Amnesty International continues the conversation with International Women’s Day
March 14, 2016
All assemblies for International Women’s Day, hosted by Amnesty International, took place in the MLK room. Sisters Nawal (senior) and Komal (sophomore) Wasif organized the event with the help of Amnesty International.
The B-Block Amnesty Assembly, which took place in the auditorium, unlike the other assemblies, featured speaker Dani Patrick from REACH, and focused on harassment, domestic violence, and sexual violence in relationships
The assembly consisted of a PowerPoint, with several powerful videos, questions from the audience, and volunteers from the audience that would go up and hold signs with common phrases on them.
One of the videos, titled “Because I Love You”, featured several young adults that all had uptight and controlling boyfriends. They all described how their relationship started off great, but as time went on their partner started to dictate their life more and more. Their boyfriends began to control how they hung out with, what they did on the weekends, and even who their friends were, and they all used the phrase “because I love you”.
The audience members that came up all held that had commonly used phrases said by partners in committed relationships. The volunteers then read aloud the phrases. After, Patrick then clarified what they meant and how they’re used in relationships.
Lastly, the questions from students in the audience were taken after the PowerPoint had been finished. Questions varied, but Patrick did a great job in answering them and educating the students that attended.
The A-Block assembly, which was shortened due to the lockdown drill, took place in the MLK room and featured speaker Board Director for Amnesty International Govind Acharya, who spoke about child bride culture in Afghanistan through Skype.
Acharya spoke about the subject of child marriage. He opened with a story about a woman in northern Afghanistan who is 20 years old and has already been married for five years. Recently, her husband cut her nose off because she was upset that he planned to become engaged to a seven-year-old girl.
He then gave background information on the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and how when they left, Afghanistan descended into war. Under the new regime, very strict rules were placed on what women could and couldn’t do.
Acharya proceeded to talk about child marriage and the reasons for it and the effects it has. He said that one reason is for economic benefits. A family will sell their child to a man to get money to support themselves. Another reason is that they feel it will be better for the child. The family feels it cannot provide sufficient care, and thinks their child will be better off somewhere else.
Acharya then talked about the effects of child marriage, which were almost all negative. The children often end up suffering from domestic violence. Also, child pregnancy is a huge problem because the mortality rate for children is very high. Acharya said that children often also end up not getting an education because their husbands won’t let them go to school or the school won’t accept them.
The students from Amnesty International set up an area where you could take a picture behind bars that say “Not a Criminal” because in Ireland, women are put in jail simply for having abortions.
The E-Block assembly in Room 300 featured speaker Alicia Johnson, a Planned Parenthood advocacy manager for Massachusetts.
Johnson displayed a PowerPoint presentation about the work her organization does involving reproductive rights. Students were educated on the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and how reproductive rights activists hope to counteract this by introducing new bills in Congress.
According to Johnson, the Healthy Youth Act works to make sure that students are receiving a proper sex education, which is inclusive of LGBTQ youths, and will help students make healthy choices.
She explained that the Confidential Health Care bill ensures that medical information will not be shared with anyone besides a Planned Parenthood patient, in order to respect their privacy.
After the presentation, Johnson opened up the room for discussion within the audience. Students shared their thoughts on reproductive rights and asked the speaker questions about her experience working with Planned Parenthood.
The G-block Amnesty International theme was “Education for Women.” The event was facilitated by Nawal Wasif and the guest speaker was Tarah Demant, the senior director for identity and discrimination unit for Amnesty International. Demant talked about how education is a basic legal human right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document signed by many countries. According to numbers from the UN (2014 or 2015?), 31 million girls are not in primary school and 17% of those 31 million will never enter school at all in their lifetime. Demant said that girls in school have many more benefits than girls who don’t go to school, including higher pay corresponding to a higher level of education. Educated women have more economic power, they delay their marriage, and they have fewer, and healthier children at an older age when they are mature and ready to care for them.
The F-Block assembly, which took place in the MLK room, was lead by speaker Alice Dahle who works with Amnesty International and Skyped in from Iowa.
She spoke about the treatment of women in Sri Lanka. She started off by talking about women’s representation in Parliament, which is very minimal. Only 5.8% of Parliament is women.
She then talked about war in Sri Lanka, and how poorly the women were treated during war. Among many other things, they were tortured, interrogated, and detained. Women and children were also enlisted in the army.
However, as the economy got better, Dahle said that healthcare got much better, and those who committed war crimes against women were prosecuted.
Dahle finished by saying that we should get involved in helping women in Sri Lanka by educating our peers and making petitions.