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Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition
Statement of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition
on the Women Human Rights Defenders’ Report of the
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
On behalf of the Women Human Rights International Coalition, we welcome the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’ focus on women human rights defenders. Her report contributes significantly to the important role that women human rights defenders play in the defence of human rights and acknowledges them not just as victims, but as agents of social change and transformation. Her report raises the necessity to address the seriousness of the violations against them and the need for gender-specific programmes for support and protection.
The violations, risks, and constraints faced by women human rights defenders need to be understood in terms of their identities and the contexts in which they work. For protection strategies to be responsive they have to be developed in line with the dismantling of gender discrimination and inequality. The Special Rapporteur usefully highlights the frequent complicity of law enforcement officials in sustaining patriarchal views of the community that ultimately deny women human rights defenders access to justice and continue impunity.
Our experience as women human rights defenders and as organizations that work with women human rights defenders shows that sex discrimination and gender inequality is at the heart of continued violations against women’s human rights throughout the world. As reflected in the report, women human rights defenders are particularly targeted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation – both as women and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people defending the range of human rights. Women human rights defenders, including men who defend women’s human rights, are targeted, often through violent means, in order to challenge and deny the universality of the rights for which they advocate.
The report has drawn attention to some of challenges faced by women human rights defenders across thematic areas and around the world. Advocates of sexual and reproductive rights are particularly at risk, as stated in the report. They are often targeted for providing sexual and reproductive health services to women, and subjected to violence as a result. In a context where women can only exercise their sexual and reproductive rights when such individuals provide these services, these service providers have to be recognized – and supported – as defenders of human rights.
The risks for sexual rights advocates are heightened because of the persecution of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Over 70 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality. This state-sanctioned homophobia, along with increasing religious and political rhetoric that demonizes homosexuality, means that threats to LGBT human rights defenders remain high. The recent killing of David Kato in Uganda came just weeks after a local newspaper had named the ‘Top 100 homos’ and called for them to be hanged, and as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was before parliament. In Brazil, one LGBT person is killed every 1.5 days, and there were at least 250 killings of LGBT people in 2010 alone. In South Africa, in Cape Town alone, ten lesbians a week are raped because of their sexual orientation.
Also of particular concern is the alarming trend of threats and death threats and subsequent killing of women human rights defenders in Latin America, the highest among the regions comprising more than half of the 292 cases reported to the Special Rapporteur. In Mexico, two decades of femicide, is a disturbing manifestation of misogyny, accounting for the particular risks to women human rights defenders in the context of escalating violence in the region involving organized crime gangs, drug cartels and Mexican security forces. In December 2010 and January 2011 respectively Marisela Escobedo Ortiz and Susana Chávez were assassinated. These defenders campaigned against this pattern of femicide and demanded accountability for the killings and abductions of women in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.
As these cases show, it is their identity – as women or gay, bisexual or transgender men – that render women human rights defenders targets for attacks.
Women human rights defenders who confront impunity for human rights violations are also at a high risk. Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Iran and banned for 20 years from working as a lawyer and from leaving the country. It is considered that these charges were due to her defence of those who confront the Iranian government’s blatant disregard of human rights and gender equality. The government in this case did not even heed an appeal from the High Commissioner for Human Rights to respect her rights as a defender. It is imperative for the Human Rights Council to address these continuing human rights violations in Iran.
The human rights violations which women human rights defenders experience are often embedded in the context of their daily lives. For example, in the contexts characterized by religious fundamentalisms and other forms of extremism, those speaking out or dissenting against religious or cultural justifications for violations of women’s human rights are frequently not accorded respect of their human rights and protection. When they come under attack, the response is often that they have brought it upon themselves.
The forms of the violations also merit closer scrutiny, such as the worrying trend of confining women defenders to psychiatric institutions in Uzbekistan or the denial of adequate medical care, forced medication and sleep deprivation while in detention in China and other countries. These are forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited under the UN Convention against Torture.
