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Summary I would like you to pass on our voice. It’s not a voice. It’s a cry of pain. We have been here in Lebanon because they not only raped us, they also raped our land and dignity. —Male survivor of conflict-related sexual violence in Syria,…
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Survivors in Lebanon Lack Needed Services

(Beirut) – Syrian state and non-state actors have subjected men, boys, transgender women, and nonbinary people to sexual violence during the Syrian conflict, resulting in severe physical and mental health consequences which are compounded by a lack of…
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Men, Transgender Women Particularly Vulnerable, Lacking Services

During Syria’s civil war, many people have been subjected to sexual violence, resulting in ongoing trauma. Many of these victims are men and they have described how such violence gets worse if they are considered gay, or “soft” as the local term…
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Videos, Report Highlight Issues of Identity, Activism

(Beirut, April 16, 2018) – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa are defying state-sponsored repression and social stigma, Human Rights Watch and the…
No Longer Alone
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Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
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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For all his promises — and a Nobel Peace Prize — the Obama presidency delivered more hope than change

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear a new hostility to human rights on the part of the United States. From his divisive rhetoric about minorities to his embrace of autocrats abroad, there is plenty to worry about.  Trump…
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.
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Fighters Should Heed al-Sadr’s Statement; Government Should Follow Suit

(Beirut) – State and non-state actors in Iraq should heed the prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s July 2016 statement banning violence against those who do not conform to gender norms. Since early 2009, Human…
Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is seen during a protest in Baghdad on July 15, 2016. The prominent cleric published a statement on July 7, 2016 banning violence against LGBT people and those who do not conform to gender norms.
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Twenty-six-year-old Faraj Ali Shalwi was a dapper dresser. And while his tight-knit circle of friends in his Libyan hometown, Derna, admired his sense of style, his neighbors treated him with suspicion. They said that his clothes were “contemporary.” They…
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A 26-year-old mobile technician and taxi driver from Aleppo was kept for 23 days in an ice cream factory-turned-detention center, where he was physically and verbally abused. He’d been picked up at a checkpoint by the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front and…
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Security Forces Also Attacked Women and Girls in Raids on Homes

(New York) – Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the current conflict. Witnesses and victims also told Human Rights Watch that soldiers and pro-government armed militias have sexually abused…
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Official Impunity Enables Violent Intimidation Campaign

(Beirut) - The government of Iraq should immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for a targeted campaign of intimidation and violence against Iraqi youth seen as belonging to the non-conformist “emo” subculture, Human Rights Watch,…
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Bill Shows Commitment to End Violence Against Women

(Beirut) - A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) law that bans female genital mutilation (FGM) is a crucial step in eradicating the practice, Human Rights Watch said today. The Family Violence Bill, approved by the Kurdistan parliament on June 21, 2011,…
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Rights Council Silent on Bahrain Crackdown

(Geneva) - The United Nations Human Rights Council has taken a landmark step forward by addressing for the first time violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Human Rights Watch said today. The council, in the…
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The Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, the highest Muslim authority in Iraqi Kurdistan for religious pronouncements and rulings, issued a fatwa or religious edict last month. This would not have been particularly newsworthy, except that this particular…
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Edict Says Female Genital Mutilation not Prescribed by Islam but Doesn’t Ban It

(Beirut) - A religious edict  by the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union on female genital mutilation (FGM) sends a clear signal that the practice is not prescribed by Islam, Human Rights Watch said today. The edict, however, does not call for an outright…
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Violence in Iraq may have abated. But in the northern region of Kurdistan, women continue to suffer. A new report by Human Rights Watch, out this week, calls for a ban on the widespread practice of female circumcision in Kurdistan. Known locally as "…
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1.     What is female genital mutilation (FGM)? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical…