Write for Rights is a campaign by Amnesty International, where people write and demand action on behalf of  individuals who are experiencing human rights abuses around the world. Words are powerful and when they arrive in Government Official mailboxes by the thousands, they can not ignore them and perhaps gives cause to review the cases.

Last week I had the opportunity of writing letters for this campaign. Although it was supposed to be held in December, my school’s Amnesty club postponed it due to the teachers’ strike. I wrote two letters, one to the Minister of Justice in Ottawa and one the Premier of Gauteng Province, South Africa.

No More Stolen Sisters: Justice for the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada

According to Canadian government statistics, Indigenous women are five times to seven times more likely than other women to die as the result of violence. However, government response has been shockingly out of step with the scale and severity of these tragedies. My letter outlined my feelings towards the issue and asked that police respond to all missing persons reports in the same manner, without regard for race or sex. The federal government has responded by announcing plans to spend 10 million dollars over five years to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls, although most of the money is going towards police initiatives that track missing persons in general. Hopefully, the letters will promote the government to go further with this issue.

Noxolo Nogwaza’s Story

Noxolo, a woman from South Africa, was raped, beaten and stabbed in the dark, apparently because of her sexual orientation. She was an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights and unfortunately, little progress has been made into investigating who committed this crime. LGBTI people often say police officers or medical personnel do not take them seriously when they seek help after attacks against them. I felt very strongly about this issue because I know people who are a part of the LGBTI community and understand the struggles they encounter every day. In my letter I encouraged the police authorities to fully investigate the death of Noxolo Nogwaza and publicly condemn targeted violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. Everyone should be able to live their lives without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence.

I was impressed with the amount of letters that were written by students in my school and we also raised quite a bit of money. The next Right for Writes will be on December 10, 2013 and I encourage you all to participate!

Written by: Kayla Karrandjas

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