UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women and Children Reem Alsalem has issued a statement calling on law enforcement officials to protect the right of women’s groups to gather and express themselves peacefully. She expressed concern about the limited space in some countries for women and feminist organizations to come together and demand respect for their rights based on sex and sexual orientation. Alsalem stressed the crucial role of law enforcement in ensuring the safety of women and freedom of assembly and speech without fear of intimidation, coercion or silencing. She cited several incidents of verbal and physical abuse, harassment and intimidation at women’s rights rallies across Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and the United States. Notably, University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines was physically assaulted and held against her will at San Francisco State University in April while speaking about protecting women’s sports. In response to the incidents, Alsalem called on transgender activists to protest peacefully and reject violence or threats. She also criticized the censorship, legal harassment, employment loss, removal from social media platforms and refusal to publish research conclusions and articles that many women face when expressing their views.
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