South Asia

Justice for Women, By Women: How Women-run Courts Are Changing the Game in India

September 21, 2018 By Carolyn Ziv, Fund staff On a hot and sunny day last July, Jaimini, Sailesh, and their young daughter arrived at the local Nari Adalat—or ‘women’s court’—in their home town of Vadodara, India. The couple was seeking help working through marital issues involving Sailesh’s family, who were harassing Jaimini for not meeting […]

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Indian Activists Celebrate Herstoric Supreme Court Ruling on Sexual Rights

September 13, 2018 By David Mattingly, Vice President for Programs A week after India’s Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era legal provision used to criminalize same-sex sexual relations and undermine the rights to privacy and choice, activists across the country are still celebrating—and here at the Fund for Global Human Rights, we are rejoicing with […]

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How Sana Shree became a trans rights trailblazer in India

An openly trans woman in her mid-20s, Sana fights for the rights of people like her at Swatantra—the Indian transgender rights organization she founded in 2016. A Fund grantee, Swatantra’s mission is to prevent others from experiencing the discrimination and abuse Sana endured as a child and young adult—experiences that were fresh in Sana’s mind during a recent interview with the Fund.

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Celebrating Sisterhood: How Single Women Across India Forged Their Own Community

At first glance, the Behen Dooj festival in Rajasthan, India might look like some sort of women-only dance party. But a closer look reveals that behind the dancing, singing, and celebration lies some serious feminist activism—and seriously fierce activists. Last October, over 500 single women gathered in Rajasthan for the third annual Behen Dooj bash. The women created the festival as a safe space where they can express themselves freely and share their experiences—something they can’t do publicly because of the stigma associated with living by themselves.

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Jan Sahas: Helping victims of violence in India demand justice

Every day, we are inspired by the human rights activists who demand dignity for the most vulnerable members of their communities. Jan Sahas, based in India, is one such organization. In the face of abuse and intimidation, Jan Sahas champions opportunity for women and girls known as Dalits, or “untouchables.” Because of their low placement in […]

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Sharif’s Story: Reclaiming Livelihoods for Thousands of Displaced Pakistanis

December 9, 2016 Over a two-day period in June 2007, flooding in Balochistan, Pakistan destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. This unprecedented flooding was a direct result of defective engineering in the Mirani Dam, built by the Pakistani government in 2001. Horrified by the events, Sharif Shambezi fought tirelessly to secure compensation […]

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Giving a Voice to the Forgotten Victims of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan

Shahzad Akbar, the Executive Director and founder of Foundation for Fundamental Rights Pakistan (FFR), was the first lawyer to challenge the US drone strikes in Pakistan and the devastating impact they have had on the lives of innocent families in the region. A corporate lawyer by training, Shahzad had spent most of his career working in close cooperation with the US authorities, working as a prosecutor at Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau and as a consultant for USAID projects in Pakistan. This all changed, however, when a drone strike victim walked though his door in 2010.

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Ending Modern Day Slavery for Dalits in India

Within India’s diverse and complex social fabric, the Dalit community has long been the country’s most persecuted, excluded and abused population. Deeply entrenched cultural norms and traditional beliefs around caste in India mean that Dalits – currently an estimated 3.4 million in India – are still seen by many as the “untouchables” who are destined to live and work on the fringes of society. Dalit women face the brunt of this discrimination, and routinely face staggering abuse and some of the highest rates of sexual violence, leaving them vulnerable to poor health and extreme poverty.

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In the Name of Security: When Silencing Active Citizens Creates Even Greater Problems

The global governance frameworks around counterterrorism and international development have framed the role, value and impact of civil society as a critical ally but also, more recently, as a threat. At best, donor governments have acknowledged civil society as a key partner in fostering development, peace and security. At worst, some aid recipient governments have sought to limit the role of development and human rights groups only to delivering public services, or they view civil society as an enabler for funding terrorist groups. Yet there are opportunities for civil society actors to use counterterrorism and development policies and processes to their advantage.

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The Global Siege on Civil Society

Dozens of governments are adopting means to limit the activities of NGOs and impede their access to foreign funds. Beijing, for example, just passed a law that restricts the activities of foreign NGOs and subjects them to police investigation. Unfortunately, the Chinese communist party is just one of many governments to do so. Indeed, this law is part of a robust, international trend of similar legislation implemented by politicians that fear the interference of foreigners as well as civil society’s unprecedented capacity to mobilize — which is due in part to new technologies.

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