Ending Violence Against Women Is a Foreign Policy Priority

Posted by Melanne Verveer
February 9, 2010
Young Woman Runs Past UN Helicopter in Eastern Congo

About the Author: Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer serves as director of the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues.

No matter what country women around the world live in, no matter what religion they are, how much money they earn, or what age they are, they have at least one thing in common: They are potential victims of violence. Violence against women is endemic around the globe.

Violence can affect girls and women at every point in their lives, from sex-selective abortion and infanticide, to inadequate healthcare and nutrition given to girls, to genital mutilation, child marriage, rape as a weapon of war, trafficking, so-called “honor” killings, dowry-related murder, and the neglect and ostracism of widows -- and this is not an exhaustive list.

Far too often, these acts go unpunished. Even when countries have laws on their books to criminalize violence against women, these laws frequently go unenforced. Even when individual cases are seen as the individual tragedies that they are, connections are too seldom made to the larger pattern of women's global inequality and the worldwide lack of respect for their human rights.

Far too often, these acts are seen as family matters, and take place behind a veil of privacy. And far too often, efforts to punish these criminal acts are dismissed as being against national customs or traditions.

I want to make it clear: “culture” cannot justify the violation of human rights. Addressing violence against women is the responsibility and imperative of every nation. In terms of its moral, humanitarian, development, economic, and international security consequences, violence against women and girls is one of the major impediments to progress around the globe. We need the kind of serious and coordinated response to it that we give to other threats of this magnitude.

On February 4, the International Violence Against Women Act was introduced by Senators Kerry (D-MA), Boxer (D-CA), Snowe (R-ME), and Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Delahunt (D-MA) and Poe (R-TX). They and other members of Congress understand the severity of this global scourge. We share Congress' view that ending violence against women must be a policy priority of the United States. While we continue to push this issue at all levels of our foreign policy engagement, we know that more work can and should be done to support effective coordination across the entire U.S. government to address international violence against women.

The proposed legislation calls for a five-year strategy to support programs to combat violence against women around the world. It would authorize a specialized office in the U.S. Agency for International Development to expand and modify emergency and humanitarian relief programs to address violence, and would support prevention strategies across foreign policy and assistance programs.

Members of Congress rightfully seek to put the issue of of violence against women in its proper context, as one that's central to our foreign policy goals. As I've said on other occasions, no country can get ahead if half its population is left behind -- and ending violence against women is a prerequisite for women's social, economic, and political participation and progress. Girls in Afghanistan can't get an equal education if they're subject to acid attacks and their schools are burned down. Women can't succeed in the workplace if they are abused and traumatized, nor can they advance if legal systems continue to treat them as less than full citizens. And female politicians can't compete for office on an equal playing field when they receive threatening “night letters” or fear for their families' safety.

Our response to violence against women must include men and women working together to elevate the problem beyond “a domestic matter,” and beyond a “women's issue.” Ending violence against women around the world is a human rights issue, and a worldwide crisis that must be resolved if we are to make gains in global stability, security, and prosperity. It is long past time that ending violence against women became a priority for us all.

Related Content:State Department Spokesman's Statement on the Introduction of IVAWA

Comments

Comments

Reynaldo M.
|
California, USA
February 10, 2010

Reynaldo M. in California writes:

If there really is to be a comprehensive five-year plan, everyone involved should read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools as a blueprint of how to make the education and promotion of girls and women part of the culture instead of a cultural anomaly.

nancy c.
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California, USA
February 10, 2010

Nancy in California writes:

thank you and it's about time.

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
February 10, 2010

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

Thank you for your post, Ambassador Verveer. I was really impressed by Secretary Clinton's visit to Goma last year, and I'm grateful that you and your office are elevating this issue on the international stage.

Deborah T.
|
Japan
February 10, 2010

Deborah T. in Japan writes:

EXCELLENT! How else can we help other countries with sustainable improvement? I'll be getting an application into USAID as soon as I hear the jobs are available! In the meantime, I support Room to Read (International program for education/girls' scholarships) and do my best to make a difference in my little world.

Ueremia A.
|
United States
February 10, 2010

Ueremia A. in U.S.A. writes:

Great move. I come from Pakistan. Lots of women are living under darkness and have not equal social status, specially in poor families, the women are traded like animals. There is no check on domestic violence,in most cases the laws enforcement agencies consider it as a family affair. Abuse of child (female) is on rise due increase in poverty.

