Monthly Archives: March 2009

CEDAW Update for International Women’s Day 2009

Nancy Pelosi has urged passage of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in the U.S. Senate as soon as possible. CEDAW was drafted almost thirty years ago but the U.S. has never signed on. It joins an exclusive club of about 8 nations, including notorious human rights violators, such as Sudan, Somalia, and Iran, in avoiding the treaty. Even though the Senate is Democrat controlled and Obama favors the treaty, it looks like it will be a hard fight toward ratification. Conservatives argue that ratification means the U.S. will give up national sovereignty and be forced to recognize a right to abortion and legalized prostitution. They are unlikely to vote for ratification without provisos that exempt the U.S. from certain portions of the treaty. These exemptions anger liberals who may not want to vote for a watered down CEDAW. Here is a list of the Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. You can contact them with the following talking points and urge passage of CEDAW:

I urge you to support the Treaty for the Rights of Women and work toward full Senate ratification. The Treaty for the Rights of Women addresses basic human rights of women. It can be an effective tool in reducing violence and discrimination against women and girls, ensuring girls and women receive the same access as boys and men to education and health care, and securing basic legal recourse to women and girls against violations and abuses of their human rights.

As the leading superpower, U.S. ratification would lend weight to the Treaty and provide valuable support to women seeking reforms in countries around the world. Without the United States as a party to the Treaty, repressive governments can easily discount the Treaty’s provisions.

The United States played an important role in drafting this Treaty, which 185 nations have ratified. But our country is now 1 of 8 that have yet to ratify the Treaty, alongside Sudan, Somalia, Qatar, Iran, Nauru, Palau and Tonga.


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Ruth Vargas Forman Podcast Now Available

Ruth Vargas Forman’s lecture is now available as a free podcast from the OSU iTunes store.

Vargas Forman grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and experienced firsthand what it is like to live in a society in which political violence is common. She brings that sensitivity to her work as a psychologist at the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.

In her lecture, Vargas Forman described the kinds of trauma that torture survivors experience and the steps that the center takes to try to re-integrate victims into society. The center here in Oregon is one of about 40 centers across the U.S. and treats people from all around the world. Vargas Forman mostly works with survivors from Latin America (the largest number of people come from Central America, especially Guatemala).

During the talk, Vargas Forman displayed images of paintings by Latin American artist Franciso Botero. Botero’s recent work tries to capture the suffering of victims at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


She pointed out that the paintings could not capture the true nature of the event, but they carried a powerful message nonetheless and she admitted, that after all her work, it was very difficult for her to look at the actual photographs of the prisoners. She provided powerful testimony to the hard work that goes into the recovery process from political violence in the world today.

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