Edition 2

Page 1

























































EDITORIAL Over the past six months AM-UNITY Magazine has undergone many exciting new changes. We have a brand new team made up of passionate and talented individuals, and together we have created a new magazine bigger and better than the last. The main themes for this edition are Afghanistan Women’s Rights, Refugee/Asylum Seeker Rights and LGBTIQ Rights. These are all ongoing issues that Amnesty International has been campaigning for and the members of AM-UNITY are very passionate about. Our team of writers and photographers have worked very hard to bring you local stories relevant to these issues, and we have also received many submissions from around the world. We hope this gives you an exciting and diverse mix of articles to read and artwork to absorb. One of the main aims of AM-UNITY Magazine, other than to educate people about human rights, is to help people who want to help people. We have therefore tried to provide in many of our articles a way that you can get involved with the organisations or issues that have been discussed. As we find our feet and build the magazine we welcome and appreciate any feedback from you, our readers. With your help we hope to create a magazine that inspires, informs and in some small way motivates change. Thank you for your support, Emily Williamson




Mèlanie Plouffe Artist and Illustrator www.mlleplouf.com



CLICK TO PLAY Watch Write for Rights Thank You Video

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN SUCCESS STORIES Right now, there's someone being targeted by their government, though they've committed no crime. Their freedom and safety are in danger, but you can help- join the urgent action network and put the spotlight where it's needed most. AUSTRALIA INVESTS IN AFGHAN WOMEN’S ORGANISATIONS The Australian Federal Government has announced that it will invest directly into grassroots Afghan women's organisations. WWW.AM-UNITYMAGAZINE.COM

The Federal Government’s announcement on 2 June that it will provide $3.3 million to the Afghan Women’s Network and its member groups will directly benefit the women of Afghanistan. The funding is part of the $17.7 million Australia has allocated to addressing violence against women in Afghanistan. Funding grassroots women’s organisations is the best way to support the courageous women in Afghanistan who advocate for women’s freedom and safety. Life is hard for women fighting for their rights in Afghanistan. Women activists, parliamentarians and women in public life are often subjected to threats and violence: many high-profile women 6

rights advocates and female Ministry of Women's Affairs officials have been targeted and killed in recent years. Armed groups have also targeted girls’ schools, attacking teachers and students. Globally, Amnesty International has fought continuously for Afghan women's rights, raising awareness of the dangers faced by women every day in the country. Between 2013 and 2014, over 94,000 Australians signed our petition calling on the international community and the incoming President of Afghanistan to protect and strengthen the rights of women and girls. And earlier this year, almost 1000 Amnesty Australia supporters showed the brave men and women fighting for Afghan women's rights that they were not alone by sending a message of solidarity to individual advocates within the country. Amnesty International will continue to encourage Australia and other governments to call on the incoming Afghan President to protect women’s rights, such as by fully implementing the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law and ensuring a full quota of 25 per cent of women in parliament. To find out more follow this link http://www.amnesty.org.au/afghanwomen/comments/34771/

VICTORY FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY IN PARAGUAY After more than 20 years fighting for their rights, the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous community has finally achieved their goal. On 11 June, the President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, signed the law that will enable the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous community to return to their ancestral land in the Chaco region. This is a major victory for the Sawhoyamaxa, whose traditional land is vital for the survival of their community. The law allows the Paraguayan State to take control of the 14,404 hectares of traditional land and return it to the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous community by paying the landowner compensation. The President’s signature was the final step after a long and tenacious battle by the Indigenous community, who have lived in harsh conditions on a narrow strip of land by a busy road for over two decades. The bill was given the initial green light by the Paraguayan parliament’s upper house on 24 April and then the lower house on 21 May.

The law finally brings Paraguay into compliance with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 2006 judgement ordering the State to return the ancestral land to the Sawhoyamaxa community. The Court found that the rights to legal protection, the right to property and right to life of Sawhoyamaxa community members had been violated. Amnesty International issued three Urgent Actions for the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous community which were sent out globally through our Urgent Action Network - one for each of the three levels of parliament the bill had to pass through to make it law. Working with Amnesty International in Paraguay, Amnesty sections around the world including Canada, UK and Spain promoted the case online and asked their supporters to take action. In Australia, each Urgent Action was sent to people ready to write letters to the Paraguayan authorities. To maintain the pressure on key decision makers in Paraguay, an online action was created to help get the bill through the Upper House and then signed off by the President. The action was promoted through social media and a dedicated group of 2,389 Amnesty supporters were asked to send actions in the hours leading up to the final decisions. Amnesty believes that, in concert with other organisations, our support for the community’s own efforts had a genuine impact and helped achieve this historic outcome.



The government of Paraguay has set a positive precedent in addressing the rights of the Sawhoyamaxa community. Now is the chance to address the rights of other Indigenous communities across the country and commit to reversing many years of discrimination and other human rights violations against Indigenous peoples. To find out more follow this link http://www.amnesty.org.au/iar/comments/34807


A SYRIAN ARTIST AND DESIGNER Omar Shammah, is a Syrian artist and designer born in Damascus - Syria in 1992. Omar showed interest in the Arts at an early age, having drawings that date back to 1994. It was through the influence and maybe a genetic gift of being born in an artistic family that led him to the Arts. His father is a Caricaturist, his mother is a writer, and his uncles made sculptures and worked as an interior designer. Omar also has an eclectic cultural background with a Syrian father, Kurdish mother and grandparents from Algeria and Turkey. At the age of 17, Omar made the decision to study arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, and then to proceed in the department of Visual Communications. Later in 2013, he graduated with a First Class degree. Omar is an artist who gets inspirations from almost everything around him. He loves to discover new fields of art every now and then, and get involved in them. He likes to see what he can add to this field, and what he can take from it to enrich his experience because he believes in the connections between different arts. As to every artist, Omar's art is his message to the world. He believes that humanity is the ultimate concept and challenge of art, and most of all, himself. Therefore, most of his works are self-expressive or about personal experiences. Omar thinks that art is his way of exporting all the feelings he gets from his surroundings. This makes him the vessel in which all the exterior and personal factors are mixed together with previous experience, until the point when this vessel is unable to keep hold of the emotional mixture within, so it flows out in the shape of artworks. This explains his calm character which eventually explodes. Omar still tries to enjoy his art as it was his favorite thing to do since an early age; only now with a bit more consciousness gained from academic life. Omar thinks that immortality has been the goal of the human race since its very existence, and he thinks that his way of achieving it, is to be remembered with a lasting legacy. This makes art a vital thing in this matter, as it is his way of keeping a diary, which Pablo Picasso suggests. Omar curates his designs with the aim to timelessness.


Omar Shammah behance.net/omarshammah





ETHICAL CONSUMERISM Spotlight on: Cocoa By Sarah Mokrzycki

‘When people eat chocolate they are eating my flesh’ – Drissa, former cocoa slave Children in Australia have access to education, healthcare, and most importantly, childhoods. The children who work the cocoa farms in West Africa are not so lucky. Surrounded by poverty, children in many countries are forced to work from a young age; some do this voluntarily to support their families, others are sold to traffickers, and some, according to BBC’s Panorama website, are even abducted from neighbouring countries. Children work long hours, climbing cocoa trees and cutting and slicing bean pods with machetes which often results in injuries and permanent scaring, before packing the pods into sacks and transporting them.


