TED全球问题:Jimmy Carter: Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse?

As a matter of fact,I was trying to think about my careersince I left the White House,and the best example I have is a cartoonin The New Yorker a couple of years ago.This little boy is looking upat his father,and he says, "Daddy, when I grow up,I want to be a former president."


Well, I have had a great blessingas a former president,because I have had an accessthat very few other peoplein the world have ever hadto get to know so many peoplearound this whole universe.Not only am I familiarwith the 50 states in the United States,but also my wife and I have visitedmore than 145 countries in the world,and the Carter Center has had full-timeprograms in 80 nations on Earth.And a lot of times,when we go into a country,we not only the meetthe king or the president,but we also meet the villagers who livein the most remote areas of Africa.

So our overall commitmentat the Carter Centeris to promote human rights,and knowing the world as I do,I can tell you without any equivocationthat the number one abuseof human rights on Earthis, strangely, not addressed quite often,is the abuse of women and girls.


There are a couple of reasons for thisthat I'll mention to begin with.First of all is the misinterpretationof religious scriptures, holy scriptures,in the Bible, Old Testament,New Testament, Quran and so forth,and these have been misinterpreted by menwho are now in the ascendant positionsin the synagogues and the churchesand in the mosques.And they interpret these rulesto make sure that womenare ordinarily relegatedto a secondary positioncompared to men in the eyes of God.

This is a very serious problem.It's ordinarily not addressed.A number of years ago, in the year 2000,I had been a Baptist,a Southern Baptist for 70 years —I tell you, I still teachSunday school every Sunday;I'll be teaching this Sunday as well —but the Southern Baptist Conventionin the year 2000 decidedthat women should playa secondary position,a subservient position to men.So they issued an edict, in effect,that prevents women from being priests,pastors, deacons in the church,or chaplains in the military,and if a woman teaches a classroomin a Southern Baptist seminary,they cannot teach if a boy is in the room,because you can find verses in the Bible,there's over 30,000 verses in the Bible,that say that a woman shouldn'tteach a man, and so forth.But the basic thing is the scripturesare misinterpretedto keep men in an ascendant position.That is an all-pervasive problem,because men can exert that powerand if an abusive husband or an employer,for instance, wants to cheat women,they can say that if womenare not equal in the eyes of God,why should I treat them as equals myself?Why should I pay them equal payfor doing the same kind of work?

The other very serious blightthat causes this problemis the excessive resort to violence,and that is increasingtremendously around the world.In the United States of America,for instance, we have hadan enormous increasein abuse of poor people,mostly black people and minorities,by putting them in prison.When I was in officeas governor of Georgia,one out of every 1,000 Americanswere in prison.Nowadays, 7.3 peopleper 1,000 are in prison.That's a sevenfold increase.And since I left the White House,there's been an 800 percent increasein the number of womenwho are black who are in prison.We also have[one of the only countries] on Earththat still has the death penaltythat is a developed country.And we rank right alongsidethe countries that are most abusivein all elements of human rightsin encouraging the death penalty.We're in California now,and I figured out the other daythat California has spentfour billion dollarsin convicting 13 peoplefor the death penalty.If you add that up, that's 307 milliondollars it costs Californiato send a person to be executed.Nebraska this week just passed a lawabolishing the death penalty,because it costs so much. (Applause)So the resort to violence and abuseof poor people and helpless peopleis another cause of the increasein abuse of women.

Let me just go down a very fewabuses of women that concern me most,and I'll be fairly brief, because I havea limited amount of time, as you know.

One is genital mutilation.Genital mutilation is horribleand not known by American women,but in some countries, many countries,when a child is born that's a girl,very soon in her life,her genitals are completely cut awayby a so-called cutterwho has a razor blade and,in a non-sterilized way,they remove the exterior partsof a woman's genitalia.And sometimes, in more extreme casesbut not very rare cases,they sew the orifice up so the girlcan just urinate or menstruate.And then later, when she gets married,the same cutter goes inand opens the orifice upso she can have sex.This is not a rare thing, althoughit's against the law in most countries.In Egypt, for instance,91 percent of all the femalesthat live in Egypt todayhave been sexually mutilated in that way.In some countries,it's more than 98 percentof the women are cut that waybefore they reach maturity.This is a horrible afflictionon all women that live in those countries.

Another very serious thingis honor killings,where a family with misinterpretation,again, of a holy scripture —there's nothing in the Quranthat mandates this —will execute a girl in their familyif she is rapedor if she marries a manthat her father does not approve,or sometimes even if shewears inappropriate clothing.And this is done by membersof her own family,so the family becomes murdererswhen the girl bringsso-called disgrace to the family.An analysis was done in Egyptnot so long ago by the United Nationsand it showed that 75 percentof these murders of a girlare perpetrated by the father,the uncle or the brother,but 25 percent of the murdersare conducted by women.

Another problem that we have in the worldthat relates to womenparticularly is slavery,or human trafficking it's called nowadays.There were about 12.5 million peoplesold from Africa into slaveryin the New World back inthe 19th century and the 18th century.There are 30 million peoplenow living in slavery.The United States Department of Statenow has a mandate from Congressto give a report every year,and the State Department reportsthat 800,000 people are soldacross international bordersevery year into slavery,and that 80 percentof those sold are women,into sexual slavery.In the United States right this moment,60,000 people are livingin human bondage, or slavery.Atlanta, Georgia, wherethe Carter Center is locatedand where I teach at Emory University,they have between 200 and 300 women,people sold into slavery every month.It's the number one placein the nation because of that.Atlanta has the busiestairport in the world,and they also have a lot of passengersthat come from the Southern Hemisphere.If a brothel ownerwants to buy a girlthat has brown or black skin,they can do it for 1,000 dollars.A white-skinned girl bringsseveral times more than that,and the average brothel owner in Atlantaand in the United States nowcan earn about $35,000 per slave.The sex trade in Atlanta, Georgia, exceedsthe total drug trade in Atlanta, Georgia.So this is another very serious problem,and the basic problem is prostitution,because there's nota whorehouse in Americathat's not known by the local officials,the local policemen, or the chiefof police or the mayor and so forth.

