11-11 On Addressing the Violence and Suffering Inflicted on Iraqi Women During the Current Prolonged War.
Source: Presbytery Event:218th General Assembly (2008)
Committee:
[11-11] Peacemaking and International Issues
Sponsor:
Providence Presbytery
Topic:Unassigned Type:General Assembly Full Consideration
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Assembly Action
On this Item, the General Assembly, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
Voice Vote
Final Text:

That the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to address the pain, violence, and suffering being inflicted upon many Iraqi women during the current prolonged war by

1.       Communicating to the Iraqi government[, through their ambassadors in Washington and the United Nations,] our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq; deploring the dramatic increase in abuses since [the changes to the Iraqi Constitution in] 2004; and urging [immediate and speedy correction of these inequities of oppressive radical abuses of basic human rights be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society] [steps be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society];

 

“2.       Communicating to the United States government, through letters to the president, the members of Congress, and to the secretary of state, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq and urging that the U.S. government [devote significant attention to working] [work]with the Iraq government toward correcting inequities and lost civil rights by Iraqi women1;”

3.   Encouraging all sessions and presbyteries, as well as women’s and men’s organizations within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to engage in study, prayer, and dialogue about the issues of violence against and suppression of women in Iraq;

4.       Expressing our [concern][solidarity] [through communications with our partner churches in Iraq as well as within the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the World Association of Reformed Churches, seeking their active participation in support for Iraqi women] [with our partner churches in Iraq as well as with the World Council of Churces, the Middle East Council of Churches, the fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and leaders of the Muslim world assisting them in attempts to adddress the issue and the difficult conditions under which they are living.

5.   Affirming our belief in the value, dignity, and rights of every human being;

6.   Asserting our conviction that demands for justice by Iraqi women require efforts to bring their situations before fair tribunals, especially when extreme actions silence those who are oppressed2;

“[7.   Appealing to leaders of the Muslim community in the U.S.A. and in the world that they intervene in Iraq by standing against those who are oppressing women and who deny them basic human rights.3

 

Endnotes 

1.    Isobel Coleman, “Women, Islam and the New Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006 Summary: Although questions of implementation remain, the new Iraqi constitution makes Islam the law of the land. This need not mean trouble for Iraq’s women, however. Sharia is open to a wide range of interpretations, some quite egalitarian. If Washington still hopes for a liberal order in Iraq, it should start working with progressive Muslim scholars to advance women’s rights through religious channels.

2. “To be reconciled to God is to be sent into the world as [God’s] reconciling community. This community, the church universal, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares [the] labor of healing the enmities, which separate men [and women] from God and from each other. . . .” (The Book of Confessions, The Confession of 1967, 9.31); “We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love God created the world good, and makes everyone equally in God’s image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community” (The Book of Confessions, A Brief Statement of Faith, 10.3, lines 27-32).

[3Gen. 21:14-19. God provided safety for Hagar and Ishmael.]

Committee Recommendation
On this Item, the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
[Counted Vote - Committee]
Affirmative:68
Negative:3
Abstaining:3
Final Text:
That the recommendation be approved as amended:
 
            1.         Amend Recommendations 1.—2. as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-through and with brackets; text to be added or inserted is shown with an underline and with brackets.]
 
“1.       Communicating to the Iraqi government[, through their ambassadors in Washington and the United Nations,] our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq; deploring the dramatic increase in abuses since [the changes to the Iraqi Constitution in] 2004; and urging [immediate and speedy correction of these inequities of oppressive radical abuses of basic human rights be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society] [steps be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society];
 
“2.       Communicating to the United States government, through letters to the president, the members of Congress, and to the secretary of state, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq and urging that the U.S. government [devote significant attention to working] [work]with the Iraq government toward correcting inequities and lost civil rights by Iraqi women1;”
 
2.         Amend Recommendation 4. as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-through and with brackets; text to be added or inserted is shown with an underline and with brackets.]
 
“4.       Expressing our [concern][solidarity] [through communications with our partner churches in Iraq as well as within the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the World Association of Reformed Churches, seeking their active participation in support for Iraqi women] [with our partner churches in Iraq as well as with the World Council of Churces, the Middle East Council of Churches, the fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and leaders of the Muslim world assisting them in attempts to adddress the issue and the difficult conditions under which they are living.
 
3.         Strike Recommendation 7. and its corresponding footnote as follows:
 
“[7.   Appealing to leaders of the Muslim community in the U.S.A. and in the world that they intervene in Iraq by standing against those who are oppressing women and who deny them basic human rights.3
 

“[3Gen. 21:14-19. God provided safety for Hagar and Ishmael.]”