‘Some of the bags were taller than me. It took two people to put the bag on my head. And when you didn’t hurry, you were beaten’ – Aly Diabate, former cocoa slave On top of hazardous work conditions, the children are exposed to agricultural chemicals, poor nutrition and appalling living conditions, including little to no access to clean water. Many of the children are completely unable to undertake any form of education – a direct violation of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) standards. They spend their days literally slaving away so that people in more fortunate countries can enjoy cheap chocolate from supermarkets. According to the Food Empowerment Project, ‘relatively little progress has been made in reducing and eliminating child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry of West Africa.’ World Vision states, ‘approximately 95 percent of the chocolate sold today is not certified to be free from the use of forced, child or

trafficked labour,’ and BBC’s Panorama echoes this chilling statistic, stating ‘there is no guarantee, despite safeguards, even with chocolate marketed as Fairtrade, that child labour... has not been involved in the supply chain.’ The Fairtrade label is a beacon of ethics for the savvy consumer, a neat little way to know that we’re on the right track and doing the responsible thing. Or is it? Recent research shows that Fairtrade is not all it’s hyped up to be. An article from Care2 explains, ‘for products like bananas and tea, fair trade is mostly a question of insuring that small farmers get a fair price for their products, but when it comes to cocoa the issues are even more serious. Slavery, child labor, kidnapping, injuries from unsafe working conditions, beatings and, at its worst, murder, are all in the mix.’ And none of these concerns are covered adequately by the Fairtrade label, which, at a base level, simply means farmers are paid a fair price for their product. So what about going organic? Unfortunately, like the Fairtrade label, organic labels refer only to one aspect of food production – in this case, the adherence to strict environmental requirements. As Clay Gordon states in an article for Grist, sustainability has three pillars: environmental, economic, and social – and as of yet, not one label fully covers all three. With so much confusion and ambiguity, just how on Earth are we meant to know what’s ok to buy? The short answer: go to The Ethical Guide [direct link to Chocolate section: http://guide.ethical.org.au/guide/ browse/guide/?cat=470&subcat=457&ty pe=126]

Here you will find a list of different chocolate companies and their current ethical standings. Most mainstream chocolate companies rate very low. In fact, major brand Nestle is on The Ethical Site’s list of companies to boycott. This can cause a bit of an issue for those of us who don’t have the money or means to 10

splurge on top rated chocolate brands. Fortunately, Whittaker’s has an excellent rating, and is sold in most supermarkets. Unfortunately, most supermarkets only stock two brands of cocoa: Cadbury and Nestle. In this instance, it’s a case of going with the lesser of two evils. If mainstream cocoa is the only type you can afford or find, my advice is to buy Cadbury. The Ethical Guide has a great big cross next to it, but like everything to do with this issue, it’s a little complicated. Cadbury are now owned by Kraft, which is largely responsible for their dismal ethical rating. Cadbury confirms they don’t source cocoa from farms utilizing slave/child labour, and are currently invested in a $400 million dollar global sustainability project called Cocoa Life – but here’s where it gets tricky. Kraft Foods (now Mondelez Australia) has no criticisms in The Ethical Guide, but Mondelez International (who own them) have a bucketful, including a D+ rating from Free2Work, ‘which rates companies on their efforts to address forced and child labour.’

They spend their days literally slaving away so that people in more fortunate countries can enjoy cheap chocolate from supermarkets. This is a primary concern for ethical shoppers – buying a certain product may, in essence, be ok, but so many products are linked to unethical corporations. Green & Black’s Fairtrade chocolate, for example, was bought by Cadbury in 2005, which was bought by Kraft in 2010, which is part of Mondelez International. It just goes on and on. If you are concerned about where your favourite chocolate brand sources their cocoa from, email them and ask (see sample). At this stage, with so many companies either turning a blind eye, or worse, actively sourcing cocoa from farms utilizing child labour, it falls to us to take a stand and make a difference.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

To found out more about child slavery in cocoa farming, visit:



150g softened butter


1 cup compacted brown sugar 1 free range egg


Splash vanilla essence

http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/ front_page/newsid_8583000/8583499.stm

2 cups self raising flour 100g chocolate, broken (I used Whittaker’s)

How to cope with ethical ambiguity in chocolate...


• Check The Ethical Guide to see where the chocolate you buy rates in terms of ethical practices

• Preheat oven to 180° Celsius and line two trays with baking paper.

• Boycott unethical chocolate companies if possible

• Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

• Email chocolate companies to find out where they source their cocoa (see sample)

• Add egg and essence, and beat together until combined.

• Make or sign a petition encouraging chocolate companies to source their cocoa ethically

• Gently stir in flour and chocolate, adding a little at a time. • Roll into tablespoon sized balls with your hands and flatten slightly onto baking paper. Be sure to leave space (around 5cm) between cookies.

Inform others! Make sure other people know the ethical concerns of chocolate – lack of public knowledge (and pressure) stops unethical cocoa farming from being a recognised concern

• Bake for around 15 minutes. Cookies will come out soft but harden on standing.

Remember you can only do what you can do: small changes lead to big changes, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t go completely ethical all at once!

Makes 24

Sample email:

Dear [name of chocolate company]


It has recently come to my attention that the vast majority of chocolate companies source their cocoa unethically; in many cases, from farms utilizing slave and child labour. As a long-time fan of your chocolates, it worries me that I may be inadvertently assisting the continued abuse of workers in the cocoa industry. What is your company’s stance on the matter? Would someone be able to tell me how and where your company sources their cocoa? Yours sincerely, A concerned consumer 11


A DREAM YET UNFULFILLED A compilation of quotes by human rights activists such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Kofi Annan.

I know, up on top ― you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear, You can imprison a man... You can exile a man... You can kill a man, but not an idea. All children should be taught to unconditionally accept, approve, admire, appreciate.

As long as there are human rights to be defended, so long will public speaking have its place.

Rights that are not something given, but are what no one can take from you, And so moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue, It should be behavior that counts, not what person belongs to what group.

Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so shocking or So brutal as his abuse of the female sex. Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains that the other half can soar into skies?

There will be the day when we bring realisations, That today’s real borders are not between nations, But between powerful and powerless.

Caged birds sing of freedom, free birds fly.

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented, A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected.

Understand that sexuality is as wide as the sea, That when we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free

Life at any price has no value; Life is nothing without the rights and joys, which make it worth being alive.

We have nothing to be complacent about, ― inevitable about but there is nothing tyranny.

Truly, ‘human rights’ is the only ideology that deserves to survive. Swear never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, As such it is time to defend not so much human rights, as human obligation, And a dream of a world with respect for the dignity and worth of the human situation.


The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened, By nature born equally free and independent. If you love until it hurts, there’s no hurt, only more love. ―

Silence never won rights as they are not handed down from above. 12


Some Escape/At All Costs When bullets fly And buildings crumble, Lives destroyed, Pride humbled. Thoughts of escape Run through the mind: Beyond the seas They long to find Some Sanctuary. Some Hope, Some Peace. But as they enter The belly of the beast, It turns them back With righteous hands; Denied a place In this Fair land‌ The Lucky CountryLucky for who? Lucky for Me, But not for you. Tom Mogford (Australia)




AFGHANISTAN: Where Birth May Mean Death Twelve year old Farishta peers outside the dilapidated warehouse where she has lived with her family for eight years.

Maternal Health in Afghanistan By: Lucy Howard-Robbins


here are some aspects of a midwife’s job that are universal. When a midwife prepares to birth a baby, they must expect the unexpected. They must anticipate careful planning going out the window, no matter how prepared and determined parents and medical professionals are.

So while women in Australia face incredibly low odds of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, women in Afghanistan face a 1 in 32 risk of death. In a country where girls marry young and many are pregnant annually from their first menstruation, the risk they are facing is horrifying.

Here in Australia, the unexpected can be frightening for midwives and parents, but most people have access to first-class hospitals, medicine and doctors. This includes pre-natal and anti-natal care, both of which can throw complications at parents just as much as the actual birth. For most people in Australia, the unexpected stops at frightening.

Worst of all, it is unnecessary. While it is not expected that Afghanistan’s maternal health can be brought up to the same level as Australia’s, there are many simple initiatives that can be introduced to significantly reduce illness and death among women and their infants. Women in Afghanistan have limited access to family planning or control. Too often women have little or no control over their own bodies and clinics providing assistance are far away. Access to modern methods and knowledge of family planning would undoubtedly and significantly reduce maternal and child mortality.

So why in Afghanistan does the unexpected result in illness, death and grief? Afghanistan has long been reported as one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. A large contributor to this dubious title is the severe lack of maternal health.

One of the most common causes of maternal death in Afghanistan is severe post-partum bleeding. If women do not or cannot reach skilled medical help they die from blood loss or infection. It takes a lot of work for women to access what medical help there is available in Afghanistan. One solution to this is to train more women to act as midwives in their home towns and villages. Afghanistan desperately needs more midwives who support women through all stages of their pregnancy. Education is the first step. Increasing the numbers of young girls and women in schools is essential to training midwives to deliver the next generation.


Too many women are not living to experience what many in Australia consider to be the best moments of their lives; they do not hold their newborn baby, they do not see their child’s first steps, they do not see them grow up. In Australia, 99% of women give birth in a medical institution with a skilled attendant present. The result is that women in Australia have a 1 in 8,100 lifetime risk of maternal death. In Afghanistan many people live in remote and isolated villages. It is impossible for some women to leave their families behind and travel the long distance across difficult terrain to a hospital or health centres they might not be able to afford, all while pregnant. As a result, only 39% women actually give birth with a skilled attendant present; most give birth in their homes, too far from help if the unexpected should happen.

