University News

Amnesty joins UN gender rights campaign

Contributing Writer
Friday, December 7, 2012

Amnesty International at Brown is participating in the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 to end violence against women across the world.

Sponsored by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the U.N. branch dedicated to women’s rights issues, the campaign started in 1991 and now has more than 4,000 organizations in over 170 countries participating, according to the website Say No to Violence Against Women.

Amnesty International at Brown is participating in this year’s campaign by writing letters to leaders that focus on the central issue of women’s rights and militarism, as well as holding teach-ins and discussions to further raise awareness, said Stephanie Williams ’13, the president and regional coordinator of Amnesty at Brown. In the past, Amnesty at Brown has written letters to international heads of state in countries where there is a strong military presence contributing to violence against women, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Egypt, Williams said.  

This year’s theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women,” marking the third year that 16 Days has focused particularly on the influence a nation’s military or police force has on issues of women’s rights. The campaign focuses on sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers, domestic violence and the negative impact of gun distribution on the safety of female populations.  

Amnesty at Brown is also focusing on legislation in the United States. The group has written letters to Congress in support of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, passing the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate gun distribution and ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international bill put out by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Williams said.

The group has held events on campus to raise awareness about human rights issues. Amnesty held a screening last October of “Into the Abyss,” a film by documentarian Werner Herzog about Michael Perry, an inmate on death row in Texas for a triple homicide. The film chronicles the story of the murder through interviews with the inmate, his family, the victims’ families and people in the criminal justice system days before Perry was executed. 

This February, Amnesty will host Kathryn Bolkovac, the investigator who uncovered a scandal at the United Nations that was the subject of the 2010 thriller “The Whistleblower.” Amnesty will show the film, and Bolkovac will discuss her story and the issue of human trafficking.

Correction appended: An earlier version of this article called 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Violence a national campaign. In fact, it is an international campaign. The article also referred to Stephanie Williams as a member of the class of 2012.5. In fact, she is a member of the class of 2013. The article also implied that Brown’s Amnesty International branch was participating in the campaign only by writing letters to prominent leaders. In fact, the branch has been holding teach-ins and workshops to further raise awareness. The Herald regrets the errors.