Mexico

Throughout the world, many feminists and other women activists working for social justice or gender equality are reluctant to recognize themselves as human rights defenders either because they believe their work goes beyond the human rights framework; because they feel that by naming themselves as such, their political identity as feminists becomes blurred; because they think that the term is too focussed on the law or too dangerous in their particular contexts; because they fear retaliations by the State or other groups; or simply because the term does not appeal to them or sometimes  beca
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Violence against women activists continues to rise. Unfortunately, despite considerable effort, responses to this violence are coming up short. Given the urgency of the situation, JASS and allies are questioning the underlying assumptions guiding activist safety, and bringing a feminist and movement building perspective to rethinking the approach.
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Italia Mendez refuses to be known the rest of her life as “one of the Atenco victims”. So instead she has become an outspoken global crusader against sexual torture by the state. In May of 2006, Mexican police rounded up Italia and more than two hundred other protestors in a violent crackdown in the village of Atenco, Mexico State. They were taken into custody and driven more than 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) to a state prison. During the hellish ride, the police sexually tortured the 47 women. The torture continued even after arriving at the prison.
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From September 8-11, we joined nearly 2000 diverse participants from across the globe in Brazil. From the Black Feminist Forum, plenaries, sessions and hubs, we were incredibly inspired and energized by what we heard, learned and offered. Together with allies, we shared stories and tools for cross-movement power and change.
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The growing trend of criminalizing activists has become the number one approach for silencing activists who speak out against the devastating impacts of extractive projects on their lives. In this risky context, strengthening indigenous women’s safety is vital.
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This 2 pager highlights the innovative work of the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative, launched in 2010 to develop a comprehensive and regionally-relevant response to increased violence against women human rights defenders in Mexico and Central America.
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Today, JASS honors the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative, a political alliance that strengthens and mobilizes women human rights defenders in the volatile and increasingly violent contexts of Mesoamerica.
This week, JASS and the Fund for Global Human Rights are convening a gathering on ‘defending rights in hostile contexts," among activists, researchers, donors and local, regional and international organizations to deepen our collective understanding of the crackdown against activists and civic space – and how to confront it.
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Valentín has worked with many national civil society organizations on sexual and reproductive rights, youth, grassroots development and legislative advocacy.
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Maria is a feminist born in Santander, Spain and currently residing in Mexico.
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