Today marks the 38th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day when governments around the world are asked by the United Nations to recognize the achievements of women, and to reflect on the role women play in promoting peace, encouraging stability, and demanding that basic human rights be extended to all. On this International Women’s Day, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) commemorates the unique contributions women have made in an effort to promote peace and end discrimination worldwide.
“From Sojourner Truth, to Aung San Suu Kyi, to Malala Yousufzai, women and girls have always been courageous advocates for social reform and human rights,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “Although we have made considerable progress in the goal of attaining gender equality and respect, dignity, and freedom for women and girls, much more needs to be done.”
During the Arab Spring, women were a pivotal force in demanding political and social reform. In Bahrain, women such as Maryam and Zainab al-Khawaja and Nazeeha Saeed stood at the forefront of peaceful demonstrations, calling for reform and greater human rights protections. When the Government of Bahrain responded with a violent crackdown, women were among those abused, detained, tortured, and killed.
In the two years since the uprising began, women in Bahrain have been fired from their jobs, expelled from school, and harassed for demanding their basic human rights. Doctors Fatima Haji and Rula al-Saffar, both healthcare professionals who treated injured protesters at Salmaniya Medical Complex at the start of the protests, were beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces in an effort to extract false confessions. Jalila al-Salman, a leading member of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association who helped to stage teacher’s strikes in support of the protests, was arrested and subjected to beatings, solitary confinement, and forced standing, threatened with sexual assault, and forced to sign a false confession. These are but a few examples of the treatment endured by women in Bahrain as they demand their basic human rights.
“This year, the United Nation’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘a promise is a promise: time for action to end violence against women,’” Abdulla said. “In light of this, UN member states must demand that the Government of Bahrain immediately release all political prisoners, investigate and prosecute human rights abusers, and reinstate students and professionals who were punished for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression.”
Please click here for a PDF of this statement.