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Report by Human Rights Watch Associate Director for Women’s Rights, Heather Barr

The plight of Afghan women under the Taliban was used in many countries to convince voters to support the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on the US. “Only the terrorists and the Taliban forbid education to women,”…
Women gather to demand their rights under Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 3, 2021.
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Her job had been going well, the woman told me. But her married boss started making sexual advances, which she rebuffed. Then he gave her a gift — a clock. She put it in her bedroom, but the light bothered her, so she kept moving it. “But every…
Women protest to demand stronger government action to fight the spread of intimate photos and footage taken by hidden cameras in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2018.
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On the campaign trail and during his first three months in office, President Biden promised a US return to a multilateral foreign policy that supports human rights. That is an important vision for the Middle East, a region often destabilized…
President Joe Biden speaks about foreign policy, at the State Department in Washington, February 4, 2021. 
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Eighteen years ago, in February 2003, Human Rights Watch interviewed Angela P, who was 10 years old when the brutal armed group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) kidnapped her in northern Uganda. At age 15,  she was forced to become a “wife” to an LRA…
Dominic Ongwen at his confirmation of charges hearing in ICC courtroom I on 21 January 2016 © ICC-CPI.
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Since the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi state agents two years ago, Saudi Arabia has significantly ramped up its efforts to divert public attention from its dismal human rights record. In its latest attempt, Saudi…
Since the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi state agents two years ago, Saudi Arabia has significantly ramped up its efforts to divert public attention from its dismal human rights record.
News
This is a moment of both fear and hope for Afghan women — and an urgent time for the world to support their hard-won rights. The Feb. 29 deal between the US and the Taliban could pave the way for a peace that Afghans desperately seek.…
Women walk along a street in the old part of Kabul February 29, 2020.
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On February 9, Ingrid Escamilla became one of the latest victims of Mexico’s ongoing wave of gender-based violence. The 25-year-old woman was brutally murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend, in their Mexico City apartment. The next day, a tabloid…
Thousands march in protest against rising femicide rates and kidnappings of women in Mexico City, Mexico on February 2, 2019.
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A Haitian woman was selling charcoal on the empty edges of her small town when a white, uniformed United Nations peacekeeper offered her a lift in his marked vehicle. He raped her shortly after she got in. “I could not fight back,” said Marie Badeau (a…
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I can’t stop thinking about Marie. She was 30 years old when I met her in 2015. Two years earlier, six fighters armed with rifles and machetes burst into her home in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui. Two of the fighters held her…
Josephine, 28, said she fled her home in Bangui with her husband and five young children due to fighting in the city in October 2014. When she returned to her neighborhood to collect clothes and dishes for the family, three anti-balaka stopped her and t
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28 years after Kunan and Poshpora, abuses still persist

February 23 sticks in my mind the way a birthday does for most people. After my first 10 years of Bharatanatyam training, I performed my arangetram — a classical dancer’s debut full-length solo recital — on that day in 2013. In telling…
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The UK Should Urge Him to Keep Promises on Girls’ Education

Pakistan’s new government has promised to fix one of the country’s biggest conundrums—how to get more girls into school. The UK—which gives more aid to Pakistan than any other country, much of it for education—should both push and help Imran Khan’s…
Two students at a free non-government school for poor children in the Lyari neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan.
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From October 7 until the end of the year, Brazilian women work for free. That’s one way of picturing the gender-based pay discrimination that haunts Brazilian businesses. Brazilian men earn in about nine months the same as…
Women protest Brasilia
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Farmer-Herder Conflicts on the Rise in Africa Violent clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria’s Middle Belt in June reminded me of a smelting hot afternoon a year ago.  I was sitting in my living room watching a herder grazing his…
Internally displaced villagers herd livestock in Turkana county, Kenya.
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When Saudi Arabia announced in September that it would, at last, lift the ban on women driving on June 24, 2018, I thought I would be celebrating a milestone that took brave Saudi women’s rights activists nearly three decades to achieve. Instead, as…
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On May 14, the Kenyan justice system failed women miserably. The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Kenya, petitioned the High Court, challenging the provisions of section 7 of the Matrimonial Property Act, 2013. The section makes ownership of…
Two widows in eastern Zimbabwe, facing harassment from in-laws who are trying to force them to vacate their homes and fields. Rural Eastern Zimbabwe, October 2016.
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Though there is dissent about its origin, the first celebration of Mother’s Day was a war protest, one envisioned as a day of peace by Julia Ward Howe—a fascinating woman—whose proclamation in 1870 urged women to come together first to “bewail and…
The maternity ward is show at the newly constructed Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center hospital in San Diego, California , U.S., April 17, 2017.
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Much concern has been raised, for good reason, about President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Haspel allegedly was involved in reckless, illegal torture under the agency’s “rendition,…
Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by U.S. President Donald Trump to head the Central Intelligence Agency, is shown in this handout photograph released on March 13, 2018. © 2018 CIA handout