President Donald Trump's “Muslim ban” justifies its suspicion of Muslim travelers coming from six countries in the Middle East by attempting to blame it on cases of violence against women. The document argues that these cases are examples of how immigrants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen may threaten Americans.
Needless to say, advocates for women's rights aren't all that impressed.
In Section 11 of Trump's travel ban, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is directed to collect and publish “information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called 'honor killings,' in the United States by foreign nationals.”
However, many feel that the decision to direct officials to focus on crimes against women was meant to steer attention away from the fact that the ban targets Muslims. In other words: The administration wanted to avoid the appearance that it had a religious bias.
As few groups seem to have taken the administration's professed concern for women seriously, advocates see it as an “attempt to frame the problem of violence against women as something unique to Muslim-majority countries,” The Huffington Post reports. Afraid of how this could impact innocent immigrants coming from targeted countries, these groups are fighting back.
Amnesty International, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the International Rescue Committee, Global Rights for Women, and dozens of other organizations sent a letter to Trump and his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, denouncing the administration's ban.
In the same document, advocates also grill Trump for how the issue of violence against women is being used to justify a targeted ban that impacts Muslims directly.
Saying that “violence against women and girls is not specific to any one country,” the group calls the administration's bluff by stating that “[e]nacting a travel ban on these countries and suspending the refugee resettlement program does not address the global crisis of violence against women; neither does it offer any solutions to violence against women in the specifically targeted countries.”
In a nutshell, if the goal is to end gender-specific violence and abuse, a travel ban is not the answer — and what is worse, it might even aggravate the problem.
“Any shutdown of this program or ban restricting travel does not help make women and girls safer; it makes them more vulnerable, and it further endangers them,” the letter states.
Singling out the administration's use of the term “honor killings” as a “type of gender-based violence that is more deserving of concern than other types of violence,” the group accuses Trump of promoting and inflaming Islamophobia, “further [feeding] into the false narrative that violence against women is specific to non-Western cultures.”
Many of these groups have done a great deal of work in the Muslim-majority world, The Huffington Post adds. As such, they are familiar with the restrictions many face in some of these countries. In addition, they are also aware of the common anti-Muslim arguments made by individuals who are biased toward those who subscribe to Islam, and sitting on the sidelines as this collectivist rhetoric becomes official policy isn't an option.
The ban, which is scheduled to go into effect on Thursday, should be rescinded, the letter states. But that alone shouldn't suffice.
Instead, Trump should also admit that he's acting out of sheer prejudice and that he's making the collective pay for the crimes of a few — making the travel ban a racist policy.
Thumbnail image credit: REUTERS/Kate Munsch