Enabling one young girl to attend school could result in hundreds of safe deliveries. Just one young girl educated as a midwife could mean that hundreds of Afghani women anticipate their pregnancy with all the joy and hope that every woman deserves.



EMMA BURLEIGH ARTIST AND ILLUSTRATOR About my image: I was inspired by the tradition of miniature paintings, many of which originate from areas of Afghanistan. I wanted to create a colourful image that gave a nod to this aspect of Afghanistan's rich culture. I also wanted to make an image to celebrate the courage and spirit of the many women in Afghanistan who I have been reading about on Amnesty's website On another site I read a blog by an Afghan woman who said she did not want the only representations of Afghan women to be horrific images of abuse, (although it is important that the international community do see these kinds of images too so that they can understand the extent of what is happening). In my image I have tried to show three experiences of Afghan women: on the left there are women unseen and unheard in the shadows, in the centre there are brave and lively women demanding their rights, and on the right are examples of some of the things Afghan women should have the unquestioned right to do, such as working, studying and expressing themselves in music and art. I have based my design and colour scheme on the Afghan flag, dividing my image into the flag's three panels of black, red and green. At the top I have drawn the national emblem of Afghanistan. About me: I am currently fulfilling my dream by studying for an MA in illustration at Falmouth, UK. For ten years before this I worked as an Art teacher in a comprehensive state school and more recently as a garden manager at a mediation centre. I have been a member of Amnesty since running the Amnesty society as a BA student at Exeter Uni back in the early 1990s!




Statistics gathered from the World Health Organisation.



Nabila's Story


Nabila meets women on a daily basis whose stories are heartbreaking. In March 2013 she met a 22-year-old woman who had been married at the age of seven to a man thirteen years her senior. She had been pregnant six times but only one of her children had survived.

During her day, Nabila provides women with support at every stage of pregnancy and birth. She runs group health education classes, gives antenatal and postnatal care, family planning and of course, deliveries. She also provides women with nutritional advice and vaccinates children against common diseases such as polio and tuberculosis. She generally sees between 20 and 30 patients a day and has to sterilise and care for her own equipment and environments, and organise and update all her records. She must work hard and independently with the knowledge that lives are in her hands. Nabila knows that the situation of many women in Afghanistan could be so much better with more trained midwives 17

such as herself. The major hurdle is illiteracy: culture, a shortage of female teachers, conflict, insecurity and family pressure all contribute to girls and women not receiving an education, and this has huge knock-on consequences for healthcare. Nabila wants to see more women trained to act as midwives in their own communities so that no woman is without skilled medical assistance during pregnancy. Information sourced from Thomson Reuters Foundation. Article: Merlin-UK-2013, Diary of 19-year-old Afghan midwife, Nabila Gul You can read more about Nabila's story here:

http://www.trust.org/ item/20130501142656-xsqyt/?source%20 =%20hppartner


ineteen year old Nabila Gul grew up in a village without a midwife or even a doctor. When she trained for two years at the Community Midwifery Education School and returned to her home, she became the first midwife for a village separated from the nearest hospital by 60km of rough terrain without roads. As a result Nabila sees first-hand the deficiencies in maternal health in her home country.


Photo by: Muzafar Ali Gandanayak Girls School, Nili, Daikundi.


By Kobra Moradi


he history of Afghanistan depicts a brutal life for its women. They have been victims of sexual assault, violence and honour killings. Women face being poisoned, mutilated and stoned to death, and for too long they have been held captive within the four walls of their own homes.

Whilst Afghan men may have found moments of autonomy and consolation at some stage of their lives, Afghan women have never had this privilege. Although the retreat of the Taliban in 2011 offered some changes; the dangerous patriarchal norms that were established remained intrinsically engrained within the nation’s mentality. Aisha did not find a welcoming arm or a safe haven after she ran away. Society viewed her as a deviant: someone who posed danger to the masculine authority and their social norms, which hold greater importance than human life in a men’s world. She was viewed as a dishonoured and blatant woman by an intolerant society.

Aisha Mohammadzai is an emblem of the ongoing oppression of Afghan women. Aisha was forced into marriage at an early age. Her husband and his family treated her as a slave. Instead of accepting her position, she chose to pursue her rights, and so she fled. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, where there is no safe haven for a daring woman, Aisha was returned to her in-laws, where she was mutilated. Her cut nose and ears are symbols of the violence that thousands of women have experienced and still experience in Afghanistan.

Women in Afghanistan are persistently marginalised and isolated from the public arena. They are prevented from taking part in creating the values that dictate their everyday lives. They are subject to man-made norms that continuously aim at degrading 18


them. According to a report by the UN, titled Still a Long Way to Go, “incidents of violence against women still (remains) largely under-reported due to cultural restraints, social norms and taboos, … religious beliefs, discrimination against women that leads to wider acceptance of violence against them”. Therefore the fear of “social stigma” and social change are major factors in the violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. In order to ensure that this tradition of suppression is not challenged, neither authorities nor society actively condemn atrocities committed against women.

What is largely needed is the implementation of laws that promote and protect the rights of women. It is also vital that the government condemns perpetrators of violence against women and brings them to justice. This will not only assist in changing social mentality, but also it will send a clear message that violence against women and girls will not be tolerated. Furthermore, in order to bring about a mental revolution towards gender inequality it is crucial that there are regular debates on this topic, not only by intellectuals in western countries, but by Afghan men and women. Women of all ethnic backgrounds must unite and speak up about their position in society and how they can influence social change.

The masculine authority within the Afghan society has stifled the voice of women - rendering them to suffer in silence. Although a woman may have the same qualifications, skills and knowledge as a male counterpart, since the large majority of decision makers in society are men, it is difficult for a woman to be as equally active. There are numerous reasons for this: the obvious reason is that her own family and society expect her to limit her interaction with any men who are not her relatives. The expectation that a woman’s place is in the home stops women from creating their own identity; from becoming educated and economically independent and from becoming equal to men. When a woman deviates from social expectations, both men and women judge her - sometimes, women more so - as they have been raised to believe that a woman’s inherent responsibility is to be submissive towards her brothers, uncles, fathers and husbands.

It is also essential that women are liberated from their own homes. Family structure that is intrinsically defined by traditional man-made norms must be challenged, questioned and altered. From a young age, girls need to be taught that they are equal to their brothers. They must be supported by their families to gain education, seek employment and take their rightful position in the society.

“My heart is full of pain, but it is hard to explain all these stories” -Quote by a women from Kandahar in the UN report “LIKE A BIRD WITH BROKEN WINGS”.

The lack of enthusiasm shown by the government to improve the situation for women has had a dire impact on the advancement of women’s rights. Instead of implementing laws to promote and protect the rights of women, the government has persistently sanctioned decrees that propagate violence against women. Imprisoning women for “moral crimes” is an example. A report by Human Rights Watch – I HAD TO RUN AWAY: Women and Girls Imprisoned for ‘Moral Crimes’ in Afghanistan- highlights how hundreds of women are imprisoned for “moral crimes” of “running away” and “zina”. Most of these women have fled from forced marriages and domestic violence. The report quotes that “while the women and girls who flee abuse often end up incarcerated, the men responsible for domestic violence and forced marriages causing flight almost always enjoy impunity from prosecution”. Therefore, the lack of interest shown by the government to provide legal protection for victims of forced marriage, domestic violence and other forms of abuse is a major hindrance to the improvement of gender inequality.

The struggle to encourage women’s rights can only be achieved through empowering women. Allowing girls to understand their potentials and their rights as human beings. The resilience shown by many Afghan women in the past few years has been extraordinary. What is needed is further disobedience to the barbaric and bias laws that subjugate them. Afghan women must be brought out of the darkness – and this can only be done through the light of education. Amidst bleakness, today’s Afghan girls find hope within the lines of their books. As this generation keenly pursues education and becomes armed with knowledge, there can only be hope that change is not far away. Kobra is from Hazarajat Afghanistan, and moved to Australia in December 2005. She is currently studying a Bachelor of International Relations and hopes to work in International Development.

