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Losada v. Bolivia and the Importance of Believing Women and Girls

Josephine Hale

Standing up and speaking out for yourself is one of the hardest things a woman can do when a crime has been committed against them. In the face of backlash and invalidation, working hard to share a story can put her at great risk or can even threaten her livelihood. Yet when a woman has the courage and the bravery to report and speak up about something bad/illegal that has happened to them, institutions of law have the innate responsibility to guarantee them access to justice. However, it is too often an occurrence that systems and institutions of government fail victims of sexual violence and abuse in their plight for justice because of established double standards and acts of sexism.

Between the period of September 2001 and May 2002, a sixteen-year-old Colombian girl living in Bolivia with her family named Brisa Liliana de Angulo Losada was raped and suffered many incidents of sexual violence at the hands of her twenty-six-year-old male cousin. Beforehand, Losada was on the national swim team, was an active community service member, and played both the piano and violin. Yet after the abuse, she became extremely depressed and developed self-harming tendencies. She became so ostracized by her community that she was sent to the United States to study and escape the social abuse she was experiencing at home.

To better understand what happens to people when they are subjected to abuse and sexual violence, Losada studied sociology and psychology while in the United States. In part to make sense of her own experience, but also to help children who were in a similar situation, she then went on to study law and endeavored to help victims just like her.

Many argued that if Losada were to bring a case against her abuser to trial, it would cause grave shame to her family because her abuser was a member of her family. Nevertheless, she persisted, and her case made it to a criminal trial, but she was subjected to gross violations at every stage of proceedings. Losada was ruthlessly interrogated by a judge and prosecutor in ways that violated her personal integrity and private life. The prosecutor made her tell her story repeatedly just to try to catch her out so they could then accuse her of lying. The prosecutors told her that they were able to send her to jail for defamation and would get her family members into great trouble but, if she decided to retract her claims and remain silent, they would not do that to her and her loved ones. She was forced to undress in front of multiple male medical providers who made her feel extremely violated – all while being a minor and without the presence of a parent. She was also denied the opportunity to have women provide the exams instead.

Losada was forced to endure three separate trials in Bolivia where no actions were taken to hold Losada’s abuser accountable for the crimes he committed against her. Because of this, Losada ended up filing her case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR). The current case, Brisa De Angulo Losada v. Bolivia, is the first instance that the IACHR held a hearing of a case that relates to the human rights violations of an adolescent victim of incest.

The case against Bolivia states that the nation’s public ministry did not facilitate a proper diligent investigation while also failing to properly facilitate the criminal process based on the evidence that was provided. As a result, Losada, the victim, experienced discrimination based on her age and gender while trying to access her justice. Losada spent the rest of her life after the events helping young children and women who are victims of sexual violence get access to resources that will allow them to not only get justice against their abusers but also process their trauma.

Twenty years after the events that changed Losada’s life forever, still, no justice has been served. During the hearing, Losada expressed how difficult it was at first for her to go to the police to report the crimes because she had the belief that they were too inaccessible, and would not help her. For years, her family members tried to convince her that what her abuser did to her was not a crime. For years, her abuser physically abused her and even tortured her animals to ensure that she would forever live in fear of him and that she would remain quiet. Losada also remarked how her abuser, and other abusers in general, were offered as much processing time as they needed to tell their story. How they were offered as much comfort and support as possible and were even offered water when they were telling their side of the story. While Losada, like many other women, was denied that same experience and instead was met with hostility.

The double standard experienced by Losada, and many others, alludes to how the testimonies and experiences of women are held at a lesser value than those of men and are not taken as seriously. The reality tends to be that men are met with as much validation and respect as possible with minimal questioning. Even after her first testimony was given, her aunt and her cousin claimed that she was a liar along with other horrible things. Victims like Losada are told their stories cannot be true because they are seen as strong and respected women with strong personalities and only weak and quiet women are victims of sexual violence. The goal of Losada and her team is not to work against Bolivia. Rather, it is to facilitate solutions and precedents that will make it easier for women and children to come forward before a court of law to persecute their abusers within the region. Her goal is to establish international standards for female and child victims of incestuous relationships and sexual violence which ensures the duty of states to punish and prevent such crimes.

