Inequality in Housework = Violence Against Women?

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United Nations Headquarters, New York City – Imagine an Indian woman is trapped for years in a nightmarish world of human trafficking. Forced to have sex with men every day in a brothel, she is sometimes raped, beaten and threatened. She has no way out and little hope that she will be rescued.

Now imagine an American wife is raising three children while her husband works 50 hours a week, providing for his family. He does very little work around the house, leaving most of that responsibility to his wife.

The first woman is a victim of violence, robbed of freedom. Her soul has been stolen from her. The second woman is a tired mother, inconvenienced and emotionally frayed, but living a life of her own choosing.

The only similarity between the two is that they are both women. However, there are delegations at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference that claim both are victims of violence.

During an informal meeting Tuesday to discuss sex trafficking, a group of Latin American countries, called the Rio Group, caused quite a stir when it suggested “inadequate sharing, by men, of family responsibilities” should be discussed.

The United States delegation quickly responded, saying that this topic expanded international concerns beyond legitimate issues into private family matters and that it was inappropriate for this body to be concerned with division of household responsibilities.

Unwilling to heed American advice, one delegate stated that a working woman must work at least three jobs if the men in the family refused to share equally in the housework. Another asserted that such male behavior wreaks “emotional and psychological violence on the women.”

It was typical feminist mantra – and it could not have come at a worse time. While some 4 million women and children are trafficked each year across the globe and denied their human rights, here at CSW, diplomatic powers were being used to condemn the simple reality of uneven division of household chores.

Lesley Hallmark, who attended the meeting with the National Right to Life Committee, pointed to the absurdity of these claims. “You can’t regulate that. If you’re going to say that something like that is violence, then anything is violence. We’re going to be including people for not doing the dishes,” she said.

The European Union said that such talk from delegations “trivialized” violence. But then the Switzerland delegation sided with the Rio Group, insisting that violence must be treated as a complex, multidimensional concept. Discussion broke down further to include women in the workplace, until the debates seemed to be rendered completely useless.

“For too long the feminists have been pushing a radical, special interest agenda under the erroneous mantra made rhetorical clichby Hillary Clinton, ‘women’s rights are human rights,'” said Dr. Janice Crouse, one of three U.S. delegates and Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute. “Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Women’s rights’ means preferential treatment, including quotas and egocentric attitudes, and is based on a selfish philosophy of life that is hostile to anything male.”

The second great debate of the day was over this language: “refrain from invoking custom, tradition or practice in the name of religion or culture to avoid obligations to eliminate violence against women.”

Thomas Jacobson, representing Focus on the Family at CSW, said his greatest concern with this language was that the United Nations was trying to “create international obligations and have them supercede any conscience or religious convictions.”

Perhaps the best response came from the Iran delegation, which said that linking religion to harm done to women was like saying prostitution and pornography are done in the name of freedom and democracy.

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