Police in Moscow detained 40 people over the weekend for holding peaceful protests in solidarity with a young woman facing up to six years in prison for running a feminist blog.
On June 9, authorities officially charged Yulia Tsvetkova with “pornography dissemination.” Tsvetkova runs a social media group that features artwork depicting vulvas, celebrating female bodies, and protesting taboos around female anatomy and menstruation.
Close to 233,000 people signed an online petition calling on authorities to drop the case against her.
Tsvetkova’s only crime is being a free thinker. She is paying far too high a price for being a feminist and an #LGBT rights activist and exercising her right to artistic expression guaranteed by #Russia’s own Constitution and international human rights law.
Instead of punishing her supporters, Russian authorities should immediately drop all charges against her.
#forYulia#заЮлю#СвободуЮлииЦветковой#humanrights 📷: vk/Yulia Tsvetkova
4 days ago
Pride originated in the United States as a commemoration of the 1969 #Stonewall uprising in New York City and has been taken up by activists around the world as both protest and celebration. But while #Pride is now welcomed in many places around the world, elsewhere, it remains a point of contestation.
This year, Pride organizers in the US transformed some marches into protests against structural racism, in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter after the killing of George Floyd in May. Remember too that Stonewall was sparked by queer and trans people of color resisting police bigotry and harassment.
The origins of Stonewall highlight the urgent need to strip law enforcement of the ability to police gender and sexuality, and the importance of working across divisions of race, class, and gender to center marginalized voices in the struggle to advance #LGBT people’s human rights.
#humanrights#lgbtrights 📷: 2020 Anthony Behar/Sipa via AP Images
7 days ago
Emmaline B., 48-year-old woman, Kakamega
I was about 20 years old when we met. In 1992, we got married and I moved into his family’s home on family land where his whole family lived. He had not developed his section of the property, there was nothing on it when we moved.
He lost his job shortly after we married. He started drinking. I had to support our family. I got a job at a local school. We used my salary and built a three-bedroom brick house. I paid for our four children’s school costs and other needs.
He became more violent. He used a machete to break things, doors, windows, chairs, anything in his path. There was never peace.
The neighbors knew the marriage was a disaster. People at church, people at school knew. I left him in 2015 and started divorce proceedings in 2017, which lasted two more years. My family was extremely supportive. He and his family, on the other hand, were shocked.
He did not think I would go through with it, so he never bothered to respond to the petition or attend court. It was only when he received the final divorce decree, which I sent through the chief, that he realized I was serious.
He says he will appeal the decision. He threatens me and tries to intimidate me at my job by showing up regularly. He tries to get me fired.
I won’t demand for property in the divorce. The land is registered to his great grandfather. I don’t want to go through dividing and transferring the land to my ex-husband just so I can have my share. I have children with him; they will inherit the houses. I just want peace.
8 days ago
Aissatou F., 47-year-old-Muslim woman, Kilifi
When we got married in 2000, I made a lot more money working for the national wildlife service than my husband did working as a diver at a local hotel.
I got him a job at the wildlife service. He was later transferred to a different town, after which I first learned about his infidelity. Our marriage began to fall apart, we would argue, and he would get violent. Once, he threatened to kill me with his work pistol.
During the first years of our marriage, I bore most of the financial responsibilities. I paid for food, clothing, and school fees for the children. I took a loan and upgraded his 2-bedroom mud-house into a six-bedroom brick house. He also got a loan to add another 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a toilet. We dug a well and bought a pump, selling water from the well.
We purchased additional property and built three shops on it. Finally, he took out another loan to build a house, and I took a loan of KSh 1.5 million [US $13,977] to finish the interior. I thought it was going to be my home.
One day in 2018, I invited a religious leader from my mosque to pray for me and our home. My husband and his brother accused me of bringing a witch doctor to curse them. My husband got violent and threw a table at me, breaking my arm. He chased me out of the house, took all my cash, and emptied my mobile money account.
I am now homeless. I lost access to income from the property we had developed. And I must pay back the KES 1.5 million loan. Another woman has since moved into my home.
All I want is my house so that my children and I have somewhere to call home.
8 days ago
This week, Human Rights Watch released a report on the challenges women in #Kenya face trying to claim matrimonial property after divorce. Over the next two days, we’ll be posting some of their stories.
Prudence N., 64-year-old woman, Kakamega
We got married in 1971 when I was 16. It was a customary marriage, by family and village elders, not in a courthouse. In 1978, we pooled our income and bought land. His money came from selling land he inherited from his father, and I had been saving money from growing and selling sugarcane.
We built a house and made it our home, until he left me for another woman. I made my peace with the breakdown of our marriage and continued to raise our 4 children here. Years passed and our children have since grown up and moved out, except one who still lives here with me.
In 2007, he sold our home without my consent. I found out about the sale when he brought people to evict me. They wouldn’t let me leave with anything. I had to leave immediately. They pulled down the house and set it on fire.
I decided to fight back with some help. In 2012, I took him to court to demand that the court cancel the sale and order him to replace our home. The case lasted six long years. The court finally nullified the sale in 2018.
