What the Hazaras in Afghanistan Need From All of Us

What the Hazaras in Afghanistan Need From All of Us

By Guest Contributor Farid Noori. On September 30, 2022, 18-year-old Marzia Mohammadi started somewhat of a different day. A special day, some might say. She was going to take the practice version of Afghanistan’s national university entrance exam in a country where schools are closed for girls past sixth grade. Smart, beautiful, and ambitious, Marzia kept a diary in which she wrote lofty dreams like one day meeting in Paris her favorite author, Elif Shafak, and going for a bike ride. Her entry on September 22 reads:  “When national results are out, Marzia, daughter of Bostan Ali, will score in the top 10.” Eight days later, while preparing for that same exam, instead of showing the world her talent and grit, Marzia was torn to pieces. A suicide bomber entered the classroom and detonated himself among the students killing Marzia, her cousin Hajar, and 55 other students. Besides being mostly girls, the victims shared another identity: all were Hazara, an ethnicity heir...
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Human Rights Should Begin at Home: An Argument for Classifying Domestic Violence as Torture Under the UNCAT

Human Rights Should Begin at Home: An Argument for Classifying Domestic Violence as Torture Under the UNCAT

By Co-Editor Varsha Vijayakumar As Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) comes to a close, it is imperative to consider the ways in which this pervasive form of intimate harm is consistently overlooked on a global scale. In paralleling domestic violence with torture— particularly by dissecting the four core components of Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)— practitioners can begin to uncover the biases inherent to the human rights system as it exists today. Domestic violence is a phenomenon that exists everywhere. It is not restricted to any race, region, class, language, or any other marker of identity-- many people across the globe share this experience.  While it is important to clarify that domestic violence is not only experienced by women, this form of harm is severely gendered and does skew heavily toward women as victims. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies violence against women as a public health...
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Sexual Violence in Ukraine

By Staff Writer Sydney Smith Content Warning: sexual violence On March 9, 2022, Russian soldier Mikhail Romanov barged into the home of a mother in the Kyiv region of Ukraine where brutally he took the life of her husband, forcibly undressed her, and gang raped her with a pistol to her head. The raping took place over three separate occasions while her child bore witness. This horrific story is just one account of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) that has been documented thus far in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A report from the OHCHR identifies 108 allegations of CRSV against women, girls, men and boys from February 24 to May 15, 2022 in eleven Ukrainian cities and in a detention facility in the Russian Federation. Although rape and gang rape are the highest reported allegations, at seventy-eight, CRSV takes on many forms and this report alone includes seven attempted rapes, fifteen forced public strippings, and eight other accounts of sexual torture, sexual...
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Legalized Masculinity, Human Rights and Male Rape in Bangladesh

By Guest Writer Arifur Rahman* The conception that a man needs to be virile, powerful, tough and impenetrable is dominant in a country like Bangladesh. Being a male rape victim, therefore, is considered a flagrant violation of the code of heterosexuality– such an individual no longer belongs to the sphere of masculinity. In effect, most male rape cases in Bangladesh remain under-reported. However, in recent years, the country has witnessed a notable spike in male rape cases. Data from a leading human rights organization reveal that, in the year 2021, a number of 31 male rape cases were reported. Recently, a madrasah teacher was arrested for the alleged rape of his 12 year old male student. Despite the presence of male rape in Bangladesh, the legal redress for male rape victims stands somewhat as a legal quandary and reflects the societal expectation of ideal masculinity. The Penal Code 1860, for instance, blatantly affirms hegemonic masculinity. The 100-year-old legal instrument bears a colonial...
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Australia can Advance Justice for People with Disabilities in Papua New Guinean Prisons

By Guest Contributor Rachel Sadoff* [John Sikowel, age 36] was brutalized, beaten and forced to walk although he is disabled. He had to crawl into his cell. […] He received some medication, but no proper medical treatment. He is locked in his cell most of the time. – Manfred Nowak, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture.   *** Globally, people with disabilities (PWDs) are “more likely to experience victimization, be arrested, be charged with a crime, and serve longer prison sentences once convicted, than those without disabilities,” reports the US National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability. This group includes people with intellectual and developmental conditions like Down Syndrome and blindness, as well as psychological ones like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), this structural violence is enabled by legal neglect, torpid reform, and a lack of enforcement of disability policies. As PNG’s largest source of aid and investment – constituting 80% of its foreign development assistance – Australia is uniquely...
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Rights in Conflict: Competing Claims for Housing and Property in Brazil

