U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 9, 2020
Thank you, Special Rapporteur Simonovic, for your report which notes that violence against women, including domestic violence, has increased because of COVID-19. The United States has programs in place to address this.
Social distancing and quarantine pandemic requirements can increase intimate partner violence, due to extended proximity with one’s abuser. Increased stress can contribute to child abuse. Individuals are at higher risk of chronic disease, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, reduced educational achievement, and limited employment.
Twenty-four-hour helplines, which you recommend, assist persons in accessing shelters, safe accommodations, health care, and legal assistance. These include the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Child Abuse Hotline, National Sexual Assault Hotline, and National Suicide Prevention Hotline, as well as resources pertaining to COVID-19.
Your report emphasizes the need to collect, analyze, and share data on violence against women in the COVID-19 context. The Centers for Disease Control has developed evidence-based strategies to help states and communities prevent violence. Effective interventions are implemented by public and private sector organizations, including faith-based organizations, that address intimate partner violence, suicide, youth violence, sexual violence, and child abuse and neglect.
We disagree with your report’s assertion that abortion is an essential service. There is no universal “right” to abortion, nor is there a universal obligation to provide abortions and it should not be so asserted by the United Nations.
We also do not accept the report’s promotion of “sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
The United States strongly condemns violence against women and will continue to promote women’s health without also promoting abortion.
Can you elaborate on your recommendation to establish a new UN system-wide approach or strategy to address violence against women (paras. 21 and 91(n))?