Laura
|
District Of Columbia, USA
February 10, 2010

Laura in Washington, DC writes:

Violence and discrimination against women are intolerable, and as a world leader in human rights, the U.S. should strive to counteract these injustices. The proposed legislation for a five-year strategy to combat violence against women around the world should include initiatives to promote young women in leadership.

I propose international initiative where young women would participate in discussion, engage in open-minded dialogue, and learn valuable leadership skills. The program would include a combination of discussions and activities in order to promote understanding and friendship. Discussions would be based on a variety of topics that increase understanding of the challenges to women. The women could also participate in activities such as painting a mural, performing a play, or volunteering at a local charity.

These educational programs could work in unison with AmeriCorps or Peace Corps. National and international volunteers would facilitate the programs in schools. A volunteer database, similar to the AmeriCorps database, would connect the volunteers with the schools and provide training materials.

This initiative would provide numerous benefits. It would provide activities for young women, bring awareness to struggles faced by women around the world, and create globally-minded leaders. In an era still marked by violence and oppression against women, this program would be an excellent opportunity to mold a generation of women leaders.

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 12, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Canary in a Coal Mine.....

Hillary's deep committment to the rights of women is taking shape at State....Any violation of women's rights anywhere is a symptom of corrupt governance....violence against women is a sure sign of lack of credibility among their men (government, police, military)....Men do need to be in the rooms where women speak...to hear the true voice of caring, freedom and the heart of the culture....Honor Women; not Honor Killings.

Monica B.
|
Maryland, USA
February 12, 2010

Monica in Maryland writes:

Thank you, Ambassador Verveer. This is a wonderful initiative. What can be done immediately about the violence against women in the Congo? That is a tragedy of epic proportions and must be addressed at root causes, not just by providing aid for the victims. Can you elaborate on what your office may be doing in that realm?

Mina S.
|
Afghanistan
February 12, 2010

Mina in Afghanistan writes:

Your Excellency: It could not have been better said. It is a strong message to the world. I hope, like you say, it is enforced. If enforced, the world would be a better place. I am sure you are aware, in Afghanistan there is a lot violence against women. It is getting worse and worse every day. We, women are scared of the reconciliation with Taliban. This will end of the development that we began eight years ago for Afghan women.

We are all hoping for the best and the future of our children. Justice must be served.

All the best to you.

Respectfully,
Mina

Sushma B.
|
Pennsylvania, USA
February 12, 2010

Sushma in Pennsylvania writes:

Thank you Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer for the post and a very vivid account of the global face of violence against women. I have worked on women’s issues in Nepal for 10 years and for last 8 years I have been working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence in U.S. The effect of oppression, power of entitlement, use of male privilege to make a women feel less than a human being is so universal. In my work here, I see that the feeling of powerlessness experienced by a woman in Rautahat, a remote village in Nepal is no different than the feeling of powerlessness experienced by a well educated, economically sound woman living in Scranton, PA of the United State of America. I would like to thank Senators Kerry (D-MA), Boxer (D-CA), Snowe (R-ME), and Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Delahunt (D-MA) and Poe (R-TX) for understanding the importance of leadership in eradicating violence against women globally and introducing IVAWA. This gives me hope that we will be able to influence the Nepali Government to recognize domestic violence as a crime and bring about law to protect the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Deb
|
Maryland, USA
February 12, 2010

Deb in Maryland writes:

This is a significant message on the persistent violence perpetrated on women and children around the globe. I would request that women's expertise is solicited; women are at the forefront of assessing the needs within their own communities; women are leading the development, implementation, and evaluation of the programs/efforts to be undertaken on the various levels, such as policy, community, personal, and institutional level. I am hoping the U.S. is an active partner in this global policy initiative.

Victimized I.
|
Hawaii, USA
February 12, 2010

VBI in Hawaii writes:

THESE PROTECTIONS OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIORS MUST STOP! Hawaii is especially sympathetic in allowing selective enforcement and failures to address corruption in Hawaii County also continues unabated, even after reports of drug dealing were revealed to the local captain who never even filed a legitimate report...leniency by judges who “:can’t see the bigger picture” and seem to not care “one iota about victim’s rights and continued violence against victims are also to blame. Add the "disappearance of evidence from police evidence rooms“, more cover ups by a certain assistant prosecutor who also protected the NURSE PERPETRATOR and other related neighbor's criminal activities/violations, and you see how one person who tries to ESCAPE MORE ABSUES, ABSOLUTELY BECOMES EVEN MORE VICTIMIZED FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING IN REPORTING ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, BUT IS PUNISHED AND RETALIATED AGAINST, EVEN LOSING ALL CREDIBILITY IN LIGHT OF "ONE AGAINST THE MANY" (CRIMNALS) , all while the victim contributes LEGITIMATE REPORTS TO AUTHORITIES and continued to DO THE RIGHT THING AND THE PICTURE BECOMES AN EVEN MORE CLEAR REALITY OF ABUSES AND VIOLENCE AGAISNT THE VULNERABLE!

