Violence against women

Urgent Alert: United States: Urge your Senators and Congressperson to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 Jul 5
Update Date: 
2010 Nov 17
Update: 

*re-issued November 2010 for passage this year*

Equality Now supports the International Violence Against Women Act (HR 4594/S 2982) in order to achieve a more comprehensive, multi-sectoral, and coordinated response to violence against women that is not only more efficient, but also a wise investment. The I-VAWA would:

 

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION HERE or use the sample letter below.

Letters: 

Dear [Senator][Representative]

I am writing to voice my support for the International Violence Against Women Act (HR 4594/ S 2982).

Globally, it is estimated that one out of every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused over the course of her lifetime, with rates of domestic violence reaching up to 71% in some countries. Somewhere a woman is raped, beaten, killed by her husband, trafficked or forced to trade sex for food every day.

I believe that efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls should be a top priority in U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance programs. Not only is violence against women and girls a gross human rights violation, it is also a public health epidemic and a barrier to solving global challenges such as extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and terrorism.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) supports innovative programs, which have been shown to effectively decrease acts of violence and support survivors. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted: go to school, earn an income to take care of their families, collect food or water without fear of rape and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. I-VAWA will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing U.S. foreign policy to end and respond to violence against women and girls around the world.

When implemented, I-VAWA would help put an end to the fear, pain and suffering experienced by countless women and girls globally. Please use your leadership role to help facilitate the progress of this important legislation through Congress.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

 

Mexico: Take action against the officials who raided a high security women’s shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua State

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 Jul 19

On 9 June 2010, fourteen men, six of whom were carrying high-powered weapons, arrived at the secret facilities of Sin Violencia A.C. (“Without Violence”), the only high security shelter in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua State, Mexico, for women at extreme risk of violence. Heading the group was court clerk Román García, who presented a copy of an official letter signed by the First Judge of the Bravos Judicial District Family Court, Lic. Guadalupe Manuel de Santiago Aguayo.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Head of the Chihuahua State Supreme Court and the Governor of Chihuahua and ask them to take disciplinary action against the state officials involved in the raid on the shelter and to look into the possibility of prosecuting these officials who have so blatantly violated both the letter and the spirit of Mexico’s General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence. Ask them also to ensure that relevant government officials are thoroughly trained in implementing this law and in conducting themselves appropriately towards victims of violence and their defenders. Remind them of their obligations under state, federal and international law to protect the human rights of women. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

Lic. Rodolfo Acosta Muñoz
Head of the Supreme Court of the State of Chihuahua
Calle Allende No 901.
C.P. 31000, Zona Centro
Chihuahua, Mexico
Tel: +52 614 1 800 700 ext. 12800
Email: rodolfo.acosta@stj.gob.mx

Lic. José Reyes Baeza
Governor of the State of Chihuahua
Palacio de Gobierno
Calle Aldama # 901 Col Centro
C.P. 31000
Chihuahua, Mexico
Fax: +52 614 4 29 34 64
Tel: +52 614 4 29 33 00 ext. 11123
Email: secretariaparticularchihuahua@hotmail.com

Send a copy to: Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres
Email: accion@cedehm.org.mx

 Sample letter

 

Japan: Rape simulator games and the normalization of sexual violence

Action Number: 
33.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 May 1
Update: 

Equality Now responds to reactions to its Women's Action on rape simulator games.

Additionally, Equality Now is pleased to offer the update that Illusion Software appears to have removed RapeLay from its website. However we have no official confirmation from the company that the game has been permanently removed and it continues to sell other similar titles based on rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of women and girls. We continue to call on the company to remove permanently from its business and all retail outlets those games, including RapeLay, that promote violence against women and girls.

A schoolgirl around 12 years old travels on a commuter train. A man who has been following her gropes and sexually molests her. Eventually the train stops and she runs frightened into a public toilet, followed by her assailant who handcuffs and rapes her. The assailant takes her prisoner and repeatedly rapes her in various locations. Her mother and teenaged sister suffer the same fate. This family is targeted for rape as punishment because the older sister had previously reported to the police the attempted sexual assault of another woman by the rapist.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to Illusion Software asking it to withdraw immediately from sale, whether online or any other outlets, all games, including RapeLay, which involve rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women. Suggest that corporations have a responsibility to consider, as good business practice, any negative impact their activities may have on society and the public interest. Please write a similar letter to Amazon Japan asking it to remove all games that simulate sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls. Write also to the Japanese government officials below, calling on them to comply with Japan’s obligations under CEDAW and the Japanese Constitution to eliminate discrimination against women and particularly to ban the sale of computer games such as RapeLay, which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Mr. Tadashi Yoshimura
Managing Director
Illusion Software
1-10-1 Nishikanagawa Kanagawa-ku
Yokohama-city, Kanagawa 221-0822, Japan
Tel: (+81) (0)4-5322-1551
Email: illusion@illusion.jp

