AUGUST 23, 2011 8:07PM

Why is the US Waging War on Women Raped in War?

Rate: 11 Flag
"Thursday 18 August 2011
by: Kristina Kallas and Akila Radhakrishnan, RH Reality Check | Op-Ed

Mandatory sonograms, forced lectures by doctors, humiliating permission slips from abusive husbands, paternalistic opinions from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, uneducated and patently stupid soundbites from Tea Partiers. That’s not the worst. In this newest wave of the war on women, let’s not forget the U.S. government's abortion policies toward women in war.

Rape is systematically being used as a weapon of war in conflicts worldwide. During the Rwandan genocide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped in 100 days and that approximately 20,000 children were born as a result of rape. Recent reports from Burma indicate that Burmese soldiers have orders to rape women. 387 civilians were raped in Walikale, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a 4 day period last year. In 2008 alone, the U.N. Population Fund recorded 16,000 cases of rape in DRC, two-thirds of them adolescent girls and other children, in an area where rape is vastly underreported. Imagine what the real numbers are.

The stigma associated with rape ostracizes girls and women, particularly those who become pregnant, because they are often seen as carrying the enemy’s child. They are frequently abandoned by their communities, struggling for ways of living with children born out of rape. That is, if they survive childbirth. The maternal mortality ratio in eastern DRC is estimated at3,000 deaths per 100,000 live births (compare that with 24 deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. and 5 deaths per 100,000 live births in Denmark).

How does the U.S. address this emergency? Under the 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, andsubsequent policy by the Bush Administration, the U.S. prohibits any federal foreign assistance from being used to even mention abortion as an option to women raped in armed conflict. The current incarnation of these restrictions go beyond statutory requirements because the statute is limited to restricting the provision of abortion “as a method of family planning.” Rape is never family planning. The repeal of the Global Gag Rule did not affect these restrictions.

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This U.S. policy stands in stark contrast to the development policies of other prominent donors and even its own domestic policy. As much as some Tea Partiers wish it wasn’t so, the domestic equivalent of these restrictions (the Hyde Amendment) does contain a rape exception. The United Kingdom, with a ruling conservative party, recognizes the need to provide abortions in conflicts in which rape and forced pregnancy are used as weapons of war. Norway formally recommended that the U.S. remove its restriction on funding to these victims during the Universal Periodic Review of the United States by the Human Rights Council.

The best an organization accepting U.S. funding can provide even to a twelve year old impregnated rape survivor hiding in the bushes of eastern Congo is a plastic sheet and a clean knifefor labor. Or, if she suffers complications from having an unsafe abortion (because she doesn’t have access to safe abortion services, often because of U.S. abortion restrictions), they can provide her with “post-abortion care.” Giving these women “birthing kits,” or lecturing them about preventative family planning, when the family they would be planning for is with a contingent of combatants armed with guns, Viagra and orders to rape, is appalling. Beyond that, it violates international law.

August 12th marked the 62nd anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, which require that all persons considered “wounded and sick” in armed conflict receive comprehensive and non-discriminatory medical care dictated solely by their medical condition. Despite these protections, girls and women who are raped in armed conflict are routinely denied the option of abortion in the medical care provided to them in humanitarian medical settings. This is discriminatory and violates their rights under the Geneva Conventions. The U.S., by attaching these restrictions on humanitarian aid for rape victims in conflict, is violating the rights of these women. The urgency of this violation cannot be understated: the U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world, and is instrumental in preventing essential medical care to a desperately vulnerable population.

In order to bring the U.S. into compliance with the Geneva Conventions, and restore dignity to our foreign policy, President Obama must act now to ensure the rights of female rape victims in conflict. Over fifty organizations, legal academics and professionals have sent letters to President Obama as part of the Global Justice Center’s August 12 campaign to remove the abortion ban for girls and women raped in armed conflict. Sign the GJC’s petition urging President Obama to issue an executive order lifting these life-threatening restrictions here."

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Comments

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The question shouldn't be which part of his constituency has obama betrayed, but which part hasn't he betrayed?
I have never even thought about the international aspects of this debate.
Thank You in Your loyalty in supporting my blog, Torrito.

As can be seen, bashing obama is not the only focus of my blog -- INJUSTICE is, wherever it may be.

Thanks again, for Your continual support, my friend.
Wonderful to see a visitor from my native state of New Jersey visit, SnarkyChaser.

Lot amidst the continual chaos of perpetual war and reality TV, aspects, IMPORTANT aspects of life such as this article provides are neglected by the mainstream media.

The purpose of my blog is to bring such issues to light.

Thanks SO much for visiting, and I hope You'll come back whenever You see anything of interest, here.
Thank You unknown rater.
Damn! Thanks for bringing this up, Mark, in depth. Now, that I know better, I still cannot defend Obama! R
Always a special pleasure to see You, my Dear Friend Thoth.

Yes, this is, yet, another reason for me to consider obama's presidency, a failed one.

The most surprising thing about this blog post, to me, is that four men have seen fit to comment on this, yet only a single woman has commented.

That is VERY perplexing, indeed.

Thanks for stopping by, my friend.
One more war on empathy outrage!!!! The kind "polite" society doesn't want to acknowledge. Savagery against women and children!!!! I read this entire article with my jaw dropped open. Just keep on blaming the victims all you demonizing heartless faux-Christians and just keep torturing foreign innocents in EVERY conceivable way all you war criminals and war profiteers! And let's pretend we have nothing whatsoever to do with any of this nastiness, we US citizens!

Thanks, Mark! [r] libby
I thank YOU, LibbyLiberalNYC, s Your comment put this blog article on the front page, and now, the issue I commented to Thoth about, the lack of women responded to a post that, essentially focuses on them, will be redressed.

As always, thanks for making the time.
Rape is the natural stopgap by which wars cannot go on forever. As the enemy combatants assault each other their blood intermingles and sooner or latter they becomes we. It is the story of European (Caucasian) cohabitation. The idea that every woman who is forcibly impregnated must be cut open immediately and have her fetus removed is at once barbaric and reeking of impotent vengeance. It sounds like the type of practice that would be embraced by people who beat unwed teenage mothers to death in the streets:

http://open.salon.com/blog/rwnutjob/2011/07/11/how_the_civilized_muslim_community_treats_their_women
Seer, It is always, especially gratifying to see new commenters to my blog, and a hearty welcome to You.

This part of Your comment is most telling: "But supposing 'they' can be convinced to make needed changes assumes that 'they' actually care about the subjects of the subject . . ."

John Lennon, may He r.i.p. penned the lyrics: "woman-is-the-nigger-of-the-world."

I am under no pretense that they care the slightest about this matter.

Thanks for visiting.
Jack, nice to see You here to offer Your thoughts on this matter.

My thoughts are that this is the darkest underbelly of war that "they" wish to focus as little attention upon as can be.

Thanks for visiting.
My only question is by what mechanics this policy is changed. Is this a Congressional function or an Executive function? You mentioned that it started as a result of a bill.
Thanks for visiting, Kosh. You, ALWAYS, add provocative comments or questions to my blog.

In this case, I would like to point out, that:

A. I have, oft pointed out that I don't consider myself a writer, but more a researcher/reporter. When You say I mentioned something, it is important to note that the entire post is within quotation marks and is annotated.

B. To address the specifics of Your question an amendment can be negated by a subsequent amendment, and this is a congressional function.

Thanks, again for stopping by, Kosh. I enjoy and appreciate Your contributions to my blog.
Comments are now closed.