I CERTAINLY HOPE THAT, IN ORDER TO PREVENT MORE VIOLENCE AGAINST VICTIMS, THAT NEW FORMULATIONS IN POLICY AND OVERSIGHT, INCLUDING THE ACTUAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE POLICIES, ARE ESTABLISHED TOWARDS RIGHTS OF VICTIMS! AFTER BEING A VICTIM OF REPEATED VIOLENCE AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIORS, YOU BECOME MUCH MORE SENSITIVE TO ITS EXISTENCE! The strength of God’s will, and the kind nature of many of those who have helped me stand against injustice and survive these extreme abuses of my rights and basic welfare, are the ONLY protections that I have been afforded! It is shameful for such a “civilized country” to continue to perpetuate, or fail to stop such injustice, violence and moral abuses! Violence is as much a national, as it is an international problem!
(end of statement)

Victim I.
|
Hawaii, USA
February 12, 2010

VBI in Hawaii writes:

I have nothing but the UTMOST RESPECT FOR REAL LEADERS of TRUE JUSTICE in government and police WHO DO ACT AGAINST VIOLENCE TOWARDS VICITMS, and those WHO TAKE A STANCE on behalf of VICTIMS and actually DO SOMETIHNG TO PREVENT FURTHER TRAUMA, VIOLENCE AND ABUSES, are to be revered in with the HIGHEST HONORS attributed to those individuals who act with REAL INTEGRITY in addressing injustice and violence against women! Had ACTUAL and LEGITIMATE RESOURCES BEEN AVAILABLE IN THE PAST, I can almost be assured that after being assaulted by a 3rd degree black belt CHP boyfriend, the violence against me would have stopped thee, addressing and investigating family cover-ups of that violence…I believe they would have been more reluctant to commit further crimes against me, had they been confronted earlier and with harsh penalties! The same CHP boyfriend witnessed at least 5 felonies committed against me by family members, as well as his own drunken physical assaults! Yes, THESE ARE REAL EVENTS!

Even the stranger on the street who sees injustice and responds without fear of retribution to protect a vcitm, should have special protections of law! The neighbor who reports illegal activities should be afforded "special protections against retaliations" by new and better formulations of policy that better protect the vulnerable against further retaliation and violence for reporting illegal activities, especially where they live alone within a criminal neighborhood.! These victims should be financially compensated and removed from the criminal acts by government policies that afford the victim financial and relocation resourses when crimes of retaliation target the victim who reported the crimes! Often, victims become more victimized by reporting illegal activities, only to be TOTALLY TORTURED by retaliations after police/feds investigate complaints and convict neighbors or others who report the incidents are retaliated against with violence, threats, etc!

I hope new legislative policy is formulated that ACCURATELY and EXPEDIENTLY PROTECTS victims of this type of trauma, instead of escalating the violence against that vulnerable individual, as I have lost my entire life as a result of being a victim of violence, slander, REPEATED felony criminal acts etc., all for an agenda of financial greed and social misrepresentation by horrible abusers, including the police and attorneys who protect perpetrators and their criminally violent acts.

Add to this, a REGISTERED NURSE neighbor, who had a friend shoot at me within less than 50 ft in the dark of night for reporting suspected drug activity, and confirmed by witnesses, where she only received a $100 fine for threatening to "cut me up into little pieces piece by piece" and while wielding a weapon in a threatening manner, lying to police, etc. and you get an even bigger picture when her connections and another criminal neighbor were engaged in even more cover-ups by their police "friends" and selective enforcement. The shooter, A KNOWN ICE DEALER, was afforded protections by TOTAL FAILURES OF POLICE FAILURES TO THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE AND CONFRONT THE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING THE SHOOTING! I STILL BELIEVE THAT SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT CONTINUES TO PROTECT VIOLENT CRIMINALS! It’s either that or TOTAL INEPTITUDE by investigators…either way, this is also a GRAVE INJUSTICE TOWARDS VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE!
(page 3)

Victim I.
|
Hawaii, USA
February 12, 2010

VBI in Hawaii writes:

After being threatened by my powerful family in California for “reporting felonies to authorities” (who incidentally have all been involved in other criminal acts/felonies), I was weakened to the point of losing my life and ALL SENSE OF JUSTICE and PROTECTIONS AFFORDED ME BY MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND HAPPINESS. I was adopted and raised by an extremely abusive (physically, verbally and financially) mother who also happened to have MAJOR social and financial "power resources", along with my multi-millionaire brother (who attempted to rape me at a young age and has CONTINUALLY been able to get away with even more felony crimes as a result of his power position). They, along with a brother's DA "friend", are STILL able to commit felony cover-ups and thefts of trusts, drunk corporate pilots flying corporate jets under the influence, etc., as well as FEDERALLY protected “rights” that they have been able to abuse WITHOUT ANY LEGAL RECOURSE, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE OF THE RESULTING TRAUMA that I have been forced to endure ALONG WITH PHYSICAL INJURIES that have persisted for over 8 years! Add two corrupt attorneys involved in cover-ups, a local sheriff department (even the sheriff having been indicted on unrelated charges, but was evidently investigated for something other than the abuses at his jail where I was once a volunteer and reported felony cover-ups there), and you can see HOW UNJUST POWER STRUCTURES COMPLETELY UNDERMINE TRUE JUSTICE! TOTALLY UNWARRANTED ASSAULTS by sheriff’s officers are ESPECIALLY DETRIMENTAL TO REAL JUSTICE! Some officers should be incarcerated themselves for violent acts against the innocent and vulnerable, and MORE OVERSIGHT AND REAL INVESTIGATIONS NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY OUTSIDE. UNBIASED INVESTIGATORS…INTERNAL AFFAIRS IS A JOKE! Those officers in internal affairs should also be prosecuted for cover-ups of criminal acts by officers!!! I believe the failures of policy to address unjustified violence by officers and others in positions of power SERIOUSLY need to be THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATED, as I truly feel these violent abuses of power, actually perpetuates more criminal activities by many victims who have been unjustly targeted because of their vulnerable position. ( I do understand how a REAL CRIMINAL may get beat up on occasion, but this only leads to MORE VIOLENCE; but when a TRULY INNOCENT VICTIM IS ASSAULTED and then attempts are made to COVER UP THAT ABSUE, it is a TOTAL DISGRACE TO THE “JUST-ICE” SYSTEM!

After moving to Hawaii (to escape the powerful abuses, continued corruption and threats in CA), while still suffering from trauma and continued physical injuries), more corruption and violence, harassment, abuse in Hawaii because of a pre-existing traumatic state of vulnerability and heightened sense of "reporting criminal activities", more violence and harassment became the norm by an even more vulnerable situation of being "no one" in a new place, merely to escape the power hold and continued threats/abuses against me here for reporting KNOWN criminal activities WITH EVIDENCE THAT “DISAPPEARED FROM POLICE EVIDENCE ROOMS“.

Add an abusive CHP boyfriend and more family cover-ups and you get more of the picture. Abuse and victimization, I believe, has a “domino effect” when victimization become a repeated norm against the vulnerable! Add the fact that the more recent cover-ups included a felony attack at my rural home by the family’s corporate pilot, also covered up by the family, and more SERIOUS THREATS OF HARM in regards to "reporting anything to authorities" by family members, and you get more of how deeply embedded these abuses, violence and victimizations really CONTINUE WITHIN CORRUPT JUSTICE and POLICE SYSTEMS, as well as with FAILURES OF POLICY TO PREVENT FURTHER VIOLENCE AND ABUSES AGAINST A VICTIM!

I hope to GOD that federal and local investigators START ACTING on behalf of VICTIMS, instead of on behalf of those in power who wish to cover up TOTALLY UNJUST, ABUSIVE and VIOLENT THREATS against the vulnerable.
(Page 2)

Victim I.
|
Hawaii, USA
February 12, 2010

VBI in Hawaii writes:

Violence against women (and the more vulnerable) continues to be extreme, especially against those who are alone, single and more vulnerable, and/or exist in abusive and retaliatory situations for reporting illegal activities. This violence continues unabated, often as a DIRECT result of male power schemas that exist so predominately in our societies world-wide. These protectors of violence and crimes committed by "prominent citizens" specifically include District Attorneys, court systems, tainted attorneys, police and other power structures who have some type of social and/or financial advantage in covering up illegal acts by prominent and/or wealthy CRIMINAL citizens. GOVERNMENTS AND POLICE CONTINUE TO FAIL TO INVESTIGATE IN AN UNBIASED MANNER, ONLY INCREASING THE SUFFERING OF THE VICTIM WHEN INVESTIGATIONS ARE BIASED AND/OR INEPT! These victims have no “Safe houses” in which to escape when there is NOT a family member involved, but they are ESPECIALLY in a vulnerable situation because of criminal neighbors or other vulnerable situations where victims are often TRAPPED! NEW LEGISLATIVE POLICY SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED TO HELP THESE TYPES OF VICTIMS, as well as other victims of family violence and criminal acts!!!