Mr. Jasper Cheung
President of Amazon Japan K.K
2-15-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-000-2, Japan
Email: via website

Prime Minister Taro Aso
2-3-1 Nagata-Cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0014, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-3581-0101
Fax: (+81)(0)3-3581-3883
Email: via website

Mr. Eisuke Mori
Minster of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8977, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-3580-4111
Fax: (+81)(0)3-3592-7393
Email: webmaster@moj.go.jp

Ms. Yuko Obuchi
Minister of State for Social Affairs and Gender Equality
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-5253-2111
E-mail: via website

With a copy to:
Ms. Seiko Noda
Minister of Consumer Affairs
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-5253-2111

Letters: 

Sample letter to Illusion Software:

Dear Mr Yoshimura,

I am writing to express my serious concern about the production and sale by Illusion Software of computer games such as RapeLay, whose purpose is to perpetrate simulated rape and sexual violence against women. Rape is a crime of violence that causes deep distress and harm to those who experience it. By trivializing rape in this way Illusion Software could appear to be promoting and even condoning such acts of violence against women.

It is widely acknowledged, including by the Japanese government, that media representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have, “a great impact” on negative gender stereotypes. Games such as those described, produced by Illusion Software, contribute to normalizing the objectification of women and strengthen harmful cultural and societal attitudes towards women and girls.

Corporations have a responsibility to consider as good business practice any negative impact their activities may have on society and the public interest. I ask that Illusion Software immediately withdraw from production and sale all games that normalize and promote violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely, 

______________________

Sample letter to Amazon Japan:

To Amazon:

I am writing to welcome the recent removal by Amazon Japan of RapeLay, a computer game produced by Illusion Software in which the player has to simulate raping a mother and her two daughters. I would like however to express my serious concern about the continued sale by Amazon Japan of other computer games whose purpose is to perpetrate acts of sexual violence against women, such as sexual stalking and molestation. Sexual violence including rape and molestation are serious crimes that cause deep distress and harm to those who experience them. By promoting violence against women in this way Amazon Japan could appear to be condoning it.

It is widely acknowledged, including by the Japanese government, that media representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have, “a great impact” on gender stereotypes. Games such as those described which are offered for sale by Amazon Japan, contribute to normalizing the objectification of women and strengthen negative cultural and societal attitudes towards women and girls. Amazon is an internationally recognized company and as such should hold itself to the highest levels of corporate responsibility, including to consider, as good business practice, any negative impact its activities may have on society and the public interest.

I ask that Amazon Japan immediately withdraw from sale all games that simulate sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

______________________

Sample letter to government officials:

Dear [name]

I am writing to express my serious concern about the sale in Japan of computer games such as RapeLay, produced by Illusion Software, which involve rape and sexual violence against women.

Japan has an obligation under Article 5(a) of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) “to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.” Representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have a great impact on negative gender stereotypes, as accepted by the Japanese government during Japan’s last periodic review by the CEDAW Committee. Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution also guarantees equality under the law and states that there shall be no “discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

I would therefore respectfully urge the Japanese government to comply with its obligations under CEDAW by promoting positive images of women as equal members of society, by establishing measures and policies to eliminate all discrimination against women and particularly by banning the sale of computer games such as RapeLay which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

 

Jordan: National Efforts to Confront "Honor Killings" and to Protect Women from Violence

Action Number: 
18.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2002 Nov 1

Honor KillingsIn January 2002, two brothers from Jordan were given a three-month prison sentence for killing their sister Safa Samir on 7 July 2001. When Safa returned to her home on 6 July she confessed to her family that she had engaged in sexual activity with a man. That day her brother Anas Samir tried to kill her with an axe in the backyard of the family's home. Safa was admitted briefly to the hospital.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Minister of Social Development, reminding her of the Jordanian government's commitment to protect the right to life and security of all its people and of the previous Minister's pledge to open a national women's shelter. Commend discussions held to date and the positive steps the government has taken to combat domestic violence, in particular under the auspices of the Family Protection Project. Urge her to support women under threat of violence and at risk of being killed by acting immediately to open shelters for women in Jordan.

