Everyday people but not everyday abuses
Sometimes a case comes along that stops you in your tracks.
This happened when I read about the forced sterilisation of indigenous women in Peru. Last month the Public Prosecutor’s office closed the case of thousands of Indigenous women who were allegedly forcibly sterilized in the 1990s. These cases represent only a fraction of a total of more than 200,000 women who were sterilized during the 90s, most of whom had not given their full and informed consent.
Working with urgent action cases, I like to think I have a fairly good grasp on the types of abuses out there, and the kinds of concerns and cases we work on. And then, this… and I felt I knew nothing.
The sheer number of women affected, and the nature of the abuse is appalling. And now it seems that the women affected – and their families and communities – are further away than ever from finding justice.
This isn’t the first time an Urgent Action has floored me like this. Some cases haunt you – a man being shot in his bed in front of his son in the Dominican Republic; this beheading and crucifixion in Saudi Arabia; a man throwing himself out of a police station window after being tortured, and later dying of his injuries. These are just some of the cases that have stuck with me.
They are a stark reminder of the range of human rights abuses out there. These are not your run of the mill violations– these are beyond the pale. You wouldn’t want to make these stories up, and yet they are happening.
These cases may not get the publicity or the international attention that other cases might. But through urgent actions, we are bearing witness to their situation. We may not be able to change the situation every time, but the act of speaking out, the act of noticing, of acknowledging these abuses is vital. It is telling the victims of these abuses that they are not alone.
We know their story, and we’re doing something about it.
This is one of the most powerful messages Amnesty has, and why I shall be a lifelong member. And this is why taking action via our Urgent Action Network is so crucial. Yes – the goal is to stop the abuse, now. The more people who take action, the more pressure we can exert on the authorities, the greater the chance of success. But even if we just generate only a few letters or emails, we are saying something. This abuse has not gone unnoticed. The victim has not been forgotten.
Writing letters really does matter, for so many different reasons, so please write one today on behalf of the Indigenous women of Peru and help us seek justice for them – and bear witness to their stories.
All the details you need to take action are in the urgent action download just below.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.