic to the opposing side. Women have been threatened, raped and murdered by both government security forces and by members of the Communist Party of Peru, the Shining Path. Often, the same woman is the victim of violence by both sides. This is the first Americas Watch/Women’s Rights Project report to focus on violence against women in Peru. It is part of a broader effort to focus on the role of violence against women in internal and international conflicts in other parts of the world as well, and is meant to complement local efforts to bolster reporting on abuses against women.
(0936) 12/92, 70 pp., ISBN 1-56432-093-6, $7.00/£5.95
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(D405) Hidden Victims: Women in Post-Communist Poland, 3/92, 10 pp., $3.00/£1.95


 Too Little: Too Late State Response to Violence Against Women
In March 1995, Human Rights Watch released Neither Jobs Nor Justice, a report documenting widespread employment discrimination on the basis of sex that was practiced, condoned, and tolerated by the Russian government. The report also described how Russian law enforcement agencies routinely denied women their right to equal protection of the law by failing to investigate and prosecute violence against women. In April 1996, we returned to Russia to further research this problem. This report examines in-depth the state response to sexual violence outside the home as well as to sexual and other violence by intimate partners inside the home. Violence against women is a pervasive problem in Russia. According to government statistics, nearly 11,000 women reported rape or attempted rape in 1996; the government simply does not gather statistics on women assaulted or killed by their partners. Yekaterina Lakhova, President Yeltsin's advisor on women's issues, has estimated that 14,000 women in Russia are killed by husbands or family members each year. These statistics, however, by no means document the extent of the problem of gender-based violence. According to women's rights activists, only about 5 to 10 percent of rape victims report to the police, and the rate of reporting by domestic violence victims is even lower. While myriad factors contribute to a victim's decision to report or to remain silent, Human Rights Watch found that the inadequacy of the government's response to victims of violence plays a significant role in perpetuating the silence and underreporting. The government of Russia fails to afford victims of violence the protection of the law required by the international human rights treaties to which Russia is a party.
(D913) 12/97, 56 pp., $7.00/£3.95
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State Discrimination Against Women in Russia
Economic and political changes in Russia have left many Russians staggering under the burdens of rising unemployment, high rates of inflation, disappearing social services and the encroaching threats of corruption and organized crime. Women in particular are suffering the consequences of such change as they face widespread employment discrimination that is practiced, condoned and tolerated by the government. Government employers have fired women workers in disproportionate numbers — over two-thirds of Russia's unemployed are women — and refuse to employ women because of their sex. When women challenge such discrimination, they either are ignored by their employers and by state agencies responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws or are told that priority should be given to men seeking jobs.
(D705) 3/95, 30 pp., $5.00/£2.95
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South Africa
Violence against Women and the Medico-Legal System
This report focuses mainly on one aspect of the criminal justice system and its handling of violence against women: the performance of those involved in the provision of medical expertise to the courts when it is alleged that women have been abused. Medical evidence is often a crucial element in the investigation and prosecution of a case of rape or sexual assault. Many rape cases result in acquittals simply because, if the only evidence before the court consists of the differing accounts given by the woman and man, the man will be given the benefit of the doubt; medical evidence, where it is available, may provide the only corroboration of the woman's allegations. While the absence of medical evidence does not indicate that no assault occurred, it is essential that medico-legal examinations be carried out promptly, expertly and objectively, to ensure that crucial evidence to support the case is not passed over. Police and court officials must be equipped to evaluate that evidence and to ensure that it is properly used. The report concludes that the medico-legal system in South Africa is deeply flawed, with problems of inaccessibility, prejudice and lack of training at all levels.
(A904) 8/97, 54 pp., $5.00/£2.95
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State Response to Domestic Violence and Rape
The new South African government has pledged to ensure women a full and equal role in every aspect of the economy and society. Yet South African women continue to face extraordinarily high levels of violence which prevent them from enjoying the rights they are guaranteed under the new dispensation. Domestic violence and sexual assault are pervasive and are directed almost exclusively against women. South African women’s organizations estimate that perhaps as many as one in every three women will be raped and that one in six women is in an abusive domestic relationship.South African women victims of violence continue to face a judicial and police system that routinely denies them redress. Women, regardless of race, complain of indifferent or hostile treatment from the criminal justice system; and black women in particular face lingering racial prejudice in their interactions with the authorities. Police are frequently ignorant of the laws protecting women from violence and, within the courts, judges often discount rape survivors’ testimony and give lenient sentences to rapists.
(1622) 11/95, 144 pp., ISBN 1-56432-162-2, $10.00/£8.95
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Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand
Thousands of Burmese women and girls are trafficked into Thai brothels every year where they work under conditions tantamount to slavery. Subject to debt bondage, illegal confinement, various forms of sexual and physical abuse, and exposure to HIV in the brothels, they then face wrongful arrest as illegal immigrants if they try to escape or if the brothels are raided by Thai police. Once arrested, the women and girls may be subjected to further sexual abuse in Thai detention centers. After their deportation to the Thai-Burmese border where they are often lured back into prostitution by brothel agents who play on their fear of arrest on return to Burma. Thai police and border patrol officials are involved in both the trafficking and the brothel operations, but they routinely escape punishment as, for the most part, do brothel agents, owners, pimps and clients. A Modern Form of Slavery, based on in-depth interviews with Burmese trafficking victims, documents the violations of internationally-recognized human rights committed against them. It also presents detailed recommendations to the Thai and Burmese governments and the international community for improving the protection of the women and girls and ensuring the prosecution of their abusers.
