SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Clinton, I'm so excited to see you here today! As you
know, I was very much in favor of your saying yes to this opportunity.
You're a dedicated public servant, and I think by nominating you,
President-elect Obama has sent a message that world peace and
stability trumps politics and ego. And I think by accepting this
position, Senator Clinton, you are sending the same message, because
you are working with your toughest rival and you've set your ego aside
for world peace, world stability and for the good of the country. I
mean that sincerely; you know I do.
I wanted to tick off a few of the issues that I care about. I'm
going to do it very quickly -- because there's so many -- just to make
my voice heard on those and then ask you a question on a topic you
raised, and we discussed it before: the status of women in the world
-- in particular, violence against women in the world. And Nicholas
Kristof has written a series of articles on this, and I've spoken with
our great new chairman. And I think his concern certainly lies in
this direction, along with yours.
So let me just say you face unbelievable challenges -- you and
the president-elect. Six years later, we still have 140,000 troops in
Iraq; seven years later, after the brutal attack of 9/11, we're
fighting a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda poses a great
threat to us on that safe-haven border of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The outrageous terrorist attack in Mumbai significantly heightened
tensions between India and Pakistan. And the outbreak of violence in
Gaza reminds us that Israel continues to face grave threats to its
very existence from never ending rocket attacks. Our leadership is
sorely needed there to protect the innocent not just in the short
term, but in the long term where we hope to see a very good solution
for all sides.
In Iran we face defiance, in North Korea the same. And due to
our own inaction, we continue to be dependent on oil and gas, whose
revenues line the pockets of hostile regimes, and this dependence has
slowed our fight against global warming. And I'm so proud that you
mentioned global warming in your talk and that Senator Kerry, our
chairman, is going to be so dedicated to helping you lead the charge
in terms of a solution internationally. And as chairman of the
Environment Committee, I will be by his side in that international
treaty issue. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Africa, Asia, Latin America
need our attention. So that's the list and now I want to get to my
I have a few pictures to share with all of us, and they're brutal
pictures and I'm not showing them for shock value. I want to show
them, because I don't think we can look away from the plight of women
in the world. And as I said, Nicholas Kristof confronts these issues
in a series of compelling articles.
In one, he tells us about the recent acid attack against young
girls in Afghanistan where they're going to school with their
teachers. And we have a photo of one of the victims to show you on
that. I'm just going to do these very quickly.
Okay, he profiles a story in a second picture. I'll show that --
a Pakistani woman who was viciously burned by her husband with acid,
because she dared to divorce him. This is what we're talking about!
This is Ms. Azar, okay.
Thousands of women have suffered similar attacks throughout Asia.
No prosecutions, Senator! Kristof tells us the story of a Vietnamese
girl named Sina Vann, who was kidnapped at age 13. She was sold as a
sex slave in Cambodia. When she refused to see customers, she was
tortured brutally with electric shocks and locked in a coffin full of
insects. And Kristof illustrates an act of horrific brutality in a
piece called, "If This Isn't Slavery, What Is?" in which a young
Cambodian girl had her eye gouged out by her brothel owner, after
taking time off to recover from a fourth abortion. This is a picture
of that just very beautiful young woman.
So I'm introducing some legislation. One is a companion piece of
Representative Carolyn Maloney. Another one is the Afghan Women
Empowerment Act, which many on this committee have worked with us on.
And that's just the beginning. No woman or girl should ever have to
live in fear or face persecution for being born female.
And Senator, I know how deeply you feel about this. And so I
wanted for you to take a little more time to talk about your
commitment to this particular issue. And obviously, I would be so
pleased if you would commit to help us work on legislation to fight
SEN. CLINTON: Well, Senator, you have been such a leader. And I
have been honored to be your colleague and your partner in a number of
these efforts that have been undertaken on behalf of women around the
world. And I want to pledge to you that as secretary of State, I view
these issues as central to our foreign policy -- not as adjunct or
auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues that we
have to confront.
I too have followed the stories that are exemplified by the
pictures that you held up. I mean, it is heartbreaking beyond words
that, you know, young girls are attacked on their way to school by
Taliban sympathizers and members who do not want young women to be
educated. It's not complicated! They want to maintain an attitude
that keeps women -- as I said in my testimony -- unhealthy, unfed,
uneducated and this is something that results all too often in
violence against these young women, both within their families and
from the outside.
This is not culture. This is not custom. This is criminal. And
it will be my hope to persuade more government -- as I have attempted
to do since I spoke at Beijing on these issues, you know, 13 and some
years ago -- that we cannot have a free, prosperous, peaceful,
progressive world if women are treated in such a discriminatory and
I have also read closely Nick Kristof's articles over the last
many months, but in particular the last weeks on the young women that
he had both rescued from prostitution and met who have been enslaved
and abused, tortured in every way -- physically, emotionally, morally.
And I take very seriously the function of the State Department to lead
our government, through the Office on Human Trafficking, to do all
that we can to end this modern form of slavery. We have sex slavery;
we have wage slavery. And it is primary a slavery of girls and women.
So I look also forward, Senator, to reviewing your legislation
and working with you as a continuing partnership on behalf of these
issues we care so much about.
And finally, the work that the women of the Senate did in
connection with First Lady Laura Bush on behalf of the women of
Afghanistan has been extremely important. That program was started in
the State Department. It was midwifed by a group that I helped to
start back in the Clinton administration called Vital Voices.
Mrs. Bush has been outspoken on behalf of the plight of Afghan
women, on behalf of Aung San Sue Kyi in Burma and other women facing
oppression around the world. And I'm very pleased that that project
will be spun off to Georgetown where it will continue under Mrs.
So we're going to have a very active Women's Office, a very
active Office on Trafficking. We're going to be speaking out
consistently and strongly against discrimination and oppression of
women and slavery, in particular, because I think that is keeping not
only with American values, as we all recognize, but American national
security interests as well.
SEN. BOXER: Well, I couldn't have asked for a better answer.
I wanted to note, Mr. Chairman, that even the most conservative
historians have said that if women in the world would be allowed to
live up to their potential, it would bring the whole world forward. A
lot of the problems we face really come from this mindset that half of
the population doesn't matter and can be abused. And they're ignored
or hurt and can't contribute.
So I think it's a key matter. So I'll stop there and just say
how much I appreciate your comments, not only on this subject but
everything you've spoken about. It shows your breadth of
And the same way with my chairman who, I mean, I think we have a
team that's just extraordinary. And I hope to play a small role in
that team. Thank you.
SEN. CLINTON: Thank you.