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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. 
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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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Oppressed Ethnic Group Denied Right to Freedom of Movement

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, government restrictions on movement in Myanmar have been widespread, but certain people have been more affected than others. On January 6, Myanmar police detained 99 ethnic Rohingya in Yangon for traveling without…
Police officers wearing facemasks stand on a street in Yangon, Myanmar, November 3, 2020. 
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Bangladesh Allows Kids to Receive Formal Education

Bangladesh will allow 10,000 ethnic Rohingya refugee children to get a formal school curriculum for the first time after the government approved a “pilot” education program. It’s a step in the right direction, but also an urgent reminder of how…
Rohingya refugee students demonstrate
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Overwhelming Evidence of Military Role in Hundreds of Sexual Assaults

Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the government of Myanmar denies their armed forces raped Rohingya women and girls in a campaign of ethnic cleansing that forced more than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the country…
A Rohingya woman walks through Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2018.
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Montreal Summit Provides Important Platform to Support Global Justice

In a first-of-its-kind summit, the world’s female foreign ministers will meet in Montreal today and tomorrow to discuss a range of global challenges, from advancing peace and security to eliminating violence against women and girls in…
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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.
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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
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Teenager Noura Hussein Faces Death for Killing Husband Who Raped Her

International media has rightly focused on the case of Noura Hussein, a 19-year-old Sudanese woman sentenced to death for killing her husband – whom she’d been forced to marry – as he tried to rape her. The court which tried…
A woman carries water in Al Fashir, capital of North Darfur, Sudan, September 6, 2016.
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Secretary-General Report Details Sexual Violence as Weapon of War

The United Nations secretary-general for the first time has included Myanmar’s military, or Tatmadaw, in his annual list of parties that have committed sexual violence in armed conflict. Presented today to the UN Security Council, the…
Rohingya refugees walk across a bamboo bridge in the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh, February 11, 2018.
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Refugees from Burma Lack Access to Crucial Services

“Sanctuary.” What does that mean to you? Probably not a massive camp made of bamboo and tarps with muddy paths, exposed to torrential rains and disease. But for more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees who fled the Burmese…
Rohingya refugees walk inside Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh January 8, 2018.
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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.
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Orphans are traumatized after Burmese Security Forces Abuses

“Abdulaziz” is only nine years old, but his serious look and stern demeanor makes him seem much older. There’s a reason for that: three weeks ago, he watched Burmese soldiers murder his parents and siblings, and now he has to look after his little brother…
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Two high-level figures have mischaracterized the European refugee crisis at a critical moment when the rights of asylum seekers are in great danger of being short-circuited. On March 1, NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Philip…
Refugees and migrants line up to receive aid in a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni March 4, 2016.
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Even over a crackling phone line, our Darfuri eyewitness was unequivocal. One year ago, at the very end of October, Sudan army troops stormed into her town in Tabit, North Darfur, dragged her out of her home, and beat her almost to death. Three of her…
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Tens of thousands of Afghans have swelled the ranks of those seeking refuge in Europe this year. Second only to Syrians, Afghans represent the next largest group – 13 percent – of those making the journey so far in 2015.   This is because, for…
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On Saturday, something rare occurred in Afghanistan: a Kabul court convicted a man of raping a 10-year-old girl. Rapes are rarely reported and even less frequently tried in Afghan courts. But the victim, Hamida (her real name withheld to protect her…
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On September 15, the Kabul Appeals Court turned a blind eye to serious flaws in the handling of the notorious Paghman gang rape case and upheld death sentences for five of the defendants. Two others were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The crime was…
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A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper

This briefing paper documents how the Sudanese security forces, including police deployed to protect displaced persons, and allied Janjaweed militias continue to commit rape and sexual violence on daily basis. Even as refugees in Chad, women and girls…