It takes a REALLY STRONG and GOOD person in power to TRULY take a stance against violence and aggressive acts committed against ANY VICTIM (including men, women and/or children) who are in vulnerable positions/situations that LEGALLY confront and/or report violence, criminal activities and harassment and are particularly vulnerable. THIS IS RARE! And try finding a “legitimate” attorney who will stand against a corrupt system of government, powerful families and/or police corruption! There’s the other joke!

I have found that LEGAL ADDRESS and UNBIASED INVESTIGATIONS, especially legal systems/resources (including federal resources) are absent in Hawaii and California.

Those who are entrusted with IMPLEMENTING TRUE JUSTICE by confronting continued violations of CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, fail victims of violence by not only failing to FORMULATE POLICIES THAT PROTECT VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND CRIMES, but actually IMPLEMENT LEGAL, UNBIASED RECOURSE BY LAW, and by IMPLEMENTING LAWS that are as AGGRESSIVE AS THE OFFENDERS WHO ARE IN COMMITTING VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION towards those who are definitely more vulnerable, ESPECIALLY ACTS COMMMITTED BY THOSE WHO HAVE BIGGER POWERS TO HIDE THE ABUSES AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIORS! UNBIASED, OUTSIDE INVESTIGATIONS REALLY NEED TO BE IMPLEMTED IN THESE TYPES OF CASES! I ACTUALLY THOUGHT THE FBI WAS SUPPOSED TO PROTECT OUR FEDERALLY PROTECTED RIGHTS…NOW THERE’S THE JOKE!!! They have refused to investigate legitimate claims of police corruption, as well as two senate inquiries and 4 police captains later who contributed to police cover ups of selective enforcement and criminal activities by neighbors (one captain even condoning the illegal activities and violations, as well as the well-documented suffering by the victim…dealing with this situation above and beyond an already traumatized state, is NO EASY TASK!

It's too bad that especially those that we have entrusted with powers of government and police HAVE FAILED to ADDRESS THESE ABUSES AND CRIMNAL ACTS, and oftentimes are actually CONTRIBUTING to cover-ups and more criminal behaviors as ACCOMPLICES in "hiding the abuses by prominent citizens" where they have power/control over court systems, etc.

The BEST societies are those that ACTUALY CONFRONT ABSUERS in an UNBIASED MANNER and address the abuses, related crimes and cover-ups in a manner to PROTECT the VICTIM and ADDRESS the related TRAUMA, instead of FACILITATING the CRIMINAL BEHAVIORS SO OFTEN CONDONED IN AGGRESSIVE SOCIETIES, allowing for further abuses and violence against the victim.

When the abuses, harassment, etc. are covered up by attorneys, police, courts and power corruptions within societies, especially after they have been reported, it is ESPECIALLY DETRIMENTAL AGAINST ALREADY TRAUMATIZED VICTIMS when these systems INTENTIONALLY HIDE CRIMINAL VIOLENCE, BECAUSE THEY CAN!
(page 1)

Jolene A.
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Washington, USA
February 12, 2010

Jolene in Washington writes:

Violence against women hurts "everyone". When a women or girl is beaten or raped, it hurts all of us. When are we going to stop this? What does it take for us all to say "Enough", we will not tolerate this anymore?

Tyler
February 13, 2010

Tyler writes:

Violence against women is a growing problem. Law enforcements should do somthing about it. It wont get any better untill they do.

