In a report to be issued today, International Women's Day, Amnesty International spotlights abuses directed against women in more than 40 countries and the key role women play in the human rights struggle. Many violations - including rape and violence to pregnant women that has led to miscarriages - are gender-specific. A large share of the others - from torture aimed at getting at husbands or brothers to imprisonment or execution without trial - are generic. For instance, more than 70 Syrian women have been detained since 1987 because of the political activity of male relatives. In Myanmar (formerly Burma), opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since 1989, despite her party 's election win.
``We haven't acknowledged enough the targeting of women that takes place because they are in the front lines, leading human rights movements,'' says Curt Goering, Amnesty's deputy executive director. ``When their relatives disappear or are killed, women are often the first ones to march on the police station. They are very prominent, active individuals. Yet the world doesn't know about them.''
A film that opens today in theaters nationwide also underscores the role many women play in human rights work. ``Closet Land,'' written and directed by Indian filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj, chronicles a female author's abduction, interrogation, and torture in a nameless country, because the fanciful themes in her children's books are judged subversive. Her inner strength enables her to survive.