Losada endured the hearing with humility, dignity, and bravery as she and her legal team stated their plan for transformative reparations. This included inquiring the court to order the government of Bolivia to develop and facilitate sweeping strategies that address measures to ensure effective administration of justice based on international best practices, such as changing the rape law to one based on consent. They also made a case for the court to provide economic compensation for the human rights violations experienced by Losada while remedying the errors made in the previous trials and investigations against Losada. This means the state must also investigate the potential errors of those who contributed to the wrongdoings of the case along with the actions of the medical practitioner. Lastly, they must ensure that officials who interact with girls and adolescents who are alleged victims of sexual violence are properly trained, ensuring that those conducting investigations and prosecutions are able to think about what is happening from the perspective of appropriate age and gender. The desired and necessary changes this case demands are slow to be realized. Yet, Losada stated that she hopes her case is a step forward for social and judicial progress for victims of sexual violence.

What if the “Deal of the Century” had been written by Palestinian women ?

Once again, two wealthy, heterosexual, white men in power negotiated and debated over the worth of the lives of countless Arabs without a second thought about the actual consequences of such a debate. Without a single Palestinian representative in sight, President Donald Trump of the United States and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered up the “Deal of the Century,” a plan that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser to the President Jared Kushner, called the best “opportunity that [Palestinians] have ever had in their existence.” It is important to remember, Kushner told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, that this plan is nothing less than the total fault of the Palestinians, who are now “trapped because of bad leadership,” which has, Kushner continued, prevented them from coming to the negotiating table. 

He claims that if Palestinians do not accept this deal, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” If you needed more proof than the complete lack of Palestinian involvement in the process that this “peace plan” is a unilateral sham, look no further than Kushner’s cavalier dismissal of decades of Palestinian demands for a life of rights and dignity. In a patriarchal world where toxic masculinity reigns at the helm of nation-states, violence and dehumanization is coded in pragmatism. Pragmatism as explained by Kushner is accepting the world as it is, placing the burden of a continued existence of erasure and occupation on the Palestinian people.

A peace plan is doomed to fail under Trump – an egomaniac with a history of white nationalism who fundamentally does not understand the nature of peace or the process it would require. Under his leadership, civilian casualties have skyrocketed and he personally revoked the policy that requires US intelligence officials to report on the number of civilians killed in drone strikes outside of war zones. His respect for the likes of Nahrendra Modi, Kim Jong Un, Xi JinPing, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte, to name a few of his beloved ‘strongmen,’ indicate his complete disregard for human rights and the protection of human dignity. These men have no problem illegally detaining, oppressing, and murdering people inside their borders in the same way that Trump and Netanyahu could not even convincingly feign interest in the well-being of the Palestinian people and the ways they would suffer under this deal.

Though Kushner’s knowledge of Israel-Palestine – he’s read a whole “25 books” on the subject – is equal parts frightening and comical, it is not altogether off the beaten path when it comes to U.S.-Palestinian relations and “negotiations.” For, once again, a room full of non-Palestinian men have redrawn the boundaries to a country they have no rights to and, once again, the argument in favor of these exclusive meetings rests on racialized biases toward Palestinians that infantilizes them, and claims that the childlike temper tantrums and hair-pulling between the grown men of different Palestinian political factions is the real reason for the continued Occupation instead of, to give just one small example, the continued colonial ambitions of the hyper-nationalist Israeli right. It’s just that this time, the two administrations have decided to do away with the pleasantries that usually mask the often deadly outcomes, for Palestinians, of these negotiations. 

As Jadaliyya Co-Editor and Human Rights Attorney Noura Erakat said on CNN about the map presented in the plan, “This is an ethno-national outcome that seeks to separate people in order to come to an agreement rather than establish some sort of solution where everybody exists in dignity and equality.” She was then asked, “What’s better for Palestinians? A bad state or no state at all?” Her response speaks to a fundamental lack of ethics and effectiveness framing the plan. “That is a very strange question. It’s like asking someone who’s home got stolen – we’ll stick you up in the attic with absolutely no water…but we’ll give you some rations. In your own home, in the attic. What’s better – a roof over your head or no roof at all?”

