International Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on Forei.

Human rights abuses against women : hearings before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first and second sessions, September 28 and 19, 1993; October 20, 1 online

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiHuman rights abuses against women : hearings before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first and second sessions, September 28 and 19, 1993; October 20, 1 → online text (page 1 of 29)
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\Y HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST WOMEN

Y4.F76/l:H8B/65



Hunan Rights Abuses Against Honen/ . . . i^ArCirslLrO

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON

I INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, INTERNATIONAL

ORGANIZATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
OF THE

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS

FIRST AND SECOND SESSIONS



SEPTEMBER 28 AND 29. 1993;

OCTOBER 20, 1993; AND

MARCH 22, 1994



Printed lor the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs







U.S. COVKKN.MK.VT PRINTING OFFICE
7G-r>38CC WASIII.NGTON : 1994

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044677-5



' HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST WOMEN



^



F 76/1 :H 88/65



Rights Abuses Against Honen,... iiAKUNCjO

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON

INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, INTERNATIONAL

ORGANIZATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS
FIRST AND SECOND SESSIONS



SEPTEM15ER 28 AND 29, 1993;

OCTOBER 20, 1993; AND

MARCH 22, 1994



Printed lor ihc use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs




'li



•'•Hi J f



U.S. C()VKK.\.V1K.\T PIU.NTING OFFICE
7G-r>.58CC WASIII.NGTO.V : 1994

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044677-5



COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS



LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana, Chairman



SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut

TOM LANTOS, California

ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey

HOWARD L. HERMAN, California

GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York

HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida

ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York

ENl F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American

Samoa
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
ERIC FINGERHUT, Ohio
PETER DEUTSCH, Florida
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland
DON EDWARDS, California
FRANK MCCLOSKEY, Indiana
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio

(Vacancy)

Michael H. Van
Jo Weber,



BENJAMIN A. OILMAN, New York
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
JAN MEYERS, Kansas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DAVID A. LEVY, New York
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART, Florida
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California



DUSEN, Chief of Staff
Staff Associate



International Security, International Organizations and Human Rights

TOM LANTOS, California, Chairman

HOWARD L. HERMAN, California DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska

GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine

MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey

FRANK MCCLOSKEY, Indiana DAN BURTON, Indiana

THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio

Robert King, Staff Director

Michael Ennis, Republican Professional Staff Member

Kenneth R. TimmermAN, Professional Staff Member

Beth L. Poisson, Professional Staff Member

Andrea L. Nelson, Professional Staff Member



(II)



CONTENTS



WITNESSES
September 28, 1993

Page

Hon. Patricia Schroeder, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Colorado, and co-Chair, Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues 9

Hon. Olympia J. Snowe, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Maine, and co-Chair, Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues 11

Hon. Dick Swett, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Hamp-
shire ■•• ;^vv""

Dorothy Q. Thomas, director of Women's Rights Project, Human Rights
\^^at,cn ^^

Nahid Toiibia, M.D., Associate for Women's Reproductive Health, Population

Council • : • 22

Donna J. Sullivan, Director of Women in the Law Group, International

Human Rights Law Group 27

September 29, 1993

Hon. John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Human Rights and Hu-
manitarian Affairs, Department of State •■• • 35

Richard M. McCall, Jr., Chief of Staff, U.S. Agency for International Develop-
ment ^^

October 20, 1993

Hon. Lynn C. Woolsey, a Representative in Congress from the State of Cali-
fornia •• 71

Hon. Geraldine Ferraro, former Representative in Congress from the State
of New York -• :•••• '^^

Kathryn Cameron Porter, director. Gender and Social Policy, Conservation

International '°

March 22, 1994
The Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy II, a Representative in Congress from

tVlP Stfltc of IVf &SS£lc}niS6tft<S XU^

The Honorable John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and

Humanitarian Affairs, Department of State ••— • 108

Dorothy Q. Thomas, director. Women's Rights Project, Human Rights Watch .. 121
Kenneth L. Klothen, acting executive director, Defense for Children Inter-

national-U.S.A 126

APPENDIX

September 28, 1993

Prepared statements:

