Freedom from Discrimination

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Establishing a culturally sensitive helpline to assist victims and inform advocacy

Muslim women face many of the same problems as non-Muslim women; however, cultural norms often prevent Muslim women and girls from reaching out for help. The Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) recognized the need for faith and culturally sensitive services for the Muslim community, and to Muslim women and girls in particular.

Establishing a new custom to protect girls and transform societal norms

Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.

Using Facebook to provide anonymity and support to people at risk of discrimination

In Lebanon, an LGBT advocacy organisation (not to be named here for privacy reasons) created a Facebook profile with no photo and no friends to safely mobilise people who needed support, community connection and/or wanted to find others interested to advocate for LGBT rights. The profile served as a way to direct people to the organisation's website without threatening their security or anonymity by publicly linking them with an LGBT organisation.

Using social media to engage supporters in documenting their acts of solidarity

Men submit photos of themselves dressed as women to the “Kurd Men for Equality” Facebook page to support women’s rights.

The police forces of Marivan, Iran, punished a criminal convicted of domestic abuse by forcing him to wear traditional Kurdish women’s clothing. This punishment was meant to be a form of public humiliation. However, many men felt that the punishment was derogatory towards women and began a Facebook campaign to tell the Iranian authorities that “being a woman is not a tool to humiliate or punish anyone.”

Using government resources to institute women's human rights education

The Women for Women’s Rights Project (WWHR) –New Ways in Turkey gained access to institutional and financial support from the government to implement more extensive human rights education for women within community service centers. The program has been implemented in 30 Turkish provinces, in over 45 community centers, and has reached more than 4,000 women.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using testing to prove discrimination and obtain direct evidence

NEKI uses testing to prove discrimination and obtain this direct evidence. The group identifies and trains people who are sent out as testers to replicate the actions of those who claim to have experienced discrimination. Each tester must be a reliable and objective observer and his or her profile must match that of the person who expe­rienced discrimination as much as possible. NEKI then uses the evidence collected to initiate legal proceedings against the offending business or organization.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Pairing police with refugees and migrants to develop understanding and reduce discrimination

In 1999, the International Centre for Cultures and Languages (Internationales Zentrum für Kulturen und Sprachen) in Austria developed a program that pairs police officers with an immigrant or refugee to foster positive relations between the police force and the foreign-born population. While educating the officers about citizens who they may have held negative stereotypes about, this program also gives the refugees and immigrants an opportunity to communicate with the officers about racial profiling and other racial issues.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Training victims of human rights abuses to monitor and defend their rights

The Network of Community Human Rights Defenders (Red de Defensores Comunitarios por los Derechos Humanos) trains young indigenous community members in Mexico to monitor and defend their human rights. Defenders are trained through monthly seminars about the theories and concepts of human rights work as well as the practical skills needed to ensure human rights violations are documented, reported and prevented. They are then able to respond to human rights violations in their communities, which are often far from big cities and large non-governmental organizations that support human rights.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating a network of volunteer monitors to persuade local and national governments to abide by international human rights commitments

The League of Human Rights Advocates (LHRA) in Slovakia has developed a network of volunteer human rights monitors within the minority Roma population to ensure that international human rights treaties are implement­ed at the local level. As part of its work to become a member of the European Union, Slovakia ratified a number of treaties relating to human rights and was vulnerable to criticism of their human rights record. In addition, the constitution of the Slovak Republic gives priority, over domestic laws, to international human rights treaties rati­fied and passed into law by its parliament.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

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