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April 06th, 2019
by:Yair Oded

Asma Aziz, a married Pakistani woman, has shocked the world with her testimony of the brutal abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and his friends, and of the reluctance of the authorities in Lahore (Pakistan’s second largest city) to protect her.

Asma’s story reflects a trend of violence against women in Pakistan, prevalent in both urban and rural areas of the country. As seen in Asma's case, the Pakistani government and local authorities—often plagued by corruption—generally fail to grant services and shelter for women who have undergone abuse.

Since its foundation in 1986, Aurat Foundation, a non for profit organization, has worked to increase the access of women to services and institutions in Pakistan, as well as promote social, economic, and political equality between the genders in the country.

Through a network of volunteers and strong partnerships with other organizations, Aurat run programs across Pakistan to protect women’s rights and encourage a societal change in order to eliminate bias and hostility toward women.

One of the organization’s main areas of focus is preventing violence against women and protecting victims of abuse. They do so by increasing the access of women to shelter and services, advocating for the repealing of laws that are discriminatory against women, and promoting policies and legislation aimed at defending women from violence.  

Additionally, Aurat members work to increase women’s economic empowerment and independence through collaborations with local communities and advocacy for labor policy reforms. Their programs also strive to embolden women’s voice in the political sphere, and ensure that they are able to help shape their socio-political environment.   

Over the past few decades, Aurat Foundation has reached and assisted hundreds of thousands of women and families of all backgrounds, mobilized countless communities, and played a key role in the launching of governmental plans and policies designed to protect women’s rights and elevate their status in society.

Visit their website to read more about Aurat’s mission and work, as well as learn about available collaboration and volunteer opportunities.

Image credit: AFP via Samaa
April 02nd, 2019
by:Yair Oded

The small Southeast-Asian kingdom of Brunei is to officially adopt a draconian set of laws, according to which any citizen found ‘guilty’ of committing adultery or engaging in homosexual relations will be stoned to death in front of a crowd of Muslims.

The new laws further stipulate that any person convicted of theft will be amputated.

A petition launched by Angela Porter calls on the leaders of the U.K. trade envoys to Brunei and ASEAN to cut ties with the kingdom in a bid to pressure the Sultan to cease his brutal persecution of LGBTQ people and violation of human rights in the nation.

Back in 2013, the Sultan of Brunei announced that the kingdom will begin a gradual implementation of Sharia laws. Since then, a series of conservative regulations were adopted in the nation, including the banning of alcohol and open Christmas celebrations, levying a fine for missing Friday prayer, and outlawing of having a child out of wedlock.

The new set of laws, which are due to go into effect on April 3rd, will constitute the final step of the nation’s adoption of Sharia law.

Activists in Brunei as well as across the world launched an outcry against the Sultan’s brutal law, and several public figures in the West have called for a boycott on the Sultan’s assets abroad, including the Beverly Hills hotel in California.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights joined the growing clamor and urged the Brunei government to keep this law from going into effect.

In the meantime, LGBTQ people are fleeing the kingdom in search of a safe haven

Only a determined, multi-faceted, and well-coordinated protest by the international community could exert sufficient pressure on Brunei to abandon its draconian policies and defend the human rights of its citizens.

Please sign the petition and add your voice to the growing global outcry against the deadly tyranny raging in Brunei. Time is running out.

Image credit: Investorsking.
April 01st, 2019
by:Murat Suner

A petition launched by Women’s March Global is calling upon the United Nations to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights violations and release the activists, who are currently pending trial as reported by our New York editor Yair Oded in our story section. 

Saudi Arabia has arrested at least ten women’s rights activists for peacefully protesting the government’s treatment of women.

Join Women’s March Global and Saudi activists who demand that the United Nations hold Saudi Arabia accountable for human rights violations.
March 29th, 2019
type:NGO, Petition, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Often left out of the discourse about the Green New Deal is the fact that a key player in penning, launching, and promoting the comprehensive initiative is the Sunrise Movement—a grassroots youth movement dedicated to eliminate the influence of oil on politics and halt climate change.

The movement is comprised of “an army of young people” who work tirelessly to make climate change a top priority for policy makers. They do so through a wide range of community outreach and advocacy campaigns.

From co-authoring the Green New Deal (which is now sponsored by more than politicians and public figures) to organizing meetings in living rooms, schools, and community centers across the United States, the organization’s members are successfully galvanizing Americans around this important cause. The organization’s focus is training and mobilizing America’s youth to become leaders in the fight against climate change.

Their message is crystal clear: the profit of a handful of oil and fossil fuel industry giants cannot dictate policy or determine the course of history. It is time to embrace greener technologies, uplift working-class communities throughout the transition process, and halt climate change. The time to do this is now, and there isn’t a second to waste.

Please visit their website for information about their upcoming events and learn about ways to get involved and attend trainings, and pressure your representative to throw their support behind the Green New Deal.

Image credit: Michael Brochstein / SOPA / Getty via The New Yorker
March 22nd, 2019
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Whether due to violence, abuse, poverty, hunger, or neglect, millions of Indian children escape their homes and attempt to reach big cities via trains.

Alas, once they arrive at the railway stations, many of them lose their way and fall prey to exploitation, kidnapping, substance abuse, and hunger.

