The Washington Post headline really says it all: “The U.N. wanted to end sexual violence in war. The Trump Administration had objections.”
BERLIN — When Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidiwere awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last October for their work to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, there was widespread praise from all parts of the world, including the United States.
But when the Trump administration was asked this month to do its part, and to pass a U.N. resolution to end sexual violence in war, things suddenly looked a bit more complicated.
Until the end, international politicians and celebrities urged the United States to “stand on the right side of history,” as actor George Clooney said, and to “ensure [victims’] voices are at the center of our response,” as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and actress Angelina Jolie wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
But to no avail.
The U.N. Security Council finally passed a resolution, but it was significantly watered down, thanks to the Trump Administration’s insistence on deleting key portions. Needless to say, our European allies are furious. (Not that this administration has ever given any evidence of caring what our democratic and civilized allies think. Trump only kowtows to dictators and autocrats.)
So why, you might be asking yourself, would the U.S. government–even with Donald Trump in the Oval Office–object to a resolution against sexual violence as a tool of warfare?
If you think about it for awhile, it will make (sick) sense.
This utterly immoral position is entirely consistent with the misogyny and contempt for women and women’s rights that characterize today’s GOP. The administration objected to references to reproductive and sexual health, references which might be understood as support for abortion.
The initial version of the draft resolution had stated that victims of sexual violence should be able to access services, which specifically included “sexual and reproductive health.” Amid objections, a subsequent version referred only to “comprehensive health services” for victims of sexual violence.
But for the Trump administration, even offering vaguely defined “comprehensive health services” for sexual violence victims went a step too far.
The U.S. position is thus that a woman who has been raped as an act of war and who finds herself pregnant as a result has no right to terminate that pregnancy. Once again, we see that the “religious” doctrine espoused by the President, his Vice-President and his entire party classifies women as incubators, not humans entitled to and capable of self-determination.
Also removed from the final resolution were references to expanded U.N. monitoring that would keep track of violations of the resolution. That, in practice, could mean that perpetrators will have to fear less international scrutiny than originally planned.
To avert a U.S. veto, the passed resolution included only watered-down references to the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is supposed to prosecute war crimes but has recently found itself in a clash with the Trump administration after it considered investigating U.S. troops over the war in Afghanistan. Unlike most of the world, the United States never ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.
Although there has always been rape in war, the use of sexual violence as a systematic intimidation tool mostly emerged in the 20th century, and has grown alarmingly.
Between 1992 and 1995, Serb troops systematically raped at least 20,000 girls and women, according to the European Commission, which in a 1996 report detailed that “impregnated girls have been forced to bear ‘the enemy’s’ child,” thus exposing them to lifelong psychological scars.
“Sexual violation of women erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can,” the United Nations’ State of the World’s Children concluded the same year.
By 2008, U.N. member states had acknowledged in a landmark resolution that sexual violence in conflict had “become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality.”
The administration of America’s despicable President–himself a serial abuser and accused rapist–has shamed the country once again.