|Iranian women's rights campaigner, Nasrin Afzali, arrested on 4 March
"As Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, we know there is a direct relationship between peace, justice and respect for human rights. As long as women are denied human rights, anywhere in the world, there can be no justice and no peace. Recognizing women's equal rights, therefore, is an essential requirement for the creation of strong, sustainable and stable societies and ensuring that women enjoy equality with men in all areas of life is a key step to making human rights a universal reality.
" -- Shirin Ebadi
, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Irene Khan
, Secretary General of Amnesty International, which was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize
in law, social practice and attitude, impunity and indifference are the underlying causes of violence against women. In many countries, laws, policies and practices discriminate against women, denying them equality with men - politically, economically and socially.
In many parts of the world women still do not have the vote, or equal access to property or family rights. In many societies, law, tradition and custom subjugate women and open them up to violence.
Violence against women
takes many forms. Darfur presents one of the most extreme examples in the world currently - rape is used systematically against women in this region of Sudan
. While it is impossible to know exactly how many women have been victims of violence since the armed conflict began, it is certain that thousands of women have been raped
is not only used as a weapon of war in open conflicts. Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú
, from Mexico
's Tlapaneca Indigenous community, were raped by members of the Mexican army in February and March 2002. Five years later, they are still waiting for justice.
The single most important factor that allows violence against women to persist, whether in times of peace or war, is the fact that those who attack and rape women know that they can get away with it.
And, when women stand up for themselves and try to end the inequality, they are often further victimised. Only four days before International Women's Day, over 30 women activists were arrested while staging a peaceful demonstration in Tehran, Iran. The women were arrested outside Tehran's Revolutionary Court. They had gathered to protest at the trial of five women charged in connection with a demonstration held on 12 June 2006.
The June demonstration, to demand that women be given equal rights with men under the law in Iran, was violently dispersed by security forces who arrested at least 70 people.
This latest event highlights the reasons why Amnesty International is supporting Iranian women's rights activists' "Campaign for Equality". It aims to collect a million signatures from Iranians in support of changes to the law to end legalised discrimination against women.
On the 98th annual celebration of International Women's Day, Amnesty International, together with women’s organisations and groups around the world, calls for:
- the end of violence against women;
- the end of impunity for violence against women;
- the end of discriminatory laws;
- implementation of international standards for women’s human rights; and
- a change of social attitudes that tolerate and promote violence against women.