The pathetic attempt to label this 80-page document the “Deal of the Century” aside, it is more concerning that on either side of this already one-sided negotiation we can’t see anyone other than men. Angry feminists notwithstanding, it is well-documented that the quality of men’s peacemaking efforts worldwide is far beneath those peace agreements and negotiations in which women played a dominant role. With relation to gender equitable provisions, specifically, those peace processes that included women were not only more likely to include these provisions, but were equally more likely to actually enforce these provisions. More importantly, the positive correlation between non-violence and women’s leadership means highly successful social movements and peacekeeping attempts.

And yet, Palestinian women are nowhere to be seen. Even more disturbing is the fact that Palestinian women, and the broader network of Palestinian women’s movements and activists, have been at the forefront of gender progressive initiatives in the region, despite their continued marginalization under active occupation. Palestine was one of the first countries among the Arab States to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) in fulfillment of its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The primary goal of the NAP is to increase women’s meaningful participation in peacekeeping and conflict negotiations. In September, separate factions of the women’s movement organized simultaneous demonstrations across historic Palestine as part of a movement called Taliaat (“Going out in the streets”). Under the banner “No liberated homeland without liberated women,” Palestinians marched together against domestic violence, uniting various Palestinian demographics in a way that few others, including nationalist movements, have had difficulties accomplishing. 

Palestinian women – of various ages, religions, and classes – are not just “victims of circumstance,” but have been “agents of change” across various resistance movements in historical Palestine. The arrest of then-16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who stood up against Israeli soldiers that had, earlier that day, attacked a group of young protesters that included her cousin, is just one example. As fathers, brothers, and sons continue to disappear, be injured or killed, and incarcerated as a result of the occupation, women have stepped in to support their families and continue their resistance. Palestinian women continue to practice sumud, or “steadfastness,” remaining rooted to their land, “in the face of indignities, injustices and humiliation” (El Said, et al., 2015;13) as a result of the continued occupation. These are not recent developments, but the continuation of a long history of civil disobedience that began during the first Intifada; though it was illegal at the time for women to be formal political party members, they continued to mobilize in secret under the guise of “homemaking” groups. 

And yet, Palestinian women are nowhere to be seen. Doubly marginalized as women living under Israeli occupation and both Israeli and Palestinian patriarchal norms, Palestinian women have equal claims to any peace process that claims to have their best interests at heart. Were Jared Kushner and his father-in-law actually concerned with the “bad leadership” of the Palestinians, or with the likelihood that Palestinians would, once again, “screw up” this “opportunity” before them, they might have considered reaching out to any of the thousands of Palestinian women that continue to fight for liberation today. As Manal Omar, the CEO and founder of Across Red Lines noted: 

The Palestinian women represent the heart of the struggle – which is a global outcry that nobody can be free and live in dignity unless ALL are free and live in dignity. The deal attempts to minimize the conflict to a fight over land – when the reality is this is about access, freedom, equality, freedom, and rights. This goes beyond one country, one region and exemplifies the reality of the long term effects of colonialism and an apartheid state that refuses to be held accountable.

At intersection of multiple oppressions, Palestinian women’s struggle resonates with “radical feminism, established by women of colour who insisted on a complex and nuanced understanding of female oppressions that factors in colonialism, structures of racial hierarchy, class and capitalism”. Unless all of these are dismantled, which, unsurprisingly, is not on the agenda of this room full of rich, mainly white, pro-imperialist men, we will not be able to speak about liberation. 

To shroud an attempted consolidation of power in peace-making rhetoric is to make a mockery of the oppression Palestinians experience everyday under occupation. We refuse to lend legitimacy to the “Deal of A Century” coming from an impeached, sexual predator of a President and a criminally indicted, extreme right-wing Prime Minister. Seeking peace requires a commitment to transformational justice and reconciliation, a commitment to account for generations of trauma and violence. 

VOICE & Feminism in Action Post Conflict and Disaster

Get to know VOICE! 

VOICE – a new organization established by longtime feminist activist Mendy Marsh – is dedicated to eradicating violence against women and girls in conflict, post-conflict, and disasters. She brings over two decades of experience working to end violence against women worldwide. 

VOICE advocates for a world where women and girls no longer face discrimination and violence and where they are respected leaders of humanitarian responses. This sounds like an obvious demand – but it is far from reality. 

Help us get to know VOICE. Why was it founded?