We commend the Special Rapporteur for bringing attention to the role of non-state actors as perpetrators and making the connection between these actors and state agents. Human rights violations committed by family members or colleagues against women human rights defenders are often viewed as merely part of their ‘private lives’, and not as serious obstacles to their human rights advocacy or part of the backlash against it. Often, it is challenging for women human rights defenders to get others to acknowledge the connection between such violations and their work. Therefore, it is important to identify the responsibility of non-state perpetrators and develop mechanisms for their accountability.
In renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, it is therefore important to continue to uphold Human Rights Council Resolution 7/8 of 2008 that directs the Special Rapporteur “to integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of his/her mandate, paying particular attention to the situation of women human rights defenders”. In doing so, it is important not to compartmentalise women human rights defenders as a separate ‘sector’ of human rights defenders but, rather, to integrate a gender perspective in the interpretation of the rights of defenders. This includes looking at issues specific to sexual orientation and gender identity, and the targeted persecution of LGBT human rights defenders.
Integrating a gender perspective in the implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders entails developing protection mechanisms responsive to the gender-specific nature of the violations against women human rights defenders and their gendered consequences. Protection measures should address not just immediate threats, but their long-term well-being. To ensure women human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate activities without hindrance, an enabling environment for claiming and defending rights must be created and sustained. This includes dismantling discriminatory legal and policy frameworks that undermine women’s ability to fully participate in society including defending human rights. This is the foundation of ensuring the protection of women human rights defenders.
Statement of WHRD IC on the escalating violence against WHRDs in Chihuahua, Mexico
Online Directory of Urgent Responses for WHRDs at Risk (Available in English, Français and Español)
New song from Joanna Weston celebrates WHRDs and PBI's work
Statement of the WHRD IC on Guatemalan genocide trial of Rios Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez (Available in English and Español)
Statement of the WHRD IC on sorcery-related violence and killings in Papua New Guinea
PBI Mexico launches a new report - A Panorama of the Defense of Human Rights in Mexico: Initiatives and Risks of Mexican Civil Society
Raid on the UDEFEGUA office in Nebaj, Guatemala
Statement of the WHRD IC on the attempted assassination of Fidelina Sandoval of Honduras (Available in English and Español)
The WHRD IC expresses its solidarity with Ms. Suja Jones and its concern for the well-being of her children
WHRD IC Vacancy Announcement - Coordinator
Statement of the WHRD IC on arguments using religion, culture and tradition to block negotiations on women's rights at the CSW57 (Available in English, Français and Español)
ECWR condemns the attack on lawyers, human rights defenders and activists and demands accountability from officials
WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS: A RESOURCE AT RISK? - A side event by WHRD IC at the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Explanation Of Position by USA On Agreed Conclusions Of The 57th Session Of The Commission On The Status Of Women On March 15, 2013
Statement of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders of Honduras
WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS- Are given official recognition at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (Available in English, Français and Español)
Oral Statement Of The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition For The 57th Session Of The Commission On The Status Of Women
APC's Statement to the Statement to the CSW 57th Session: Violence against women and information and communications technology
Women Human Rights Defenders: A Resource At Risk? - A side event on obligations and practical measures to support WHRD and protect them from intimidation, reprisals and violence
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition's statement on the Status of Violence against Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women
Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition briefing points toward the 57th session of the United Nation Commission on the Status of Women (Available in English, Français and Español)
WHRD IC: Side Events for UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 57th Session, March 4 - 15, 2013
APC launches Digital security first-aid kit for human rights defenders
Russian Federation – Parliament passes draft bill criminalising 'propaganda of homosexuality'
Colombia: Continued threats against human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz
A victory for justice: Jalila Khamis Koko released by Sudanese government after 10 months in detention and death penalty charges
