It’s International Women’s Day! Here at On The Issues Magazine, we’re celebrating the incredible women around the world who fight for reproductive justice. But just as the fight will continue after today ends, so should the celebration of our warriors. So, in that spirit, here’s a brand new piece from the Cafe about a global issue impacting the lives of women, every day:
In August 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unprecedented visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC) to meet with victims of war rape. She pledged $17 million in aid, reflecting a new level of U.S. commitment and concern for girls and women targeted by the enemy for sexual assaults.
Yet, despite being a longtime proponent of access to safe abortion, she did not disclose a dirty little secret – that USAID policy, which falls under her jurisdiction, prohibits all nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments and humanitarian aid providers from receiving U.S. funds if they provide abortion counseling or services. The restrictions, placed in all foreign assistance contracts, contain no exceptions for rape or to save the life of a woman. This is due to USAID’s unnecessarily broad and rigid application of the “Helms Amendment” to the Foreign Assistance Act, which, since 1973, has prohibited the use of U.S. funds for the performance of abortion “as a method of family planning” or to “motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
War rape — typically gang rape — has been employed in the Congo, Rwanda, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, Burma, the Sudan, Sierra Leone and elsewhere as a highly effective military strategy to destroy the families, communities and culture of the enemy without bullets. It has been classified by international courts as a war crime, an act of genocide, a crime against humanity and a form of torture. The U.S. itself acknowledges it as torture and administers aid to victims both from USAID’s Victims of Torture Fund, as well as contributing to a similar UN fund. Forcing a girl or women to continue a resulting pregnancy has also been recognized as torture.
Click here to continue reading Help Global Victims of War Rape: End Anti-Abortion Restrictions by Sarah Morison.
This month is full of exciting feminist events! We’ll be at these two, and hope to see you there as well:
Saturday, March 17, New York, NY: URGENT! 40 Years of Radical Feminist Action. A conference at The New School, hosted by Soapbox and the n+1 Research collected and co-sponsored by The New School’s Gender Studies Program. Our very own Merle Hoffman will be moderating a panel on “Reproductive Justice — the Roots and Flowering of this Paradigm.”
Monday, March 19, New York, NY: Join Merle Hoffman for a book reading event and a book signing of Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom at 7pm at Revolution Books, 146 W 26th Street, in Manhattan.
Spring is in the air, and so is a brand new edition of On The Issues Magazine — Girls, Women, and Sports! If you’d like to contribute, please contact [email protected].
We want to hear what you think about the ideas in the magazine. Please contribute your thoughts to our comments section at the end of every story and Café piece, or write a letter to the editor.
And we hope you’ll share this rich repository of material with your friends and colleagues — find us on Facebook and Twitter! We’re using the hashtag #abortion this issue, so add it to your tweets to jump in the conversation.
Thanks for reading!