May 1st, 2003

breaking bad


I am aghast at this report. I feel a kind of sick incredulity.

It concerns the recent UN conference on violence against women.

The American delegation joined with Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya and others in efforts to delete a phrase - included in previously agreed-upon UN statements dating back a decade - that calls on countries to condemn violence against women and "refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration" to avoid the obligation to stop such violence.

"For too long, the feminists have been pushing a radical, special-interest agenda under the erroneous mantra made rhetorical cliche by Hillary Clinton: 'Women's rights are human rights,'" writes Janice Crouse, an official of the conservative group Concerned Women for America and a member of the U.S. delegation.

Hello? I can't believe this. Honestly, I can't believe it. I thought everyone agreed now that women were humans? Are women's rights no longer to be counted as human rights? How can violence against women be any less important than violence against men? How can anyone argue that religious considerations should be taken into account when deciding whether to condemn violence practices against any human being?

Concerned Women for America... also objected to use of the term "forced pregnancy" in the section on the abuse of women in armed conflict.

I think we must be clear about what this means. We know that certain regimes have over the past decade established concentration camps where women from the 'wrong' ethnic groups are raped until they become pregnant. The Serbians for example used this type of torture extensively. Some of these women then opted to abort their forced pregnancies when the concentration camps were opened.

The US delegation wants to prevent abortion being offered to these women in these cases. I disagree with them over this, of course, but I think it is a legitimate area for debate.

However, their motion goes much further than this. They want to expunge the very phrase 'forced pregnancy' from the UN's policy statement. What does this mean? That they think that forced pregnancy does not exist as a form of torture? That they don't think it is important? That they don't like the implications?

Are we really to be prevented from even discussing the existence of this practice?

"It so happens there are times when there are issues where social conservatives, whether they be Muslim or Christian, find common ground," Sauerbrey said in explaining the groups' influence.... The alliance isn't new - it took root when the Bush administration took over. But it is often unseen. The United States has frequently sided at the UN with countries such as Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran and Iraq - when it was still controlled by Saddam Hussein - in battles over language involving women and children's rights