And this leads to oneof the worst problems,and that is that women are boughtincreasingly and put into sexual slaveryin all countries in the world.

Sweden has got a good approach to it.About 15 to 20 years ago, Swedendecided to change the law,and women are no longer prosecutedif they are in sexual slavery,but the brothel owners and the pimpsand the male customers are prosecuted,and — (Applause) —prostitution has gone down.In the United States, we takejust the opposite position.For every male arrestedfor illegal sex trade,25 women are arrestedin the United States of America.Canada, Ireland, I've already said Sweden,France, and other countries are moving nowtowards this so-called Swedish model.That's another thing that can be done.

We have two great institutionsin this country that all of us admire:our military and our greatuniversity system.In the military, they are now analyzinghow many sexual assaults take place.The last report I got,there were 26,000 sexual assaultsthat took place in the military —26,000.Only 3,000, not much more than 1 percent,are actually prosecuted,and the reason is that the commandingofficer of any organization —a ship like my submarine,or a battalion in the Armyor a company in the Marines —the commanding officerhas the right under law to decidewhether to prosecute a rapist or not,and of course, the last thing they wantis for anybody to knowthat under their command,sexual assaults are taking place,so they do not do it.That law needs to be changed.

About one out of four girlswho enter American universitieswill be sexually assaultedbefore she graduates,and this is now gettinga lot of publicity,partially because of my book,but other things,and so 89 universities in Americaare now condemnedby the Department of Educationunder Title IXbecause the officials of the universitiesare not taking care of the womento protect them from sexual assault.The Department of Justice saysthat more than half of the rapeson a college campustake place by serial rapists,because outside of the university system,if they rape somebody,they'll be prosecuted,but when they get on a university campus,they can rape with impunity.They're not prosecuted.Those are the kinds of thingsthat go on in our society.

Another thing that's very seriousabout the abuse of women and girlsis the lack of equal pay for equal work,as you know. (Applause)And this is sometimes misinterpreted,but for full-time employment,a woman in the United States nowgets 23 percent less than a man.When I became president,the difference was 39 percent.So we've made some progress,partially because I was presidentand so forth — (Applause) (Laughter) —but in the last 15 years,there's been no progress made,so it's been just about 23or 24 percent differencefor the last 15 years.These are the kind of things that go on.If you take the Fortune 500 companies,23 of them have women CEOs,out of 500,and those CEOs, I need not tell you,make less on an averagethan the other CEOs.Well, that's what goes on in our country.

Another problem with the United Statesis we are the most warlikenation on Earth.We have been to warwith about 25 different countriessince the Second World War.Sometimes, we've had soldierson the ground fighting.The other times,we've been flying overheaddropping bombs on people.Other times, of course, now, we havedrones that attack people and so forth.We've been at warwith 25 different countriesor more since the Second World War.There was four years,I won't say which ones,where we didn't —(Applause) — we didn't drop a bomb,we didn't launch a missile,we didn't fire a bullet.But anyway, those kinds of things,the resort to violenceand the misinterpretationof the holy scripturesare what causes, are the basic causes,of abuse of women and girls.

There's one more basic causethat I need not mention,and that is that in general,men don't give a damn.(Applause)That's true.The average man that might say,I'm against the abuse of women and girlsquietly accepts the privilegedposition that we occupy,and this is very similarto what I knew when I was a child,when separate but equal had existed.Racial discrimination, legally,had existed for 100 years,from 1865 at the end of the WarBetween the States, the Civil War,all the way up to the 1960s,when Lyndon Johnson got the bills passedfor equal rights.But during that time,there were many white peoplethat didn't think thatracial discrimination was okay,but they stayed quiet,because they enjoyed the privilegesof better jobs,unique access to jury duty,better schools, and everything else,and that's the same thingthat exists today,because the average manreally doesn't care.Even though they say, "I'm againstdiscrimination against girls and women,"they enjoy a privileged position.And it's very difficult to getthe majority of menwho control the university system,the majority of men that controlthe military system,the majority of men that controlthe governments of the world,and the majority of men that controlthe great religions.

So what is the basic thingthat we need to do today?I would say the best thingthat we could do todayis for the women in the powerful nationslike this one, and where you come from,Europe and so forth, who have influenceand who have freedom to speak and to act,need to take the responsibilityon yourselvesto be more forceful in demandingan end to racial discriminationagainst girls and womenall over the world.The average woman in Egyptdoesn't have much to sayabout her daughtersgetting genitally mutilated and so forth.I didn't even go downto detail about that.But I hope that out of this conference,that every woman here will get your husbands to realizethat these abuses on the college campusesand the military and so forthand in the future job market,need to protect your daughtersand your granddaughters.

I have 12 grandchildren,four children, and 10 great-grandchildren,and I think often about themand about the plight that theywill face in America,not only if they lived in Egyptor a foreign country,in having equal rights,and I hope that all of you will join mein being a champion for womenand girls around the worldand protect their human rights.Thank you very much.(Applause)

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