Note from Amnesty International

• Increased enrolment into all tiers of formal education • Increased life expectancy • Reserved seats in the Afghan National Assembly and provincial councils • Women’s groups are able to operate more freely (though still with limitations) • Equal rights enshrined in the Afghan Constitution and official Afghan policy 19


Whilst things are far from ideal, it is important to recognise the positive changes that have occurred for women in Afghanistan. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 there has been significant progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Some of the improvements include:


Celebrities, fashion, gossip… but what is pride marching really about? WWW.AM-UNITYMAGAZINE.COM

By Jennifer Duke

It’s raining and, unusually for Sydney, no one cares and no one complains about the streets being crowded or the trains being too full. With multi-coloured face paint running off his body, one man, in his late-20s, wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a feather boa, is pushing his way forward with hundreds of others for Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands, if we’re to run off of official estimates, and 10,000 in the parade itself. It’s loud, bustling, and there’s a huge amount of excitement.


Beyond this, Sydney’s Mardi Gras was broadcasted on SBS 2, reaching a combined metro and regional audience of 205,000. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s 19th year for Pride March saw 40,000 people take part, in about 40 degree heat, with an estimated 5,000 marching. Gay Pride marches are an increasingly important part of Australia’s history, and for good reason. Despite much criticism heavily weighing now on Sydney’s Mardi Gras, with mainstream media often berating the hard partying aspect to the event, it’s as important now as it was when it began 36 years ago with the 78ers.

Casting this backdrop against the march of 1978, the word ‘pride’ takes on an incredibly potent meaning. While today’s marches are infused with celebrity and gossip, costume competitions, music, drinking, ever more expensive tickets and clubbing, they’re no less important. Celebrating those who fought for the right to even celebrate their identity on the street, most would be hard pushed to

look on today’s hundreds of thousands of participants with much more than astonishment. The world is truly a different place. And yet it has not entirely changed. In the lead up to Pride March and Mardi Gras, February was the month of the winter Olympics, held in Sochi. The strange divide between what was soon to happen on the streets of Australia, against the anti-gay laws that had just been brought in to Russia, was a bleak reminder that while many countries have come a long way we still have far to go. Just last year, the first ever successful pride march in Russia’s neighbouring country of Ukraine was held, KyivPride 2013, hosted by Amnesty International. There were


The fact remains that the world is a vastly different place now than it was in 1978. When the several hundred 78ers marched, as a somewhat informal part of the Gay Solidarity Celebrations worldwide, it was 10 o’clock at night on Saturday 24th June. Homosexuality was still illegal in New South Wales, and many donned costumes for the events to disguise their identities. They were met with police violence, with 53 arrested, and some beaten. In 1979, 3,000 people marched with no incidences. In 1980, they then introduced the after party, and in 1981 they moved the event earlier in the year for the weather. Clearly, this isn’t always successful – 2013 rained as well – but it seems not to dampen any spirits.

emerged. Western Australians and Queenslanders were waiting until 1990, while Tasmania only rectified their laws in 1997. Incredibly, this actually means that unless you are seven years old or younger, the changes have occurred in your lifetime. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ survey, 20,0635,80 residents lived through this final change.

In 1978, male homosexuality had been legal for just three years in South Australia, and two in ACT. In another three years, Victoria would change the laws to allow for homosexuality. In New South Wales and the Northern Territory, it would be around six years until decriminalisation 21


around 500 counter protestors and some of them were arrested, without force, that day.


For those growing up in countries without majority support for gay rights, where hate crimes and bullying of LGBTIQ people is common, and even broadcasted on YouTube, it can be described as nothing short of terrifying. And yet for those growing up in Australia, which by comparison is extremely laidback about equal rights, coming out is not always easy. That LGBTIQ people are at a higher risk of suicide, of substance abuse and of mental illness is also no secret – the only thing that seems to be argued is the specific percentage difference. Speak to many about their coming out experiences, and it’s unlikely you’ll hear that they were confident to do so.

In America, a study found gay teens five times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide, while a Queensland survey in January by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention found 40 per cent of LGBTIQ people had suffered from some form of a mental illness in the past 12 months, compared to 20 per cent of heterosexual people. An intensive study into what is causing these issues is currently underway. Marriage equality may also be the next on many radars, but it still floats anywhere between 55 per cent and 65 per cent, leaving significant room for improvement. Pride, or a deep satisfaction with oneself, is not something that has always come naturally for LGBTIQ people, nor necessarily for their families and friends. It’s also no coincidence that ‘pride’ is now a word largely associated with the 22

gay rights movement and the concept of being ‘out and proud’. This is not a pride that has come without effort, without the legacy of those marching and being vocal about it, or without a huge shift in the way society thinks. Next time you participate or visit Mardi Gras or Pride March, remember you’re there because all those years ago – and it actually wasn’t that long ago – other Australians did so against the odds. But also remember that you do so because many people around the world cannot. And if that comes along with Delta Goodrem, a face painted man with a feather boa and a street performance, then embrace it. Next year’s Pride March in Melbourne will be the 20th year for the celebration. Stats from the World Health Organization.





CLICK TO PLAY Watch Amnesty at ‘Pride March’










Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Rights


By Lucy Howard-Robbins


Ignite the Flame of Human Rights A short film for Amnesty International Denmark which aimed to shine a light on Human Rights violations in Russia in the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympics.

CLICK TO PLAY Watch ‘Ignite the Flame of Human Rights’ AM-UNITY MAG EDITION 2



Image Above:


Julia Bereciartu–Anna Goddson Agency

Who not to Love in Russia

By the Light of the Olympic Flame

LGBTIQ people in Russia and their supporters face significant pressure and persecution on a daily basis. LGBTIQ students are often subjected to extreme physical and emotional bullying and harassment, and they do not have the option to seek help and support from teachers or authorities. In some cases, doing so could lead to more abuse.

‘The Olympic flame can throw light on the human rights violations that the authorities would prefer to hide behind the celebratory decorations’ - said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.


Last year, Russian president Vladimir Putin further increased the pressure on the LGBTIQ community by signing a law against ’propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ among children. The law effectively restricted activists’ and individuals’ rights to freedom of expression. People found to have violated the law face extortionate fines and foreigners may face jail time and deportation.


The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics placed an international spotlight on Russia, especially the human rights situation. National and international activists have used the media attention to highlight the systematic abuse of the LGBTIQ community in Russia. LGBTIQ people in Russia have welcomed the spotlight on the country and their battle for human rights, but they worry about what their future will be like once the Sochi flame is extinguished. It is not only the LGBTIQ community that fears a backlash once the international spotlight moves away from Sochi. Journalists and activists fear retaliation against those criticising the authorities before and during the games.


Success! To Russia with Love At the end of January, Amnesty International Australia delivered a petition to the Russian Consulate in Sydney with over 10,000 signatures calling on President Putin to stop the attacks on human rights in Russia. It was part of a global Amnesty petition which collected more than 300,000 signatures.

Amnesty staff gather outside the Russian Consulate in Sydney Š Amnesty International

WHAT YOU CAN DO LGBTIQ Case: Ihar Tsikhanyuk One of Amnesty International's current LGBTIQ campaigns is for Ihar Tsikhanyuk, a Belarusion openly gay activist. Ihar was verbally abused, threatened and beaten by police on 6 February 2013 following his unsuccessful attempt to register an LGBTIQ community organisation. No one has been brought to justice for this attack.

To show solidarity with Ihar and other LGBTIQ activists follow this link https://sites.google.com/a/amnesty.org.au/iar/cases-you-can-work-for/belarus-ihar-tsikhanyuk



Ihar said 'I don't want to hide myself. I live openly. It is not easy in Belarus, but I want to show people that I am a person like everybody. With my example I want to show that it is possible to live openly.'



Refugee Rights




Boat Day/ Michael Roper Profile By Catherine McLean

Asylum seekers arriving by boat has been a key issue within Australian politics for over a decade. Though there is nothing illegal about asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, the issue is continually blown out of proportion. These people are labelled (incorrectly) as illegal immigrants and treated inhumanely and as criminals. Last November, Michael Roper, a Melbourne-based architect decided that enough was enough. It was time to combat Australia’s “boat fear.” But how?


It was a simple idea that spurred the beginnings of National Boat Day. Gather your mates, pack a picnic and row a boat across your nearest body of water. If a substantial body of water was not available, you could just moor your rig on the grass at your local park. Sounds like a regular day at the park, right? But this simple idea has a much deeper meaning. In fact, National Boat Day is an exercise in empathy. “Australians need to realise that people who arrive on a country’s shore by boat aren’t all that bad. It could be you,” Roper explained. Prior to November, Roper had never been directly involved activism. Of course he made his monthly donation to the UNHCR and attended the odd rally, but he had never instigated a protest himself. After a few years of the idea of Boat Day playing in the back of his mind, he finally decided to take it upon himself to fight against the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. “In the lead up to the last election the conversation on [asylum seekers] was just becoming all the more hysterical,” said Roper. “We started hearing our politicians taking militarised action and it was just at that point that the idea had to turn into something real.” After printing out some flyers and handing them out to people at the Melbourne Climate Rally in November, Michael was suddenly locked into delivering National Boat Day.