Mary F.
|
Virginia, USA
February 13, 2010

Mary in Virginia writes:

Thank you for this! The time has come to reject the notion that all cultural "traditions" are sacred, the excuse used to prevent confronting this issue to date. FGM, honor killings, domestic & sexual violence, & tribal laws & customary practices that treat girls & women as chattel to settle debts, resolve disputes & gain religious favor are as heinous as the foot binding & suttee of the past (& the dowry related "kitchen accidents" of the present). They all violate women's human rights, prevent women from contributing to their country’s development, & it is time to end them, along with the fear, intimidation & violence that women around the world face daily. Our stand against such abuses must not be only rhetorical but include informed action. I've worked in development for 30 years, and I'm sorry to report that I've heard USAID leaders say gender equality imposes Western notions upon other cultures; I've heard UN leaders express a reluctance to speak out against gender violence because it might alienate village elders; I've been told by military leaders that they don’t know how to deal with women or their issues; I've witnessed a serious lack of understanding about gender/women within USAID, State, DoD, & intelligence agencies, & there is little if any attempt to provide them with relevant information. In the new USAID Office, I urge you to employ competent & knowledgeable people who understand the sensitive nuances of gender relations. The following skill sets are essential for a leader to ensure the viability of your new effort:

o Expertise in strategic gender planning, gender analysis, gender budgeting, preparing/conducting gender impact assessments, & gender mainstreaming;
o Knowledge of basic vs. strategic gender needs & when each should be employed;
o Knowledge of gender equity vs. gender equality & the ability to design gender equitable approaches;
o Ability to develop and interpret gender-sensitive indicators;
o Understanding of women’s empowerment issues;
o Familiarity with WID, GAD & the advantages and disadvantages of gender mainstreaming strategies & methodologies;
o Ability to identify areas where gender issues are likely to arise & plan strategically to ensure gender inclusion in activity design, implementation, & M&E while avoiding the "add women & stir" approach;
o Understanding what constitutes gender equality, with knowledge of relevant international & national gender and human rights instruments, conventions & legislation;
o Understanding of gender dynamics & complexities and cultural issues/constraints in facilitating women’s involvement in development;
o Ability to interact with senior level public, private & civil society leaders & the military concerning the importance of including gender issues & concerns in development planning & implementation;
o Understanding of the latest work on women and peace, security, & stabilization;
o Ability to design stand-alone gender activities in specific technical sectors;
o Ability to lead advocacy, communications & outreach programs to build community ownership related to women's empowerment; and
o Knowledge of best practices & lessons learned in designing & implementing gender approaches in specific sector work.

Gender is a technical specialty, like health or agriculture, & it crosses all sectors. I conclude with a summary of an article by Ralph Peters, retired Army Lt Col, called "The Global War on Women”: The transition of women from men's property to partners in[the US]unleashed dazzling creative energies. In the historical blink of an eye, we doubled our effective human capital & made our society immeasurably more humane....Such unprecedented freedom threatens traditional societies. Behavior patterns that prevailed for millennia...& granted males the power of life & death over females have disappeared from successful cultures. Defensively, the failing cultures left behind cling harder than ever to the old ways....Islamist terrorists have formed the last, great boy's club, meeting in caves & warning girls to stay out--or in the case of the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, demanding that women be kept from his grave to avoid polluting it. Their vision offers women fewer rights...than those enjoyed by the wives of...Mohammed. They are women-hating sadists for whom faith is an excuse. Their fears are primal....The battle for women's rights lies at the heart of colossal struggles over the future of great religions and civilizations....The Washington establishment would shrink from any such claim, but the Global War on Terror is a fight over the social, economic & cultural roles of women. The core issues for the terrorists [is] the continued oppression of women. Nothing so threatens Islamic extremists as the freedom of Western women....We don't think of our troops abroad as fighting for women's rights. But they are….This is the titanic struggle of our time, the liberation of fully half of humanity.

I C.
|
China
February 14, 2010

I.C. in China writes:

I appreciate America's concern about the situations of women around the world. In those uncultured barbaric states, the violent invasion against women depends on the regime power which women have no capacity to resist at all, so the concern from America is specially precious. I endorse your word that we must elevate the problem beyond “a domestic matter,” and beyond a “women's issue.” Sure, it is not only a domestic matter, or a women's issue. It is a issue of carring out democracy and destroing autarchy. Only barbaric countries humiliate women while the reason why those countries are barbaric is autarchy. Fortunately, accompanied the advantage in technology, we have had the most convenient tool to break despotism------Internet which can circulate informations and transmit the truth, therefore can destroy the base of despotism. So, I appeal to you, to all the American leaders, to all the American people, please give the people of those countries, of course Chinese people firstly, a free and open Internet which means that the dictator cannot screen people's speech, cannot find people's trace and persecute them. I guarantee that the power of a free and open Internet is no less than the whole power of all the military power of America! In addition, the use of this kind of power don't make America have to pay a price of one soldier's death or injury.

