Vatican, Muslim States Block Women's Rights Drive at United Nations
Efforts to expand a United Nations document outlining the universal rights of women ran into a roadblock in June thanks to opposition from the Vatican and its fundamentalist Muslim allies.
The new document was an effort to build on a statement on women's rights approved five years ago at a UN conference in Bejing, China. The original document states that women "have the right to decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality" and can do so without "coercion, discrimination and violence."
Several Western nations had lobbied for expanding the document to include explicit references to women's rights to access safe abortions. They also wanted to include a broader definition of the word "family" and some type of acknowledgement of gay rights. This effort, however, was turned back thanks to Vatican-led opposition.
Joining the Roman Catholic Church in opposing the expansion of women's rights were hardline Muslim nations, including Iran, Libya, Algeria, Pakistan and Sudan.
Delegates from 180 nations did approve some changes to the document, including the addition of language opposing domestic violence, marital rape and so-called "honor killings," whereby women are murdered by family members who claim they have shamed them.
Advocates of women's rights noted that the Vatican-led alliance had hoped to roll back some of the rights outlined in the original Bejing document. …