VOICE is unconventional on purpose. We re-imagine conflict and disaster response – improving it for those whose lives are most impacted and whose voices have historically been most silenced. Not only must women and girls affected by violence be heard, but they should also be driving the process to end that violence.

VOICE recognizes the leadership of women and girls in affected communities, providing them with the resources they demand, to implement their own solutions.

VOICE amplifies the solutions that women and girls identify. After all, who knows better than they do about what they need? 

Can you tell us a bit about your motivation for dedicating your life’s work to addressing violence against women and girls?

Like women and girls all over the world, I have had multiple experiences that have illustrated to me that the world needs to change in terms of preventing violence against women and girls and promoting their leadership. I have been personally affected by domestic violence as a witness and as a survivor.  I have helped women get out of abusive relationships, and I have lost women family members and friends due to intimate partner violence in different parts of the US, including New York City just a few weeks ago. 

For me, addressing violence against women and girls is a way to right injustices that women and girls face on a daily basis all over the world.  It is about creating the future that we all must own for women and girls all over the world. 

Sadly, I know we won’t end violence against women and girls in my lifetime, but I have to continue the courageous work that women and girls have done before me.  Their strength, sacrifices, leadership and insight have made our own learning and growth possible and inform the work we do today, and their efforts will not be retracted or lost in this hostile world. 

How does feminism – as a principle, practice, politic, etc – play into the organization?

VOICE is unapologetically feminist – an important distinction when feminist principles are under threat every day, in nearly every country. Why apologize for what we know is right? And in so doing, VOICE fights alongside other feminists to ensure that humanitarian responses recognize and respect women’s and girls’ insight, leadership, and expertise. 

The organization is inherently political – because addressing violence against women and girls is a political act. We are unafraid to say that women and girls face unique threats because of their gender, and people in power have a duty to invest in their protection. Feminism is political. 

What does VOICE do? 

VOICE shares and shifts power through meaningful partnerships that provide platforms to speak truth. This truth includes the ability to be self-reflective, building in an iterative process that allows for examination and challenges to their work, and constant evolution to better meet the needs of women and girls. 

VOICE is disruptive and catalytic in that it speaks out against injustice and provides radical solutions rooted in local knowledge and built on expertise and evidence. And in this work, they are accountable. 

It is now well known that humanitarian emergencies are most dangerous for women and girls. Pre-existing vulnerabilities increase, and women and girls have to risk far more to ensure their own safety. Even seemingly-simple acts such as accessing water or using the toilet become risky for women. 

Food distributions are also avenues of exploitation, and many women and girls face dangers simply for accessing their right to food aid. VOICE builds their work on extensively documented research, showing that disasters and displacement exacerbate violence against women and girls.

Women and girls stay safer when those leading a humanitarian response are women themselves. Local women and girls know exactly what their communities need and get lifesaving supplies quickly and safely to those who need it most.

To help promote the voices of women and girls and hold humanitarian actors more accountable to women and girls, we have created and deployed tools to improve action.  In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, we created and tested the ListenUp! Index to assess site-specific interventions and their accountability to women and girls. Emergency responses in Lebanon, Nigeria and Uganda are now using the findings from the tool to better prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. 

Crimes perpetrated against women and girls are too often ignored, especially in conflicts and crises. Two years on from the proliferation of the #metoo and #aidtoo movements, the humanitarian system is still failing to listen to the women and girls it’s meant to serve. Despite the headlines, apologies, and some limited increased investment to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse across the development and humanitarian sectors, funders are still neglecting violence against women and girls. 

To address this, VOICE raised the alarm, along with the International Rescue Committee, on funding for violence against women and girls in crisis settings to document the fact that a woeful 0.12% of humanitarian funding goes toward tackling violence against women and girls. This research, entitled Where is the Money? How the Humanitarian System is Failing in its Commitments to End Violence Against Women and Girls also revealed that it is possible to better address and prevent violence against women and girls, but we are not despite the reality that we have increased evidence on what works to address violence against women and girls. 

Less talk, more action! 

