For millions of women, the 1990s have brought discrimination, a denial of human rights, and even terror, Amnesty International said in a report issued to coincide with the observation of International Women's Day on March 8.
Women around the world are denied human rights because of deeply rooted discrimination, wars and civil conflicts, and repression of their political or social activism, the 135-page report said.
The wars in Bosnia and Rwanda remind the world how vulnerable women and their families are and ``demonstrated that the deliberate violation of the human rights of women is a central component of military strategy in all parts of the world,'' the report said.
Most casualties of war are women and children, and in conflict areas women are often targeted for reprisal killings, rape, and sexual assault, the report said. Women fleeing conflicts make up 80 percent of the world's refugee population.
Launching a worldwide campaign in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Women to be held in September, Amnesty International called on governments to adopt plans to promote and protect women's human rights. It said that at the conference in Beijing, governments should formally recognize their responsibility for all human rights violations against women by their security forces.
The report added that the conference should acknowledge that international human rights standards apply to women and should propose concrete action for promoting women's human rights and preventing rape, sexual abuse, and other ill-treatment of women by government agents.
It also urged governments to stop the illegal detention and execution of women. The report cited examples of women activists imprisoned, tortured, or killed in Mexico, Indonesia, El Salvador, Burma, China, Iran, and Uzbekistan.
``Governments are now sending worrying signals that they want to limit - rather than promote - women's civil and political rights at the UN conference,'' Amnesty International said. ``Governments have more or less ignored human rights violations against women - and sometimes effectively given a green light to torture or rape by their police or soldiers.''
``No country in the world treats its women as well as its men. Women from all social classes, cultures, and races, in all societies, are at risk of abuse of their human rights,'' the report said. ``Human rights violations against women are rampant partly because they remain largely hidden. '' Women are the invisible victims of the 1990s.''