Hon. Patricia Schroeder j*^^

Hon. Olympia J. Snowe 136

Dorothy Q. Thomas 142

Dr. Nahid Toubia 159

Donna J. Sullivan .- 169

Article from Kansas City Star. September 5, 1993 entitled "Abuses Against

Women: A Worldwide Pattern That Must Be Stopped" by Laura Scott 175

(111)



IV

Page

Article from New York Times, September 27, 1993 entitled "Women Asking

U.S. Asylum Expand Definition of Abuse", by Deborah Sontag 177

September 29, 1993

Prepared statements:

Hon. John Shattuck 179

Richard M. McCall, Jr 193

October 20, 1993

Prepared statements:

Hon. Lynn C. Woolsey 207

Hon. Geraldine Ferraro 209

Kathryn Cameron Porter 218

March 22, 1994

Prepared statements:

Hon. Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State

of New Jersey 239

Hon. Joseph P. Kennedy II 243

Hon. John Shattuck 245

Dorothy Q. Thomas 255

Kenneth L. Klothen 266

Mr. George Rehnquist, Chair, International Committee, YMCA of the

U.S.A 275



HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST WOMEN



TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1993

House of Representatives,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Subcommittee on International Security,
International Organizations and Human Rights,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:05 p.m. in room
2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Tom Lantos (chairman
of the subcommittee) presiding.

Mr. Lantos. The Subcommittee on International Security, Inter-
national Organizations and Human Rights will be in order.

Today, the subcommittee in the first of a series of hearings, will
address the full range of human rights abuses against women. As
a country that has made human rights the centerpiece of its for-
eign policy, we can no longer permit gender-driven discrimination
and violence to be relegated to the sidelines of public consciousness.
These hearings are convened to ensure that abuses against women
will figure prominently in all foreign assistance deliberations.
Women's concerns will be an integ^-al component of our foreign pol-
icy.

The plight of millions of women has worsened since our last
hearings on this devastating issue in 1990. Violence and discrimi-
nation against women has increased, spurred on by deteriorating
economic conditions, ethnic and national conflicts and a meteoric
rise in religious fundamentalism. Women continue to labor under
the weight of centuries-old cultural and social traditions in their
quest to attain full civil and human rights.

For too long, there has been a reluctance to deal with abuses
against women. Violence directed at women was viewed as a pri-
vate issue not for airing in the public arena. Even in the United
States, the police and the judiciary have been loath to interfere in
so-called domestic disputes, even though these domestic disputes
occasionally entail battery and sometimes lead to death. We are
only now beginning in this country to see these outrages against
women for what they are and to take action to end them.

Abroad, of course, the situation is infinitely worse. And many
human rights activists who would be quick to reject any constraints
on freedom of speech, religion or assembly, are hesitant to condemn
abuses against women for fear of becoming accused of cultural in-
sensitivity. Although the international human rights community
has long insisted that fundamental human rights are universal and
cannot be diminished by ethnic or religious traditions, there has
been an unconscionable double standard regarding women's rights.

(1)



No country escapes unscathed on the issue of treatment of
women.

Women face life-threatening discrimination due to an overwhelm-
ing preference for sons. The combined totals of females missing —
and when I say females missing, I include little baby girls who
were killed — the combined totals of females missing in Bangladesh,
Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and China exceeds some 77 million
human beings. This is more than the entire combined populations
of California, New York, Texas and Florida.

Widow burning in India, bridal kidnappings in the country of
Georgia, and the use of rape as a tool of torture in Africa and Latin
America continue unabated. While the use of rape to subjugate, hu-
miliate, and brutalize women has long existed, it has taken the
horrors of Bosnia to focus world attention on this issue.

