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16 Days: Activism against gender violence

From peace in the home to peace in the world: challenging militarism and ending violence against women.

"Of all the many women around the world organising this week... some will be focusing on violence in everyday life, while others will be focusing on violence in war. They are two sides of a single coin"

Cynthia Cockburn

Every year from November 25 to December 10, thousands of organisations and activists across the world join together for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. openDemocracy 50.50 brings you critical perspectives from academics, lawyers, activists, grassroots 16 Days global campaignworkers and policy makers around the world exploring the continuum of violence

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The rape victims prosecuted for "false" rape allegations

Gail Sherwood was raped three times by a stalker, forced to retract her allegations and sentenced to two years in prison. Lisa Longstaff argues that her case is one example of a police witch-hunt against women wrongly accused of lying about rape that is undermining 35 years of campaigning for justice

Due diligence for women's human rights: transgressing conventional lines

On international human rights day, Yakin Ertürk discusses the new vulnerabilities faced by women, including refugee womenand the new opportunities for remedy offered by the international human rights system.

Human rights, social justice, and US exceptionalism

American politicians often talk as if human rights were only relevant in other countries, but grassroots organisations are increasingly using the human rights framework to win social and economic rights for the poorest and most marginalised people in the US. Cathy Albisa, director of the National Economic and Social Rights Inititative, spoke to Meredith Tax

Backlash: The unintended consequences of western human rights intervention

The collision of well-intentioned western activists and imperilled activists in the Global South illustrates the hazards of using global “naming and shaming” campaigns to apply pressure to developing nations with the hope of improving human rights practices.

Mandela: towards a non-sexist South Africa

Part of the blessing of Mandela’s longevity is that he modeled reflexive behaviour which changed over time. To realise his vision of a non-sexist South Africa, we might re-evaluate the patriarchal values which pervade our own lives, recognising our own ability to change.

Sexual exploitation in street gangs: protecting girls or changing boys?

In its recent report on sexual exploitation in street gangs, the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England is eloquent on the need for better protection of girls. It lacks any policy recommendation for a conscious remodelling of young masculinity.

The invisible men with the arms

When it comes to gender based violence in Arab transition contexts, it is not only state militarism we should be concerned about, but the proliferation of militias and weapons across borders, argues Mariz Tadros

Preventing abuse in the UK: a matter of education

A new campaign by the UK Government’s Home Office, This Is Abuse, is a critical step to preventing violence against women and girls, but the Department for Education’s failure to support it is baffling, says Holly Dustin

Seeking safety in Algeria: Syrian refugee women’s resilience

For many Syrian women in Algeria, the gendered experience of violence and displacement has been compounded by the discrimination they now face as women refugees, says Latefa Guemar.

The 'feminism' of patriarchy in Egypt

Images of women and the brutal violence against them, whether committed by the Army, Police, Muslim Brotherhood or thugs, are commodities that sell a certain shade of patriarchy to the people, says Zainab Magdy.

Human trafficking: From outrage to action

If we are to have any chance of addressing trafficking, Anne Gallagher argues that we should work towards the elimination of labour recruitment fees; advocate for a global minimum wage; and look at ways of criminalizing the knowing or reckless use of the services of a victim of trafficking

UK: Will proposed legislation mean deporting trafficking victims ?

As young girls, Saima and Linda were trafficked from Zimbabwe to London. It took them ten years to escape from forced prostitution and child labour. Yet Saima is exactly the kind of 'foreign criminal' the proposed UK Immigration Bill aims to deport. Is this what we want? 

Ending the stark choice: domestic violence or destitution in the UK

The introduction of the Destitution Domestic Violence concession in 2012 giving some migrant victims access to public funds was widely welcomed. However, while many have long waits for benefits, others still do not have a safety net to escape violence.  

Sexual harassment in UK schools

Sexual bullying in the classroom rarely makes the headlines. But one in three 16-18 year old girls in the UK have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school. What does this tacit acceptance of harassment teach our children?

The politics and culture of skin bleaching in Sudan

The past 25 years have witnessed fundamental sociopolitical and cultural changes in Sudan.  Women have been the terrain of many of the uneasy shifts in the country, even down to their skin, which they are now being encouraged to bleach.

Women’s human security rights in the Arab world: on nobody's agenda

Security breakdown has wreaked havoc with women’s lives in Arab transition countries, but it is hardly recognized in international debates on gender based violence, says Mariz Tadros

Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process

There is a backlash against women’s agency in Northern Ireland in a number of different ways, all of which impact on the ability of women to participate fully in initiatives intended to deal with the legacy of the past and support the transition out of conflict.

An end to AIDS?: Not through medication alone

In the world of HIV, the allure of the bio-medical techno-fix still attracts many policy makers. Meanwhile a parallel world of care, support, community spirit and women’s resilience still beats quietly. On World AIDS Day Alice Welbourn considers the future of the AIDS pandemic

Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap

Trafficking and sexual exploitation are an integral part of armed conflict and its aftermath. Madeleine Rees argues that the lack of political will and an interpretation of law that works in favour of perpetrators - including those working in international peace keeping institutions - must be addressed

The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability

Yakin Erturk reflects on the six years she spent working as the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and argues that in order to build a gender- just peace, dis-empowering patriarchy and engaging with the feminist agenda of empowering women must be the guiding principle for all peace initiatives.

Problematic protection: the law on Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan

The attempt to get the Afghan parliament to ratify a key law on violence against women ended in a fiasco and has been angrily dismissed as the politicking of a single ambitious female politician. But the controversies around the EVAW law show that there are no perfect strategies available to women activists in Afghanistan.

Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life

Rape has been recognized as a war crime in international and Bosnian law, but women survivors seldom receive the reparation they are owed. Meanwhile, persistent male violence makes daily life in Bosnia-Herzegovina a battleground for many women.

Rape in the UK: myths about myths

The old myths around rape persist. Many people still believe that 'serious' rape must be a violent attack. Now new voices are entering the debate. They claim that legal and academic 'experts' are using rape myths to shut down discussion and subvert the law.

Finland’s paradox of equality: professional excellence, domestic abuse

Finland is regularly touted as a paragon of gender equality and one of the most progressive countries for women’s rights.  So why are its rates of domestic violence almost twice the European average?

What will it take to end violence against women?

Twenty years after the United Nations declared violence against women to be a violation of their human rights, we are still a long way from gender violence becoming unacceptable in a society 

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