Big Media Matt points to this article about the US siding with repressive regimes to block language in a United Nations resolution that calls for countries to condemn violence against women and "refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration" as an excuse against condemning such violence. It contains several rather revealing quotes:
"I don't think we're aligning ourselves with countries who have bad records on human rights," said Ellen Sauerbrey, a former Republican candidate for Maryland governor and President George W. Bush's chief representative to the commission.
The State Department's 2002 human rights report says that in Iran, "abuse in the family was a private matter and was seldom discussed publicly." Rape is illegal, but with the law rarely enforced, it is "a widespread problem." Also, the testimony of a woman in a court proceeding is worth half that of a man's. And, the State Department reports, "The 'blood money' paid to the family of a female crime victim is half the sum paid for a man."
Anyway, Sauerbrey said, the positions she took were part of an effort to achieve consensus in a forum where all participants must agree on a final document. In fact, the controversy over halting violence against women disrupted the proceedings and no final statement was issued - for the first time ever. It so happens that the changes pushed by the ayatollahs dovetailed with attempts by American social and religious conservatives who were appointed by the White House as representatives to the UN commission.
"For too long, the feminists have been pushing a radical, special-interest agenda under the erroneous mantra made rhetorical cliche by Hillary Clinton: 'Women's rights are human rights,'" writes Janice Crouse, an official of the conservative group Concerned Women for America and a member of the U.S. delegation.
Concerned Women for America, in comments about the commission session on its Web site, said it objected to language on preventing "custom, tradition or religious consideration" as excuses for violence against women. "It starkly projects custom, tradition and religion as as negative influences," the group said.
The organization, along with the National Right to Life Committee, also objected to use of the term "forced pregnancy" in the section on the abuse of women in armed conflict.
"It so happens there are times when there are issues where social conservatives, whether they be Muslim or Christian, find common ground," Sauerbrey said in explaining the groups' influence.