(107X) 12/93, 160 pp., ISBN 1-56432-107-X, $15.00/£12.95
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Seeking Protection": Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence in Tanzania's Refugee Camps 
Burundian refugee women confront daily violence in Tanzanian refugee camps, Human Rights Watch charges in a new report released today. Wide-spread sexual and domestic abuse have left many of these women physically battered, psychologically traumatized, and fearful for their lives. Although the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (unhcr) has taken significant steps to address this violence, the international monitoring organization  states that the measures are insufficient. The 151-page report, "Seeking Protection: Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence in Tanzania's Refugee Camps,"    documents unhcr's and the Tanzanian host government's failure to address violence against women refugees in a timely and  effective manner, despite ample evidence that women's lives were in danger in their homes and in the general camp community. 
(2483), 10/00 151pp, $10.00 
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State Control of Women’s Virginity in Turkey
An investigation of the prevalence of forcible virginity control exams and the role of the government in conducting or tolerating such exams, this report cites several separate incidents in the spring of 1992 when young females committed suicide after authorities ordered them to submit to examinations of their hymens.
(D607) 6/94, 38 pp., $5.00/£2.95
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Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in South African Schools 
In schools across South Africa, thousands of girls of every race and economic group are encountering sexual violence and harassment that impede their access to education, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today. School authorities rarely challenge the perpetrators, and many girls interrupt their education or leave school altogether because they feel vulnerable to sexual assault, Human Rights Watch said. The 138-page report, "Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in South African Schools," is based on extensive interviews with victims, their parents, teachers, and school administrators in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Western Cape. It documents how girls are raped, sexually abused, sexually harassed, and assaulted at school by their male classmates and even by their teachers. According to the report, girls have been attacked in school toilet facilities, in empty classrooms and corridors, hostel rooms and dormitories. Teachers can misuse their authority to sexually abuse girls, sometimes reinforcing sexual demands with threats of corporal punishment or promises of better grades, or even money. Human Rights Watch called on the South African government and its National Department of Education to develop a national plan of action to address the problem of school-based sexual violence, in broad cooperation with students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. 
(2572), 03/01, 138pp, $10.00 
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Hidden In The Home: Abuse of Domestic Workers with Special Visas in the United States
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The special visas granted to foreigners who work as household domestics in the U.S. leave them vulnerable to serious abuse, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today. Thousands of these workers, typically women, enter the United States every year to work for diplomats, officials of international organizations, foreign businesspeople, and U.S. citizens temporarily back in the U.S. from their homes abroad. In the fifty-six-page report, Human Rights Watch documents the cases of dozens of workers but believes that many more are exposed to some form of abuse. The most effective recourse for workers in abusive employment relationships is to change jobs. But under U.S. law, these workers' visas are tied to their employers and in most cases they cannot legally change employers. If they leave, they lose immigration status and can be deported. In about ten percent of the cases that Human Rights Watch reviewed, workers were trafficking victims. Employers lured the workers to the United States with false promises about their employment conditions and then held them in servitude. These women worked long hours, up to nineteen per day, and were often paid less than $100 per month. They were rarely allowed outside and were prohibited from speaking to strangers. Some were physically or sexually abused. 
(G1302), 06/01, 56pp, $7.00 
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United States -- Nowhere to Hide: Retaliation Against Women in Michigan State Prisons
This report documents how women inmates who have been raped by guards in Michigan prisons are suffering retaliation from their attackers."In Michigan, a woman risks being sexually assaulted if she's imprisoned, and being terrorized by guards if she dares report the assault," said Regan Ralph, executive director of theWomen's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. "If this were happening in another country, no one would hesitate to call it what it is: a terrible abuse of human rights."  Thirty-one women have filed a class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections, charging that prison management has failed to prevent sexual assault and abuse by guards and staff. The suit, which is being jointly prosecuted by private lawyers and the U.S. Department of Justice, also charges that women face retaliation when they report rape: everything from verbal abuse, to being placed in solitary confinement, to being raped again. One plaintiff was placed on a permanent visitation ban and has not seen her daughter for nearly two years. She is now on a hunger strike to protest her treatment.
