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The 2006-07 annual report from Rights & Democracy notes that “While women are on the frontlines of defending rights…[they] often face intimidation and harassment, death threats, torture and mistreatment, including sexual violence (rape) or gender crimes.”

The report adds that “because they defy social, religious and cultural norms of femininity and the role assigned to them, they are subject to prejudice, social exclusion and public repudiation by state and non-state actors, including members of their own community and family.”

But it says that despite all the obstacles, “women activists make an exceptional contribution to the promotion and defence of human rights,” adding that “women’s rights defenders and activists…fight every day for the protection and defence of their rights, for justice and to put an end to impunity.”

The report, released in early September, also covers the rights of indigenous peoples and the globalization of human rights.

Also just released from the same organization is the report “Human Rights Impact Assessment for Foreign Investment Projects: Learning from Community Experiences in the Philippines, Tibet, Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina and Peru”.

The report offers the results of a three-year research project. For example, in Peru researchers studied Doe Run Peru S.R.L., a company that had purchased the state-owned smelter complex at La Oroya in the Andes Mountains. The complex has been producing copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold since 1922. It has also produced what the report calls “a toxic cocktail of pollutants.”

“In 2006, La Oroya was named one of the 10 most polluted areas in the world,” says the report. Researchers found that the way the complex is being run, “and the failure of the state to take appropriate steps, have had a negative impact on the ability of the people of La Oroya, especially women, to enjoy their human rights.”

Rights & Democracy is “an international centre for human rights and democratic development” created by an act of Parliament.