U.N. Addresses Discrimination and Violence Against Girls

Posted: Feb 26, 2007 12:00 AM
U.N. Addresses Discrimination and Violence Against Girls

Hundreds of women arrived in New York over the weekend to attend the United Nations’ fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) –– an annual event that draws delegates and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) from around the world. The two-week program began this morning and will focus on the theme, “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.” Linking discrimination and violence with the girl child brings together three of the favorite topics at the CSW. Regardless of the specific theme for a particular CSW session, discussions at every annual CSW inevitably and predictably come around to discrimination, violence and the girl child. Ultimately, of course, these three issues coalesce into demands for universal abortion rights and an insistence of the rights of the child to the neglect of parental responsibilities and the importance of the family unit in protecting and nurturing children.

How ironic, that, for the left and especially for the United Nations, violence against girls and women does not include abortion. Susan Yoshihara, Executive Vice President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, expressed to me a broader vision for the potential of the Commission on the Status of Women, “Delegates to the 51st CSW have an historic opportunity to speak out courageously and unanimously against the worst kind of violence against the girl child: sex selected infanticide and abortion. It is alarming how these gruesome practices have spread to almost every corner of the globe. Delegates to the CSW should seize the opportunity to do something about them.”

Abortion in the United States has become one of the most common surgical procedures for women. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reports that more than one-third of American women will have an abortion by the time they are 45. While the statistics will vary from country to country, the U.S. data indicates the extent of the worldwide problem. Sadly, Guttmacher also reports that 3 out of 4 women seeking an abortion do so for financial reasons. That information reinforces the left’s beliefs that poverty is the problem and economic solutions are the answer. The United Nations views poverty as a form of discrimination and violence against girls and women. Further, they view governments as responsible for eliminating those things that they view as “discrimination and violence” and governments should provide the economic solutions to poverty (including abortion which they believe is necessary for women’s economic well-being).

Thomas W. Jacobson, Representative to the United Nations from the International Government Affairs Department of Focus on the Family, sees things differently. "A primary concern of CSW should be to protect women from pressure to abort their preborn children, and especially to stop the genocide of preborn baby girls. If CSW is truly pro-woman and truly wants to protect women, they should call upon governments to protect girls (and boys) from the earliest stages of life. In addition, CSW should call upon governments to strengthen their laws and enforcement against rape, and end the trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation of women and girls. These are the greatest threats facing women and children today."

There is disagreement, too, about who does the best job of protection girls and women from discrimination and violence. The left argues that women need to be “empowered” to protect themselves. While those of us from the right agree that women need self-confidence and self-esteem, we believe that girls and women have inherent worth and that being raised in a family headed by a married mother and father is the best way to nurture strong feelings of self worth.

Director of Domestic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation Jennifer Marshall put it beautifully. “Research has indicated that girls fare better in terms of health, safety and general welfare when they live in an intact family, with a married mother and father. Around the world, family plays an essential role in protecting young girls from violence, yet some feminist NGOs have put more emphasis on asserting girls’ autonomy and sexual independence. Healthy marriage and strong family are critical to an effective strategy for protecting the most vulnerable and eradicating exploitation through sex trafficking and other forms of abuse. The significance of fathers in promoting their daughters’ welfare, in particular, must not be overlooked. Any strategy that is to be successful in combating violence against women and girls must cultivate stable, healthy marriage and family life.”

The debates over the next two weeks will be heated. The leftwing research organization, Political Research Associates, published a report in late 2006 warning that organizations from the right are using the U.N. as a forum for targeting “reproductive freedom.” The report reflects the typical left attitude that the United Nations belongs exclusively to “progressives” and any involvement from the right is encroachment to block their agenda. Pam Chamberlain, in PublicEye.org, warned that “the United Nations provides an international forum for the ramblings of U.S.-based religious conservatives.” She concludes that if the right continues to have a platform at international meetings, they will undermine the “advances made by human rights activists over the past two decades.”

Note the irrationality of the left’s rhetoric. Chamberlain refers to the left as “human rights activists” (as though their radical agenda is based on human rights; their mantra is that “women’s rights are human rights”). She assumes that international meetings are an exclusive club for elite leftists and that those “bizarre” conservatives –– the people that the Washington Post labeled the uneducated, easily-led religious right –– are crashing the party.

The stage is set for lively debate on vital issues. Fortunately, conservative delegates and representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations will be at the CSW providing reason and common sense regarding the policies that are best for girls’ and women’s well-being.