After the inauguration of Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, celebrations were marred by sexual assaults, including gang rape. These sort of events are the norm in Egypt. Women being stripped, beaten, sexually assaulted, and raped publicly are typical in the streets of Cairo. When women then go to the authorities to report these violations, the authorities force them to undergo invasive virginity testing, and are then often raped and assaulted by those authorities. These victims have no where to turn to, and get no justice or closure for what has been done to them. These sexual assaults and rapes have become so common that they are often witnessed by others in public but are completely ignored. Many have witnessed so many that they refer to the violations as being “all in good fun”. A female Egyptian news anchor giggled on air and said that women should stop making a big deal out of the assaults because the men were “just having fun”. Victims are being oppressed and feel hopeless because of these violations and something needs to be done about the sexual violence in Egypt.
Indonesia’s top military commander requires that all women that join the Indonesian military undergo a “virginity testing.”. The tests are mandatory for all female recruits and are invasive and degrading. According to The Washington Post, “In Indonesia, the test is considered standard practice. Women seeking to join the military are required to strip naked and have their genitalia manually examined by a doctor, purportedly to ensure that they are virgins.” The military commander, General Moeldoko, recognizes that virginity in no way reflects one’s abilities in the armed forces; however, Moeldoko continues to defend the testing because, according to Moeldoko, the tests are a measure of morality. The alleged purpose of the tests are to insure that female recruits do not have a ‘bad habit’ and claims that there is not other way to measure a person’s morality; however, no tests for ‘morality’ are required for men. The virginity tests have also been deemed as inhumane by several organizations. “So-called ‘virginity tests’ have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, particularly the prohibition against ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which Indonesia has ratified. In November 2014 the World Health Organization stated unambiguously, ‘There is no place for virginity (or “two-finger”) testing; it has no scientific validity.'”
“Indonesian Military Chief Defends ‘Virginity Tests’ For Female Recruits.”NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.
What is femicide? genocide“(Dictionary.com). Femicide is obviously a violation of human rights because it is murder.. therefore taking away the right to life. In South America, femicide has become a growing issue, but particularly so in Brazil. According to the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff(side note: How cool is it that Brazil has a female president?), at least fifteen women are murdered every day in Brazil. To change this, President Rousseff is taking a stand against femicide, by passing a femicide law. This law alters the criminal code to describe femicide as any crime that involves domestic violence, contempt, or discrimination against women and increases the sentences for murders(particularly of women) linked to domestic violence to 12-30 years. In other cases – such as the killing of a pregnant woman, a woman who’s just given birth, girls under 14, or women over 60 – the new law provides for even longer jail terms. This law also now recognizes acts of domestic violence and discrimination against women as femicide. The Representative of UN Women in Brazil, Nadine Gasman, said “the law identifies femicide as a specific phenomena. This kind of law is preventive in nature.”
We are lucky, as citizens of the United States, to live in a country in which war is not present. For many of us, it is difficult to imagine how different our lives would be if our country became a warzone. Citizens of Syria have no trouble imagining this scenario because, for them, it is their reality. In Syria, a civil war is happening. The country is divided because half of the people of Syria support their leader, President Bashar al-Assad, and the other half is against him. Those who opposed him began peaceful protesting, wanting an overthrow of the government without violence. In response to these protests, the Syrian government took violent action: kidnapping, raping, torturing, and murdering activists and their families (including all of their children) and disposing of their mutilated bodies along the sides of roads. When troops began firing at civilians, civilians started shooting back too. In addition to all of these violent human rights violations, the government is blockading cities, depriving civilians of water, food, and medical aid. When I learned of this, I was shocked to know that over 191,000 people have been killed. It is alarming that a government would violate the human rights of their own citizens in this way. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to stop the violence in Syria, but, as Americans, it is important to be educated on this issue and to help by donating money to go towards food, water, and supplies for those who are unable to obtain these necessities.
Human trafficking violates rights by robbing victims of their freedom, selling them as if they are property, and often involves physical torture. This is a global issue and often, the horrific stories we hear are from places far from our homes, such as China, where human trafficking is a major issue. The fact that these stories seem far away makes it easy to feel as though it would be impossible for this issue touch our communities, but this is not true. Recently in New Kent, Virginia, a truck driver reported suspicious activity in an RV. The report was investigated and police found a woman that had been kidnapped from her home in Iowa, sexually assaulted, and forced into human trafficking. It is important to call attention to crimes such as these, especially when they take place close to home, in order to realize that human trafficking is a human rights violation can be happening right under your nose, affecting your community, your neighbors. It may seem unlikely that such a horrific crime could be happening where you are, but it is, and it needs to be noticed.
I chose to research and discuss the topic of human rights violations because the encroachment of human rights is a global issue that affects many people across the world. I think it is important to be educated in this topic in order to understand the ways in which the societies of different regions of the globe differ from one another. While you may live in a country that allows men and women to have basic rights such as right to life, freedom, equality, the right to own property,and freedom of speech, there are millions of people whose rights are violated or are denied these basic human rights altogether.