AI group marks Women’s Day

Submitted by Florence Stemo

March 8 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the gains of women and girls around the world in terms of human rights. It is also a day to call for an end to violence and discrimination against the female gender, which remains the most pervasive of human rights violations.

Girls, many of them children, sold into prostitution, battered wives, “stolen sisters” (the 580 First Nations women in our country who have disappeared in the past decade), rape that is tolerated, even condoned in many countries, and customs such as genital mutilation and honor killings are just some examples of violations endured by women and girls.

On this 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Amnesty International is calling for action on behalf of women in two specific countries, Nicaragua and Columbia.

In Nicaragua, the specific call is for an end to rape and sexual violence against girls. Such abuse is widespread in that country with more than two thirds of all reported cases of rape from 1998 to 2008 having been committed against girls under the age of 17. Girls living in poverty are at particular risk of having limited access to justice and support. Amnesty International is calling upon the president of Nicaragua to develop, fully resource, and implement a national plan to end violence against girls.

In Columbia, indigenous women face triple discrimination because they are poor, they are indigenous, and they are women. The government of Columbia has tried to convince foreign governments and investors that Columbia is a “post-conflict” society. However, the internal struggle between the army and insurgent groups is far from over.

This armed conflict between state security forces and paramilitaries against guerrilla groups has gone on for more than 40 years and has been marked by extraordinary levels of human rights abuses and violations of international law. The principal victims have been civilians. Women and girls have been threatened and raped by all the warring parties.

Amnesty International condemns such violations of human rights, and calls for peaceful action to urge the government of Columbia to live up to its promise to improve human rights within its borders.

The Rimbey Group of Amnesty International is responding to the situations in both Nicaragua and Columbia. The group is circulating a petition to be sent to the government of Nicaragua, requesting legislation and action to improve the life of women and girls in that country. Members are writing letters to the Canadian government, reminding them of their promise that the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement it pushed through Parliament in 2010 would result in greater pressure to improve human rights in Columbia.

Anyone wanting more information is welcome to contact Florence Stemo at 403-843-3443.

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