Oil for Food = Violence Against Women Trust Fund

Seven million dollars spent by the UN trust fund to eliminate violence against women AND NOT ONE SHELTER or protected transitional housing built that I can see from their web site.

This really should be investigated. The U.S., who is allegedly trying to do the same thing in Afghanistan and Iraq, deserves an accounting of the effectiveness of the seven million in protecting women from gender violence and expanding their rights. Just as the UN oil for food program was mismanaged so may be this program be mismanaged or unfocused.

Perhaps we could put our share of that money to work for us in our own building projects? If there is money there to use for women's villages, we should use it and build them. If there is a lack of effectiveness and we can change that, we ought to help the UN Fund focus on shelter villages (from which the the new emphasis in gender neutral peace keeper training should emerge in all women's militias).

It has been shown conclusively in the US that only shelters can protect women, children and their animals from the violence of the patriarchy.

That their peace keepers were raping African children illustrates the actuality of a low level in the standard for women's rights at the UN and in its policies. Why, in light of that alarm signal, isn't there more interest in what is happening to the money for women and children in the rest of their programs?

Only when they are protected from violence can women gain equal rights in a civil society. Transitional housing, "green zones" protected with security measures and the support of the state legal and judiciary is absolutely critical to the success of any democracy.

A woman's police unit can be developed to protect the shelters.

Democracy is not mob rule but a system of checks and balances wherein the rights of the minority are also guaranteed and protected. Women are the Model for the democracy's success in protecting minority rights. Women are the canary in the democracy coal mine.

In protecting women and children there will be the time and necessity to heal and to train them to be self-sufficient. In doing that the government will be motivated to create a society where this population can utilize that training, be employed and self sufficient. So incentives work to keep the government interested in promoting women's rights. The interests of the oppressed are aligned with the interests of the government. Both want the target population to be educated, secure and self sufficient. NGO financial accountability is expected.

I did notice on the UN web site that they did, in Siberia, give some funds to a group that built a shelter butI think the UN did not build the shelter or protect it. If the UN did, I would like to see some detailed accounting of this and similar projects they may have funded.

Like the oil for food scandal I think we need the media to investigate the use of these funds. Is this money being used to actually protect women from domestic violence by developing women's security protected villages and businesses? What security is being used?

I would like the media to investigate where the 7 million went from the UN trust fund to eliminate violence against women.

I am interested because I have been trying to get The US State Dept, Office of Women's Initiatives to incorporate Shelter Villages into the regional women's centers the US is building in Afghanistan.

I warned the Office of Womens Initiatives that if they do not begin building the abused women and children shelters our enemies will.

This is the letter they sent to me.

Thank you for contacting us. said Susan Crais Hovanec, Department of State, Women's Initiatives.

Dear Virginia,

We are aware that domestic violence is a major issue in many countries, not just Afghanistan and Iraq. The issue comes up in every meeting we have with women from around the world. For this reason, the U.S. assistance programs in Afghanistan, for example, include building women's centers.

In many cases we envision that these centers will be used as temporary shelters for abused women while providing vocational training so these women have economic choices. We are also working with NGOs to develop women's shelters in many countries.

We also feel that educating women about their legal and civil rights (and human rights) is essential; many women really don't know they have "rights". In Pakistan as you know a related issue is making its way in a high profile way through the local and national courts.

One program in South Asia initiated by The Asia Foundation holds seminars on "Women in Islam" to discuss women's rights and gender equity with the Islamic teachings. Most Muslim cleric maintain that women should not be abused. We are pleased this kind of a dialog is gaining ground in many Muslim countries.

We cannot cure or change aberrant behavior alone; movements need home-ground support to be sustained. In some countries women are devalued, so it will take a long time and local outrage to change the culture.

I will send this message to some of our NGO partners, who are on the ground.

I then wrote again to the Office of Women's Initiatives and said:

I want to drive home to you the point that if you continue to ignore the need for battered women's shelters in your middle east women's programs, your enemies will develop the shelters and they will turn them into the modern version of the Muslim schools for terrorists (madrases).

Women will flock to those shelters and your enemies will be waiting there to indoctrinate them. Then, if you try to call these shelters "centers of insurgency" which they will be, or worse yet if you attack them, your enemies will rally thousands more in this country to bring you down. I am tired of attempting to influence you.

Wake Up. I want this email to go to Condi Rice.I want her to see it. Perhaps she will see the military implications of your failure to understand the importance of battered and abused shelters for women.

I want you to build separate formal, gated, protected battered and abused shelters as part of the regional women centers you already are building in Afghanistan - transitional housing where women will be trained to be self- sufficient and from which they will go into government and public sector jobs.

I want you to remove the women and their children from the prisons in Afghanistan to reside in the shelters instead of in the prisons.

I want you to publicize the shelters to women in schools and medical centers throughout the regions. I want you to develop programs with your media funds to help women get to the shelters.

I want you to develop a women's militia, trained AND EQUIPPED by US forces to protect these shelters.

I want the shelters to provide the basis for eventual changes in the legal system and civil society in all Middle East countries.

I see already a fundamental flaw in your response to me that I want to point out based on my experience starting the first women's shelter in Wisc. You say: "I will send this message to some of our NGO partners, who are on the ground."I laugh merrily - perhaps it will be different in Afghanistan, but when we started the shelters here in the US, the other women's groups told us the women wouldn't come because of this, that and the other thing. It was all too hard and there were so many reasons why.

Just build the shelters and start the all women's Consciousness Raising groups.
If you build it - they will come.


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