March 8 marked 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. ADHRB released a statement to commemorate International Women’s Day and the unique contributions women have made in an effort to promote peace and end discrimination worldwide. “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,” noted ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla.
During the Arab Spring, women were a pivotal force in demanding political and social reform. In Bahrain, women such as Maryam 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. Doctor Fatima Haji, a medic who treated injured protesters at Salmaniya Medical Complex at the start of the protests, was beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces in an effort by them to extract a false confession. Jalila al-Salman, a leading member of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association who helped stage teacher’s strikes in support of the protests, was arrested and subjected to beatings and solitary confinement, 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.
The United Nations marked this year’s International Women’s Day with the theme “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,” and the release of a song, “One Woman,” to inspire men and women around the world to join in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights also released an International Women’s Day statement condemning the continued violations of women’s rights in Bahrain.