Your health:


Stacey Collins
As women, what are the worst challenges we face daily? Perhaps getting up in time for work every morning? Maybe it’s trying to find an outfit that actually matches or attempting to fit in that quality ‘me-time’ which demands a mug of hot chocolate, a Hobnob and an episode of Corrie? How about the struggle to stay alive everyday because your conscience prevailed over cowardliness?

The Anna Politkovskaya Award is awarded every year to women human right defenders from war and conflict. This year’s winner has been announced as Dr Halima Bashira from Darfur in Sudan for her courageous work in defying the Sudanese cultural taboos of sexual violence. Halima’s main challenge has been survival when faced with death threats, gang rape and bearing witness to the rape and torture of over 40 girls, some as young as eight, and their teachers by the Janjaweed militia in her home town.

This award originated to honour the daring and dangerous endeavours to fight for justice undertaken by Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was silenced by four shots to her body on the Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s, birthday in October, 2006.

Anna’s aim to not turn a blind eye on the unjust and brutal systems in Chechnya that breached the civilian’s human rights earnt her the admiration of human right supporters across the world. In an article published by Novaya Gazeta in early 2000, Anna wrote that she had to share rather than spare the details on the human right violations in Chechnya that saw rapes and mass killings by Russian military units before it was too late.

It was this act of truth-telling, despite great personal risk, that was also valued and undertaken by Halima which in turn has earnt her the Anna Politkovskaya Award. Halima became her village’s first formal, trained medical doctor at the age of just 24. In 2004 she had to treat the traumatized victims of the mass-rape in the primary school in Darfur. Despite being told by the Sudanese secret police to remain silent or face the consequences, Halima decided to give a detailed witness statement to the United Nations representatives about the rapes. Her punishment by the Sudanese soldiers was abduction where she was gang-raped by five men and kept for three days.

Fearing for her safety, Halima sought asylum in the United Kingdom and continues to campaign for justice for women in Sudan. RAW in War (Reach All Women in War) annually presents the Anna Politkovskaya Award to women like Halima who defend women from a conflict zone.

RAW in War strives to help end abuse and persecution in countries faced with war and conflict by working directly with women that have an active role in their communities. They also offer help to ‘forgotten conflict’s’, places that receive limited support from major humanitarian agencies and organisations.

Once put into context, the challenge of motivating ourselves to get up for work in the morning doesn’t seem such a problem anymore…

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