Please also write to the Minister of Justice, welcoming the amendment of Article 340 and the recent decision of the Court of Cassation in the case of Fawaz Syouf, but noting with concern the continuing practice of "honor" killings and the way in which Articles 97 and 98 are used to mitigate punishment for these killings. Ask him to take steps to ensure that judges apply the law appropriately and do not use Articles 97 and 98, or Article 340, to allow the justification of "honor" killings. Request him to ensure the courts hold those who commit "honor" crimes properly accountable and that sentences handed down reflect the severity of the crime. Letters should be addressed to:

Her Excellency Dr Rowaida Maatiah
Minister of Social Development
P.O. Box 6720
Amman, JORDAN
Fax: +962-6-593-0687

His Excellency Faris Al-Nabulsi
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 4060
Amman, JORDAN
Fax: +962-6-464-6388

Jordan: National Efforts to Confront "Honor Killings" and to Protect Women from Violence

Action Number: 
18.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2000 Dec 1

Honor killingsOne woman was knifed to death because she wanted to continue her education and refused to marry the man chosen for her by her family. Another woman was shot five times because she ran away from her husband who continually beat and raped her. Another was strangled on her wedding night when her husband discovered she was no longer a virgin.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, urging him to support and to encourage other Members of Parliament to support all necessary amendments to the Penal Code so that it guarantees equality and justice and protects the value of all human life. Note that "honor killings" are a violation of fundamental human rights, including the right to life and to security of person, and the right to equal protection under the law.

Please also write to the Minister of Social Development expressing concern over the lack of shelters and other support services for women. Urge her to protect these women by establishing shelters and allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to establish shelters, and by implementing adequate support services around the country for women under threat of violence and at risk of being killed.

His Excellency Abd al-Hadi al-Majali
Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament
P.O. Box 72
Amman, JORDAN
Fax: 962-6-568-5970

Her Excellency Tamam al-Ghwol
Ministry of Social Development
P.O. Box 6720
Amman, JORDAN
Fax: 962-6-593-0687

Trinidad and Tobago: The Imminent Execution of a Battered Woman's Defenders

Action Number: 
15.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2000 Jul 1

Pamela RamjattanOn May 29, 1995, Indravani (Pamela) Ramjattan, Denny Baptiste and Haniff Hilaire were convicted of the murder of Ramjattan's husband, Alexander Jordan, and were sentenced to death by the Trinidad and Tobago Courts. Jordan's death marked an end to the savage beatings and brutal rapes endured by Pamela since the age of 17, when she had been sent to live with him against her will.

What You Can Do: 

Please send urgent appeals directly to the President, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Minister of National Security, calling for clemency on behalf of Denny Baptiste and Haniff Hilaire. Note the background of domestic violence in this case and that Ramjattan's sentence was overturned and reduced on appeal, based on this evidence. Note that Mr. Baptiste and Mr. Hilaire were attempting to rescue her from her husband's violence and that this fact should have been considered in their trials and sentencing. Cite the fundamental right to equal protection of the law, as well as the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It is important that action be taken on an urgent basis, as the government of Trinidad and Tobago could execute these men at any time. You may also want to urge the authorities to reduce Ramjattan's sentence to time served, as she has already spent eight years in prison, four and a half of them on death row. In addition to the authorities listed below, contact your own governments and request their urgent intervention to save the lives of Denny Baptiste and Haniff Hilaire. Please also bring the case to the attention of the media.

The President
The Hon.Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Circular Road, St. Ann's
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 624-1261/64
Fax: (868) 625-7950

The Prime Minister
The Hon. Basdeo Panday
Level 15, Central Bank Towers
Eric Williams Plaza, Independence Square
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-3653/5
Fax: (868) 627-4285

The Minister for National Security
Senator Brigadier The Hon. Joseph Theodore
Knox Street, Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-2441/5
Fax: (868) 627-8044

The Attorney General
The Hon. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
Winsure Building
24-28 Richmond Street, Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-2010/625-8901/623-4873
Fax: (868) 625-6530

Those of you who would like to make a contribution to "The Ramjattan Family Appeal" can send checks or money orders made out to "The Ramjattan Family Appeal," c/o Joanne Cross, Herbert Smith Solicitors, Exchange House, Primrose Street, London EC2A 2HS, United Kingdom. All funds raised will go towards a house for Pamela and her children as well as clothes, furniture, school books.

Trinidad and Tobago: The Imminent Execution of A Battered Woman and Her Defenders

Action Number: 
15.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1998 Oct 1

When she was 17 years old, Indravani Pamela Ramjattan, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, was sent against her will by her parents to live with Alexander Jordan. From the beginning her new husband was extremely violent. He beat her, he raped her, and he threatened to shoot her. Every time Pamela tried to run away, Alexander Jordan found her and forced her to return. He had friends among the local police who visited him at his home and saw Pamela with bruises but did nothing.