Recommendation

The Presbytery of Providence overtures the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to address the pain, violence, and suffering being inflicted upon many Iraqi women during the current prolonged war by

1.   Communicating to the Iraqi government, through their ambassadors in Washington and the United Nations, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq; deploring the dramatic increase in abuses since the changes to the Iraqi Constitution in 2004; and urging immediate and speedy correction of these inequities of oppressive radical abuses of basic human rights be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society;

2.   Communicating to the United States government, through letters to the president, the members of Congress, and to the secretary of state, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq and urging that the U.S. government devote significant attention to working with the Iraq government toward correcting inequities and lost civil rights by Iraqi women1;

3.   Encouraging all sessions and presbyteries, as well as women’s and men’s organizations within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to engage in study, prayer, and dialogue about the issues of violence against and suppression of women in Iraq;

4.   Expressing our concern through communications with our partner churches in Iraq as well as within the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the World Association of Reformed Churches, seeking their active participation in support for Iraqi women;

5.   Affirming our belief in the value, dignity, and rights of every human being;

6.   Asserting our conviction that demands for justice by Iraqi women require efforts to bring their situations before fair tribunals, especially when extreme actions silence those who are oppressed2;

7.   Appealing to leaders of the Muslim community in the U.S.A. and in the world that they intervene in Iraq by standing against those who are oppressing women and who deny them basic human rights.3

 
Endnotes 

1.    Isobel Coleman, “Women, Islam and the New Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006 Summary: Although questions of implementation remain, the new Iraqi constitution makes Islam the law of the land. This need not mean trouble for Iraq’s women, however. Sharia is open to a wide range of interpretations, some quite egalitarian. If Washington still hopes for a liberal order in Iraq, it should start working with progressive Muslim scholars to advance women’s rights through religious channels.

2. “To be reconciled to God is to be sent into the world as [God’s] reconciling community. This community, the church universal, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares [the] labor of healing the enmities, which separate men [and women] from God and from each other. . . .” (The Book of Confessions, The Confession of 1967, 9.31); “We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love God created the world good, and makes everyone equally in God’s image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community” (The Book of Confessions, A Brief Statement of Faith, 10.3, lines 27-32).

3.    Gen. 21:14-19. God provided safety for Hagar and Ishmael.
 

Rationale

Numerous reliable news reports document the beatings, rapes and killings of women in many parts of Iraq, particularly throughout southern Iraq, with more than one hundred women killed in Basrah during the last half of 2007. Such abuse frequently is directed toward women who wear makeup or “western” style clothing.4

Political Islamists and religious extremists have been using rape, acid, and assassination to force Iraqi women, and those who defend them, to conform and submit to fundamentalist views of the Qur’an, and thus becoming subservient, non-public, and unequal partners in their lives, actions contrary to the United Nations “Universal Declaration on Human Rights” adopted in 1948.5

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)6 was ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1979, and by 2005 180 countries, including Iraq, had acceded to it and become “states parties” to it. The CEDAW’s Article 1 defines discrimination against women as any “distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of marital status, on the basis of equality between men and women, of human rights or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

  
Endnotes
 

4.   Anne Garrels, NPR, All Things Considered, January 29, 2008, “Iraqi women face greater danger, fewer rights” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18518858; See also “Íraq’s War on Women” by Lesley Abdela, Open Demoocracy.net, July 17, 2005.

5.    http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

6.    http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

Comment
Advice and Counsel on Item 11-11—From the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC).

Item 11-11 on addressing the violence and suffering inflicted on Iraqi women during the current prolonged war.

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) concurs with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC)’s advice and counsel.


Advice and Counsel on Item 11-11—From the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC).

Item 11-11 asks the 218th General Assembly (2008) to address the pain, violence, and suffering being inflicted upon many Iraqi women during the current prolonged war.

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) advises that this item be approved with amendments.TheACWC suggests that the following language be added and become Recommendation 1 and all other recommendations (1.-7.) be renumbered as 2.-8.: [Text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“[1. Accepting humbly the responsibility the United States bears for creating the current humanitarian crisis in Iraq which increases the vulnerability of Iraqi women to exploitation, violence and suffering;]”

The ACWC suggests that Recommendation 4., renumbered as 5., be amended as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“[4.] [5.]Expressing our [concern through communications] [solidarity] with our partner churches in Iraq as well as within the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, [the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches,]and the World [Association] [Alliance] of Reformed Churches, [assisting them in attempts to address the issue and the difficult conditions under which they are living] [seeking their active participation in support for Iraqi women];”

Rationale

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) speaks often against violence in all forms, especially directed at women. Wartime is no exception. Women in Iraq are being targeted for kidnapping and violence. It is important to call attention to and stand against violence specifically to women. Globally, the church has done this, in part, through repeated calls on the U.S. government to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was ratified by the U.N. General Assembly in 1979 and has been acceded to by 185 countries—more than 95 percent of the member nations of the U.N. At this assembly, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) brings a report on Iraq—“Costly Lessons of the Iraq War”—that gives further context to this Item 11-11.