The Obama administration invited members of the “United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice” to tour the United States to assess the state of women’s rights in America. What they found made them very upset.
The UN sent “human rights experts” Eleonora Zielinska, Alda Facio and Frances Raday on a 10-day tour of the U.S. to meet with federal and local government officials to determine just how oppressed American women are.
In a report released last Friday, the experts wrote that prostitution being illegal in most jurisdictions is repressing women.
“The criminalization of women in prostitution in most of the country places them in a situation of injustice, vulnerability and stigma and is contrary to international human rights law. As the CEDAW Committee has systematically reiterated, women should not be criminalized for being in a situation of prostitution,” the experts determined.
The UN also slammed the United States on gun control.
“We also share the concerns of the Special Rapporteur regarding the fatal consequences for women of lack of gun control, in particular in cases of domestic violence. Our group also deplores police brutality and the increased number of homicides of Afro-American women by the police,” they declared.
The trio also expressed their concern over abortion restrictions. “Although women have a legal right to terminate a pregnancy under federal law, ever increasing barriers are being created to prevent their access to abortion procedures,” they lamented.
They cited the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds to pay for abortions in Medicaid, and waiting periods as oppressive. Pro-life protesters near abortion clinics were also determined to be problematic.
“We wish to recall, as independent United Nations human rights experts have consistently stressed, that freedom of religion cannot be used to justify discrimination against women, and therefore should not be regarded as a justification for denying women’s right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health,” they wrote.
“We encourage steps to reconcile U.S. laws on religious or conscience-based refusals to provide reproductive health care with international human rights law and to prohibit refusal to provide sexual and reproductive health services on grounds of religious freedom, where such refusal will effectively deny women immediate access to the health care to which they are entitled under both international human rights law and US law.”
The UN experts also declared the gender make-up of elected officials is another form of discrimination.
Four out of 15 members of cabinet are women. Women hold 19.4% of Congressional seats and their representation in state legislatures varies widely between 12.9% and 46.2%, with an average of 24.9%. This represents the highest level of legislative representation ever achieved by women in the United States. However, it still places the country at only 72 in global ranking.
The Working Group concluded:
The United States, which is a leading state in formulating international human rights standards, is allowing its women to lag behind international human rights standards. Although there is a wide diversity in state law and practice, which makes it impossible to give a comprehensive report, we could discern an overall picture of women’s missing rights. While all women are the victims of these missing rights, women who are poor, belong to Native American, Afro-American and Hispanic ethnic minorities, migrant women, LBTQ women, women with disabilities and older women are disparately vulnerable.