Our Contributions to Promoting Sexual Health and Rights

Indian activists passed a law to stop rape and violence

In March 2013 in India, advocates supported by AJWS helped pass stricter laws to oppose violence against women and girls. This victory was achieved in the wake of horrific gender-based violence. For decades, AJWS’s grantees around the world have worked to stop violence against women. In late 2012, the brutal rape and murder of a student on a public bus in Delhi set off a global outcry that called attention to the magnitude of this problem. As people flooded India’s streets in protest, AJWS’s grantees harnessed the public’s desire to bring about change. Groups like Awaaz-e-Niswaan and Shaheen organized demonstrations, night vigils, and educational programs. Vanangana, SANGRAM and Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives intensified their advocacy to strengthen India’s weak anti-rape laws—something they had been pursuing for many years. In March 2013, their efforts helped bring about the passage of a new law that prohibits sexual harassment, stalking and other related offenses and broadens the legal definition of “rape” to include violent sexual assault. These advances are an important step toward justice for women throughout the country and AJWS’s support of local advocates made a real difference.

Kenyan LGBT activists stopped bigotry from the pulpit

In Kenya, an AJWS grantee has made a major contribution by reducing instances of clergy-incited violence and hate against LGBT people. In a conservative region of Kenya where an AJWS LGBT rights grantee works, religious leaders have fueled hatred against LGBT people and even encouraged a mob attack on a gay men’s health clinic. Our grantee—anonymous due to security reasons—has worked to address this problem by engaging local faith leaders, including Muslims and Roman Catholics. Through informal, weekly lunch discussions, this grantee successfully persuaded the leaders to be more open-minded about LGBT rights by focusing on the values shared by all their respective faiths, such as compassion, respect and dignity. After four years building relationships strategically, the once-hostile religious leaders are now committed to understanding more about LGBT people and ensuring that their faith communities do not inflict violence on them. This grantee is now helping other LGBT advocates expand this successful model throughout Kenya, creating a curriculum that other organizations can use to engage religious leaders on the issue of homosexuality.

Women escaped violence in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, AJWS grantees are making women and girls safer in a country plagued by high rates of sexual and domestic violence, particularly in indigenous communities. Unfortunately, many women suffer from this abuse in silence because they are afraid to leave their husbands and the courts rarely side with women in this traditional society. One of AJWS’s grantees, Asociacion de Mujeres Emprendedoras de Waslala (AMEWAS), has helped hundreds of young women extricate themselves from violent situations, seek justice and rebuild their lives. AMEWAS provides a shelter where abused women and children can find temporary safety, and then connects these families to the services they need to seek long-term security. Just recently, AMEWAS helped a woman named Teresa escape from her violent husband, successfully press charges against him and ultimately gain legal rights to the couple’s property, where Teresa continues to farm and support her three daughters. As a result of AMEWAS’s advocacy, the local government in Waslala has also appointed a public prosecutor to focus exclusively on seeking justice for cases related to domestic violence and other violations of women’s rights.