However, when I tried to enforce the court order at the Lands Registry, they said that they can’t find the records for the land. Every time I ask them to search again, I am given a new requirement to fulfill. Bring this document, bring that document. I need a lawyer who can help me because the registry officials refuse to take me seriously. Even after two years of the court order I still don’t have my land, I’m still homeless.
8 days ago
We met when I was barely 18. I had just lost my job as a domestic worker. He offered me a place to stay, I got pregnant, and we decided to get married in 2005. We were together for about 14 years and had 3 children. During the marriage, we bought a piece of land in Nairobi and built six semi-permanent housing units. We had dairy cows and were saving to buy a tractor.
My husband cheated a lot during our marriage, and he would beat me sometimes. About two years ago, he started living with another woman in a house he rented in Nairobi, I confronted him about this, he beat me and kicked me out of the house. I was pregnant with twins. I had to leave our three children and anything that I couldn’t carry. I lost my home and all the property we had acquired together.
I moved in with my grandmother. The twins are my sole responsibility with no help from him. Our three older children have since moved in with me. He won’t pay their school fees now.
I filed a case with the county’s Department of Children Services, but he refused to go when summoned. So I took him to court. Last year, he refused a court order to allow the children and I to return to the house and to financially support the children. He says there is nowhere for us to stay on the property and he has no money to build another house for us. My husband has all our property and I have nothing. I want a share of the property we acquired. We registered the plots in my husband’s name. I don’t even know where the property is. My children and I have no option but to live here with my grandmother, who cannot afford to support any of us.
9 days ago
Today Human Rights Watch released a report on the challenges women in #Kenya face trying to claim matrimonial property after divorce. Over the next two days, we’ll be posting some of their stories.
Issa B., a 21-year-old Muslim woman
My husband turned on me early in our marriage. He would beat me, squeeze my throat, burn me with firewood from the kitchen, threaten to kill me, threaten to divorce me. I tried to get his parents to intervene, but they would not believe me. In 2018, after a particularly bad beating, I ran away with my son and reported the abuse to an assistant who works at the Kadhi court; my face was badly bruised and swollen. I went to live with my parents.
My husband took another wife and told the Kadhi I had abandoned our marriage, that I dressed immodestly, and didn’t pray. I was summoned to the Kadhi’s Court. I told the Kadhi about my husband’s violence, his threats, and his new wife. My husband admitted to being violent. He apologised to the Kadhi (not to me) and requested that I’d be ordered to return to the marriage. I refused.
The Kadhi ordered me to return my dowry of KSh 50,000 [US $466] and 2 cows to my husband and his family. I refused. I am single-handedly raising my son. The Kadhi denied my request that my husband return my clothes, personal belongings, identification documents, and school certificates.
My husband obtained a warrant for my arrest because I had failed to make any payment. I was arrested with my son, spent a night in jail. The Kadhi said I would be detained until I paid back the dowry.
I got a loan of KSh 30,000 [US $280] from a friend.
With help from the women’s rights group FIDA [ Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya], I got a new ID card and my husband returned most of my school certificates. We also managed to get a stay of execution of the Kadhi’s payment and detention orders, and appealed his decision at the High Court.
Meanwhile, I am still not receiving any financial support for our son from my ex-husbandj. I know it’s unlikely that I’ll get any property, but I would really like it if he would contribute toward our son’s upkeep.
10 days ago
Russia has significantly expanded laws and regulations tightening control over internet infrastructure, online content, and the privacy of communications. If carried out to their full restrictive potential, the new measures will severely undermine the ability of people in Russia to exercise their human rights online, including freedom of expression and freedom of access to information.
Russian authorities’ approach to the internet rests on two pillars: control and increasing isolation from the World Wide Web. The government has built up an entire arsenal of tools to reign over information, internet users, and communications networks.
New laws and regulations adopted in the past two years expanded the authorities’ already significant capacity to filter and block internet content automatically, no longer depending on providers’ cooperation to implement the block.
Read a new report at HRW.org.
10 days ago
Governments should prioritize ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention. The groundbreaking treaty, adopted June 21, 2019 by government, employer, and worker members of the ILO, sets international legal standards for preventing and responding to violence and harassment at work. #RatifyC190
Read more: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/18/end-violence-harassment-work
10 days ago
French police use overly broad stop-and-frisk powers to conduct discriminatory and abusive checks on Black and Arab boys and men.
A new Human Rights Watch report documents repetitive, baseless police stops targeting minorities including children as young as 10, older children, and adults. These stops often involve invasive, humiliating body pat-downs and searches of personal belongings. Most stops are never recorded, the police don’t provide written documentation or usually tell people why they were stopped, and measures to improve accountability have been ineffective. Several of the children and adults interviewed said police used racial slurs.
Sekou, a 14-year-old living in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, said he’d been stopped at least 6 times. “We never see white kids getting checked,” he said. “When I’m with my white friends, the police don’t even look at them…. They say ‘freedom, equality, fraternity,’ but there’s no equality when it comes to this kind of thing.” Curbing these powers is key to addressing biased policing, including racial or ethnic profiling, and repairing police-community relations.
Read More: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/18/france-children-face-abusive-racist-police-stops
"Growing up in New York City during the Stop-and-Frisk era, I realized quickly that life is different for black and brown folks when dealing with the police." ~ Matt Graham
12 days ago
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