OysterCracker
|
United States
February 14, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

And the State Department should look into its own house and every other U.S. governmental agency, particularly the security agencies where intimidation and threatening behavior are an on-going reality. For millenia, women have been subtly and overtly discriminated against to the point that they've come to accept this behavior as "normal". As women buy into this behavior and exploit other women, it quickly destroys the fabric of our society by infusing this negativity into our children. It's a viscious, ugly cycle that exists in all aspects of American society.

Linda
|
Maryland, USA
February 22, 2010

Linda in Maryland writes:

I think this article needs one correction the word "foreign" in the article it says "No matter what country ....women around the world live in, no matter what religion they are, how much money they earn, or what age they are, they have at least one thing in common: They are potential victims of violence. Violence against women is endemic around the globe. " This includes the United States within and outside the government.

Susan C.
|
New York, USA
February 24, 2010

Susan C. in New York writes:

Absolutely this is a global issue. The term referred to U.S. foreign policy, but Ambassador Verveer's comments reflect the full international scope of violence against women. Americans can be lulled into a false sense of comfort and superiority about our way of life, but we have to face the fact that American women and men are an integral part of this global experience.

vanxay
|
Japan
March 26, 2010

Vanxay in Japan writes:

Thank you to give me a chance to ask some information, i just would like to know that can US goverment officail who work in the US embacy to othere country get married with local people. for example, i am a us embasador to Japan will get married with Japanese girl? can i do that, us government policy allow to get married with her?

Erin C.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 7, 2010

Erin C. in Washington, DC writes:

Ambassador Verveer is right: Violence against women is wrong, and if a society is to be truly free, it cannot condone violence against women in any form.

But we as Western women must be careful that as we attempt to help other women we do not accidentally patronize and objectify them even more.

Western countries have often used violence against women as a justification for engaging in imperialism. The British justified their rule in India by calling Indians backwards and brutal – citing of practices like sati, or widow burning as evidence of their barbarism.

Imperialism, like violence against women, robs colonized people of their agency and right to self-determination. Imposing cultural standards and norms on others is another penetrative, dominating process that will ultimately not help to end rape.

Violence against women is in part the by-product of societal norms that send the message that women are objects to be gawked at and used. If cultural norms dictate that women should be docile and submissive, making them sexual objects becomes much easier.

The problem is that when we as Western women take it upon ourselves to save our poor, helpless sisters abroad, we are robbing them of the very agency that would set them free.

Instead of turning to Congressional declarations, we should instead focus on funding grassroots feminist organizations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan – even if the issues that they chose to take on are different than the ones that we would tackle.

This is all not to say that the women around the world who are fighting to improve the lives of women and girls are not well intentioned. They are. They are working in the right spirit, and all women can appreciate their efforts.

But sadly this type of activism has the potential to harm more than it helps.

Perhaps we turn to foot binding in China, or genital mutilation in Africa because it is easy for us to see that those processes are wrong. Because those issues are foreign and far away, we can shake our heads and get riled up without having to ask ourselves difficult questions.

After all, it’s a lot easier for us to talk the barbarism of others than it is for us to look at ourselves and wonder about the sexism that lurks in closets filled with high heeled shoes or that sits stitched in the seems of our skinny jeans.

The sexism and chauvinism that foster violence against women still pervade American culture. There are still many battles for American women to fight on our own soil, and we should use our energy and enthusiasms to attack those first.

Erin C.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 8, 2010

Erin C. in Washington, DC writes:

Ambassador Verveer is right: Violence against women is wrong, and if a society is to be truly free, it cannot condone violence against women in any form.

But we as Western women must be careful that as we attempt to help other women we do not accidentally patronize and objectify them even more.

Western countries have often used violence against women as a justification for engaging in imperialism. The British justified their rule in India by calling Indians backwards and brutal – citing of practices like sati, or widow burning as evidence of their barbarism.

Imperialism, like violence against women, robs colonized people of their agency and right to self-determination. Imposing cultural standards and norms on others is another penetrative, dominating process that will ultimately not help to end rape.

Violence against women is in part the by-product of societal norms that send the message that women are objects to be gawked at and used. If cultural norms dictate that women should be docile and submissive, making them sexual objects becomes much easier.

The problem is that when we as Western women take it upon ourselves to save our poor, helpless sisters abroad, we are robbing them of the very agency that would set them free.

Instead of turning to Congressional declarations, we should instead focus on funding grassroots feminist organizations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan – even if the issues that they chose to take on are different than the ones that we would tackle.

This is all not to say that the women around the world who are fighting to improve the lives of women and girls are not well intentioned. They are. They are working in the right spirit, and all women can appreciate their efforts.