Over 100 million women worldwide have been subjected to the
brutal practice of female genital mutilation. Those that survive the
operation suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological pain. Six
thousand additional girls and women are at risk every single day.

Women worldwide have far less access to the tools of develop-
ment — from education to health care — necessary to better their liv-
ing standards and break the cycles of violence.

Women also remain the world's largest underrepresented group
in the workplace. The international labor organization reports that
it would take at current rates of progress some 475 years for
women to achieve parity with men in the higher echelons of politi-
cal and economic power worldwide.

It is incomprehensible to me why the simple and just act of re-
specting the civil and human rights of one half of humanity — the
women — seems beyond our grasp. And why, given the totality of
the abuses against women, it was not until the United Nations
World Conference on Human Rights last June, at the closing years
of the 20th century, that violence against women was recognized
explicitly as an abuse of human rights.

I am eager to learn from our distinguished panel of witnesses
today their suggestions for concrete actions to ensure that human
rights abuses against women do not again become surrounded by
a cloak of invisibility.

Before calling on our distinguished panel, I would like to call on
my good friend and colleague. Congressman Bereuter, for opening
statements.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Lantos follows:]



Statement by

Congressman Tom Lantos

Chairman

Subcommittee for International Security,

International Operations, and Human Rights

Hearing on Human Rights Abuses Against Women

September 28, 1993



Today the Subcommittee on International Security, International
Organizations, and Human Rights - in the first of a series of hearings-will
address the full range of human rights abuses against women. As a country that
has made human rights the centerpiece of its foreign policy, we can no longer
permit gender-driven discrimination and violence to be relegated to the side lines
of public consciousness. These hearings are convened to ensure that abuses
against women will figure prominently in all foreign assistance deliberations.
Women's concerns should be an integral component of our foreign policy.



The plight of millions of women has worsened since our last hearings on
this devastating issue in 1990. Violence and discrimination against women have
increased, spurred on by deteriorating economic conditions, ethnic and national
conflicts and a meteoric rise in religious fundamentalism. Women continue to
labor under the weight of centuries-old cultural and social traditions in their
quest to attain full civil and human rights.

For too long there has been a reluctance to deal with abuses against
women. Violence directed at women was viewed as a private issue not for
airing in the public arena. Even in the United States, the police and the
judiciary have been loath to interfere in so-called domestic disputes, even though
they often entail battery and sometimes lead to death. We are only now
beginning in this country to see these outrages against women for what they are
and to take action to end them.

Abroad the situation is far worse, and many human rights activists, who
would be quick to reject any constraints on freedom of speech, religion, or
assemblv, are hesitant to condemn abuses agamst women for fear of being



accused of cultural insensiliviiy. Although the international human rights
community has long insisted that fundamental human rights are universal and
cannot be diminished by ethnic or religious traditions, there has been an
unconscionable double standard regarding women's rights.

No country escapes unscathed on the issue of treatment of women.

Women face life threatening discrimination due to an overwhelming
preference for sons. The combined totals of females missing in
Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and China exceeds 77
million, according to U.N. statistics. This is more than the entire
combined populations of California, New York, Texas and Florida.

Widow-burning in India, bridal kidnappings in the country of
Georgia and the use of rape as a tool of torture in Africa and Latin
America continue unabated. While the use of rape to subjugate,
humiliate, and brutalize women has long existed, it has taken the
horrors of Bosnia to focus world attention on this issue.

Over 100 million women woridwide have been subjected to the
brutal practice of female genital mutilation. Those that survive the
operation suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological pain.
6,000 additional girls and women are at risk each day.

Women worldwide have far less access to the tools of development -
from education to health care-necessary to better their living
standards and break the cycles of violence.

Women also remain the world's largest under-represented group in
the workplace. The International Labor Organization reports that
it will take 475 years for women to achieve parity with men in the
higher echelons of political and economic power worldwide.

