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Amnesty Secretary General given honorary doctorate

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

AI Index: ASA 22/007/2005 1 June 2005

Japan: Amnesty International's Secretary General awarded honorary doctorate by Ferris University

(Yokohama) Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan, was awarded an honorary doctorate today by Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan.

"Students, ordinary people, each one of us can make a difference in the world," Ms Khan said during a speech at the university in which she called on people to join Amnesty International's Stop Violence against Women campaign.

Ms Khan highlighted the global problem of violence against women, both in conflict situations and in peace-time.

"Across the world women are asserting their rights to employment, medical care and education. Women activists have achieved huge victories in the past 30 years. Yet, in many parts of the world, women still do not have the vote, or equal access to property and family rights," said Ms Khan.

"In far too many countries laws discriminate against women, politically, socially and economically. Cultural values are often invoked by governments to justify this unequal treatment, in contravention of their obligations to uphold universal standards of human rights."

"Violence against women doesn't only happen over there, far away. It also happens here: in our homes; to women we know and love; sometimes to us," said Ms Khan.

She highlighted some of the issues that need to be addressed in Japan: reparations for former 'comfort women'; domestic violence - which is the second most cited reason for divorce in Japan; and the need for protection for women who have been trafficked to Japan.

"Violence against women may be universal but it is not inevitable," Ms Khan concluded.

Visit Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women website at


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