European & International News

Right to abortion for women raped in armed conflict - affirmed by the Netherlands

[Amsterdam, 8 April 2013] The Global Justice Center is happy to share the news that the Netherlands has affirmed the right of women raped in armed conflict to an abortion as part of necessary medical care under international humanitarian law.

Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and Lilaane Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, responded to parliamentary questions submitted in March 2013 in the Netherlands that the foreign ministry agrees with the UK that abortion can be a necessary medical procedure under international humanitarian law, which then must be provided regardless of national laws on abortion. The parliamentary questions were asked by Parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, a Member of the Dutch party D66.

Timmermans and Ploumen state, “It is our opinion that raped women and girls in war zones have the right to any and all necessary medical care of great quality, this includes safe abortions”. The Netherlands also stands ready to engage the United States on the issue of the Helms amendment ban on abortion as an obstacle to ensuring women their IHL rights.

The parliamentary questions (in Dutch) can be found here.

The answers (in Dutch) from the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) are available here. They have been translated into English by GJC, click here to read them.

The Global Justice Center is working diligently to advocate for gender inequality in conflict and post conflict situations. Its August 12th campaign challenges the routine denial of medical rights to war rape victims as a violation of the right to non-discriminatory medical care under the Geneva Conventions. Thousands of girls and women raped in armed conflict are routinely denied their rightful access to safe abortions, and we must put a stop to this. Furthermore, girls and women are raped daily to accomplish military objectives, including genocide. Rape is a more effective and cost effective weapon than any other unlawful weapon used in armed conflict today, yet it is routinely overlooked by the international community. GJC’s Rape as a Weapon of War project is working to ensure that states using this method of warfare are held accountable for their actions.

To find out more about the August 12th Campaign of the Global Justice Center, click here and here. The European Women’s Lobby proud to support the campaign and wrote to President Obama two years ago to alert him to the ’no abortion’ restriction attached to US humanitarian aid.

On 17 March 2013, the New York Times published an editorial calling on President Obama to end inhuman US policy towards war rape victims. Click here to read it.

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