European & International News

How the US Helms Amendment Hurts Women raped in War

[Global Justice Center, September 2014] It is a shame that 65 years after signing the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. continues to violate the treaty by discriminating against female survivors of war rape.

This is because the U.S. the world’s largest humanitarian aid donor – places blanket abortion restrictions on its aid to war rape survivors. They are denied access to life-saving abortions, which in war can mean a death sentence to girls and women, half of whom are children. See below a clear infographics which shows how the U.S. inaction has a devastating effect in conflict zones around the world.

The U.S.’ continuing denial of these medical rights under international humanitarian law is why we need action from other top humanitarian actors such as the European Union. In this context, the GJC highly applauds the United Kingdom who very recently operationalized Security Council Resolution 2122 (2013) through its Department for International Development Aid (DFID) in its new policy paper on safe and unsafe abortion:

Where abortion is permitted, UK aid can be used for activities to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of abortion services. In situations of armed conflict or occupation where denial of abortion would threaten the woman’s or girl’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify offering an abortion rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment. Clearly this will depend on the woman’s choice, her condition and the safety and security of the humanitarian staff, as well as other contextual factors.

France and the Netherlands have also stated that the denial of abortion services to war rape survivors constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law.

Yet, the institution responsible for the distribution of humanitarian aid for Member States of the European Union, ECHO currently denies girls and women their full rights under international humanitarian law by referring to national abortion laws as a medical standard for treating rape survivors in armed conflict. See the GJC “Call for Change” on why it is urgent that the EU adopt a new policy affirming the primacy of the Geneva Conventions in situations of armed conflict for all victims of war and end the discriminatory treatment of female war rape survivors.

ALL European Union Member States and the United States signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions. Over 60 years later, it is high time to apply these rights to the medical treatment for female rape survivors.

gjcinfographichelmsamendmt 15 300dpi

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