Holy See to UN: More must be done to end violence against women

Sad woman Credit Abel Halasz Shutterstock CNA Abel Halasz/Shutterstock.

Violence against women remains a global concern for the Vatican, an official told members of the United Nations this week, stressing that society must "advance and defend all the rights derived from the inalienable human dignity of every woman and girl."

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN, on Monday sent an address to the UN General Assembly's third committee that highlighted the "unique and irreplaceable" role of women in the world.

"While significant progress has been made in increasing the participation of women in social, political, economic and cultural life, and in ending violence against women and girls, much remains to be achieved," Auza said.

He cited a report from the UN Secretary-General and said migrant women in particular, including many female migrant workers, are at risk of labor exploitation, human trafficking, and also face broader social exclusion. He said this remains a deep concern of the Holy See.

"These women deserve to be welcomed, protected, and integrated within our communities with dignity. They also deserve full and equal recognition before the law, including through access to the justice system," Auza said.

"These women courageously leave their land and communities, often in the most difficult circumstances, to provide for their family and to assure their children of a better future. It is necessary, therefore, to adopt specific measures to protect and assist women migrant workers and to recognize their precious contribution to society."

Auza also mentioned the "heinous" practice of trafficking of newborn babies, as well as forced surrogacy. He called for "effective legislation and enforcement to prevent trafficking in persons and limit impunity as much as possible."

"While there have been various advances in formulating adequate legal instruments to investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers, in unlocking the financial chains, understanding the connection to other forms of organized crime and corruption, and fostering cooperation at and across borders, concrete measures and effective sanctions remain often limited," he said.

September 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, parts of which the Vatican spoke out strongly against, including efforts to expand abortion as a means of population control.

Auza quoted Pope St. John Paul II, who wrote in 1995 to the Secretary-General of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

"There will never be justice, including equality, development and peace, for women or for men, unless there is an unfailing determination to respect, protect, love and serve life- every human life, at every stage and in every situation," Pope John Paul II wrote.

"The Holy See insists on equality in dignity between men and women and on equal respect at all stages of their lives...This remains an utmost priority and focus of the Holy See," Auza added.

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