Even today, girls and women around the world continue to be subjected to discrimination, violence and deprivations of freedoms. Simply because of their gender, girls and women can be deprived of their security, independence and even subjected to unjust imprisonment, torture, and execution.
Working together with NGOs from around the world, we take actions to end domestic violence, human trafficking, honor killing, military rape, and any other violence against girls and women.
We also work on the elimination of discriminatory and unjust punishment as well as the execution of women.



It has been frequently reported that many young women in Japan who were scouted as TV personalities or models, were deceived, and tricked into performing in pornographic films.

Human Rights Now conducted an investigation by interviewing the victims and their supporters to determine the facts. It revealed that in many cases, these young women who signed to agencies without knowing what would happen and were subsequently threatened. Threats made included things such as “You can’t reject the job, you have signed a contract,” “if you refuse to work, you are responsible to pay for the damages,” or “your parents will find out about your work”. The women felt they had no other choice but to participate in the filming of pornographic movies.

Taking advantage of inexperienced and distressed young women, forcing them to perform non-consensual sexual acts in front of the camera and the crew, and later publishing such material publicly is not only humiliating but presents serious violations of human rights.

These women are held in a subordinate position due to fear of financial penalties. This is similar to “debt bondage” where people are compelled into slavery through the unlawful threat of “debt”. It also constitutes violence against women. The consequences of coerced appearance in the pornography are grave. Some victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or commit suicide after suffering from the humiliation of having the material distributed through the internet and stores, and some undergo repetitive plastic surgeries.

Human Rights Now has been requesting that relevant parties in Japan consider measures to prevent further damages. Since the press conference was held in Tokyo following the release of the investigative report, the issue of forced appearances in pornographic films in Japan has been widely covered by media around the world. Moreover, many victims have courageously come forward to testify or become advocates to demand justice and legal reforms to end sexual violence against girls and women. Despite backlash from the pornographic industry, Human Rights Now has been continuously promoting further awareness on the issue in collaboration with many civil society actors. Human Rights Now-NY has also joined this fight to raise more awareness on the issue.

Image by Dingzeyu Li

"I entered into an agreement with the production as a model only to discover that I had to appear in pornographic videos."

Girl with Flower


Not a childhood!

According to the investigative report on child pornography in Japan conducted by Human Rights Now, suspected child pornography materials continue to be readily available in retail stores and on the Internet despite laws against child pornography.

The investigation includes a survey of retail and online stores in Japan identifying suspected child pornography products, as well as analysis of relevant laws and interviews with police and review associations to help identify why suspected child pornography products continue to be available in the marketplace.

The report concludes with recommendations to the government of Japan and pornography industry actors and stakeholders to end the proliferation of child pornography.


This report examines practices of discriminatory punishment of women in eight states varied by region and culture, consisting of Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.


"Women Human Rights Defenders: 

Fighting for Freedom & Democracy"

March 17, 2021

NGO CSW 65 Parallel Event

On March 17, 2021, during the first week of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65),  Human Rights Now-NY hosted an online event titled "Women Human Rights Defenders in Asia: Fighting for Freedom & Democracy." 

The event aimed to highlight the activities of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Asia region and the challenges they face. Due to their work, they are susceptible to discrimination and violence, and often become the target of intimidation and reprisals by authorities. The event featured several prominent WHRDs across Asia who have risked their lives to defend freedom and democracy, the very foundation of human rights and gender equality. Speakers also highlighted the importance of empowering women, girls and youth in order to build a society where full participation in public life is guaranteed to all. 


Dr. Alice Nah

Dr Alice Nah is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York, UK, where she conducts research on the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk. Her recent book, Protecting Human Rights Defenders at Risk, proposes ways in the which the protection of defenders should be reimagined and practiced. She is the Chair of the Board of Protection International. 


Dr. Tomoko Ako

Tomoko Ako is Professor of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo. Her research interests include empowerment of socially vulnerable people such as migrant workers, HIV/AIDS positives, women, elderly people and children, with a particular focus on China. She has conducted research on migrant workers of new generation, HIV/AIDS victims who contracted the virus through blood selling and transfusion, building of social capital in rural development, and so on.

Recently she has been involved in research projects on civil society and social media, in China and Hong Kong, and has interviewed a wide range of public intellectuals, human rights lawyers, and journalists.

Her recent publications include,  Criminal Justice, Law Education, Legal Awareness in East Asia (Gendai jinbunsha, 2019), and Where is Hong Kong heading for? (Jigu, 2020).

Gulalai Ismail

Gulalai Ismail is a founder of Aware Girls. She is an exiled human rights activist who escaped an enormous dragnet and made it to the United States in 2019 after she was put on a State kill List due to her work on women's rights and countering and preventing violent extremism. 

Saba Ismail

Saba Ismail is a co-founder of Aware Girls. She is a feminist, peace activist and is working for the empowerment of young women. At the age of 15, with other young women fellows, she co-founded “Aware Girls”; a young-women-led organization working for empowering young women by strengthening the leadership capacity of young women enabling them to work for social change and women empowerment, and advocate for equal access of women to health, education, governance, political participation, and other social services. 

Wai Wai Nu

Wai Wai Nu is the founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Peace Network in Burma. Due to her father’s activities as a member of the parliament, she was arrested at the age of 18 and had been detained for seven years as a political prisoner. Since her release, she has been active in promoting democracy, advocating for human rights and organizing opportunities to build bridges between people from different ethnicities in Myanmar.

She has received numerous awards for her contribution to building an inclusive future for Myanmar, including the N-Peace Awards (2014), Democracy Courage Tributes (2015), World Movement for Democracy (2015), the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award (2018), and Impact Hero (2019). She has been named as a Next Generation Leader, Time Magazine (2017); one of the “100 Top Women,” BBC (2014); 100 inspiring women, Salt Magazine (2017); and 100 World Thinkers, Foreign Policy Magazine (2015); and among Women of the Year, Financial Times (2017).

She is a graduate of the University of Yangon in Burma (LL.B.) and University of Berkeley (LL.M) and served as a visiting scholar with the University of Michigan, and Columbia University. She was also a Draper Hills Summer Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University.

Kazuko Ito 

Since 1994, Ms. Kazuko Ito has been active as a Tokyo-based human rights lawyer dedicated to women’s and children’s rights, criminal justice/death penalty and public interest litigation in Japan as well as critical of human rights issues around the world. In 2004-2005, she researched international human rights law as a Hauser research fellow at NYU School of Law. In 2005, she worked for several human rights organizations including the Center for Constitutional Rights in NY.

In 2006, Kazuko Ito established Human Rights Now (HRN), the first international human rights NGO based in Japan, and since then she has served as its Secretary General. She also serves as a gender equality committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. She has published several books on human rights issues in Japanese.