#BreakBarriers to Post-Rape Care for Survivors

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict joins the Break Barriers initiative in calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to stand with women and girls raped in conflict and break barriers to post-rape care.

On December 5, Campaign co-chairs, Nobel peace laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi wrote to President Obama, calling on him to end the longstanding misinterpretation of the Helms amendment, which in current practice, denies women around the world safe abortion services, even in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. 


Open Letter from Nobel peace laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi on behalf of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict:

December 5, 2014


The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
United States of America

Subject: Ending Misinterpretation of the Helms Amendment

Dear President Obama,

We write as the Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Co-Chairs of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. Although we come from different backgrounds and nations, we are united in our belief that women and girls who face sexual violence and rape deserve meaningful access to the full range of reproductive healthcare options, including safe abortion. To this end, we urge you to use your moral and executive authority to end the longstanding misinterpretation of the Helms amendment, which in current practice denies women and girls around the world access to safe abortion services, even in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.

Forty-eight women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 are raped every hour in eastern Congo. Some 80 percent of war rape victims are children under 18. The most extensive form of violence Syrian women and girls face since the Syrian conflict began is sexual violence, including rape. Rape is regularly used as a weapon of war and torture—often resulting in unwanted pregnancy. After surviving rape, access to comprehensive post rape care that includes safe, voluntary abortions services is critically important. However, confusion over U.S. foreign policy – namely the Helms amendment – serves as a barrier to care for women and girls globally.

Your commitment to ending gender-based violence is clear. From the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, to the Safe from the Start Initiative, you have told the world you are dedicated to defending the human rights of women and girls. Your commitment is mirrored globally, through commitments and U.S. leadership at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London this summer, and the recent U.N. Secretary General’s report calling for improved access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including safe termination of pregnancies for survivors of conflict-related rape.

We call on you then, Mr. President, to make clear to the world that U.S. foreign policy does and can support access to comprehensive care – including abortion – in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. United States foreign policy can serve as a hindrance to human rights for women and girls or it can be the catalyst for change.

As the Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Co-Chairs of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, we ask that you continue to build on this momentum. Ensuring that U.S. policy and leadership support the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls globally – including safe abortion in the cases of rape, incest and life endangerment – is the natural extension of your policies.

In the spirit of our shared experiences working for peace, justice, and human rights, we urge you to take executive action – to help women and girls gain access to the healthcare they need and deserve by clarifying that U.S. law and policy supports access to safe abortion services in the cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.

 

In Peace,

Jody Williams,
Co-Chair, International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict

Shirin Ebadi,
Co-Chair, International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict

 

CC:
Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor
Valerie Jarrett, Chair, White House Council on Women and Girls and Senior Adviser to the President
Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff
Gayle Smith, Senior Director, National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President
Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady


SHARE on Twitter: Read 's call for  to stand w/ survivors,  to post-rape care & safe abortion http://ht.ly/FylIs 

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LEARN MORE: 

Stand with Women and Girls Raped in Conflict 

 

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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 430, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Canada    Phone: +1.613.569.8400    Fax: +1.613.691.1419

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