Michael Roper 34


In only two months, Michael assembled a team of talented friends, acquired $1000 from the Awesome Foundation and got to work organising and publicising the event. “Everyone has been working pretty flat out since the first week of December,” said Michael. “It has been a real sprint.” He added, “It’s all very low budget, grass-roots and pro bono.”

For future dates and more information about National Boat Day, visit http://www.boatday.org/ and like the official National Boat Day Facebook page for updates https://www.facebook.com/ nationalboatday.

It was Roper’s vision to turn Boat Day into something that would appeal to the average, not-so-political Australian. “We think protests are really important in national dialogue, but they alienate the vast majority of Australians,” said Roper. “Once an issue is inflamed, people don’t want to be associated with it and take a conservative approach to it, which usually involves not getting involved in it at all,” he added. It was for this reason that Michael and his team took a light-hearted approach to National Boat Day… he felt that it was important to “capture people’s imagination.”

Left: Daniel Webb - Director of Law Advocacy from the Human Rights Law Centre

Right: Pamela Curr - Campaign Program Coordinator from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

“There’s something light and silly about gathering with your friends, family and a whole bunch of boats, but the message of Boat Day has serious undertones,” explained Michael. ”We know why we are there.” 35


“It won’t look like an ordinary protest and that is very conscious,” explained Michael. “It’s about getting into regional centres, appealing to people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and all ages.”


Shortly before I left Iran, I was kidnapped by five people. They threw me into a bush and let a few wild dogs attack me.

” By Grace Butcher

On the 11th of December 2013, Amnesty International Australia published a report on the Manus Island Detention Centre, called This is Breaking People. The report condemned the Regional Resettlement Arrangement, and said it had resulted in a “host of human rights violations”. The report also included 70 recommendations for improving the cruel and degrading conditions uncovered during the visit.


Amnesty found that aspects of detention on Manus Island were so poor that they violated Australia’s obligation to treat all persons in detention humanely. Amnesty researchers visited the centre from the 11th to 16th of November 2013. Interviews were conducted at each of the Delta, Foxtrot and Oscar Compounds and the Manus Island Detention Centre. Their report showed that detainees are being denied adequate drinking water, shoes, appropriate health care, soap and sanitation, privacy and protection from the sun. Cramped conditions, lack of air conditioning, inadequate supplies of water, limited access to phones and computers, including blocking the website and phone calls to the UNHCR were some of the shocking complaints made by detainees. Asylum seekers reported spending between one to five hours queuing for meals, toilets and showers in areas without protection from the sun, wind or rain. Doctors expressed concern to Amnesty researchers because of people fainting from these conditions. Conditions on Manus Island also appeared to breach the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the asylum seekers detained there is a person with dwarfism. He told Amnesty: “because 36

of the nature of my body, I have difficulty living in Iran. I had difficulty both with going about my day to day life and with being taunted and mistreated by other people. Shortly before I left Iran, I was kidnapped by five people. They threw me into a bush and let a few wild dogs attack me. I had bite marks all over my body. Some people rescued me from the dogs. All those men wanted to do was have fun, and to have some laughs.” Amnesty reported that, “despite his obvious difficulty in going about daily life at the detention centre, and in spite of his repeated requests for simple accommodations that would make his life easier – such as a stool to allow him to use the toilet without assistance – the centre had taken no steps that would afford a measure of dignity and autonomy…” The report also told of detainees being given limited clothing and no shoes. On arrival most receive one or two shirts, one or two pairs of shorts, two pairs of underwear and one pair of socks. Most have their possessions taken from them before arriving at Christmas Island, others have theirs confiscated by authorities on arrival. G4S security guards require that detainees have shoes in order to go on walking excursions outside the detention centre. Amnesty spoke to W.M. a 37 year old Pakistani asylum seeker and father of five, who told researchers, “I put in 10 requests for shoes. Someone told me that there are only 14 pairs available. I can’t walk without them. I can’t go for a walk outside the camp. I hear more than 200 people got shoes for health reasons so I asked an IHMS [International Health and Medical Services] doctor and the doctor said [The Salvation Army] had told him there were no more shoes.”


The conditions of detention of Manus Island have very real costs. On Monday 17th of February 2014, violence broke out at the Manus Island Detention Centre. Many were injured, some critically and tragically 23-year-old Reza Berati was killed. Details surrounding the violence remain far from clear. Immediately following the period of unrest, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison incorrectly said during a press conference that Reza Berati was killed outside the centre. In the absence of an official account on what happened, whistleblowers came forward and told a very different story. Azita Bokan, an interpreter who spoke to ABC Radio’s Richard Glover, painted a horrific picture of the events that unfolded on Sunday 16th, and Monday 17th of February. Bokan told listeners she saw a man with his throat slit and seven G4S guards assault a detainee pushing an injured man in a wheel chair towards the medical compound. Reports that violence occurred inside the centre were also confirmed by mental health expert Professor Louise Newman, and Manus Island’s police chief, Alex N’Drasal.

Later that week, another whistleblower and former migration agent, Liz Thompson told SBS of the tensions that led up to the riot on Manus Island.

The past and present governments of Australia have been plagued with the issue of asylum seekers. Obsessed with maintaining the integrity of Australia’s borders, refugee policies have repeatedly inflicted cruel and degrading treatment on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. There has been a collective failure to create policies that do not punish the victim. Instead, governments have favoured offshore detention centres that are neither safe nor humane. This year we have already seen the very worst consequences of our asylum seeker policies when Manus Island detention centre erupted in violence that killed Reza Berati. Although the current government is determined to keep Manus Island and other processing centres under a veil of secrecy, you can act now to show Scott Morrison that the conditions of detention are unacceptable and matter to the Australian public. Please sign up to Amnesty’s petition to http://www.amnesty.org.au/splash/ behindbars/ 37


Mr. N’Drasal stated on February 21st, 2013 that the violent protests were a result of a failure to act on a list of grievances raised by asylum seekers, and that the fatal violence could have been avoided had the Australian government improved circumstances at the centre.

‘I believe what happened was completely predictable, that tensions were allowed to build up, that misinformation was allowed to circulate, that people were allowed to be driven into a frenzy about what was going to happen. “That’s what Manus Island is; it’s the active creation of horror in order to secure deterrence. And that’s why I say again, Reza Barati’s death is not some kind of crisis for the department; it’s an opportunity to extend that logic, one step further – to say “This happens, but deterrence continues, Operation Sovereign Borders continues.”’

Obsessed with maintaining the integrity of Australia’s borders, refugee policies have repeatedly inflicted cruel and degrading treatment on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. There has been a collective failure to create policies that do not punish the victim. Instead, governments have favoured offshore detention centres that are neither safe nor humane.

You Are Welcome in Australia By Catherine McLean

In early February, a graphic novel authorised by the Rudd government (See here: http://www. customs.gov.au/site/Translations/English-m.asp) suddenly received a rush of media attention. Part of the controversial “No Way. They Will Not Make Australia Home” campaign, the 18-page graphic novel was first published on the Customs and Border Protection website last November. The publication seems to be aimed at the Hazara people–an Afghan ethnic minority who are among the most persecuted people in the world. It depicts a young man detained in an offshore detention center. He is clearly distressed.

When the graphic novel gained media attention, many people were shocked. One of these people was Kate Iselin. Iselin is the editor of The Vanity Project–an online publication that aims to mix fashion with feminism.


