A coalition of more than 50 advocacy groups and humanitarian organizations sent an open letter to President Donald Trump and national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on Monday evening in response to the administration's attempt to justify the Muslim ban by citing gendered violence in the Middle East.
The original executive order on Muslim immigration, signed on Jan. 27, as well as the revised order, to be put in effect on Thursday, have called on the Department of Homeland Security to record and publish data on the "number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called 'honor killings,' in the United States by foreign nationals."
The letter, signed by Amnesty International, the International Rescue Committee and CARE, among many others, debunked the Trump administration's assertions about gender-based violence in Muslim-majority countries. Islam and Muslim-majority countries are not unique in their oppression of and violence against women. There is zero evidence to back up claims that honor killings in the U.S. are a commonality.
"As a global crisis, violence against women and girls is not specific to any one country. Connecting 'gender-based violence against women or girls' with the travel ban and refugee program suspension is out of sync with the reality that every country, including the United States, suffers from such violence," the letter, which was obtained and shared by the Huffington Post, read. "Enacting 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."
Advocates later added that Trump's Muslim ban — which calls for the ban of all refugees and new visas for Iranian, Libyan, Somali, Sudanese, Syrian and Yemeni nationals — actually puts the lives of women fleeing gender violence at greater risk.
In Sudan and Somalia, for example, rape has reportedly been used as a weapon of war against women. Suspending the admission of refugees could prevent these girls from fleeing the violence the Trump administration claims it condemns.
"Any shutdown of this program or ban restricting travel does not help make women and girls safer," the letter read.
The letter also pointed out that the troubling Islamophobic language in the order could further incite anti-Muslim bigotry and violence in the U.S.
"We are further concerned by the executive orders' singling out of so-called 'honor killings' as a type of gender-based violence that is more deserving of concern than other types of violence," the letter read. "Specifically naming this type of violence in connection with the six Muslim-majority countries listed in the executive order not only promotes and inflames Islamophobia, but it further feeds into the false narrative that violence against women is specific to non-Western cultures."