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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. 
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

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

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.
Video
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”).
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

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

Stronger Official Action Needed to Combat Asia-Pacific’s Fastest Growing HIV Epidemic

The Philippine Senate passed a bill on Monday that would amend the country’s 20-year-old AIDS law, and which promises to improve the government’s response to the HIV epidemic, the fastest-growing in the Asia-Pacific region. The draft…
Students receive free condoms at an event organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Metro Manila, July 11, 2014.
News

Exhorts Philippine Soldiers to Shoot Female Rebels in their Vaginas

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte turned up his incendiary rhetoric against the communist insurgency, declaring last week that he would pay members of indigenous communities 20,000 pesos (US$380) for each rebel they killed. …
New People’s Army rebels sing during an anniversary celebration in Surigao del Sur province in the southern Philippines, December 2010.
News

Amid Epidemic, Weak Government Response to Unlawful Firings, Harassment

(Manila) – Workers and employees in the Philippines living with HIV who suffer workplace discrimination often do not seek redress, Human Rights Watch said today. The Philippines has the fastest-growing HIV infection rate in the Asia-…
A supporter lights candles in commemoration of HIV/AIDS victims in the Philippines at a ceremony in Quezon City, Metro Manila, May 14, 2016.
News

Reversing Government Policy Failures on HIV/AIDS

The new Philippines country director of the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, is advocating condom use and comprehensive sexuality education as key planks in the agency’s strategy to address the country’s worsening…
New UNAIDS country director Dr. Louie Ocampo (in red and white shirt) joins HIV advocates in the Philippines.
News

Government Harassment, Threats Against Rights Defenders

(New York) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “drug war” entered its second year in 2017, resulting in the killing of more than 12,000 drug suspects, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. Duterte has…
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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

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,…
News

But Senate Bill Needs Strong Language Promoting Condom Use

Philippine lawmakers finally took action this week to improve the government’s response to the country’s HIV epidemic, filing a draft law to replace the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.Senate Bill 1390, if enacted, aims to improve…
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News

Setback for Efforts to Curb Fast-Growing HIV Epidemic

The Philippine Department of Education this week rejected a proposal to distribute condoms in public high schools. The proposal, made by the Department of Health, was an overdue response to the country’s worsening human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)…
Students receive free condoms at an event organized by the United Nations Population Fund in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, July 11, 2014.
News

Improved Condom Access Essential to Address HIV Epidemic

The Philippine government has restored funding to service Filipinos’ reproductive health needs, most significantly for the estimated 13.4 million women who rely on government-supplied contraceptive products. The long-overdue move…
An NGO health worker holds contraceptive pills during a family planning session with housewives availing free pills in Tondo, Manila August 6, 2012.