It’s been reported that every five minutes a child arrives alone on a platform in India, and that as many as 11 million children live on the streets across the country.

Railway Children is a nonprofit which advocates for and protects street children around the world, as well as in India.

In India, the organization operates on three levels: In the streets—where they tend to the immediate needs of street children and help them finds a safe space; in communities—where they work to increase the visibility of street children and their needs, through, for instance, prevention interventions and the establishing of ‘safety nets’ for children; and  in government, where the organization lobbies on behalf of street children and urges policy makers to make their plight a legislative priority.

Railway Children report that last year they reached and protected 8,338 children in streets, government homes, and local communities.

Please visit their website to learn about their volunteer opportunities, events, and campaigns.

Image credit: Ondrej via Flickr

March 20th, 2019
by:Yair Oded

Back in August 2018, Greta Thunberg, 16, began skipping school every Friday and sat outside the Swedish Parliament in protest against their failure to address climate change issues and curb emissions.

Since then, Thunberg’s tenacity has inspired countless youths from across the globe to unite under the Youth 4 Climate movement. Last Friday, students from more than 90 countries and 1,200 cities staged a globally coordinated strike and took to the streets to demand action on climate change.

Recognizing that some public figures have criticized the kids for lacking scientific knowledge to justify their action, a group of German-speaking scientists launched a petition titled Scientists for Future in support of Youth 4 Climate.

In their petition, the scientists announce, “As scientists and scholars, and based on sound scientific knowledge, we declare: These concerns are justified and supported by the best available science. The current measures for climate, biodiversity, forest, marine, and soil protection are far from sufficient.”

The scientists urge world governments to take the necessary actions to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by eliminating coal burning by 2030 and ending all CO2 emissions between 2040 and 2050.

Thus far, more than 23,000 scientists have signed this urgent plea for action.

If you happen to belong to the scientific community, please do join the growing clamor to reduce emissions and mitigate global warming by adding your name to the petition.

Image credit: The Conversation
March 19th, 2019
type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Despite having the most progressive constitution in the African continent, South Africa still grapples with rampant poverty and human rights violations—ranging from gender based violence to limited access to education.

As the country mentions its human rights month, in commemoration of the struggle for democracy, special attention is placed on the vast inequalities still prevalent in South Africa and on the methods in which they can be tackled.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) is a human rights organization dedicated to assisting individuals, communities, and social movements in the effort to protect their socio-economic rights.

Founded in 2009, the organization engages in expansive litigation, research, and advocacy efforts in order to advance and defend South Africans’ constitutional rights to water, housing, healthcare, fair labor practices, education, children’s rights, and more. SERI mostly operates in major South African cities, however some of its outreach work extends to rural provinces and areas as well.

SERI’s stance is that, “it is the people who are on the receiving end of poverty and inequality who are best placed to devise and implement strategies to challenge them,” and thus it seeks to also protect the spaces in which such individuals and communities can advocate for their own agendas for change.

Please visit SERI's website to learn more about their work and open volunteer/internship positions.

Image credit: SERI website.
March 13th, 2019
by:Yair Oded

News about the purge of queers in Chechnya began to circulate, as more testimonies emerged from the southern Russian territory run by the tyrannical religious zealot Ramzan Kadyrov.

Since December 2018, a new wave of anti-queer purges began in Chechnya, with mounting reports about kidnap, imprisonment, torture, and even murder of individuals suspected to be LGBTQ.

The Russian LGBT Network is s non-governmental organization operating in Russia and Chechnya to protect the rights and lives of LGBTQ individuals. In addition to relentless advocacy work and the circulation of information aimed at increasing visibility of queer people and public awareness of their plight, the members of the organization operate a secret network of shelters for LGBTQ individuals persecuted across Russia.

They also smuggle food, medicine, and clothing to victims of the Chechen purge and help evacuate them to safety in the West.   

The organization depends on small donations to in order to maintain its crucial work and save lives in Chechnya and Russia.

Please visit their website to learn more about their work and place a donation.

Image credit: TheGayUK.
March 13th, 2019
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

The war raging in Afghanistan which often escapes global attention is that of Afghan women, who till this day remain marginalized in virtually all aspects of life.From education to healthcare to employment— Afghan women are often unable to access crucial services and enjoy the full rights of citizenship.

Despite the downfall of the Taliban regime, which control the country in the 1990’s, women in many parts of the country are still subject to arbitrary arrests and punishment (such as public lashings) for violating ‘moral codes’. The government also fails to properly protect women who are subject to domestic violence and abuse.

Since its foundation in 2011, Women for Afghan Women (WAW), has been working to fill in the gaps and support thousands of Afghan women and children in need throughout 13 provinces in the country.

Using grassroots tactics, WAW offer services such as refugee assistance, emergency medical care, legal aid and mediation, and elaborate human rights training in local communities for both women and men. WAW also operates long-term shelters for women and children who were victims of violence and abuse.

Additionally, the organization utilizes its New York and Washington, D.C. offices to provide support to female Afghan migrants in the United States (many of whom are asylum seekers), and lobby on behalf of them in the capital, so that lawmakers would take into consideration the human rights violations and challenges faced by women in Afghanistan.

To learn more about their services and make a donation, please visit WAW’s website.

Image Credit: Robert Mark via Flickr.