Jimmy Carter: Why I believe the mistreatment of women... (2)
Jimmy Carter: Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse (2)
Sweden has got a good approach to it. About 15 to 20 years ago, Sweden decided to change the law, and women are no longer prosecuted if they are in sexual slavery, but the brothel owners and the pimps and the male customers are prosecuted, and -- (Applause) -- prostitution has gone down. In the United States, we take just the opposite position. For every male arrested for illegal sex trade, 25 women are arrested in the United States of America. Canada, Ireland, I've already said Sweden, France, and other countries are moving now towards this so-called Swedish model. That's another thing that can be done. We have two great institutions in this country that all of us admire: our military and our great university system. In the military, they are now analyzing how many sexual assaults take place. The last report I got, there were 26,000 sexual assaults that 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 commanding officer of any organization -- a ship like my submarine, or a battalion in the Army or a company in the Marines -- the commanding officer has the right under law to decide whether to prosecute a rapist or not, and of course, the last thing they want is for anybody to know that 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 girls who enter American universities will be sexually assaulted before she graduates, and this is now getting a lot of publicity, partially because of my book, but other things, and so 89 universities in America are now condemned by the Department of Education under Title IX because the officials of the universities are not taking care of the women to protect them from sexual assault. The Department of Justice says that more than half of the rapes on a college campus take 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 things that go on in our society.
Another thing that's very serious about the abuse of women and girls is 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 now gets 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 president and so forth -- (Applause) (Laughter) -- but in the last 15 years, there's been no progress made, so it's been just about 23 or 24 percent difference for 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 average than the other CEOs. Well, that's what goes on in our country. Another problem with the United States is we are the most warlike nation on Earth. We have been to war with about 25 different countries since the Second World War. Sometimes, we've had soldiers on the ground fighting. The other times, we've been flying overhead dropping bombs on people. Other times, of course, now, we have drones that attack people and so forth. We've been at war with 25 different countries or 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 violence and the misinterpretation of the holy scriptures are what causes, are the basic causes, of abuse of women and girls.
There's one more basic cause that 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 girls quietly accepts the privileged position that we occupy, and this is very similar to 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 War Between the States, the Civil War, all the way up to the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson got the bills passed for equal rights. But during that time, there were many white people that didn't think that racial discrimination was okay, but they stayed quiet, because they enjoyed the privileges of better jobs, unique access to jury duty, better schools, and everything else, and that's the same thing that exists today, because the average man really doesn't care. Even though they say, "I'm against discrimination against girls and women," they enjoy a privileged position. And it's very difficult to get the majority of men who control the university system, the majority of men that control the military system, the majority of men that control the governments of the world, and the majority of men that control the great religions. So what is the basic thing that we need to do today? I would say the best thing that we could do today is for the women in the powerful nations like this one, and where you come from, Europe and so forth, who have influence and who have freedom to speak and to act, need to take the responsibility on yourselves to be more forceful in demanding an end to racial discrimination against girls and women all over the world. The average woman in Egypt doesn't have much to say about her daughters getting genitally mutilated and so forth. I didn't even go down to detail about that. But I hope that out of this conference, that every woman here will get your husbands to realize that these abuses on the college campuses and the military and so forth and in the future job market, need to protect your daughters and your granddaughters.
I have 12 grandchildren, four children, and 10 great-grandchildren, and I think often about them and about the plight that they will face in America, not only if they lived in Egypt or a foreign country, in having equal rights, and I hope that all of you will join me in being a champion for women and girls around the world and protect their human rights. Thank you very much. (Applause)