Women’s Bodies Shouldn’t Be Battlefields

I am deeply concerned by reports that the United States has threatened to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution sponsored by Germany on reducing and addressing sexual violence in conflicts set to be presented tomorrow.[ The United States should be leading the charge to end sexual violence in conflict and uplift survivors, not stymying international efforts to promote women’s safety.

In any conflict, women’s bodies become battlefields. Rape is used as a weapon of war.

The UN recognized rape as a war crime in 2008. It is simply unconscionable for the U.S. to block access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including access to emergency contraception, safe termination of pregnancy and HIV prevention and treatment. To prioritize political ideology in this way endangers the lives of women living in areas of conflict.

It is important that we remember who this resolution is about: the Rohingya women and girls who are being systematically gang raped in Myanmar; the Yazidi and other minority women who have been enslaved by ISIS in Iraq and Syria; the Congolese girls who seek out comprehensive medical services from physicians like Nobel-prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, who will reportedly be present at the Security Council meeting along with fellow Nobel laureate Nadia Murad to advocate for this important resolution.

Is the Trump Administration’s official position that women and girls who have suffered sexual violence do not deserve medical help?

According to reports, this resolution is designed to combat sexual violence by strengthening prevention measures and ensuring survivors have the support they need. The United States has led on this issue in the past. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the resolution establishing the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Sexual violence devastates survivors, families and their communities and undermines peace and security efforts. The United States should not undermine international efforts to address this crisis.

Vetoing this resolution would harm every woman and girl around the world who has been raped with impunity in armed conflicts. Standing in the way of their access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care only inflicts further damage. I urge Secretary Pompeo to support this crucial resolution.