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When history reflects on the Syrian conflict, a defining hallmark will be the Syrian government’s deliberate targeting of civilians. Backed by Russian forces, the government has rained bombs on markets, hospitals, schools, and homes. In 2019 and 2020,…
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Civilians Bear the Brunt of Renewed Fighting

Libya began descending into chaos after Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. Could you summarize the complex situation in Libya today? The latest conflict started in April 2019, when an armed group in eastern Libya called…
Government of National Accord fighters take positions during clashes with east-based fighters from the Libyan National Army at Al-Yarmouk frontline in Tripoli, Libya on August 29, 2019.
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Madam Secretary Grapples with Dilemmas Posed by Fully Autonomous Weapons

One of my favorite TV shows, Madam Secretary, aired an episode on Sunday focusing on “killer robots” or fully autonomous weapons, an issue Human Rights Watch has worked on since 2012. It was heartening to see a mainstream…
Photo from an episode of Madam Secretary that aired on CBS on October 20, 2019.
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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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New Treaty Defends People From Workplace Violence and Harassment

Can you explain what the ILO is? The International Labour Organization is the UN-based organization that deals with all issues related to employment and work. It’s where they set the minimum standards for everything to do with worker’s rights.…
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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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Despite their mandate to maintain peace and protect people in war-torn countries, some UN peacekeepers have themselves been abusers. Highly publicized allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic have…
Women walk by a United Nations peacekeeping armored vehicle guarding the outer perimeter of a school used as an electoral center at the end of the presidential and legislative elections, in the mostly muslim PK5 neighborhood of Bangui.
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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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Kenya’s Lake Turkana is the largest desert lake in the world. Anthropologists consider it the cradle of civilization, where some of the earliest hominid fossils were found. Roughly 300,000 people live around Lake Turkana, and most…
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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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The "finger" test found to violate rights

After a man she was in a relationship with raped her, Sandhya went to a hospital for an examination and treatment. "The clerk told me a male doctor will conduct the test [forensic examination] and asked me whether that was ok," Sandhya, who is in her 20s…
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More impact as of July 12, 2012: Saudi Arabia has said that it will send two female athletes to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Saudi Arabia has announced that it will allow women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time,…
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Government Pledged to Not Use Mines and to Help Clear Mines

Last week in Libya, Human Rights Watch witnessed the destruction of nearly 100 Chinese-made antivehicle landmines – weapons that kill or maim civilians, often children, long after the fighting has stopped. Human Rights Watch discovered a year ago that…
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Council of Europe Convention calls for hotlines, shelters, medical and forensic services

Hamiyet, a member of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, was a 15-year-old newlywed when her husband began beating her every evening after work. He hit her when she was pregnant with each of their nine children, and he raped her almost nightly. She sought help…
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On April 27, 2011, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the elimination of the city's backlog of 6,132 untested sexual assault evidence kits, or "rape kits," collected through December 2008. This important announcement came two years after…
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Tweet This Story, Donate Your Facebook Status

On March 1st, Human Rights Watch and other members of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) are organizing on Twitter and Facebook to tell both the administration and Congress that the US needs to relinquish antipersonnel mines and get on board the…
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View Photos of Cluster Munitions A child lying on a hospital bed, his face blank with shock, his stomach ripped open. Bloodied bodies of civilians strewn in the streets. The look of panic and anguish on a woman's face as she falls under a rain of…
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After years of our advocacy on ending rape as a weapon of war, we were proud to see the Security Council vote to create a senior position dedicated to ending sexual violence in armed conflict. The groundwork was laid in June 2008, when the Security…