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Displaying 'Hostility' Towards Women's Rights, Trump's State Dept. Omits Reproductive Freedoms From Annual Report

"From the beginning, this administration has sent the message that the United States will no longer prioritize efforts to hold the global community to account for human rights."

The State Department's annual report on human rights around the world omitted many violations of women's rights around the world, including the ban Poland placed on emergency contraception last year. (Photo: Reuters)

The Trump administration's contempt for women's and reproductive rights was on full display on Friday as the State Department released its annual report on global human rights, which critics said excluded numerous violations of reproductive freedoms and access to contraception.

"Reproductive rights are human rights, and omitting the issue signals the Trump Administration's latest retreat from global leadership on human rights," said Joanne Lin, Amnesty International's national director of advocacy and government relations, in a statement. "Human rights defenders should view the reports with a critical eye, and fight against any effort to obscure or diminish violations of human rights wherever they may occur."

In addition to treating women's rights violations as though they don't exist, the report recharacterized Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, dropping the term "occupied territories," and shifted attention away from societal discrimination faced by LGBTQ communities around the world, mentioning only incidents in which governments failed to protect these groups.

Human Rights Watch catalogued a number of significant omissions on its Twitter account in an effort to "[fill] in some of the most critical gaps," saying the report "guts the analysis of sexual and reproductive rights, reflecting the Trump administration's hostility toward these issues."

The group's reporting on social media included accounts of rampant domestic violence in Brazil, a total ban on emergency contraception in Poland, and the deaths of women in Nepal from the practice of "chhaupadi"—the expulsion of women and girls from their homes during menstruation.

As Common Dreams reported, human rights groups denounced the State Department's decision earlier this year to eliminate mentions of reproductive rights in its report, when the department announced it would replace the section that has focused on the issue in past years with one entitled "Coercion in Population Control." The section now details only forced or "unethical" sterilization and omits mentions of abortion, contraception access, and maternal mortality. 

"From the beginning, this administration has sent the message that the United States will no longer prioritize efforts to hold the global community to account for human rights," Lin said. "Reports of the omission of key passages pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights, women's rights and the rights of marginalized populations, combined with the administration's deference to known human rights violators like the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, make us skeptical that these reports present a full picture of human rights around the world."

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