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Denying access to abortion for women and girls raped in war denies them their rights under the Geneva Conventions. Tell President Obama to Overturn Helms.

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A Snapshot of GJC's 2014 Achievements

At the UN

  • The UN Security Council affirmed its 2013 declaration of the rights of women impregnated by rape in armed conflict to abortions in October 2014. Read the statements by the Netherlands and Australia at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security affirming the abortion rights of girls and women raped in war.
  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his September 2014 Report on sexual violence in conflict underscored the need for safe abortions for female war victims and emphasized that international humanitarian law governs medical care for female victims of war, not national laws.
  • The Dutch and French governments also made statements at the UN Security Council, acknowledging that women raped in war are entitled to abortion services under the Geneva Conventions in April 2014.

Domestic Advocacy

  • GJC submitted a Shadow Report to the UN Human Rights Council on how US abortion restrictions on foreign assistance violate its international law obligations for the 2015 Universal Periodic Review of the US.
  • GJC submitted a Report on how US abortion restrictions perpetuate torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to the UN Committee against Torture in a historic partnership with the World Organization against Torture comprised of some 297 affiliate organizations, for the November 2014 review of the US by the UN Committee Against Torture.
  • GJC published documents obtained from the Department of State and the USAID through the Freedom of Information Process on GJC’s website.

International Advocacy

  • The UK became the first country to implement the objectives of the August 12th Campaign by UK/DFID mandating that all UK funded entities to comply with the Geneva Conventions and ensure that war rape victims are provided access to safe abortion, irrespective of national anti-abortion laws in June 2014. The UK became the first country to recognize, as called for by GJC’s Rape as a Weapon of War Project, that rape is an illegal method of war under international humanitarian law. Furthermore, former UK Foreign Minister Hague announced that States using rape as a weapon of war are accountable for the additional war crime of using an unlawful weapon under the laws of war, opening up the justice framework for victims of war rape and gives them “two bites at the apple of accountability.”
  • The incorporation of GJC’s language and arguments on Burma’s Constitution and gender equality in Burma into two reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. These reports called for the amendment of the Constitution so as “to be in line with international standards,” the military to be put under civilian rule, an end to impunity of the military for crimes including sexual violence, and women’s participation in the peace process.
  • Wrote an analysis of the unlawfulness of the US abortion ban put on all UN peacekeeping funds, in preparation for 2015 advocacy with military, the UN and NATO.
  • Published an analysis of the European Union’s (“EU”) policy on abortion and the Geneva Conventions as violative of EU fundamental law and international humanitarian law as the basis for 2015 advocacy with the EU and potential litigation in the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Co-authored with the Leitner Center at Fordham Law School a White Paper on the extent to which Burma has met its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”) and the current situation of women in Burma in preparation, which will serve as a key document for our upcoming work with partners in Burma assisting them with Burma’s forthcoming review by the CEDAW Committee.

Media

“A Devastating Year for Children”

This year has been one of the worst years for children, according to the United Nations. “As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the State of Palestine, Syria and Ukraine,” said the Unicef’s report. “Globally, an estimated 230 million children currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.

“This has been a devastating year for millions of children,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

© UNICEF

In the Central African Republic, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan, Nigeria millions of children are affected by ongoing conflicts. Young girls are being kidnapped, tortured, forcibly impregnated, forced marriages, withheld from education, raped and turned into sex slaves. Half the victims of rape in conflict zones are children.

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict that took place in London this June recognized that rape and sexual violence in conflict often has a much bigger impact than the fighting itself, and that one should not underestimate the depth of damage done to individual rape victims. “Sexual violence in conflict zones includes extreme physical violence, the use of sticks, bats, bottles, the cutting of genitals, and the sexual torture of victims who are left with horrific injuries. Many die as a result of these attacks. But survivors can also face a catastrophic rejection by their families and may be cast out from their communities”.

Compounding the suffering is a US foreign policy that denies safe abortion services to girls raped in armed conflict. GJC’s August 12th Campaign challenges this routine denial of full medical rights to war rape victims as a violation of the right to non- discriminatory medical care under the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols.

Young girls who become victims of rape used as weapon of war are forced to bear the child of their rapist. This also is an “unspeakable brutality”.