Transforming Pain into Hope, Human Rights Defenders in the Americas: A New Report from Amnesty International
Yemen- A campaign of Defamation, threats and judicial harassment against journalist & human rights defender Samia Al-Agbry
The Black Communities' Process in Colombia (PCN) releases report on the plight of Black women and launches the Afro-Colombia Women Human Rights Defenders Project
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition calls for death penalty charges to be dropped against Jalila Khamis Koko in Sudan
Repetition of Black Wednesday Events with Different Players and Offenders
International Coalition Launches Online Directory of Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders
Women Human Rights Defenders Day Statement
Statement of the WHRD International Coalition on Women Human Rights Defenders Day
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR INPUT INTO THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN AFRICA
Harassmap Founder Addresses Sexual Violence In Egypt
A woman's place in the Blaan's struggle for land
Iran: Punitive measures imposed on detained human rights defender must cease
Camila Vallejo's Letelier-Moffitt Acceptance Speech
B'laan tribe laments 'massacre' of leader's family
Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition Statement on the Detainment of Women Human Rights Defender Mao Hengfeng
Huairou commission and groots international stand in solidarity with Bolivian leader Rose Mary Irusta Pérez, denounce unjust detainment
Human Rights Defender Profile: Yara Sallam from Egypt
Sudan: Women Human Rights Defenders Gaining Momentum
Cybercrime law another affront to human rights --Karapatan
Aquino Govt writes off HR violations for $13M US aid —Karapatan
Guatemala demolition shows bias vs the poor –Karapatan
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Karapatan to Noynoy Aquino: Do your father, ML martyrs justice; end impunity, stop human rights violations
CHR Chair has historical amnesia—Karapatan
Lawyer of Palparan's co-accused Osorio resorts to worn out tactics — Karapatan
Martial Law-style military operations drive away rural folks from their homes—Karapatan
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Constitutional Draft content victory 'sweets' cannot be stolen from our mouths
WOZA members march in Bulawayo to demand Daft and say victory 'sweets'
cannot be stolen from our mouths
Enough is Enough, indemnify ML victims now! - Selda
Gender Equity at Work: Seal Finalized by UN Women & SAI
Woman Human Rights Defender WHRD) Nepal at risk
International mechanisms for protecting Human Rights Defenders at risk for their work on land rights
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Appoints Brigid Inder, Executive Director of the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice, as Special Gender Advisor
New, Young Lawyers Score Old, Bad Practice.
Hasten court proceedings; Arrest Butcher Palparan NOW
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Karapatan calls for immediate release of Tirso Alcantara amid his transfer to civilian detention facility
Aquino's double-standard justice very apparent in his treatment of political prisoners and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: GMA is free as political prisoners suffer in jail – Karapatan
INTERNATIONAL COALITION CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST W.O.N.E.T.H.A
Killings of activists must end in the Philippines: CIVICUS and Karapatan
Human Rights Council resolution on internet and freedom of expression was passed by consensus and supported by 82 States
Women Human Rights Defenders Concept Papers by Nazra for Feminist Studies
ISHR Statement for the Women Human Rights Defenders Panel: 20th Session of the Human Rights Council
International Coalition calls for the release of the women human right defenders of Boeung Kak Lake
International Coalition calls for the National Mechanism for the protection of HRD and Journalists in Mexico to be brought into force immediately, in light of the recent death of journalist, Ms Regina Martínez Pérez.
WHRD IC expresses concern about the criminalization of the woman rights defender Agnés Geréb and her colleagues
Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition Statement on Bahrain in Solidarity with Al Khawaja
WHRD IC Calls for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released to Denmark on humanitarian grounds
Information for delegates at the WHRD IC meeting in Istanbul
Activities Regarding Women Human Rights Defenders At The 12th AWID Forum
Abstracts of the Global Report now available in French and Spanish.
New publication from Peace Brigade International, 'Dignas - Voices of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico'
Letter and statement to HRC President on March 7 UN Panel on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Announcement of the Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders
Announcement of WHRD IC member events during CSW and the AWID forum 2012
International Coalition condemns the harassment of Ms. Bimala Tamang and the National Alliance of WHRD Team.
Human Rights And Legal Implications Of The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, 2011 For Every Nigerian Citizen
WHRD IC calls for immediate protection for Mexican women human rights defender shot five times after countless threats.
