GRW in Sarajevo and Berlin

In the last month Global Rights for Women has met with dozens of women from Europe and Central Asia who are all pursuing the goal of ending violence against women. In October we were consultants to a United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF) conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Then we traveled to Berlin for the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) network’s annual conference. It was wonderful to share in the energy and inspiration of the global sisterhood.

At the UNTF conference NGO representatives and others gathered to report on the outcome of grants they received to promote a multi-sectoral response to violence against women. A multi-sectoral response simply means that those who are charged with responding to violence against women collaborate in their efforts to ensure that victims are protected, their needs are met and that perpetrators are held accountable. The participants in a multi-sectoral response may include police, prosecutors, courts, social and healthcare services, and NGO victim advocates. The collaboration can take many forms, from simple referral networks to Coordinated Community Response (CCR), the comprehensive method developed in Minnesota in the 1980’s.

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Probation: A Key Element in an Effective Coordinated Community Response

In March of this year Global Rights for Women hosted NGO advocates and public officials from Lithuania, Latvia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan for a workshop in Minnesota on Coordinated Community Response (CCR). CCR is a method of implementing laws and policies that prioritizes victim safety and offender accountability for domestic violence within a social change framework. CCR guides communities to build interventions that respond effectively to victims’ actual experiences. In a CCR, agencies such as police, prosecutors, courts, probation and victim advocates work together to create policies and procedures for collaboration and communication. CCR originated in Duluth, Minnesota and has been implemented all over the world.

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Global Rights for Women brings lessons learned in Minnesota to the world

When Global Rights for Women works with partners around the world to achieve women’s human rights to equality and freedom from violence, we stand on the shoulders of our foremothers here in Minnesota. When we train legal professionals and advocates in Moldova, Lithuania or Serbia we bring Minnesota’s experience of more than 40 years developing and honing laws to protect women and best practices for their implementation.

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A Different Face of Moldova

By some measures, Moldova is a broken country. It is the poorest country in Europe and has had no government since October, when the prime minister was ousted as a result of a banking scandal. There is corruption from the highest levels of government to the police officers on the street.

Yet Global Rights for Women saw a different face of Moldova when our team traveled there in December to train police, prosecutors, judges, forensic doctors and social service providers in best practices in responding to sexual violence. We saw hope, commitment and real progress toward keeping Moldovan women safe from violence. As US Ambassador to Moldova, James Pettit, said in his end-of-year message, “despite its problems, Moldova has immense potential. Your resources, your human capital, your spirit of creativity and hard work – subtract the problems, and Moldova could be a prosperous, democratic, European country.” Continue reading

When Culture Conflicts with Human Rights

In Global Rights for Women’s work to end violence against women and girls around the world, we get the question, “Aren’t you trying to impose ‘western values’ on people who have different cultures and traditions?” There are several answers to this question, but they all come down to the fact that women’s rights are human rights. The right to be free from violence is not limited to certain countries or cultures.

women-protesting-violenceOne answer is that we only work in places where we’re invited, usually by a local women’s rights NGO. Often these local organizations are seriously under-resourced and working against tremendous obstacles. When they see a conflict between culture and women’s rights their priority is to keep women safe in their communities.

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Workshop in Morocco: Making a Difference Now and Later

10606392_812576058824447_534051577579020973_nMorocco is an incredibly beautiful place, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. Just leaving the lingering Minnesota winter and stepping into a land of warmth and palm trees was a gift. When I arrived on Sunday evening I walked around the plaza by the train station in Rabat where people had gathered to enjoy the last hours of the weekend. Many people – men & women -were dressed in the traditional djelaba, children chased pigeons & balloon sellers added to the festivities. It felt like a very peaceful place.

On Monday morning we got to work and despite the differences – and the peacefulness – on the surface, the issue of violence against women is the same in Morocco as it is around the world – and worse than in a lot of places.

  • A government study there showed that in 2011 almost 63 percent of women in Morocco ages 18- 64 had been victims of some form of violence in the preceding year. 63 percent in one year!
  • 55 percent of these acts of violence were committed by the victim’s husband & only 3 percent of the wives reported the violence.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls: A Report from CSW59

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GRW’s Executive Director, Cheryl Thomas with Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Lily Greenan, Rosa Logar, Rashida Manjoo and Jackie Jones.

Global Rights for Women’s three days at the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women meeting was a mix of exhilaration and challenges. We were exhilarated by the heady experience of hearing from experts on women’s rights from around the world about their many accomplishments, reconnecting with old friends, and of course the response to the two events we sponsored and the other two that we participated in as panelists. At the same time our exhilaration was tempered by references to a backlash, obstacles and barriers.

Monday morning started with a standing room only crowd for our panel on “International and Regional Legal Standards on Violence Against Women.” The panel, led by Cheryl Thomas, included experts on European and Latin American treaties and a thought-provoking presentation on the United States’ potential to influence other governments’ response to violence against women through the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), currently pending before Congress. I had to leave our event early to participate in a panel sponsored by the Inter Parliamentary Union on cyber-violence. The widespread interest in this topic in several panels and discussions during the conference is an indication of the Internet’s role in an exponential expansion of violence against women throughout the world.

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Watching New Laws on Violence Against Women Globally: Does Electronic Monitoring Work?

img_1062This week Global Rights for Women is in Ankara, Turkey working with the government to monitor the use of an electronic monitoring system that is intended to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims.   Turkey included a bold provision allowing such electronic monitoring in their 2012 domestic violence law.

Global Rights for Women makes it a top priority to assess how new laws on violence against women are truly working in the daily lives of women. Are they keeping women safe? Are they holding violent abusers accountable?

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What Phylicia Rashad’s defense of Bill Cosby says about why rape victims don’t report.

Phylicia Rashad, the actor who portrayed Bill Cosby’s lawyer-wife on the Cosby show, recently defended him against the growing number of accusations of sexual assault. Rashad says that the women’s accusations should be discounted because they are destroying Cosby’s legacy. In declaring that “this is not about the women,” she unwittingly demonstrates the reasons why rape victims are reluctant to report their assaults. This insightful article explains why:

Why don’t we believe rape victims? Because of people like Phylicia Rashad