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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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UN Human Rights Council Should Pursue Accountability

(Geneva) – Sri Lanka’s government is aggressively attacking efforts to hold officials to account for past grave abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 93-page report, “Open Wounds and Mounting Dangers: Blocking…
A older man in glasses clapping
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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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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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Women Tell Their Stories

Abortion in all instances, including rape, is illegal in Honduras. Any woman who has an abortion, and anyone found to have helped her, can be charged with a crime and imprisoned. For that reason, La Línea (“The Line”) was a rare resource in…
Lorena (a pseudonym) was unaware she was pregnant when she went to a hospital in intense pain two years ago. Doctors suspected she had attempted an abortion and called the police. She was taken from the hospital in handcuffs and is now facing charges.
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Cristina Alvarado is a social worker and part of the national coordination team of Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz “Visitación Padilla” (Movement of Women for Peace “Visitacion Padilla”).
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Lawmakers Set to Discuss Loosening Notoriously Strict Anti-Abortion Law

This week, lawmakers in Honduras will have the chance to allow some women access to abortion, reversing restrictions first imposed more than 30 years ago. Under the current law, terminating a pregnancy is illegal and carries a heavy prison sentence,…
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Consultations Highlight Broad Accountability Concerns

(New York) – Sri Lanka’s government should promptly implement recommendations on transitional justice proposed by the Consultation Task Force (CTF) in a report released on January 3, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The report reflects the first broad…
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19 Sri Lankans, Including 6 Women, at Grave Risk of Torture if Returned

(Beirut) – United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities should not deport 19 Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka because they would be at serious risk of torture and persecution upon return. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has recognized all 19 as refugees,…
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Sri Lankan security forces have been using rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture suspected members or supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). While widespread rape in custody occurred during the armed conflict that ended in…
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"We Will Teach You a Lesson" Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces Map of Sri Lanka Summary Key Recommendations Methodology…
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It’s an occupational hazard when you work on women’s rights, to routinely face women who have been subjected to unspeakable violence, horrible beyond anything you could imagine.  As a young lawyer in South Africa in the 1990s, one of first my clients was…
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Nomsa, a 20-year-old woman from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, showed me a scar on her thigh. She said it came from a wound inflicted by a nurse at a community health centre in 2010. The nurse, Nomsa said, used a pair of scissors "to make me open my legs…
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United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a simple but profound message in her United­ Nations speech in Geneva last week. Her message: human rights are indivisible and governments cannot selectively withhold rights. “Because we are human…
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Violence, Discrimination Against Black Lesbians and Transgender Men

(Johannesburg) – Black lesbians and transgender men in South African townships and rural areas face an overwhelming climate of discrimination and violence despite protections promised them in the country’s constitution, Human Rights Watch said in a report…
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“We’ll Show You You’re a Woman” Violence and Discrimination against Black Lesbians and Transgender Men in South Africa Glossary Map of South Africa…
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Dr. Eddie Mhlanga, South Africa’s chief director of maternal and women’s health, has movingly written about how he, as a conservative Christian, changed his mind on whether abortion should be a crime. When he was a young doctor, a colleague died in his…