Rights in Conflict: Competing Claims for Housing and Property in Brazil

By Co-Editor Winston Ardoin Written during the period of redemocratization after the repressive military dictatorship, the 1988 Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil is among the most progressive in the world. After the preamble and a short list of foundational principles, Title II explicitly describes all the fundamental rights and guarantees granted to every citizen by the State. One of the longest and most detailed declarations of rights in any national constitution, the drafters’ progressive and inclusive goals created a difficult problem for the Brazilian state: the potential for conflicts of rights. Like the American court system, Brazilian courts must choose which right to uphold and defend when competing groups bring opposing claims citing different constitutional rights. In a deeply unequal country where political and legal structures remain controlled by the elite, the question often also becomes whose rights matter more: those of the powerful or those of the marginalized? One collision of rights , especially present in major cities such...
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Reimagining Governance: The Visionary Potential of Chile’s Rewritten Constitution

Reimagining Governance: The Visionary Potential of Chile’s Rewritten Constitution

By Co-Editor Varsha Vijayakumar. This coming Sunday, September 4, every Chilean citizen above the age of eighteen will vote to “approve” or “reject” a brand-new national constitution.  Chile’s existing constitution was established during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. On September 11, 1973, the military general led a U.S.-backed coup d’etat that ousted Salvador Allende, the first Marxist in the world to have been democratically-elected to power. Today, the histories and lives of the murdered and disappeared are intentionally documented by organizations such as the Museum of Memory & Human Rights in Chile’s capital city.*  A national plebiscite is nothing new in Chile. In fact, the formal end of Pinochet’s dictatorship was brought about by a 1988 referendum in which 56% of Chileans voted “no” on the question of extending his regime. Critics have long argued that the current constitution prioritizes the neoliberal economic model that was established under Pinochet’s rule and generally enshrines the stark inequalities of...
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Institutionalizing the Revolution or Maintaining the Status Quo: The Question of Plurinationalism in Bolivia

By Co-Editor Winston Ardoin In a crucial victory for Evo Morales, Bolivia’s former leftist indigenous president, the state’s most recent constitution entered into force on February 7, 2009. The document reorganized the state around the concept of plurinationalism, defined by political scientist Michael Keating as “the coexistence within a political order of more than one national identity, with all the normative claims and implications that this entails.” Proponents of the new constitution saw the codification of plurinationalism as the institutionalization of their revolutionary struggle against the legacy of colonialism and long-standing inequality in Bolivia. Opponents, including some indigenous leaders, disagree, arguing that plurinationalism dilutes sovereign aims and maintains the unjust status quo. Understanding Plurinationalism in the Bolivian Context A uniquely Latin American idea developed in the 2000s, revolutionary Andean political leaders with indigenist convictions developed the concept of plurinationalism, defined by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa as “the coexistence of several different nationalities within a larger state where different peoples, cultures and worldviews...
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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Rights with Ajita Banerjie: The Right to Love

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Rights with Ajita Banerjie: The Right to Love

By RightsViews Staff Writer Sydney Smith On March 10 2022, SOGI rights researcher and activist Ajita Banerjie (she/they) spoke about the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court of India decision, Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. On September 6, 2018, in a unanimous decision by the court, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (1860), which criminalized unnatural sex between two individuals, was considered unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the rights to expression, equality, privacy, and human dignity.  Banerjie details three reasons why this judgment is unique. First, the judgement not only decriminalized same sex acts, but went above and beyond to recognize LGBTQIA+ members as equal rights-holding citizens who deserve a life free of persecution. Second, the judgment offered an expansive interpretation of the right to privacy. The court recognized Section 377’s unreasonable restriction on privacy and freedom of choice. Additionally, privacy was no longer only relevant in the private sphere; rather, the court recognized social privacy and...
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The Consequences of Texas SB8: It May Become Impossible to Get an Abortion in Large Parts of the US

By Staff Writer Susanne Prochazka. The ripple effect of the Texas abortion ban, SB 8, has already impacted reproductive rights across the United States. As early as September 2021, following SB 8 taking effect, states neighboring Texas experienced an influx of patients seeking abortion care and related reproductive health care. States as far away as Illinois and New York reported an increase in patients from Texas scheduling abortion procedures, with Texans forced to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles for abortion access. Under SB 8, which effectively bans abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, abortions in Texas have already fallen by almost 50%.  In the wake of Texas’ SB 8, a wave of equally restrictive abortion prohibitions has followed. 2022 is rapidly emerging as a devastating year for abortion rights and access, with more than 500 restrictions introduced nationwide since the start of state legislative sessions in January 2022.   Notably, three states have enacted bans as strict as Texas’...
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