On May 18th, Black Women's Blueprint was honored to meet with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to address the systematic and continued abuse of the human rights of Black women and girls in the United States. Black Women's Blueprint was among 14 organizations to brief the High Commissioner in his first meeting with US civil society in 2 years.
Below is the written statement submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Black Women’s Blueprint
OHCHR Written Statement
Monday May 22, 2017
To Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,
Black Women’s Blueprint is very grateful for this opportunity to address the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on behalf of Black Women’s Blueprint and survivors of sexual violence who are our members and are living in our communities.
Since 2010, Black Women’s Blueprint has worked to secure the political, social and economic equality of all Black women, girls, and gender nonconforming people. In New York City and around the nation, Black Women’s Blueprint has a demonstrated track record of working closely in coalition, especially with United Nations initiatives, to push policy agendas that seek to eradicate sexual violence in under- resourced and often forgotten communities. As part of our flagship initiative, the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Black Women’s Blueprint brought together over 2000 Black survivors of sexual violence, myself included, to testify here in New York City at the historic Riverside Church and at the United Nations just last year in April 2016 on the obligations of the United States to combat sexual violence in Black communities. Additionally, we issued the first ever report to the United Nations Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination to address racism and sexual assault against Black women in the U.S. and in 2014, we gave testimony to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland on the impact of police sexual misconduct on Black women and girls in the United States.
Today, we wish to discuss the state of Black women and girls, the threats we face, and the ways in which Black Women’s Blueprint are fighting back against the continued racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that plague our communities, fighting back against the constant violation of our human rights. For Black women and girls in America, it will never just be about race, or gender. Black women carry a legacy of state sanctioned violence against our bodies that continues to this day.
For example, domestic violence murders are among the leading causes of death of black women ages 15 to 35. Black women are still 4x more likely to be murdered by a partner or spouse than white women. On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States and approximately 1 in 5 Black (22.0%) and White (18.8%) non-Hispanic women, and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (14.6%) in the United States have experienced rape at some point in their lives.
The United States is one of the only nations in which the mass rapes of its own citizenship has occurred, and there has been no outcry, no national call to action. We believe that until the United States addresses the systematic, intergenerational, State sanctioned violence against Black women, and until the United States explicitly affirms and guarantees the human rights of Black women, the nation as a whole cannot move forward.
The time is now for Black women’s issues to be seen as political issues and their struggles seen as grave violations of our basic human rights. Black women deserve policies in which we can see ourselves and we deserve to have policies that reflect our experiences as being both Black- and-women, as being Black and trans and women, as being Black and lesbian and immigrant and undocumented women,– frames that honor the wholeness of who we are and which impact the material and psychological conditions of our lives.
With the federal Administration’s recent threats to make cuts to vital anti-rape, anti-battery, and anti-stalking service programs guaranteed by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the very real potential of a healthcare bill that actively dismantles the reproductive rights of women and girls, the need for increased community mobilization and political mobility especially of Black Women has never been higher. The need to understand the broad impact that policies have on those living at the intersections of vulnerable identities has never been higher. For Black Women’s Blueprint, this means that we are actively campaigning and advocating for the passage of CEDAW based legislation at the municipal level and are part of broader coalition efforts to ensure the reauthorization of VAWA in 2018.
We know that policies explicitly guaranteeing the human rights of vulnerable communities can and do save lives. We need only to look to San-Francisco’s passage of CEDAW based legislation and the subsequent 44 months that passed in San-Francisco without a single intimate partner- violence related homicide. We ask that your office continue the support of grassroots efforts to hold both municipal and federal government systems accountable to those communities who are most at the margins.
Once again we are grateful for this opportunity to be in discussion with you Mr. Commissioner and our esteemed colleagues and partners in this continued struggle.
Black Women's Blueprint