New York, NY (CFAM/LifeNews) — At the closing session of the Stakeholders’ Forum on “Preventing and Eliminating Violence Against Women,” Liberian Ambassador Marjon V. Kamara praised the contributions of “all sectors of our global community” before fixing her gaze on the audience and saying, “but I’m not going to be fooled by all of that.”
Kamara is set to chair the upcoming session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Her skepticism reflected the failure of the previous CSW to produce any consensus documents, an outcome due largely to developing nations’ rejection of the pro-abortion and gender-defining agenda of the United States and other governments. The desire for a better result at CSW57 in February was a common refrain at this two-day forum, which sets the stage for the larger event. Kamara expressed her hopes that at the next CSW “we can leave a lot of our excess baggage behind.”
The Stakeholders’ Forum featured sessions on violence against women, including risk factors, delivery of help to victims, addressing the needs of particularly vulnerable populations, and working with men and boys, of whom relatively few were in attendance. Of particular interest was a Survivors’ Forum, which featured a panel of former victims of violence who had gone on to influence public policy. One member of that panel was Ms. Autumn Burris, a survivor of rape and prostitution, who spoke out against elements of popular media objectifying women. Her critical comments about prostitution were admittedly controversial in light of efforts within the UN system to normalize sex work.
Despite the prominent position of the abortion debate in the failure of the previous CSW, some forum participants were disinclined to check that particular item of baggage at the door.
Norwegian ambassador Mr. Geir O. Pedersen said, “The provision of safe abortions and post-abortion care is a priority not because we want to promote abortion, but because we want to avoid the injuries and deaths that would otherwise occur. So what is the real moral issue we are facing? It is the fact that women and girls are dying from causes that can be prevented.”
While Mr. Pedersen also condemned the pervasive issue of violence against women, he failed to explain how providing abortion services to women would directly address the main focus of the forum. Increased access to abortion was also notably absent from the policy recommendations made by the expert participants in the Survivors’ Forum, who focused their attention on other more germane preventable causes of death such as domestic abuse, human trafficking, honor killings, and sexual assault.
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In keeping with the theme of eliminating “excess baggage,” one panelist specifically singled out non-government organizations for criticism. Ms. Mervat el Tallawy, President of the Egyptian National Council for Women called on the UN to “reconsider and review the membership of some of the NGOs in their capacity of observers” due to their criticism of UN conventions including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and those originating from the Cairo and Beijing conferences.
LifeNews Note: Rebecca Oas writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax and is used with permission.