US Has Weakened Legislation Regarding Sexual Assault

US Has Weakened Legislation Regarding Sexual Assault

At the UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday 23rd April, nations expressed dismay at the United States' decision on a German draft resolution to protect women who were victims of rape in war conflicts.

The Conservative Trump administration has struck again. While the permanent members of the UN were meeting on a German draft resolution to ‘intensify the protection of women victims of rape in wartime’ as reported by French newspaper Libération, the United States did its utmost to reduce the text, removing references to sexual and reproductive rights.

The French Ambassador to the UN, François Delattre, bitterly regrets the situation: ‘We regret that threats of a veto have been made by permanent members of this Council to challenge 25 years of achievements in support of women's rights in situations of armed conflict.’

The United States succeeded in cutting the text down: ‘Significant concessions were granted under pressure from several permanent members who did not allow the text to go as far as we would have liked,’ François Delattre deplored.

He continues: ‘It is inexplicable that access to sexual and reproductive health is not explicitly recognised for victims of sexual violence, who are often the targets of atrocious acts of violence and barbaric mutilation.’

Unfortunately, this refusal by the United States is explained by the conservative wind that has been blowing on the continent since the election of Donald Trump. In particular, the bill would have affirmed that women who become pregnant after a rape have the right to abortion. China, Russia and the United States opposed this measure.

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In the end, the text was passed by 13 votes, with two abstentions from Beijing and Moscow. The criticisms soon rained down. Lawyer Amal Clooney, who is very committed to violence against women, warned of the urgent need for international justice regarding sexual violence against women in times of war: ‘We are facing an epidemic of sexual violence and justice must be the antidote,’ she told the UN Security Council in New York.

François Delattre, on the other hand, is outraged and finds it ‘intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is unable to recognise that women and girls who have suffered sexual violence in times of conflict and who have obviously not chosen to be pregnant, have the right to have the choice to terminate their pregnancy.’

• Rob Mitchell
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