Women in Syria have faced extraordinary loss in the ongoing civil war, yet they persist as activists, caregivers, and humanitarians. These women have taken on increasing responsibilities – whether by choice or due to circumstance – and they have paid with intimidation, arrest, abuse, and even torture by government forces, pro-government militias, and armed groups opposed to the government.
In Saskatchewan, as in Northern British Columbia, Human Rights Watch has found evidence of a fractured relationship between law enforcement and Indigenous communities. The legacy of settler colonialism and racist assimilation policies—particularly the residential school system—still overshadow the present-day dynamics between police and Indigenous communities. Residential schools, which the Canadian government operated up until 1994, along with the Catholic Church, forcibly removed Indigenous children and youth from their communities, severing connections to their kinship networks and family, language, and culture. Many Indigenous children and youth in residential schools were also subjected to severe psychological and sexual abuse while in these facilities. The RCMP was actively involved and complicit in ensuring that Indigenous children attended these schools.
Indigenous communities face a host of other rights violations. Canada has abundant water, yet water in many indigenous communities in Ontario is not safe to drink. The water on which many First Nations communities depend is contaminated, hard to access, or toxic due to faulty treatment systems.
Years after violence engulfed Kenya in the aftermath of the December 2007 election, survivors of rape and other sexual violence continued to experience significant physical and psychological trauma and socioeconomic hardship, worsened by the Kenyan government’s failure to provide medical care, psychosocial support, monetary compensation, and other redress.
Fighters from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) have arbitrarily detained, ill-treated, tortured, and forcibly married Sunni Arab women and girls in areas that were under their control in Iraq. While some local and international organizations have provided support to victims of gender-based violence, not enough has been done to tackle the stigma around sexual violence, and there is a lack of awareness about appropriate services and psychosocial or mental health support, medical professionals and service providers.
south sudan, 2015
After decades of vicious civil war, the world’s youngest nation enjoyed a brief period of calm after independence in 2011, before it plunged into a fresh conflict. The war’s toll on women and girls was particularly horrific. Amid the killing of civilians, widespread pillaging of cattle, and destruction of homes, scores of women have been subjected to appalling sexual violence. Seeking refuge in UN camps, women and girls remained at risk of sexual violence, especially when collecting water or using unlit latrines at night.
Commercial farming has destroyed the livelihoods of rural smallholder farmers in Serenje district of Central Zambia. A broad range of investors, from corporate to family-run farms, have acquired thousands of hectares of land while ignoring laws meant to prevent forced evictions and ensure that rural residents are compensated if their land is taken. Some farms have evicted residents whose families had farmed the land for generations. Women and their families who had farmed the land were left in dire straits without their only source of livelihood.