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Global Feminist Profile: Dr. Shamima Ali

May 17, 2010

Global Feminist Profiles highlights feminist leaders all over the world who are creating change and empowering their countrywomen to demand equality.

Dr. Shamima Ali, Executive Director of the Fiji’s Women’s Crisis Center, has worked tirelessly to improve women’s rights throughout Fiji and the Pacific. In December 2009, She received the Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand first ever Human Rights Defender Award. Ali is a member of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Its role is to protect and promote human rights for the people of Fiji and to help build and strengthen a culture of human rights in Fiji.

“Amnesty International New Zealand should be commended for establishing this award. While I’m the recipient, one must remember the many other human rights defenders in Fiji and the rest of the Pacific who work just as hard. The work doesn’t end – every day we are challenged anew. And this award gives me further encouragement never to give up defending our rights. This is what makes us human”

Ali has taken a great stance against human rights abuse allegedly committed by the military and backed by the government. Ali vowed to continue her efforts to make sure these women had a voice, even with threats and intimidation, time and time again.

AIANZ chief executive Patrick Holmes said Ms Ali had been at the forefront of combating violence against women in the Pacific.

“We wanted to salute her for the immense courage she has shown in challenging the 2006 military coup in Fiji and in continuing, despite threats and intimidation, to document its impact on the people of Fiji,” he said.

Ali was surpised to recieve the honor in December 2009, she had not even known she was nominated til two weeks prior to the ceremony. Her tireless efforts and passion for women’s rights has garnered her widespread attention and praise from women’s rights activist and organizations around the world.

Dr. Shamima Ali had inspiring words and humbleness when she accepted the prestigious Amnesty International Award:

“We have opposed the military regime over the past three years. We have been documenting human rights abuses and intervening on behalf of people who have been taken in and trying to find legal assistance for them,” she said.

“At the moment, more women are reporting violence against them, because of the awareness that has been created. But recently we’re finding that the degree of violence is intensifying, particularly sexual violence, rape, sexual assault and gang rapes. We’ve seen a different trend emerging over the past three years.

“Things are not getting any better. While we are raising awareness because of the political situation, service provision has deteriorated in hospitals, in law enforcement, and particularly within the court system.

“We have magistrates who are really reverting to forcing reconciliation in very violent marriages, blaming the woman and making very insensitive sexist comments which really sets us back, and lowers reporting rates.

We thank courageous women such as Ms Ali for putting their lives on the line so that women in their countries are able to live healthy and sufficient lives without worry of rape, domestic violence, or any sort of pain being put upon them. I hope that you have been inspired or motivated by her story and you too decide to go out and give back to your perspective communities!

To read more about her story, please click here.

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