We have generated a lot of awareness and conversation around the need for change when it comes to gender inequality and the status of women. It is recognized that addressing violence against women and girls is essential to addressing every single social development goal and beyond.  But we still have a lot of progress to make. Unfortunately, no country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.  We know that 1 in 3 women will face physical or sexual violence, and further research shows that disasters and displacement exacerbate violence against women and girls and that one in five refugee or displaced women have experienced sexual violence.  

What can organizations and individuals do to take action?

Uplift women and girls as experts and leaders of their own experience, as agents of change. 

Help mobilize resources so that we have increased amounts of money to address violence against women and girls. 

Act to dismantle bias and call out organizational cultures and practices that reward sexism, discrimination or hide abuse. This includes challenging sexism and promoting women and girl-friendly environments everywhere (homes, schools, places of work and beyond).

Recruit more women. Bring women from diverse backgrounds into the workplace. Ensure this includes their recruitment into leadership positions. 

Provide platforms for women-led organizations. Women’s organizations have led efforts to advance women’s rights and protection in their communities across the world. Yet, despite the immense contribution that they are making, many of these organizations are unheard and underfunded. We must support and amplify the voices of these organizations.

We must continue to push leaders to make real, lasting commitments to women and girls’ health, education, and empowerment. With real political will and money behind them. 

Recognize that each one of us can be  a positive agent of change. We need individuals to reflect and act on a personal level to be this change, wherever you may be.

Honoring Women & Girls on International Migrants Day 2019

There are approximately 272 million migrants worldwide. Nearly half are women and girls. Today, the international community celebrates International Migrants Day in honor of the day the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (A/RES/45/158) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. As activists, non-governmental … Continue reading “Honoring Women & Girls on International Migrants Day 2019”

There are approximately 272 million migrants worldwide. Nearly half are women and girls. Today, the international community celebrates International Migrants Day in honor of the day the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (A/RES/45/158) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. As activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society actors, and international organizations such as the IOM and the UN acknowledge the growing migrant population worldwide, and the often harrowing everyday realities that migrants are forced to face, it is critical that we focus on the ways that gender, specifically, has come to bear on the lives of migrants worldwide. 

Migration is a feminist issue. Migrant women and girls face specific issues, not just because they are migrants, but because they are women. Displaced women and girls face much higher rates of sexual assault and exploitation. One quick internet search reveals horrifying stories of migrant women and girls that have experienced sexual assault in government detention facilities; in refugee camps; and even at the hands of the international humanitarian and development workers there, supposedly, to provide support to migrants. 

Women and girl migrants are also at higher risks of developing serious issues. Accessing comprehensive reproductive healthcare is especially difficult for migrant women and girls. They face increased risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes,maternal death, poor pre- and postnatal care, and lack options for safe childbirth. Young adolescent women face heightened risks of child, early, and forced marriage, and lack access to informational resources on proper reproductive healthcare, such as birth control and menstruation. Sources have even shown that the lack of access to proper reproductive healthcare for women and girl migrants is the leading cause of death, disease and disability within these communities. 

Women and girls migrants also face higher risks of labor exploitation. Though migrants have been recognized as an important part of sustainable development – 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals make direct references to migration – women migrants, specifically, continue to face difficulties securing sustainable work. Women migrants are often forced into precarious, low-paid work in the informal sectors, such as domestic work and cleaning. In many instances, migrant women are not allowed to claim social welfare benefits, such as social security, health coverage, and labor protections, that are afforded to country nationals. Worse, increasing xenophobic sentiments across the world have made it even more difficult for migrants, especially women, to find safe options for work in the receiving country. 

The plight of migrant women and girls is not only difficult but, in many cases, dangerous. Every day, migrant women and girls face increased risks of violence and exploitation, and lack access to the daily resources that are essential to their wellbeing. As the international community continues to push for new initiatives, such as the Global Compact for Migration, to not only protect migrants, but to ensure international accountability, it is equally important to remember that the issues facing women and girl migrants need immediate attention every day. Their plight cannot be the focus of one day, December 18th, every calendar year. Instead, we must continue to fight for the rights of migrant women and girls by addressing the continued drivers of migration and, simultaneously, providing the necessary resources and protection needed to make sure that women and girl migrants, and migrants more generally, are guaranteed their human rights, no matter their current location or situation. 

