N.Y. Rep. Slaughter argues supporting women means opposing TPP

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  March 8, 2016 at 10:55 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., has criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying women worldwide will be harmed by the agreement.

Slaughter argues the TPP establishes a trading relationship with countries that undermine women's rights. In an op-ed published Tuesday, she writes that countries have essentially been given a free pass to trade with the United States regardless of human rights and women's rights issues.

"There are hundreds of reasons why the TPP is a mistake," Slaughter writes. "But something that has gone overlooked and under-discussed is the fact that the TPP will tie the United States to countries that do not value the rights of women."

An example Slaughter uses is the small Asian country of Brunei, which she said passed laws that harm women while TPP negotiations were ongoing, including penal laws that imprison women who have abortions or who have children out of wedlock.

"The penalty for being found guilty of adultery or extramarital sex is flogging or death by stoning," Slaughter writes. "Rather than condemn these repressive acts, the TPP would bring the United States in partnership with Brunei, a country that adopted Sharia law in 2014, causing condemnation from human rights groups."

Slaughter said the TPP is a "threat to women and a compromise of our American values."

Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, previously defended the TPP, stating women will benefit from the trade agreement.

Cutler argues the TPP will lead to "improved economic livelihood and a brighter economic future" for generations of women, as she urges for Congress to approve the deal.

"Tucked away in the development chapter of TPP is a short section on women's empowerment and economic growth," Cutler wrote. "Recognizing the importance of women's contributions to economic growth and development, the section calls on participating countries to undertake a number of cooperative activities to help women access the benefits of the agreement."

Cutler, who was a senior U.S. negotiator during talks, also praised the TPP for including women who played a prominent role shaping the agreement.

"For the next generation, women will leave a better world as the closer regional economic ties promoted by the TPP will help to advance peace and stability in the region and foster vastly improved market access," Cutler writes.

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