Sri Lankan WHRD: Linking Past and Present Challenges, article by Subha Wijesiriwarden 29 Nov, 2011
Statement By Human Rights, Women's Rights And Health Groups On The Occasion Of The Presentation Of The Report By Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur On The Right To Health, To The UN General Assembly
Extended deadline: Applications for WHRD IC Strategic Planning Consultant
IRAN: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of human rights defenders continue
Due 19th September: Applications for a writer for 'Global Report on the State of Affairs of WHRD'
Due 16th September: Applications for WHRD IC Strategic Planning Consultant
Sri Lankan WHRD: Linking Past and Present Challenges, article by Subha Wijesiriwarden 29 Nov, 2011
24 August 2011: WHRD Coalition Condemns the Apparent Retaliation of the Azerbaijan Authorities Against Human Rights Defender Leyla Yunus
25 July 2011: Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition calls for the immediate release of Iranian women's rights activist
Papua New Guinea: New network breaks through isolation to support and protect women human rights defenders at risk
Statement denouncing the assassination of Ana Fabricia Cordoba
Saudi Arabia: Free Woman Who Dared to Drive
New mechanism to respond to violence against human rights defenders in the Americas AWID Resource-Net Friday File: May 13, 2011
Cambodia: Withdraw Flawed Draft NGO and Association Law
Iran: New NGO law would greaten risks for activists
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights establishes an Office of the Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Amnesty International has today (23 March) called on the Egyptian authorities
ORAL STATEMENT IWRAW Asia Pacific, Shirkat Gah - Pakistan
Special Rapporteur faces criticism for including LGBTI defenders in her report
Afghan government's planned takeover of women's shelters - WHRDS mentioned
NEPAL: Serious threats to human rights defenders hampering
democratisation and peace-building
Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
NEWS RELEASE: WOMEN RIGHTS GROUP CALL FOR JUSTICE FOR WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, DECRY CONTINUING RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER AQUINO
Pambazuka News 506: Special Issue: African Commission blocks LBGTI human rights
UN human rights chief concerned by Iranian crackdown on human rights defenders
Fwd: [WHRD International] AFSPA MUST BE REPEALED, THE 10 YEARS HUNGER STRIKE OF IROM SHARMILA MUST END NOW
June 20, 2010: Join us for a Rally organised by One Law for All against Sharia and religious laws and for secularism and universal rights
March 2010: Beyond the Challenge: Women, Mining and Human Rights
An International Conference among Women Defenders of Mother Earth
- See Conference Statement
- See Conference Video
May 19, 2010: Call for Nominations Human Rights Defenders Tulip 2010
Mexico: Meso American Meeting of Women Activists for Human Rights in Oaxaca, Mexico, 23 - 25 April 2010
April 1: LGBT Activism Under Attack in Surabaya, Indonesia
Recognising Chinese women human rights defenders, March 8, 2010
8 March 2010 International Women's Day: ARTICLE 19 Affirms the Rights of Women with the Right to Free Expression
Respect Universality in Principle and Practice: Defend Women's Human Rights, statement regarding Gita Sahgal, March 1, 2010.
WHRD IC Calendar 2010
A calendar of key human rights events of concern to women human rights defenders, noting important sites of advocacy and possible areas of intervention.
Haiti: WHRD IC policy recommendations, February 2, 2010.
09 October 2009, FORUM-ASIA demands the release of four WHRDs in Burma
August 2009 WHRDs Condemn the Continuing Deprivation of Liberty of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi!
June 2009 - APWLD Condemns Acts of Intimidation Against Cambodian Opposition Member of Parliament: Threat to lift Member of Parliament Mu Sochua's immunity
10 June 2009, Nepal - Remembering Laxmi Bohara - One year and the story goes on with other WHRDs
Iran: Human Rights Defenders Prevented from Leaving Iran; Women’s Rights Advocates Arrested
17 April 2009, Nepal - Government Fails to Protect Women
Human Rights Activists from Violent Attacks
10 April 2009 - Joint Letter on Iranian WHRDs
7 April 2009, Fiji: Women's human rights group broken into
27 March 2009, Iran - Twelve Women's Rights Activists Arrested for Planned New Years Visit
18 March 2009, Kyrgyzstan - Human Rights Activist Tolekan Ismailova Arrested During Peaceful Gathering in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - update!
18 March, 2009, Fiji - Women's group condemns attacks against human rights defenders
27 November 2008 Iran - UN Special Rapporteurs Warn onCrackdown of Women's Rights Defenders in Iran.
29 November 2008 WLB issues urgent call for UN Representatives to visit Nilar Thein and other Women Human Rights Defenders in Burma
Press Release: 29 November: Putan end to all acts of harassment against women human rights defenders!
