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For Survivors of Abuse, Shelters Offered Lifeline

“My parents warned me they will kill me if I ever leave this shelter,” Najla, a woman of about 30, told me. “The worst thing is that I don’t have anyone to support me.” She has been in a shelter in Afghanistan’s western city of Herat for several years…
Afghan women sew in their bedroom at a women's shelter in Kabul, March 20, 2017. A non-descript building tucked away in a residential neighborhood is one of the few hidden sanctuaries where battered women can seek support. 
News

Polish Authorities Should Allow Access to Territory and Asylum Process

While Poland’s government touts its role in the airlift of at-risk Afghans from Kabul, it has trapped 32 Afghans for over 3 weeks at its border with Belarus, preventing them from entering Poland to exercise their right to seek asylum and denying them…
Polish security forces surround migrants at the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland on September 1, 2021. 
News

Dodging Responsibility with Hostile Rhetoric and Harmful Policies

Instead of showing leadership and compassion for people fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan, European Union leaders seem bent on a monstrous PR campaign to tell Afghans (and European voters) that those fleeing Afghanistan should not even think about…
Polish soldiers build a fence with concertina wire at the border with Belarus in Krynki, Poland, on August 27, 2021.
Report
Summary The international reconstruction effort in Afghanistan after 2001 created an opportunity to advance human rights, and women’s and girls’ rights in particular. Although its achievements have fallen short of what was envisioned, significant…
News

NATO Members, Australia Should Expedite Relocation of Local Staff

(Washington, DC) – Countries with troops departing Afghanistan should accelerate programs to resettle former Afghan interpreters and other employees who are increasingly at risk from Taliban forces, Human Rights Watch said today. The planned…
Former Afghan interpreters hold placards during a protest against the U.S. government and NATO in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 30, 2021.
News

Mark Istanbul Convention’s 10th Anniversary with Action

(Berlin) – Council of Europe member states should reinforce efforts to combat violence against women by swiftly ratifying and carrying out a landmark regional convention on women’s rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch released…
People gathered in Istanbul in March 2021 to protest Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a treaty designed to safeguard women from gender-based violence. 
News

International Women’s Day Should Prompt Real Reforms

As 2020 drew to a close, protesters across South Asia took to the streets, calling on their governments to take widespread sexual violence against women and children seriously, and to implement real reforms. But rather than listening to experts and…
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News

Death Penalty Push Ignores Real Solutions to Regional Failings

(New York) – South Asian governments should disregard populist death penalty rhetoric and listen to their own experts to prevent and end sexual violence against women, Human Rights Watch said in a video released today. Experts on sexual violence from…
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News

As domestic violence rates soar in Europe under COVID-19 restrictions, women’s groups protest government inaction from Poland to Turkey.

As violence against women repeatedly grabs headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, women across Europe are at the forefront of mass protests demanding government action to protect women from abuse. Some argue that women shouldn’t risk their lives…
Protesters with a banner reading "Women's Strike" take part in a rally against the Polish government’s plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combating of domestic violence, in Warsaw, Poland, July 24, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
Video
The Polish government is attacking women’s rights activists and organizations, putting women’s rights and safety at risk. More than two years after the first Black Protests, when thousands took to the streets to protest efforts to further restrict access…
News

Attacks by Government Put Women, Services at Risk

(Brussels) – The Polish government is targeting women’s rights activists and organizations, putting women’s rights and safety at risk, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More than two years after the first mass protests against…
Women’s rights supporters at a demonstration for International Women’s Day in Krakow, Poland, on March 8, 2018. The center sign uses the slogan “No Woman, No Country.”
News

Policy Bans Government Doctors from Conducting Abusive Tests

A new policy in Afghanistan promises to bar government health workers from engaging in the abusive practice of forcing women and girls to undergo invasive and medically meaningless vaginal and anal exams to determine whether they are “…
A demonstrator attends a rally outside the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, Belgium, October 5, 2016.
News

Reports of Ill-Treatment Show Need for Transparency, Monitoring

(Paris) – Uzbek authorities should immediately and unconditionally release an Afghan citizen whose 13-year imprisonment and alleged torture in custody have only recently become known, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International…
A guard in a solitary confinement block at an unidentified prison in Uzbekistan. Prisoners in solitary confinement in Uzbekistan’s prisons experience cramped cells without bedding—some in total darkness, others with permanent bright lights
News
Last week, the European People's Party (EPP) had a chance to stand up for its values and those of the European Union. But instead, it ducked the issue. The umbrella group of center-right and Christian democrat parties in European…
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban before a photo at the European Union Tallinn Digital Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, September 29, 2017.
News

Groundbreaking 2009 Law Hasn’t Brought Justice for Victims

It seemed like a breakthrough. In 2009, when then-President Hamid Karzai signed Afghanistan’s Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW Law), women’s rights activists celebrated a hard-won victory. They looked to a future…
Members of civil society organizations chant slogans during a protest to condemn the killing of 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul in broad daylight on Thursday, in Kabul March 24, 2
News

Abusive ‘Virginity Exams’ Re-Traumatize Victims

“I will never report such a case again,” said Farida, a midwife in rural Afghanistan, after a judge humiliated her in a public courtroom for her efforts to document a case of sexual assault involving two child victims. Farida…
An Afghan woman in Chaghchran capital of Ghor province June 2, 2014.
News

Poland blocks asylum seekers at border in defiance of European Court rulings

(London) The European Commission should take enforcement action to address Poland’s summary returns of asylum seekers to Belarus, three leading rights groups have said today. Amnesty International, Helsinki Foundation for Human…
Asylum seekers in the arrivals hall at Brest train station, returned on the 13.46 pm train from Terespol, where their requests to seek asylum Poland were rejected. Brest, Belarus, December 7, 2016.
News

Ensure Procedure Access; Halt Summary Returns

(Budapest) – Polish authorities routinely deny asylum seekers at the Belarus-Poland border the right to apply for asylum and instead summarily return them to Belarus, Human Rights Watch said today. Since 2016, large numbers of asylum seekers, mostly from…
Asylum seekers in the arrivals hall at Brest train station, returned on the 13.46 pm train from Terespol, where their requests to seek asylum Poland were rejected. Brest, Belarus, December 7, 2016.
News
Pressure is building on Afghan and Somali refugees to go home, even if they no longer have homes to return to. It is not surprising that this pressure is coming from governments that have been hosting huge numbers of refugees and want…
Member of Greek Red Cross helps an Afghan refugee who has just arrived from Turkey with an inflatable boat in the area of airport of Mytilene, Lesvos Island, Greece.