(G1002)09/98, 27 pp., $5.00
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Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons
Being a woman prisoner in U.S. state prisons can be a terrifying experience. If you are sexually abused, you cannot escape from your abuser. Grievance or investigatory procedures, where they exist, often do not work, and correctional employees continue to engage in abuse because they believe they can get away with it. Few people outside prison walls know what is going on or care if they do know. Fewer still do anything to address the problem. “All Too Familiar” reflects research into sexual abuse of women in prison conducted from April 1994 to November 1996 in state prisons throughout the U.S. The sexual misconduct documented in “All Too Familiar” takes many forms. Male correctional employees vaginally, anally, and orally rape female prisoners and sexually assault and abuse them. In committing such gross misconduct, male employees not only use actual or threatened force, but also exploit their ability to provide or deny goods and privileges to female prisoners to secure sexual relations from them. In some instances, male officers violate their most basic professional duty and engage in sexual contact with female prisoners absent the use of force or offer of any material exchange. Male officers use mandatory pat-frisks to grope women’s breasts, buttocks, and vaginal areas, view them inappropriately while in a state of undress, and engage in regular verbal degradation of female prisoners that contributes to a custodial environment which is often highly sexualized and excessively hostile. The United States has the dubious distinction of incarcerating the largest known number of prisoners in the world. Since 1980, the number of women entering U.S. prisons has risen by almost 400 percent, roughly double the increase for males. Despite the growing number of women at risk and its obligations under domestic and international law, the U.S. government has largely abdicated its responsibility to guarantee in any meaningful way that the women who are incarcerated in its state prisons are not being sexually abused by those in authority over them.
View the summary and recommendations of this report.
(1533) 12/96, 360 pp., ISBN 1-56432-153-3, $20.00/£14.95
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Uncertain Refuge: International Failures to Protect Refugees
Protection of refugees and asylum seekers around the world has deteriorated over the past couple of decades. Countries that have traditionally championed the rights of refugees are turning them away or passing legislation aimed at significantly curtailing their ability to exercise their fundamental right to apply for asylum. Elsewhere, externally displaced persons harbored in receiving countries under temporary protection are in danger of being returned to areas where the political situation remains far from stable, putting the safety of the prospective returnees at risk. At the same time, States around the world are hampering the ability of the Office of  the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to carry out its activities on behalf of refugees and other displaced persons by, among other  things, blocking UNHCR access to refugee camps and returnees. Against  the backdrop of this global retrenchment in refugee protections, the UNHCR has sought to shift the focus of solutions for refugee crises from the exile-oriented strategies of the past to an emphasis on voluntary repatriation as the durable solution of choice, and on the prevention of refugee flows and  the containment of refugee crises.
(G901) 4/97, 26 pp.,
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Sacrificing Women to Save the Family?: Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan
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Uzbekistan's post-Soviet development, like that in most of the former Soviet Union, has entailed enormous and disproportionate obstacles to women's realization of their  human rights. During the past ten years, Uzbekistan's government has attempted to  institute some safeguards for women's rights, mainly in the area of social welfare  support. Nevertheless, domestic violence remains a serious problem, against which  the government has failed to take effective measures. On the contrary, state policies  intended to keep families together and foster community assistance to those families  experiencing conflict have compounded the situation of women facing abuse in the  home, and often prevent them from obtaining either relief or redress. Contrary to the  government's assertions that women in Uzbekistan enjoy broad and effective human  rights protections, Human Rights Watch found that women victims of domestic  violence suffer doubly, both at the hands of husbands who physically and otherwise  abuse them, and at the hands of the state. Local officials routinely refuse to take  violence against women seriously, blaming the victims and blocking women's  attempts to escape brutality and violence in their marriages. Those who commit  physical abuse rarely face criminal prosecution. Instead, local authorities, under  orders from central government officials, attempt to reconcile married couples, often  sacrificing the women's safety for low divorce statistics. The main aim of these  government-directed interventions is to "save the family." State officials accomplish  this goal through coercing women victims to remain in abusive situations, ignoring  violence against women, and perpetuating impunity for violent husbands. 
(D1304), 07/01, 54pp, $7.00 
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Kosovo: Rape As A Weapon of "Ethnic Cleansing" 
On the evening of March 24, 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began bombing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As Serbian police andYugoslav Army forces continued brutal attacks on civilians, more than 800,000 ethnic Albanian refugees poured out of Kosovo, mostly into Albania and Macedonia. Exhausted and traumatized, they carried what few belongings they could grab before fleeing or being expelled. They also brought eyewitness accounts of atrocities committed against ethnic Albanian civilians inside Kosovo by Yugoslav soldiers, Serbian police, and paramilitaries. Witnesses and victims told of summary executions, mass murders, destruction of civilian property, and other war crimes. In more hushed tones, refugees also spoke of rapes of ethnic Albanian women. These instances of sexual violence are the focus of this report.  Human Rights Watch began investigating the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by all sides in the conflict in 1998 and continued to document  rape accounts throughout the refugee crisis in 1999. The research found that rape and other forms of sexual violence were used in Kosovo in 1999 as weapons of war and instruments of systematic "ethnic cleansing." Rapes were not rare and isolated acts committed by individual Serbian or Yugoslav forces, but rather were used deliberately as an instrument to terrorize the civilian population, extort money from families, and push people to flee their homes. Rape furthered the goal of forcing ethnic Albanians from Kosovo 
(D1203) 3/00, 39 pp, $5.00 
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