Civil Rights Defenders - Often situated at the perilous forefront of human rights work, in some of the most repressive societies in the world, women human rights defenders challenge power structures that are based on stereotypes, discrimination and misogynistic attitudes. Many women human rights defenders have become role models by breaking new ground for speaking out for those who can’t.
Writing under the pen name Me Nam, which translates into Mother Mushroom, and using her words as a tool for change, Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is one of several women human rights defenders who is currently suffering the consequences of advocating for human rights in one of these repressive societies. On 10 October, she was arbitrarily detained by Vietnamese authorities, accused of spreading propaganda against the state simply for exercising her right to freedom of expression.
- Since her detention no one has been allowed to visit Me Nam, not even her mother or her two children, said Marie Månson, Programme Director for Human Rights Defenders at Risk at Civil Rights Defenders. We are calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Me Nam. Until she is released the authorities must ensure that Men Nam, has access to a lawyer, her family and adequate medical care.
Arbitrary detention is one of the several risks that women human rights defenders are particularly exposed to when using their freedom of expression as a tool to promote other people’s human rights and to challenge fundamental assumptions about stereotypes and gender roles within their communities.
Harassment, intimidation and threats of sexual violence are other common violations that are frequently used by both state officials and non-state actors to silence the voices of women human rights defenders around the world. Public smear campaigns or ridicule as such, often laced with sexual innuendo, psychological pressure and sexual violence, are further examples of the specific risks of being a women human rights defender.
In recognition of this year’s International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, Civil Rights Defenders asks the international community to highlight the specific risks and needs of women human rights defenders and to recognise their important work. For women human rights defenders who, like Me Nam, are today in detention, we take this opportunity to show our support and we urge the international community to step up the pressure to campaign for her release.