But sadly this type of activism has the potential to harm more than it helps.

Perhaps we turn to foot binding in China, or genital mutilation in Africa because it is easy for us to see that those processes are wrong. Because those issues are foreign and far away, we can shake our heads and get riled up without having to ask ourselves difficult questions. After all, it’s a lot easier for us to talk the barbarism of others than it is for us to look at ourselves and wonder about the sexism that lurks in closets filled with high heeled shoes or that sits stitched in the seems of our skinny jeans.

The sexism and chauvinism that foster violence against women still pervade American culture. There are still many battles for American women to fight on our own soil, and we should use our energy and enthusiasms to attack those first.

Kate H.
|
Maine, USA
April 17, 2010

Kate H. in Maine writes:

The U.S State Department preaches global justice with respect to women. In fact, it is quite unfair to the spouses and other family members of its own foreign service employees. Individual staff members constantly create barriers which prohibit spouses from working in meaningful employment. Consular clinics abroad lack proper supervision. Department of State employees and of other agencires like CDC and USAID go out of their way to bar spouses from employment opportunites in posts overseas. Family members abroad have fewer rights than any other Americans.

MWforHR
|
Florida, USA
April 26, 2010

M.W.H.R. in Florida writes:

If Ending Violence Against Women Is a Foreign Policy Priority, then please do all you can to stop all deportations to Iran, especially of women such as Kiana Firouz and Bita Ghaedi who are slated to be deported from the UK this week! They will suffer a horrific fate if this goes through. Please stop this!

virginia I.
|
Texas, USA
April 26, 2010

Virginia I. in Texas writes:

I have recently seen an article in the BBC stating that there are Congo rebels living in Europe and the US that are directing the terrorists in the Congo. These men are responsible for the rape and torture of woman and children. If they are living in the US I want it to be a priority of our government to have them arrested. If they are living in Europe I want it to be a priority of our government to pressure the countries there to have them arrested. While there is a huge effort to arrest anyone related to the terrorism brought upon us by the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden...there can be no reason for overlooking these criminals. Please let us make it a priority to arrest those responsilbe for the abuse of women and children.

I was digusted by the report from Yemen that a 12 or 14 year old girl was raped to death by after being forced into marriage. After reading this I am more determined than ever to pressure the United States to have a more active role in working for women's rights everywhere. I want to do whatever can be done to stop this needless and inhumane suffering.

deborah
|
Hawaii, USA
May 3, 2010

Deborah C. in Hawaii writes:

HRC174 and 109
Sitting at my computer isolated from friends, support and denied justice, I read that the Hawaii Tourist Industry commissioned the legislature to write Bill HRC174 and 109 urging President Obama to build his Presidential Library in Hawaii, feeling it would boost the lagging tourist industry.

Governor of Illinois, Rob Blagojevich was ousted from office for trying to sell the president’s senate seat. Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, resigned, amidst outrage at his hypocritical behavior. The servile, slavish, self interested, fearful legislature in Hawaii complied. Cowardice, submission and a sad choice of decisions render this city unsafe for career minded women working on a thesis or dissertation. The legislature bound to the mind and will of the Tourist Industry does not see the full extent of the abuses that would threaten these women. They solace themselves with false hopes that the tourist industry if they grant them this success will be merciful. It is the madness of folly to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice.

A principled woman, I myself could not have been induced to support a premeditated murder against an Afro-American woman who said no to the sexual advances of an overweight Caucasian male, engaged to be married in two months to a Filipino half his width and height. The Tourist Industry, the State’s revenue would be threaten. This legislature would suffer career minded woman, as themselves, to be obedient in all cases whatsoever to the industry’s mind and will. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine. The two courageous men who stood for my right to say no to unwanted sexual advances lost their employment. Tyranny, like Hell is not easily conquered, but the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. They and not the Attorney General’s office deserve the love and thanks of many men and women, for preserving our constitution.

Isolated and denied my constitutional 4th and 14th amendment rights, I’m emailing international and national woman organizations with my story and asking for support in urging President Obama to oppose HRC174-109 The first bill this president signed in office was the “Lilly Ledbetter Bill.” It would be hypocritical to build his library here.

Deborah C.

hilda w.
|
North Carolina, USA
June 22, 2010

Hilda W. in North Carolina writes:

men practicing violence against men is also known as war--something humanity seems to love to practice, and clearly views as a foreign policy issue. why can we not simply view all violence against any group as a foreign policy issue and priority--it is either that or perish.

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