U.N. Headquarters, New York City The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference had barely begun when panelists and delegates began blaming the United States for the lack of access of women to the media and information technologies worldwide.
The “blame the West” rhetoric continued to flow until a Japanese panelist spoke.
Sarbuland Khan gave a powerful presentation, complete with statistics and facts, of the digital revolution and how it has benefited everyone including the poorest and most marginalized of the world’s people.
After Mr. Khan’s remarks, delegates clamored to disagree, passionately depicting the United States as the great oppressor of women worldwide.
The Western nations had no opportunity to defend themselves; the moderator of the roundtable discussion totally ignored the U.S. delegation’s request to make a statement.
“Clearly, some countries believe, erroneously, that women are victims of the digital divide, especially poor women, non-English speaking women, and illiterate women,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute and one of three official U.S. delegates to the conference. “Some participants at the CSW ignore even overwhelming facts when they contradict deeply held biases.”
Meanwhile, another debate was brewing among nongovernmental (NGO) organizations.
The CSW agenda focused primarily on access of women to the media and technology, and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. But representatives of the Women’s National Commission of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland unabashedly pointed out what they interpreted as a glaring omission in the agenda.
“We support most of the recommendations [of the Secretary General on gender mainstreaming], but we find it completely unacceptable that the document is almost entirely silent on the grave problem of the abuse, neglect, sexual stereotyping and exploitation of women on the Internet through pornography,” the statement read.
“We need to recognize and tackle the fact that images of pornography dominate the Internet and that this industry is hugely profitable and is growing exponentially, thus increasing the number of women employed by and exploited in it,” the statement continued. “The appetite for new and different images demands a constantly renewed supply, which leads to the gross abuse and even torturing of children, particularly the girl child. Pedophilia is encouraged.”
The statement garnered much praise, especially from representatives of the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, who called for “more positive imaging of womento counter the negative images which are degrading and detrimental to women and which encourage violence to women.”
“It is encouraging to see what appears to be a unified stand against pornography,” said Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America’s representative at the United Nations, noting a rare area in which both sides here can agree.
A Publication from The Beverly LaHaye Institute: A Center for Studies in Women’s Issues