At first glance, given Iselin’s métier is clothing design, volunteering to publish a graphic novel about asylum seekers seems unlikely. In fact, this is her first ever activism project. However, Iselin has always felt very passionate about asylum seekers arriving by boat. “I’m always the person that’s like ‘Sign this petition guys!”, Iselin told AM-UNITY. “When I read that comic book, it really affected me. It really, really upset me to read,” she added. Iselin felt that the original graphic novel was insensitive. “Instead of showing people basically fleeing torture and war and really terrible situations, [the main character] was just sick of his job,” said Iselin. “That’s not why people come to Australia. They have really serious and legitimate reasons why they need to leave the country.” A few days after the publication reached media attention, Iselin read a friend’s tweet that jokingly read “Imagine if we made our own comic book for asylum seekers.” “I sort of had a light bulb moment,” said Iselin. “I was like ‘Yeah, I could do that.” She contacted her friend and expressed her interest in actually making a graphic

novel for asylum seekers. Though surprised by her interest, he gave her the go ahead. She immediately started a pledge on Pozible to cover the production costs. Upon pledging a selected amount, people receive a soft or hard copy of the comic book, along with some other goodies. Iselin’s project received $500 in pledges in the first hour. She immediately put together a basic storyboard and contacted the Perth-based artist Cal Art who agreed to do the art for the publication. Like the original comic released by the government, it will be primarily picture based with little to no text. “I think it’s that medium that is so effective,” said Iselin. “No words, no paragraphs of this or that. Just illustrations. Everyone understands illustrations.” Though the plot of the graphic novel has not yet been finalised, she hopes the graphic novel, titled “You Are Welcome in Australia” will put a positive spin on Australian people for newly settled asylum seekers. “The over-arching theme of the book should be community,” explained Iselin. “I want to provide something that makes [newly settled refugees] smile and makes them feel a little bit more at home.” Her title is a stark contrast to the original government slogan, “No Way. They Will Not Make Australia Home.” Iselin is concerned that the original 38

graphic novel is fuelling racism in Australia. “It worries me that it’s a bit like last year when the Rudd government was campaigning for re-election and they had those ads in the newspaper. But those ads were for us. I sort of feel like this comic might be for us too.” She was referring to the controversial “You won’t be settled in Australia” ad campaign that ran in many major domestic newspapers during the leading up to the last election. The campaign cost the Australian public an estimated $3 million. In response to this, Iselin aims to also promote tolerance and diversity in “You Are Welcome in Australia.” “If there’s one person out there who’s sitting on the fence and not really sure which way to lean… if I can change one person’s opinion then this will all be 100 times worth it,” explained Iselin. Iselin also expressed how important it is to educate younger generations about issues of tolerance and understanding. “Perhaps kids will see it, they will read it and understand. Maybe we can have a new generation of people who are slightly more accepting.” “If I can make a difference to one person’s life and how they are treated in Australia then that’s more than I could ever dream of,” she said. Any profits made will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, one of Iselin’s favourite organisations.


YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW By: Lucy Howard-Robbins Do you want to help refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne? For those of us eager to make a difference, it can be difficult to know where to start. Most students and young professionals struggle to spare monetary donations for organisations and projects which help refugees and asylum seekers. But you may have something equally as valuable as money – your time. Here is a list of Melbourne based organisations that offer vital support services to refugees and asylum seekers and information on how you could contribute to the wonderful work that they do.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre

Location: West Melbourne and Dandenong

Location: Brunswick

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is Australia’s largest asylum seeker organisation and has nearly 750 volunteers delivering services to over 1,200 asylum seekers. Their works encompasses material aid, health, legal, counselling, casework and a foodbank.

The ASWC is a community centre ; volunteers can support the organisation through participation in events and excursions, administration tasks, fundraising events and projects, computer and network maintenance, office repairs and community development.

Their next volunteer information session will be held on Tuesday 29 April 2014.

For more information visit http://www.asylumseekerprograms.org. au/how-you-can-help-asylum-seekers/become-a-volunteer/

Click here for more details on how to become a volunteer with the ASRC: http://www.asrc.org.au/get-involved/give-time/become-avolunteer/

Centre for Multicultural Youth

Click here to donate funds: http://www.givenow.com.au/ asrcgeneralappeal

Location: Carlton The CMY advocates for the needs of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and looks for volunteers to provide extra learning support to students in homework clubs around Melbourne.

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees Location: Melbourne CBD

For more information, contact the Volunteer Recruitment Officer on (03) 9340 3702 or volunteering@cmy.net.au or visit http://cmy.net.au/volunteer

RISE is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia to be run by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees. The association enables refugees and asylum seekers to build new lives by providing advice, engaging in community development, enhancing opportunities and campaigning for refugee rights.

The Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre Location: Dandenong and Narre Warren

RISE relies on volunteers and donations to deliver services to the least supported members of our society.

The SMRC provides services to migrants and refugees including aged care, refugee settlement services, family services, youth services, community development projects and skilled migrant employment services.

RISE currently has three volunteer positions available – 1 in Web Design and 2 in Grant Writing. For more information or to check for new availabilities click here: http://riserefugee.org/post/50303821143/volunteering-at-rise.

Volunteers are needed in social support, homework support and driver education programs.

You can also join the RISE mailing list to keep up to date with news and events by emailing admin@riserefugee.org

For more information visit http://www.smrc.org.au/volunteers/current-volunteer-opportunitiessmrc

AMES Location: Services offered at Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Coburg, Dallas, Dandenong, Melbourne CBD, Footscray, Frankston, Glenroy, Maidstone, Noble Park, Oakleigh, Preston, Ringwood, Springvale, St Albans, Sunbury, Sunshine, and Werribee.


AMES is a group of organisations which assist newly arrived humanitarian entrants to successfully settle in Victoria. AMES not only works with new arrivals but also with communities, businesses and local government to develop sustainable and effective settlement solutions. Volunteers provide practical settlement support and English tutoring. For more information visit www.ames.net.au/volunteering



Yolanda Majano



When you get to a point where people feel comfortable enough to talk with you, it feels great. VOLUNTEER PROFILE GET ACTIVE. BE INVOLVED.

all the different receptionists and nurses in the hospital. Having a familiar face to help them out I think makes a difficult experience a little easier. No day at the clinic is ever the same. Sometimes parents and families get nervous, so we do whatever we can to make them feel comfortable. Sometimes there are larger families at the clinic, and our day might involve entertaining the brothers and sisters of the children getting vaccinations.

AM-UNITY Interview with Yolanda Majano as told to Grace Butcher Yolanda Majano volunteers at the Immigration Health Clinic, helping to provide a weekly outpatient service for recently arrived refugee and asylum seeker children. The clinic operates on Monday afternoons as part of the Royal Children’s Hospital Immigration Health Service. She is also completing her Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne and works part-time as a swimming teacher for children with physical and mental disabilities.

I have benefitted so much from volunteering at the clinic. Working there, you can’t help but see and learn things I have learnt that every case and every family is different, and that what’s needed is patience and initiative. It has been especially rewarding to be able to talk to people in the clinic. When you get to a point where people feel comfortable enough to talk with you, it feels great. Children have so much character and they are a lot of fun to be around.

“Last year I applied to volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital because at the time, I was considering a career in pediatrics. Although I have since discovered that I am more interested in speech pathology, the decision to volunteer at the Immigration Health Clinic has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.

I wouldn’t say that I am particularly interested in politics. A lot of the time I get frustrated by what I see as a lot of talking and not much doing. But that is not to say that I don’t want to help. This was my way. It is hands on and I’m directly helping people on a day-to-day basis.

I began working at the clinic in September of last year. During high school I signed up for a program to help Sudanese refugees in my area with their homework after school. Because of my experience in refugee support programs, when I applied for a volunteer position at the hospital, they placed me in the Immigration Health Clinic.

My family comes from El Salvador. My dad came to Australia seeking political asylum. He was a university student at the time the military in El Salvador were forcefully taking young men into the army. He was taken off a bus and to a camp. He was held by the military under terrible conditions until my grandma found him and demanded that they release him. A few days later he was let out. That was when my family decided to leave. At the time, Australia, Canada and parts of Europe were taking refugees from El Salvador. Dad’s family chose Australia. On the 25th September 1985, they arrived in Australia. My mum came five years later.

The clinic operates as part of the Immigration Health Service provided by the Royal Children’s Hospital. At the clinic there are highly specialised doctors, with expert knowledge in areas such as refugee health and rare diseases, as well as dental nurses who visit fortnightly. Many children who visit the clinic come because they are vitamin D deficient, or need to be tested for tuberculosis.

Most days I collect patients from the waiting room, take them to be weighed and measured and then to the doctor for their appointment. Patients at the clinic will have an interpreter with them when seeing the doctor, but interpreters are always busy and don’t have time to help patients after consultations. Once they’ve seen the doctor, they usually require blood tests or x-rays or medications, so often I take them to pathology or the immunisation centre and even the pharmacy.

For more information about the Immigration Health Service and the Royal Children’s Hospital volunteering program, click on the links provided. For information on refugee volunteer organisations, see the list compiled in this issue of AM-UNITY.