It is incomprehensible to me why the simple and just act of respecting the
civil and human rights of one half of humanity-the women-seems beyond our
grasp. And why-given the totality of the abuses against women-it was not until
the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights last June-the closing
years of the 20th Century-ihai violence against women was recognized explicitly
as an abuse of human rights.



I will be eager to learn from our distinguished witnesses today, their
suggestions for concrete actions to ensure that human rights abuses against
women do not again become surrounded by a cloaJc of invisibility.

Without question, the United States must assume a greater leadership role
on this issue. To that end, ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women assumes greater urgency. Support
for this treaty is consistent with declarations by the Administration reaffirming
the centrality of human rights in its foreign policy. Tomorrow, in the second
of our series of hearings on this topic, we will examine the Administration's
position on the Women's Convention and other strategies for combating human
rights abuses against women.

The demonstrated capability of women rights activists to transcend
differences to unite in their efforts to protect the human and civil rights of
women worldwide offers a glimmer of hope in this bleak landscape. We are
honored to have with us today such activists for change. Thanks to the
unflinching efforts of our witnesses and of many of those in the audience, a
strong international consensus that women's rights are inalienable, integral, and
an indivisible part of universal human rights is now emerging. We hope that
this hearing will contribute to the campaign to improve the status of women and
to enhance protection of their rights.



Mr. Bereuter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome our col-
leagues for today. I want to thank you for scheduling this impor-
tant series of hearings.

Normally, when the Congress expresses concerns about human
rights, we look at the behavior of a specific country. We look, for
example, at whether "Country x" is engaged in torture or whether
"country y" is oppressing minorities. But today we are considering
the transnational systematic pattern of gender abuse.

There is an appalling litanv of gender-based human rights
abuses that arise solely on the basis of gender. The slave trade of
young women, forced prostitution, widow burning, human sacrifice,
physical mutilation, selective malnutrition of female children, and
female infanticide are all too common.

There are also more subtle but equally devastating forms of dis-
crimination against women. In many countries, women are denied
an education and thus are forced to repeat the endless cycle of pov-
erty. In the past, many of these abuses have been passed off as
mere differences in culture. Indeed, at this summer's Vienna Con-
ference on Human Rights, there was an aggressive effort to dilute
international human rights principles to account for cultural dif-
ferences. It is argued that we in the West simply do not under-
stand the complex social institutions that have given rise to gender
abuse.

But I think we will not be misled, Mr. Chairman, slavery, forced
prostitution, bride burning and the rest of the litany of abuses
against women should not and must not be excused as cultural
idiosyncracies.

I would welcome our initial witnesses, the gentlelady from
Maine, Ms. Snowe, the gentlelady from Colorado, Mrs. Schroeder,
and the gentleman from New Hampshire, Mr. Swett. Let me note
particularly that Ms. Snowe is a member of this subcommittee and
has worked closely with the Majority and Minority staff on the se-
lection of witnesses and the issues to be raised.

As co-chairpersons of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Is-
sues, both of these ladies have had a pivotal role in raising our
awareness of gender-driven human rights abuses. I look forward to
the testimony of all three of our distinguished colleagues and other
witnesses as we proceed through this series of hearings. Thank you
Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Lantos. Thank you. Congressman Smith,

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and Mr. Bereuter for your
leadership and for scheduling these hearings. They are very, very
important not only for this committee but the country and the
world so that these issues can be highlighted and focused upon.

It is tragic, but true, that violence against women and human
rights abuses based on gender continue unabated around the
world. In some years, these crimes escalate. Each of us, women and
men alike, absolutely must find ways to provide tangible protection
for women and girls and strive to provide more legal and moral jus-
tice.

Mr. Chairman, I participated in the hearings which this sub-
committee held 3 years ago. Since that time, I have been encour-
aged by the growing attention given not only by many researchers



and activists in our country but by women and community religious
leaders in countries where the abuses are rampant. But I am dis-
couraged by the growing numbers of acts of violence and barbarity
committed against women.