29th of November – International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

It’s not about supplication, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power, it’s about changing the very face of power itself. Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

As many report, the backlash on human rights and their advocates has increased in the past years. Defending human rights is not an easy task, but doing it as a woman, or LGBTQ* identifying individual adds to the struggle. They face differentiated responses and threats, especially of sexual violence and rape. 

“Women defenders often face additional and different risks and obstacles that are gendered, intersectional and shaped by entrenched gender stereotypes and deeply held ideas and norms about who women are and how women should be.” (Michael Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, January 2019)

“How they should be” takes often over the actual content of their claims: mother? wife? single? young? old? daughter of whom? All of these and their bodies are used against them. What about her honour? By taking a stand women challenge not only the oppressive forces they advocate against, but also highlight the very fact that women have a voice, and belong in public spaces as much as their male counterparts; they shake the pillars of patriarchy.

Their opponents then resort to all kind of tools to ignore, silence, delegitimize their discourses: these women threaten “morals”, “traditions”, the concept of “family”, they are “blasphemous”. All of these claims sprinkled with the appropriate dose of misogyny, sexism and racism. This resistance comes from representatives of our state and cultural institutions through which the patriarchal order is reproduced. 

Harassment, death and rape threats are a disturbing reality to women human rights activists, as well as threats to their families. And if they resort to ask for protection or help, they are blamed for their situation and dissuaded from continuing their advocacy. Such threats and defamation affect their social circle and may lead to isolation from their families and communities. 

This is due to the persistence of gender stereotypes which lead to questioning and criticizing the fact that women participate in politics and do not dedicate themselves to domestic tasks. On the other hand, when a woman defender is assaulted and lodges a judicial complaint, she is likely to face re-victimisation, as the validity of her testimony and the seriousness of the facts are often questioned.” (OHCR, 2016)

Looking closely at these threats and from whom they come compels us to ask the question: Do our institutions represent the whole of humanity? Gendering institutions reveals that globally, such institutions are dominated by men at all levels. Laws, History, Medicine, Politics,  Economics rest on a background of elite men thinking and taking decisions for the rest of us. To this day, women have been systematically excluded from arenas of decision-making through laws and discriminatory behavior. Globally, women make up 24% of all parliamentary seats, while in the Arab region they hold an average of 11% according to the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). The region’s situation regarding civil liberties is highly oppressive which results in women’s low political participation. 

The low representation of women in public decision-making roles can become self-perpetuating by influencing the perceptions of women and their ability to participate in public life because of the shortage of female role models.” (SIGI 2019)   

Defying the stereotype held by 47% of the global population, that “men make better political leaders than women” (SIGI 2019), women are prominent actors in revolutions and popular uprisings that are shaking the globe, from Lebanon to Chile, to the indigenous women fighting to save their environment in the Amazon. This challenges the very image of our present world political leaders: a majority of men, with only 11 women serving as Head of State and 12 serving as Head of Government.  

Lebanon is a striking example of this clash between two worlds, the traditional political games that have prevailed for the past 30 years versus a crowd led by young and fierce women organizing a new society, one that rejects sectarian tensions and buries the civil war against the attempts of reviving it that occured the past week, paving the way for a brighter future.

Role models are crucial to change our societies, which explains also the brutality faced by Women Human Rights Defenders. A few days ago, the Chilean artist and activist Daniela Carrasco, also known as “El Mimo” was found hung in a park in Santiago, with acknowledged of torture and rape: her case is unfortunately all too common, used as an intimidation tool to discourage other activists, especially women. 

It is tempting to fall into the same tired appeals to a male-dominant audience: ‘Would you want this for your mother?’ ‘Imagine if this was your sister.’ ‘She is someone’s daughter.’ We won’t do it anymore. This is exactly why we need to see women’s empowerment and liberation as a part of the greater human rights movement. We condemn the idea that our worth lies in our relation to men. We refuse to believe that our humanity can only be recognized once we are seen as someone’s daughter, sister, mother, or wife. And our lives certainly should not be the price we pay to prove it.

Gendering struggles is crucial, as the “who” has a huge impact on the reception of the demands and the way the fight may turn. There is a need to acknowledge the specificity of Women Human Rights Defenders as they are challenging our societies on multiple levels, advocating for various causes and also by demonstrating that yes, women can and should be part of the conversation. If we are to change the world, let all voices be heard.