24 November 2008 IRENE FERNANDEZ IS ACQUITTED
Philippines:Stop violence in the Philippines by addressing its economic, social and cultural root causes - OMCT and Filipino NGOs
Philippines:25 September 2008, Philippines - CELEBRATING WOMEN'S COURAGE AMIDST TERROR AND FASCISM by Innabuyog
Malaysia:June 11, 2008, - Trial of Irene Fernandez, Director of Tenaganita postponed to August 5, 2008 at the High Court 5, Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.
NEPAL :16 June 2008, WHRD Murdered
UZBEKISTAN : WUZBEKISTAN: MS. MUTABAR TOJIBAEVA RELEASED !
Iran : Women's Rights Activists Get Suspended Lashing Sentences
Iranian : Women's Movement: More International Support, More Persecution at Home
IRAN: AUTHORITIES MUST SUPPORT, NOT SUPPRESS WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Walk for Land
Center for Women's Global Leadership honors the hundreds of thousands of women activists around the world on Women Human Rights Defenders day.
Women's Action Forum Rights demands: immediate with drawal of the emergency, restitution of the constitution and full fundamental rights, the release of all those arrested and detained, and the removal of all curbs on the print and electronic media.
Colombia: Socio-political violence and internal armed conflict
29th November: Celebrate International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders!
25th of November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Making this goal a reality
Pakistan : Women Against Military Terrorism in Pakistan
Female Jouranlist Once Again Harassed in Nakhchivan
After 61 days of Hunger strike: Chief Juana Calfunao and her sister fight for life in a Chilean prison
The women's movement in Nepal demands total proportionate representation of women in the Constituent Assembly Election
CRITICAL Update : Appleal The Observatory
Bahraini Authorities Impose Media Blockade on Women Activist Ghada Jamsheer
In Memoriam: Atsuko Tanaka-Fox (1970-2007)
CRITICAL Update: Ugandan Government Directive to ARREST all Homosexuals
UGENT : Badi Women Human Rights Defenders Attacked and Detaine
Nepal : UPDATE: 18 new District WHRD Networks Formed
Pakistan :Transgender man faces additional lawsuits
Iran : Man arrested while campaigning for gender equality
Japan: Women's Fund for Peace and Human Rights is now calling for the Yayori Award nomination for 2007
Fiji: Monitoring Human Rights Abuses in Fiji in relation to the Coup
Philippines: Update on Political Killings in the Philippines
Philippines: Yet Another Killing
Philippines: Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves!
Philippines: Another woman leader killed in Bataan
Philippines: Gabriela woman human rights defender slain
Philippines: Launching of Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!
Iran: Police Attack Women's Day Celebration
Zimbabwe: WOZA members and activists freed
Nepal:100 women-activists arrested during demonstration on the International Women's Day
Philippines: Another Central Luzon activist killed
Japan: Justice for the victim-survivors of the wartime sexual slavery
Philippines: Philippines Human Rights Defenders Under Attack
Pakistan: Pakistani Women's Rights Activist Mukhtar Mai silenced by the Pakistani authorities
Bahrain: Take action in support of Ghada Jamsheer and defenders of human and women's rights
India, Kashmir: over 9,000 women raped and molested, 22,000 women widowed and around 10,600 children orphaned in the Kashmir conflict
Nepal: The Undemocratic Amendments of the National Human Rights Commission Act and Media Laws
Pakistan: UN Special Representative Hina Jilani, among 50 human rights activists, arrested at the rally on violence against women
Northern Ireland: investigation is still awaited five years after the death of Rosemary Nelson
Uganda: V Day Campaign against Gender-based Violence
Women Human Rights Defenders workshop at Asia Pacific NGO Forum, July 2004
National Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders in Thailand, August 2004
High Commissioner For Human Rights And Un Expert Call For Protection Of Women's Rights As Way To Curb Gender Violence
Declaration Of The Consultative Workshop On Women Human Rights Defenders In Africa Dakar, Senegal 18-19 November 2004