The U.K. government blasted the United Nations for using the term "pregnant women" in a new version of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, claiming the term excludes transgender people who have given birth, and is therefore disrespectful.
The U.N. treaty, which has been in force since the mid-1970s, pledges that the international community will protect "pregnant women," and that signatory countries will make a particular commitment to providing for expectant mothers, including exempting them from the death penalty. The U.N. recently opened up the treaty for small changes that wouldn't impact the overall purpose of the pact.
But Britain says the terminology is unfair because they believe women aren't the only ones who can give birth. And the term "pregnant women" might "exclude transgender people who have given birth."
The U.K., in its official list of corrections to the document, says the preferred term is "pregnant people."
"We requested that the U.N. human rights committee made it clear that the same right extends to pregnant transgender people," a member of the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the Times of India.
But not everyone in the typically progressive body is open to the change. Feminists blasted the U.K. in return, saying that the suggested change is emblematic of the systematic "disappearing" of women from the global community, and that altering the term "pregnant women" to read "pregnant people" was symbolic of a global misogyny that recognizes no innate differences between the genders, and therefore believes women deserve no special protections.
"This isn't inclusion. This is making women unmentionable. Having a female body and knowing what that means for reproduction doesn't make you 'exclusionary.' Forcing us to decorously scrub out any reference to our sex on pain of being called bigots is an insult," said feminist author and U.N. commentator Sarah Ditum.
Ditum is right; the global push to wipe out gender would have an incredible impact on many women who don't have the privilege of living in a country where their daily concerns are so menial they can worry about "exclusionary" terms and modern political correctness.
Women around the world experience gender-based violence at incredible rates. According to the United Nations' own numbers, 35% of women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual violence; 750 million women and girls were married before their 18th birthday; 120 million girls were raped before they were 18; 200 million have experienced female genital mutilation; and women and girls account for more than 71% of humans trafficked across the globe.
The UNFPA is especially concerned with violence directed toward pregnant women — stonings, beatings, domestic violence, and displacement. The treaty targets those problems directly.