It is shocking but true that young women and girls are some-
times sold by their parents into prostitution, and the owners and
slave masters face little or no arrest or prosecution because of
these crimes. The barbaric brutal practice of female genital mutila-
tion continues unchecked and inflicted on as many as 114 million
young girls and women around the globe, particularly in Africa,
with the progressive promotion of sex-determined abortions in
China and India and the use of such things as sonograms which
ought to be a diagnostic tool but now are being used to discover the
gender and then abort the female.

And with the increase in the number of female infanticides and
the practice of depriving baby girls of scarce nutritional care, de-
mographers, as the Chairman pointed out, are beginning to see
frightening and disproportionate differences in the numbers of men
and women, not only in China, which seems to be the worst of-
fender because of its one child per couple policy, but also in Ban-
gladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The impacts on mothers and babies should bring tears to our
eyes and resolve to our actions. The fate of hundreds of millions of
women in China should be summed up in a recent article that was
in the New York Times which just talked about one particular
woman who in the Hunan province had been through the forced
abortion regimen of the Chinese Government. I quote: "She should
be taking her 2-month-old baby out around the village proudly
nursing him and teaching him about life, but instead the baby is
buried under a mound of dirt and she spends her time lying in bed
emotionally crushed and physically crippled." This is the reality of
the birth quota system in China.

The war in Bosnia and the horrific orders given to soldiers in
that war to commit rape against women and young girls is one of
the most egregious war crimes. I serve as the ranking Member on
the Helsinki Commission, and one of the most frightening and hor-
rible hearings that we have ever had on that committee was when
two women who had been forcibly raped as part of the Serbian pol-
icy of ethnic cleansing came before our commission and talked
about that horrifying experience. It just makes you want to do so
much more than we have done to stop that brutal war in Bosnia.
But it also underscores how women are so vulnerable, particularly
in war-torn areas.

Mr. Chairman, I acknowledge that the international documents
that are often signed at United Nations fora sometimes can be
helpful in highlighting the abuses, but I think we need to move
away from just paper promises and evervone in the room says yes
acceding to those promises only to fall below what is expected when
it comes to compliance. And I would hope that this committee and
our President and all of us working in a bipartisan way could con-
tinue to do more and take tangible action to stop them.

Mr. Lantos. Thank you, very much. Congresswoman Meyers.

Mrs. Meyers. Mr. Chairman, I would like to express my appre-
ciation to you for holding these important hearings. Human rights



8

abuses against women are finally becoming an issue that registers
on the radar screen of the human rights community. I appreciate
the activities of Ms. Thomas of Human Rights Watch to form a spe-
cial project on woman's rights and to encourage the formation of
the congressional working group on international women's human
rights of which I am a steering committee member along with Con-
gressman Joe Moakley and Senator Patty Murray.

People are finally beginning to realize that there is a systematic
abuse of women and are no longer willing to excuse it in the name
of culture or religion. We all believe that the concept of human
rights is the idea that people have worth as individuals. And hos-
tile actions directed at them due to their membership in some polit-
ical, social, ethnic or religious group are wrong.

Likewise, mistreatment of people because of their gender must
also be denounced by those who respect the rights of individuals.
Women are the targets of human rights abuse both for political
purposes and for cultural purposes. Women are often targeted as
a means of terrorizing their politically active loved ones as well as
for their own political activities. Oppressive governments often de-
liberately target women and children because of their vulnerability.

But just as important are the instances where governments do
not move. They simply look the other way and do not move to pro-
tect women against brutal crimes because such acts are committed
in the names of religion or culture. Women in the Middle East and
Africa are subjected to female circumcision. In India, young women
are burned to death because their dowries which are supposedly il-
legal are not large enough to satisfy their in-laws. In Pakistan,



Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiHuman rights abuses against women : hearings before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first and second sessions, September 28 and 19, 1993; October 20, 1 → online text (page 1 of 29)