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Revise Laws to Recognize Diversity in Families

On January 26, the South Korean government announced it would seek to revise the legal definition of “family” in South Korea, and held a public hearing on the need to recognize the full diversity of families, including single parents and unmarried…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

Services, Education, and Broader Change Needed to Combat Deep Gender Inequity

On November 26, a horrifying episode in South Korea neared its end when a court in Seoul sentenced Cho Joo-bin to 40 years in prison. Cho ran a network of online chat rooms on Telegram, where he and several accomplices shared videos of sexual violence…
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.
News

Draft Law an Improvement, but Still No Freedom to Choose

South Korea’s government last week announced new draft legislation that would permit abortion up until 14 weeks and, in some circumstances, up to 24 weeks, but falls short of full decriminalization. The proposed law represents an important reform…
Protesters shout slogans during a rally demanding the abolition of the country's ban on abortions outside of the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea
News

Government Should Act to Prevent Discrimination

South Korea is experiencing a marked increase in online threats and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who are being unfairly accused of spreading Covid-19. The backlash illustrates the need for governments…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

Afro, Indigenous Communities Especially at Risk

  Internally displaced people in Colombia often live in overcrowded conditions with limited access to water and food. These families, who fled violence in their home regions and often struggle economically, face further risk from Covid-19.…
A photograph sent to Human Rights Watch showing the living conditions of a displaced indigenous community in Buenaventura, Colombia. Their limited access to water and health services means that Covid-19 could spread quickly through the community.
News

Survivors’ Rights Need to be at Forefront of All Justice Responses

Last week, online sexual violence against women drew widespread public attention in South Korea when police arrested the operator of multiple sexual abuse chat rooms on messaging apps like Telegram. The disturbing case involves the alleged…
Cho Ju-bin, center, leader of South Korea's online sexual blackmail ring called "Nth room," is surrounded by journalists while walking out of a police station as he is transferred to prosecutors' office for further investigation in Seoul, South Korea
News

Lawmakers Should Strengthen Protections, Not Weaken Them

  Conservative lawmakers in South Korea have already blocked the passage of nondiscrimination laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and other minorities. Now, they’re trying to…
Participants march with a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade in Seoul
News

Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images Linked with Suicide

We only know her as “A,” and she is dead. The court ruled this week in the case of a young woman in South Korea who killed herself after learning she had been secretly filmed in a changing room of the hospital where she worked. She had suffered “…
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.
News

Steps Needed to Protect Sexual and Gender Minority Children

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is urging South Korea to revamp its sexuality education curriculum to cover age-appropriate topics like pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexual orientation, and gender identity. These steps…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

More Countries Should Join Global Trend Toward Easing Abortion Restrictions

When a court in South Korea overturned the country’s restrictive abortion laws recently, it joined a global trend toward easing abortion laws. Other countries that are stubbornly clinging to the criminalization of abortion…
201904asia_southkorea_womensrights_abortion
News

The Humanitarian Crisis’ Disproportionate Impact on Older People

I met Fernando Arvelo (pseudonym), a 74-year-old Venezuelan, at a soup kitchen in Cúcuta, the main Colombian city across the border from Táchira state in Venezuela. Fernando moved to Táchira from his home state – a 20-hour drive – soon after his wife,…
A 74-year-oldVenezuelan man eats lunch at a soup kitchen in Cúcuta, a Colombian city across the Venezuelan border, July 28, 2018.
News

Unprecedented Size of 'Spy Cam' Protest Latest in Growing Demands for Reform

On June 9, about 22,000 South Korean women marched through the streets of Seoul. The protest – reportedly the largest by women in South Korean history – focused on the proliferation of so-called “spy cams,” tiny cameras used to invade women’s…
 South Korean women march through the streets of Seoul
News

Assistance for Police Disregards Role in Summary Killings

You would think that the kidnapping and murder in 2016 of a South Korean businessman by a Philippine National Police (PNP) anti-drug squad would put the brakes on South Korean government support for the PNP. Think again.…
Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) stand guard with their shields near the venue of the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) summit in Pasay City, metro Manila, Philippines April 24, 2017.
News

Forced Return Threatens Torture, Sexual Abuse, and Mistreatment

All day, Park anxiously checked her cell phone, awaiting news of her sister, who was being transported along with six other North Koreans from China’s northern Liaoning province to southern Yunnan province. Then came the news she…
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, as he paid an unofficial visit to China, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 28, 2018.
News

On International Women’s Day, Remember the Dangers Women Activists Face

It has been a year since Ruth Alicia Lopez Guisao, a rights activist in Colombia, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen. She was an outspoken community leader that worked with Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups on land reform in the western department…
Ruth Alicia López Guisao.
News

Government Claims Research Needed, So Women’s Rights Must Wait

Women in South Korea are demanding an immediate end to the country’s restrictive anti-abortion laws, but so far the government isn’t listening. President Moon Jae-In pledged in August his government would publicly respond to any petition posted to…
A woman holds a sign at a pro-choice rally at the Cheonggye Plaza in Seoul on August 31, 2010.
News

South Korea Should Do More to Fight Sexual Harassment Assault

The allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein together with social media’s #metoo phenomenon, where hundreds of thousands of women and girls spoke out about their experiences of being sexually harassed or assaulted, have struck a real…
A woman takes part in a SlutWalk protest, in central Seoul July 16, 2011.
News

Court Ruling Opens the Way to Marriage Equality

Taiwan’s constitutional court this week paved the way for marriage equality in the country by striking down the legal definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The landmark decision declared this limited…
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017.
News

Excluding LGBT Topics From Curriculum Risks Health, Education

Education ministry officials in Seoul said this week that South Korea’s new national sex education curriculum, due to roll out in March, will not mention homosexuality. This continues a backsliding that began nearly two years ago, when the government…
News

Transgender Woman Helps People ‘Searching for Answers’

I was in Colombia last week to speak at an event about my work for Human Rights Watch with a focus on homophobic and transphobic bullying. I was to be interviewed by Brigitte Baptiste, who I had never met. When I took my seat in front of hundreds of…
Brigitte Baptiste (L) and Human Rights Watch LGBT Advocacy Director Boris Dittrich, Colombia, February 2017.