MARCH 19, 2003
Green Party of the United States
Nancy Allen, 207-326-4576, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott McLarty, 202-518-5624, email@example.com
Status of Women in 'Rescued' Countries Fails
to Improve, Despite Bush Rhetoric;
Greens warn that U.S. military occupation of
Iraq will lead to an increase in the trafficking of women for
- March 19 - "While President Bush declares that the goal of his
war is "liberty and peace" for the Iraqi people, there's a terrible
danger that the breakdown of Iraqi society in the wake of the
invasion will place women in special peril," said Jo Chamberlain,
California Green and member of the steering committee of the Green
Party of the United States.
speech, the President announced his intention "to build a new
Iraq that is prosperous and free." Similarly, during the U.S.
war on Afghanistan, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and Laura Bush
promoted the war as benefiting women: "Because of our recent military
gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in
their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters
without fear of punishment." (Radio Address by Laura Bush to the
Nation," November 17, 2001)
say that the U.S track record in Afghanistan and previous occupations
indicates that Iraqi women will face numerous dangers. A 2003
report on Afghanistan by Human Rights Watch notes that the fall
of the Taliban enabled former warlords to return to power, and
that many were assisted and financed by the U.S. Since the warlords
regained control, many Afghan women and girls have faced the same
intimidation and restrictions they faced under the Taliban. Schools
have been destroyed and women ordered not to show their faces.
to the ruling Loya Jirga have been threatened against participating
in elections, and women in portions of the country have suffered
increased sexual violence," said Elizabeth Shanklin of the Green
Party of New York State. "The failure of the U.S. to ensure the
safety and freedom of Afghan women and girls is likely to be repeated
of 100,000 troops at minimum occupying post-war Iraq will create
a typical environment for the trafficking of women to meet soldiers'
"rest and relaxation" needs. Past collusion of U.S. military officials
in prostitution in countries including the Philippines and the
Honduras through licensing of brothels and medical exams has been
documented, and red-light districts exist near American bases
throughout the world, including the U.S., Okinawa, and Germany.
and government officials are often involved in management and
protection of brothels. Many women in the sex industry are coerced
through false employment agencies, kidnapped, sold by their families,
or indentured to smugglers.
of troops creates a demand for prostitution," added Jo Chamberlain.
"This demand drives the sex trafficking industry, with tacit approval
by U.S. military officials."
The low status
of women in countries surrounding Iraq guarantees little support
for women who are forced into prostitution. Syria, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran all have severe penalties for prostitution,
and trafficking and coercion of women for sex occurs throughout
the region. Victims of sexual trafficking are highly susceptible
to HIV and AIDS and, in some areas, life expectancy of women and
girls in brothels is 25 years or younger. The collusion of police
and local government officials in military prostitution guarantees
there is no access to assistance.
we want for women, one that guarantees freedom, health, and safety,
cannot be gained through war and occupation," said Starlene Rankin,
organizer of the Green Party's national Women's Caucus and delegate
from the Lavender Caucus. "Those of us who are now protesting
Bush's invasion should also turn our attentions, as the war begins,
to the welfare of Iraqi civilians and the responsibility of military
officials. Even if a humanitarian catastrophe is inevitable, we
need to do everything we can to ensure the protection of civilians
during and after the war, especially women, children and others
who are especially vulnerable."
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