What You Can Do: 

Please send urgent appeals directly to the President, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Minister of National Security, calling for clemency on behalf of Pamela Ramjattan, Denny Baptiste and Haniff Hillaire. Note the background of domestic violence in this case and the failure of the legal system to even consider these mitigating circumstances. Note the many cases in which husbands who battered their wives to death are serving prison sentences, suggesting that the state treats those who kill in the course of inflicting domestic violence with much greater lenience than those who kill in the course of trying to stop domestic violence. Cite the fundamental human right to equal protection of the law, as well as the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In addition to the authorities listed below, contact your own governments and request their urgent intervention in this case. Please also bring the case to the attention of the media.

The President
The Hon.Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Circular Road, St. Ann's
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 624-1261/64
Fax: (868) 625-7950

The Prime Minister
The Hon. Basdeo Panday
Level 15, Central Bank Towers
Eric Williams Plaza, Independence Square
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-3653/5
Fax: (868) 627-3444

The Minister for National Security
Senator Brigadier The Hon. Joseph Theodore
Knox Street, Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-2441/5
Fax: (868) 627-8044

The Attorney General
The Hon. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
Winsure Building
24-28 Richmond Street, Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 623-2010/625-8901/623-4873
Fax: (868) 624-3109

Slavery in Ghana: The Trokosi Tradition

Action Number: 
14.3
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2002 May 1

Abla KotorAccording to the trokosi tradition practiced in southeastern Ghana, virgin girls are given to village priests as a way of appeasing the gods for crimes committed by family members. The word trokosi in the Ewe language means "slaves of the gods." Once given to the priest, a girl becomes his property and is made to carry out domestic chores such as cooking and washing, as well as farming and fetching water.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the officials listed below. Express your concern that thousands of trokosi are reportedly still held in shrines in spite of the 1998 law that prohibits the practice. Call on the government to take immediate steps to ensure that all trokosi are immediately released, and to make provision for their financial support, education, return to their families and re-integration into their communities. Urge the government to issue immediate instructions to police nationwide to enforce the law, and initiate legal prosecutions against shrines that have been holding trokosi in violation of the 1998 law.

His Excellency the President
Mr. J.A. Kufour
Office of the President
State House
Accra, GHANA
Fax: +233 21 676934

The Minister for Justice & Attorney General
Hon. Nana Akuffo Addo
Ministry of Justice & Attorney General's Dept.
P.O. Box M 60, Ministries
Accra, GHANA
Fax: +233 21 667609

Please also write to the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing concern over the apparent misrepresentation by the United States Government of the trokosi practice to the detriment of those working to end it. Ask him to take immediate action to correct this misrepresentation and to reaffirm that the trokosi practice is a severe human rights violation. Letters should be addressed to:

Secretary of State Colin Powell
US Department of State
Washington DC 20520, USA
Fax: +1 202 261 8577

Ghana: Legislation Enacted to Criminalize the Trokosi Tradition of Enslavement

Action Number: 
14.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1999 Jan 1

On 12 June 1998, the Ghanaian Parliament passed an amendment to the Criminal Code, adding Section 314A which criminalizes customary or ritual enslavement of any kind. The new law, which was signed by the President in September 1998, provides:

(1) Whoever

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the President of Ghana, thanking him for his support of legislation to criminalize the trokosi practice. Urge him to take steps to ensure that the legislation is brought to the attention of local communities and that it accomplishes its purpose of ending the trokosi tradition. Please also request his intervention on behalf of Abla Kotor, to facilitate the efforts of International Needs for her liberation from the Awlo-Korti shrine. Letters should be sent to:

His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings
President of the Republic of Ghana
The Castle-Osu
Accra
GHANA

Slavery in Ghana: The Trokosi Tradition

Action Number: 
14.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1998 Mar 1

Abla KotorAbla Kotor is 13 years old. At the age of 12, she was given to a local priest in atonement for the rape that resulted in her birth, the rape of her mother by her mother's uncle. As soon as Abla Kotor has completed three menstrual cycles, she too will almost certainly be raped, by the priest to whom she was given. Meanwhile, she works his fields and farmlands, cleans his home and cooks his meals.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the following Parliamentary officials in Ghana. Urge them to pass the legislation which has been introduced to criminalize the trokosi tradition and to take immediate action to ensure the release of all trokosi in Ghana and the protection of girls in the future from this tradition. Note that Ghana is a party to many international treaties which prohibit slavery in all forms, and that the Constitution of Ghana also prohibits slavery and forced labor. Letters should be sent to:

Chairperson of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Select
Committee
Parliament House
Accra, Ghana

The Clerk of Parliament
Parliament House
Accra, Ghana

Chairperson of the Women's Caucus
Parliament of Ghana
Accra, Ghana

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