Rape survivors in war-torn countries will no longer receive reproductive health care.
And the United States is partly to blame.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council was forced to vote against a resolution that would assist rape victims after the U.S. threatened to veto any resolution that included references to reproductive health.
The U.S., Russia, and China also compelled the council to refrain from creating a new monitoring body to report atrocities.
As The Guardian reported, a clause in the resolution:
“Urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities.”
But the Trump administration heard “abortion,” causing the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Primila Patten, to criticize the “huge contradiction that you are talking about a survivor-centered approach and you do not have language on sexual and reproductive healthcare services, which is for me the most critical.”
Under the Trump administration’s thumb, language referring to sexual health and “the training of journalists on the issue of sexual violence” is also eliminated.
Reproductive health includes emergency contraception, sexually transmitted disease prevention, and safe maternity care.
All are imperiled now.
The United Kingdom’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, Tariq Ahmad, said to The Guardian:
“We deeply regret the language on services for survivors of sexual violence, recognizing the acute need for those services to include comprehensive reproductive and separate sexual healthcare. If we are to have a survivor-centered approach, we cannot ignore this important priority.”
Francois Delattre, the French permanent representative to the UN, said his country is “dismayed by the fact that one state has demanded the removal of the reference to sexual and reproductive health…going against 25 years of gains for women’s rights in situations of armed conflict.”
Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, whose efforts combating sexual violence earned them the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said in a statement:
“There is simply no excuse for continuing to fail those who have already been victimized—as well as those who continue to be at risk of—devastating levels of sexual violence in conflict.”
Last month, 10 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) stated a “weak resolution” is dangerous given the “further hardening of antidemocratic and decidedly misogynistic stances in the UN security council,” adding:
“Some powerful members of the security council, such as Russia, China and the USA, are undermining women’s rights and once again questioning, for example, women’s and girls’ right to self-determination. Through such actions, the achievements that have already been made could be shattered and the ‘women, peace and security’ agenda overall decisively weakened.”
Admonishing the U.S.’s hand in this, Amanda Klasing, co-director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, commented:
“By distancing itself from that aspect of what survivors need, [the U.S.] is really distancing itself from standing with survivors.”
The Trump administration previously tried several times to strip reproductive health language from multiple general assembly resolutions.
Image credit: Flickr