It can be challenging for parents with language barriers to talk to



Volunteering at the clinic has given me a greater understanding of the experience of refugees and asylum seekers in our current climate, and a more tangible understanding of what my family went through to get to Australia. For anyone who wants to get involved in refugee support services, my advice is to find something you’re interested in and go from there. At the end of the day, volunteer organisations need people with skills. Find yours and go for it!”

As a volunteer, my job is to help children and their families navigate their way through the hospital. This can be a daunting task for many who don’t speak English or are unfamiliar with the hospital systems.


AHRI International Women’s Day Breakfast By Sarah Mokrzycki On the 5th of March this year the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) hosted a breakfast for International Women’s Day, with a panel of Australian professionals discussing modern women’s issues in the workforce.

Facilitator: Fiona Krautil, Principal, Diversity Knowhow

Panel: Maree Slater, Executive General Manager, Human Resources, Echo Entertainment Group


Panel: Brigadier Peter Daniel, Army


The panel was facilitated by Diversity Knowhow’s Fiona Krautil, who headed a lively discussion with fellow panellists Carmel McGregor from the Department of Defence, Brigadier Peter Daniel from the Australian Army, George Maltabarow from the University of Sydney, and Maree Slater from Echo Entertainment. The breakfast was hosted by AHRI’s Peter Wilson and special guest speaker Aunty Joy Murphy, a Senior Wurundjeri Elder of the Kulin Alliance, welcomed the audience and discussed


inspirational women in her life. The breakfast was sponsored by Macquarie University. Macquarie runs a female leadership program and their graduate school of management is currently undertaking research ‘to discover what needs to change to get more women enrolled in an MBA’. Currently only 35% of Master of Business Administration students are women, and Macquarie hopes to bridge that gap. The panel presented many ideas and strategies for accelerating women in business, and Carmel McGregor summed up the panel’s primary goals in three words: ‘fairness, inclusion and respect.’ Three words that are in no way exclusive to International Women’s Day or successful business; but also sum up the foundation and ongoing goals of feminism. Perhaps the most interesting part of the panel was Brigadier Peter Daniel’s discussion on the evolving role of women in the Australian Army. The army has made great strides towards equality in recent years, and while it is still some distance from achieving its goal, the changes that have already taken place are very promising. Every year International Women’s Day has a different theme. This year’s theme was ‘inspiring change’, and listening to the panel discuss the strides we as a country have taken so far was indeed inspiring, yet conversely disheartening: we have come so far, but we still have so far to go. The first woman to be elected to an Australian parliament was Edith Cowan in 1921, although women were given the right to vote – and the right to seek election – back in 1902. (Indigenous

Our progress has been slow, but it has been progress none the less. It’s easy to be discouraged, looking at the length of time it has taken for societal values to change. At times, the Australian mindset seems to take one step forward and two steps back, as Fiona Krautil explores in a Diversity Knowhow article [link: http://www.diversityknowhow.com. au/uncategorized/our-female-pmrolled-by-an-army-of-adversaries/] that examines the ‘ousting’ of Julia Gillard, and the nation’s attitude toward women in leadership roles. Thus, the fight for equality can often feel like a losing one, but as Maree Slater stated: ‘what we’re trying to do, in the last fifty years, is change thousands of years of accepted practice.’ And in the end, this is what needs to be remembered. We may still have a long way to go – but look at how far we’ve come.


Guest Speaker: Aunty Joy Murphy, Senior Wurundjeri Elder of the Kulin Alliance

Host: Peter Wilson, National President and Chairman of the Board, AHRI


AHRI International Women’s Day Breakfast https://www.ahri.com.au/resources/ general-information-page/iwd Diversity Knowhow http://www.diversityknowhow.com.au/


Panel: George Maltabarow, President, Electrical and Information Engineering Foundation of University of Sydney 43

Panel: Carmel McGregor, Deputy Secretary Defence People, Department of Defence


AHRI International Women’s Day Breakfast was held at Maià in Melbourne’s docklands

women were not given this right at a federal level until 1962.) Edith Cowan, a suffragette and pioneer for women’s and children’s rights, was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in 1921, although no female federal parliamentarians were elected until 1943. And it wasn’t until sixty-seven years later that Australia saw its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard.


“ ”

By Catherine McLean

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany proposed an idea at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. On March 19th of the following year, the idea became a reality; it was the first International Women’s Day.

The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.

The inaugural IWD was a huge success. Hundreds of meetings and protests were held across the European continent. The largest demonstration attracted 30 000 women. Taking place some 15 years before most European nations received female suffrage, this was an event far ahead of its time. Town squares and public halls filled with women demanding the right to vote and to hold public office. Two years later, IWD was shifted to March 8th and has fallen on this date ever since.

Gloria Steinem

The women involved in the formative years of IWD paved the way for future generations of women to come. They took some of the first steps toward true gender equality and helped to introduce the world to feminism. Or, to use the words of Cheris Kramarae, “the radical notion that women are human beings.” From gaining the right to vote and to hold public office to being able to use effective contraception and have access to a personal bank account, women in the developed and developing worlds alike have come a long way since 1911. But we are not there yet. According to the Afghanistan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2010-2011) carried out by UNICEF, 92% of Afghan women feel that a husband can justify beating his wife for a number of reasons including: burning the food, leaving the house without telling the husband and refusing sex. This is a residual effect of 82% of Afghan women receiving no education. Having said that, Afghan women have also made some extraordinary progress since the oppressive Talban regime was dismantled in 2011. In a country where females did not even have the right to a primary education, an incredible quarter of all Afghan MPs and Senators are now women. There is no doubt that the female presence in Afghan politics will inspire improvements to the lives of so many Afghan women. At the heart of this will be discussion and debate on a domestic level as well as working closely with the international audience – something that is facilitated by events like International Women’s Day.


This is even important for developed countries. In Australia, men dominate all career paths (apart from nursing and teaching). There is a 30% pay gap between male and female full-time workers in six of Australia’s largest employment sectors. This atmosphere of misogyny even filters through to the home. A shocking 33.3% of Australian women still face domestic violence at some point in their lives. Simply put, events like International Women’s Day are so important for a number of reasons. Of course, IWD allows women to reflect on the adversity we have faced in the past. It is also a day for celebration of our achievements. But most importantly, International Women’s Day is an event that facilitates discussion. This is important for women all over the globe. It allows women to be educated and inspired to exercise the momentous untapped potential that we, the oppressed majority, hold. 44



destroy the joint What is it?

An advocacy group for people sick of sexism against women in Australia. Where did the name come from? The name was inspired by the on-air comments of 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones, where in 2012 he said the misogynistic comment that women were “destroying the joint”. The term trended as a Twitter hashtag for four days. They decided to use the term satirically to create a call to action for those who reject sexism. Who is involved? The group currently has 11,100 Twitter followers, and 41,500 Facebook Group likes, from men and women of all ages and even from across the globe. The Facebook page was established in 2012 by Jenna Price, Sally McManus, El Gibbs, Emily Mayo, Amanda McNulty and Jill Tomlinson.

They campaign, and comment, tirelessly on sexism with bite and wit. Where can I find it? Online. The group is largely present through Twitter @JointDestroyer https://mobile.twitter.com/ JointDestroyer and via Facebook https://m.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint?_rdr You can also check out their website http://destroythejoint.org What should I know about them?

They campaign, and comment, tirelessly on sexism with bite and wit. They can be a PR’s worst nightmare if they spot a sexist advertising campaign or product. You may have seen them crop up in your Twitter feed where, on hearing about refugee women’s restrictions on sanitary products access, they called out to all of those listening to send in (unused) tampons and sanitary pads to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, to remind him every month that the public cares about the rights of these people. This is currently ongoing, with many women tweeting out photographs of the packages they have been sending to Morrison’s office. Expect humour, political commentary and a nothing-held-back look at just how far, and how ridiculous, sexism in our country can be. How can I get involved?



