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Government Should Support Community Activists Working to Protect Survivors

Gladys Koskey, 48, has always kept her home in Trans Mara, southwestern Kenya, open to friends and relatives. But in the past decade, her home has also become an important refuge for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Gladys leads a group of…
Gladys Koskey helps a nine-years-old rape survivor who lives in her home with her writing.
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Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Watch’s Horn of Africa Director, recently returned from a research mission in Sudan to interview refugees who fled the fighting that broke out in Ethiopia’s Tigray region in early November 2020. For several weeks, federal…
People who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region ride a bus to the Village 8 temporary shelter near the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in Hamdayet, eastern Sudan, December 1, 2020. 
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Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalized

How did you find sex workers willing to talk about their work despite it being illegal in South Africa? It’s very difficult to gain sex workers’ trust without connections to people already actively supporting sex workers. For one, because their…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011
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How Former President Jammeh Trapped, Raped, and Sexually Exploited Women

When did you first hear that Jammeh had raped and sexually assaulted women? The first stories surfaced when Human Rights Watch Senior Counsel Reed Brody and I started collecting evidence for the “Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and his Accomplices to…
Fatou “Toufah” Jallow, May 25, 2019.
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Discrimination against War-Zone Pensioners in Eastern Ukraine

  Seventy-eight-year-old Galina lives in a city on the front line separating Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed armed groups in eastern Ukraine. Before the fighting began five years ago, collecting her Ukrainian pension was as simple as a five…
Older people lining up at bank machines in government-controlled areas of Ukraine.
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Women Tell Their Stories

Abortion in all instances, including rape, is illegal in Honduras. Any woman who has an abortion, and anyone found to have helped her, can be charged with a crime and imprisoned. For that reason, La Línea (“The Line”) was a rare resource in…
Lorena (a pseudonym) was unaware she was pregnant when she went to a hospital in intense pain two years ago. Doctors suspected she had attempted an abortion and called the police. She was taken from the hospital in handcuffs and is now facing charges.
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Older People in England Put At Risk By Improper Social Care Assessments

“Dad becoming ill was a gradual process,” recalls Farhaz’s son Mohammed, chatting quietly in the living room of their modest family home in east London while his dad sleeps in a nearby room. “He began to get forgetful, emotional, and started crying a lot…
Farhaz is helped from his bed to the living room by his wife Barsha.  © 2018 Stephanie Hancock/Human Rights Watch
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Tales of Activism in the Fight Against Sexual Violence

Support and Justice - Aminetou Mint Ely More than two decades of activism helping Mauritania’s rape survivors have not dulled Aminetou Mint Ely’s fire. Always dressed in the brightly colored melahfas, traditional…
Rape survivors, NGO leaders, and activists supporting women’s and girls’ rights in Mauritania, Nouakchott, 2018.
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Widespread Sexual Violence during Kenya’s 2017 Elections

    Judith Wavinya*, 30, was walking home on a cool August night in her neighborhood of Dandora in Nairobi, after spending the evening with her sister. She had to get back home to her three children and to prepare for the new day –…
Judith Wavinya (not her real name), 30, was attacked by two men on the night of August 11, 2017, as she was walking home. They asked if she knew them, threatened her with knives, and took her to an isolated place where they beat her badly and one of them
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How a Rape Survivor Found the Courage to Fight for Justice in India

What should have been a short ride from one village to another in India turned into a nightmare that will haunt Kajal (not her real name), a shy young woman, for the rest of her life.  Kajal, who was 23 and married at the time, had set out on…
A close-up photo showing the hands of a sexual violence victim in India.
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After Losing Their Husbands, Zimbabwe’s Widows Face Losing Their Land, Property, and Livelihood

When Moud Gohwa Taremeredzwa lost her first husband at the age of 26, she faced a stark choice: move in with her deceased husband’s elder brother as his new wife, or lose everything she had worked and lived for –including her children. Moud opted for the…
Moud Gohwa Taremeredzwa is a Zimbabwean widow who successfully fought property grabbing relatives in court
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Liz Luras enlisted in the US Army because she came from a patriotic family – her father served in Vietnam and her grandfather fought in World War II – and to help pay for college. Her family, who lived in Oregon, couldn’t afford a car. To pay for her…
Liz on the day she spoke in front of Congress about rape in the military as part of Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN). Washington D.C. 2013 .
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Although it is more than eight years since hundreds of women were brutally raped during post-election violence in Kenya, the harrowing events of 2007/8 continue to affect survivors to this day. Destitute, in ill health and often…
Nafula K.,46, was gang raped together with three other women by four men in January 2008 while at an IDP camp.
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It is now widely acknowledged that after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began a global detention and interrogation program through which it tortured and abused prisoners. Yet the US government has failed to hold…
Illustration of the scales of justice replaced by two people shackled by their wrists and dangling in the air.
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Women make up half the population, yet in times of war, in peace talks, and in rebuilding efforts, women are rarely at the table. The issues that impact them and their families – from living safely in camps for the internally displaced to holding rapists…
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As a little girl, Ruth Riviera (not her real name) loved to step into her dad’s army boots and strut around the house with pride and self-importance. Her dad, a Non-Commission Officer in the US Army, was her childhood hero. She admired…
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Staff Added, Detectives Supervised More Closely

Although the man held a knife to her throat when he tried to rape her, Eleanor managed to escape. When she reported the attack to Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police, she thought the worst was over – but that was before the police refused to consider the…
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As Women Flee Violence in Rural Areas, Cities Offer No Safe Haven

I sat down with Mercedes on a sleepy afternoon in Medellin, Colombia. She was nervous. I was exhausted. Mercedes was my 60th interview with women and girls in Colombia – all of whom survived sexual or family violence, and all of whom had fled their close-…
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What Would You Choose – Prison or Rape?

As told by Chris Albin-Lackey, senior researcher for the Business and Human Rights division We parked our land cruiser by the side of the dirt road, high in the mountains covered with lush, green vegetation. In the distance, framed by greenery, was a vast…