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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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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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Rape-marriage exoneration laws are relics of the colonial past. It's time to leave them there.

In recent weeks, the Tunisian, Jordanian, and Lebanese parliaments have repealed provisions in their penal codes that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. Provisions like these, largely colonial-era relics, remain on the books…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
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Abuse, Neglect Raise Safety Concerns; Fuel Mistrust of Law Enforcement

(Saskatoon) – Indigenous women’s accounts of police abuse in Saskatchewan raise serious concerns about their safety in the province, Human Rights Watch said today in a submission to the Government of Canada. The National Inquiry into Missing and…
Two Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers talk at a blockade on a country road in the province of Alberta. © 2012 Reuters
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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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In July, 2012, Lydia N. (not her real name) sat in a hotel room not far from Highway 16 – the “Highway of Tears” in northern British Columbia where so many indigenous women and girls have been murdered or disappeared – and told me about her efforts to…
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Ignores Need for National Inquiry into Violence

(Toronto) – A landmark Canadian parliamentary report released on March 7, 2014, failed to recommend needed steps to stem violence against indigenous women, Human Rights Watch said today. The committee did not recommend either an independent national…
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“They tore my sweater and jeans off in the holding cell. There were three or four of them – men – a female guard was watching,” Joy I. told me. “I tried to sit up and they pepper sprayed me twice. They kept pushing me down and tearing my clothes off.” Joy…
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Set National Inquiry, Investigate Police Misconduct

(Ottawa) – The Canadian government should set up an independent national inquiry into the violence experienced by indigenous women and girls and create a system for greater accountability for police misconduct, Human Rights Watch said today.…
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“I feel like a citizen,”said Valerie Scott, a former sex worker, after the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled last year that Canadian laws criminalizing aspects of sex work put sex workers at greater risk of violence and harm. Sexually marginalized people…
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Inter-American Commission Visit Underscores Need for National Attention

(Toronto) – The visit to Canada on the week of August 5, 2013, by representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is a major step toward accountability for the murders and disappearances of indigenous women in British Columbia, Human…
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Opportunity for Action to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls

(Toronto) – The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted today the report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada’s human rights record, which included a large set of questions, recommendations, and comments from countries across the world…
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Independent Accountability Mechanisms for Police Misconduct Sorely Needed

(Prince George) – Reported comments by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Bob Paulson show the need for an independent civilian mechanism to investigate police abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. In an email late last week discussing…
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Ensure Accountability for Police Misconduct, Indigenous Women’s Safety

(Vancouver) – Comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP) on February 14, 2013, fail to address the core issue of a lack of security that prevents indigenous women and girls from filing complaints of police abuse…
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Set Up National Inquiry Into Murders, Disappearances of Indigenous Women, Girls

(Ottawa) – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in northern British Columbia has failed to protect indigenous women and girls from violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Women and girls Human Rights Watch interviewed also described…
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As British Columbia Inquiry Concludes, Need for a National Examination

(Toronto, December 18, 2012) – Canada’s federal government should establish a national commission of inquiry into the country’s hundreds of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. This recommendation follows today’s release by the British…