They have a number of campaigns, but much of their support comes in the form of Retweets and call outs online, such as in the case of #tampongate. Just by liking their Facebook page and following on Twitter you’ll be kept updated of the justice issues that you need to hear about, and that you can share to others. There’s also the option to donate, buy merchandise http:// destroythejoint.org/shop/ or get involved with one of their campaigns http://destroythejoint.org/category/campaigns/


A book review by Sarah Mokrzycki {365 Ways to Change the World by Michael Norton} I found this book quite by chance on a trip to Perth Zoo some years back. I idly perused the bookshelves with some half-hearted notion of buying an ethical book somewhere in the back of my mind, not really expecting to find anything life changing. And then I saw 365 Ways to Change the World by Michael Norton, with its tagline ‘how to make a difference – one day at a time.’ Such a simple and brilliant concept, and one that instantly got my attention. I skimmed through a few pages and saw something I had never seen a book of this kind offer before. This wasn’t just a book with a few good tips for making ethical changes around the house, work and community, it was a book that offered 365 doable ways to change the world; a new action for every day of the year. Each action has a coinciding date (for example, ‘Human Rights and Wrongs’, which details the work of Amnesty International, is on January 6th). As if this weren’t extraordinary enough, the actions are broken up into themes with symbols: democracy and human rights (whose corresponding symbol is an Amnesty style candle), discrimination, health, environment, peace – the list goes on. So you have the option of tackling the book any way you like: you can go to the day’s date and start making a change a day from there, or you can focus on specific themes that interest you.


What I love most about this book is that it offers thorough answers and encourages readers to find out more – and shows them how. Every page details a specific organisation or issue, and then offers (usually multiple) actions the reader can take, as well as a list of websites for further information.


pick and choose or simply make changes within their means. 365 Ways to Change the World is a wonderful book for adults and children alike. In fact, many of the actions would make great family activities, and the book itself is an excellent way to introduce children to ethical concerns in a proactive and educational way. But whether you’re a family, single, young or old – this book makes it possible for all of us to make positive changes to our lives and to the world. It’s an invaluable book that I’m proud to have on my bookshelf.


Half the Sky is a confronting collection of stories that will evoke passion, outrage, sadness and hope. It is an outstanding book that is a must read for anyone who cares about the violation of human rights. Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn travelled through Africa and Asia to meet incredible women fighting against all odds. Among the women represented in the book is a Cambodian girl who was sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries during childbirth. (Added full stop) Kristof and WuDunn make no attempt to avoid the grim reality of the women they meet. However, they also provide the reader with hope that things can change with a little help. Half the Sky educates the reader that the power to eradicate poverty lies in the underutilised potential of women. Empowering women is not only the moral thing to do; it is the best way to combat poverty.

Every page is divided into two sections: the top half details the topic and provides websites and tips; the lower half lists actions readers can take. What is particularly useful is that the majority of topics take means into consideration: if a particular topic requires a financial and/or time consuming action on the readers’ part, Norton often offers smaller, economical actions as well so readers can


The oppression of women and girls in the developing world is our era’s most pervasive human rights violation and this inspirational book is the first step to fully understanding the importance of this issue.


The Hospital by the River follows the incredible journey of two Australian gynecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin who left the comfort of the first world to move to Ethiopia. Initially only sent on a short-term contract to establish a midwifery training school, Reg and Catherine decided to uproot their life after witnessing the pitiable lives of women living with obstetric fistulas. Since their move Catherine (and Reg, before his passing) have operated and changed the lives of tens of thousands of women suffering from the debilitating condition. They have also trained doctors from around the world to perform the operation. This book tells the story of not only the fistula hospital but the battle that people face in extreme poverty. It provides an outsider perspective of life in the civil war where the Hamlin’s saw many of their friends imprisoned or killed by the communist regime. It is truly a story of courage, determination and hope. The Hamlin’s never give up on their patients; always fighting for better and more, never turning away a woman in need and proving that when there is a will there is a way.




Film is an important conduit for exploring LGBTIQ issues. Lisa Daniel, director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, explains why there’s still a vital need to tell queer stories. At a cinema in St. Petersburg patrons huddle in the darkness, unsure why proceedings are delayed. Eventually they are told the building is to be evacuated; a bomb threat has been called. They spill onto the street to find an aggressive mob has gathered outside, leering in their direction. What sounds like a scenario lifted from a much more sinister era, actually occurred a few months ago: November 2013, at Russia’s first ever queer film festival. Five separate bomb scares occurred throughout the festival – anti-gay vigilante action being a common and well-documented occurrence in Russian life. The threats all eventually subsided and the festival proceedings continued, although the lingering implication is clear: queer cinema is a genre that is still loaded with importance. The iron closet of Putin’s Russia is a far cry from the comfortable surrounds of the annual Queer Film Festival hosted at ACMI cinemas in Melbourne, but this is nonetheless an important festival in its own right. Running since 1992, Melbourne’s is one of the oldest queer film festivals in the world. It is also one of the largest. “Probably within the top five,” festival director Lisa Daniel explains. After directing the festival for the last 16 years of its operation, Daniel believes the need for a specifically queer film festival is still very much alive. “I think it’s incredibly important,” she says. “People are sort of asking me why we still need a queer film festival when we have shows like Modern Family and the new HBO series Looking and stuff like that, but they’re few and far between.”

“We still don’t see a lot of queer characters in cinema in particular. The small screen television is, I guess, a bit more adventurous than the big screen. The money it takes to make a feature film means the film industry is a little bit more

Outside of the strange microcosmic realm of the film industry, Daniel says inequality still needs to be addressed in real terms as well. “We don’t have equal rights in this country still; we don’t have gay marriage. There’s lots of parts of the world that have incredibly difficult times being queer, so I think it’s a long way off before we actually don’t require something like a queer film festival.” In contrast to the tense conditions of the inaugural Russian Queer Film Fest, Daniel says the early days of Melbourne’s festival were marked largely by a wave of gratitude throughout the community: “Back 16 years ago, people were pretty hungry for queer cinema.” The festival has grown consistently ever since. Daniel says that there is now much more material to choose from. “When I started, it was pretty hard to get thirty sessions of decent queer cinema, now it’s a lot easier to do that. We used to get about a hundred submissions, now we get about 700.” The festival tries to avoid any centralised creative direction, Daniel explains. “I don’t try to start with any curatorial requirements. We don’t have anything like quotas where we have to have a certain amount of gay films, lesbian films, bisexual films, that sort of thing, I think sort of locks you into a box that you don’t really want to be in.” “I go through the 700 submissions and we screen about a 165 of those and I kind of let them – the films – decide themselves.” As with any festival, a number of good quality films unfortunately have to be omitted from the program. “If you’ve got a documentary package, you do kind of have like-minded films within them,” she explains. “If we receive something on lesbian Slovenian tennis players, it’s pretty hard to find something to match with that, so unfortunately we still reject a lot of films that are fantastic, but just can’t fit in the program.” Though unintentional, this year’s throughline focuses on different generational LGBTIQ perspectives. 47

The Gen 2 Gen Community Film Project was started last year and has continued due to popularity. Young participants (between the ages of 18 and 25) are invited to create a short doco on a member of the older queer generation, to be screened at the end of the festival. “It’s discussing the difference between the younger generation’s experiences of coming out as gay or their experiences of being queer, with someone of an older generation, where things were very, very different,” Daniel explains, “so the resulting films are fascinating.” The festival director also cites a pair of inter-generational romances as her top picks in this year’s program. Matterhorn centres around a lonely widower obsessed with orderliness. He invites a younger, slightly mentally unwell man, to lodge with him. “They form this really sweet, unlikely friendship that kind of turns into a relationship and it’s just so sweet and so gorgeous and I hope people will go and see it,” says Daniel, adding, “Those sorts of things are sometimes hard to sell, because there’s not a picture of a guy with his shirt off, but it’s probably one of my favourites.” She also mentions Canadian director Bruce LaBruce’s new offering Gerontophilia, which Daniel explains, “is again about an older guy – in a nursing home – who meets a young male nurse, and they form a really sweet relationship too.” One of the intrinsic values, and reasons for a queer film festival to exist, is a chance to reflect on the treatment of LGBTIQ people in different parts of the world, especially in places that don’t look kindly on sexual diversity. Although the 2014 festival will not touch on the current tensions bubbling throughout the increasingly queer-hostile Russia, Daniel expects this is something that will be addressed in future programs. “There’s no docos that have emerged, but I imagine that will happen next year.” “I think there will definitely be filmmakers in Russia at the moment making documentaries,” says Daniel. “In 2015, I’m probably going to get an onslaught of documentaries about that very subject.”


She argues that although on-screen representation of queer characters has improved, there is still a void that needs to be filled.

conservative than the television industry.”

AM-UNITY MAGAZINE Amnesty International Australia Suite 8, 134 Cambridge Street Collingwood VIC 3066 Telephone: +61 3 9412 0700 Fax: 03 9412 0720 www.am-unitymagazine.com


For submissions please send all artwork, photography or articles to amunitymagazine@gmail.com When sending articles send rich text format or docx and for images send, 72 dpi and rgb files.