February 25th, 2019

Food & Water Watch’s Wenonah Hauter, Fashion Icon Vivienne Westwood, Hollywood Actress and United Nations Human Rights Champion Amber Heard Ask UN To Consider Fracking Affront To Women’s Rights In The UK

American Statistics Show Pregnant Women Living Near UK Fracking Sites Have A 40% Risk Of Premature Birth

Brussels/Washington/London/Geneva, 25 Feb 2019

A co-signed letter from a group of environmental organisations and human rights activists to The Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommends that the United Nations ban fracking in order to protect the health and well-being of women threatened by the dangerous drilling practice in the United Kingdom.

Representatives of the UK Government are meeting CEDAW in Geneva on Tuesday, 26th February 2019.

In the Summer of 2018, CEDAW asked the UK Government to provide information on the measures being taken to mitigate and address the health and environmental impacts of toxic substances on women and girls, in particular rural women, due to planned fracking activities.

The UK Government answered in November 2018 that it has: “a robust regulatory system which provides a comprehensive regime for exploratory activities,” and “tough regulations in place to ensure on site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution.”

Activists have argued that the UK government’s measures are not sufficient to protect women.

Dame Vivienne Westwood, Hollywood Actress and United Nations Human Rights Champion, Amber Heard and Wenonah Hauter, Founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe have all signed a letter to the CEDAW along with environmental groups such as Food & Water Europe, Talk Fracking, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Frack Free United; academics such as Dr. Damien Short, Co-Director of the Human Rights Consortium, London and Energy Policy Professor Peter Strachan, Aberdeen, together with the Concerned Health Professionals UK and the National Union of Students.

They also strongly disagree with the claims made by the UK Government.

The group believes women’s rights are compromised because:

– Fracking is linked to higher rates of cancer, nervous, immune and cardiovascular problems in women.

– Pregnant women who live near active fracking operations have a 40% increased risk of giving birth prematurely and 30% have obstetrician-labeled ‘high-risk pregnancies, according to a Pennsylvania study by the Concerned Heath Professionals of New York.

– Fertility and menstrual problems in women can be caused from exposure the fracking chemicals including benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX chemicals).

– Miscarriages and still births can be caused by the heavy metals found in fracking waste water.

Amber Heard said on Twitter, retweeted by Vivienne Westwood: “Only a comprehensive ban can protect women and human rights from the destructive impacts of fracking in the UK.”

Vivienne Westwood says: “We want to highlight the harm fracking causes pregnant women. Pregnant women who live near active fracking operations in Pennsylvania were at a 40 percent increased risk of giving birth prematurely and at a 30 percent increased risk for having obstetrician-labeled high-risk pregnancies. This is an example of the virulent, poisoning effect of fracking to all life and we therefore want to support Amber Heard and the group asking for CEDAW to demand that it stops.”

Wenonah Hauter, Founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe. “We’ve experienced the negative impacts of fracking on rural women in the US. The UK Government still has the opportunity to prevent this and must ban fracking.”

Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment. https://www.foodandwatereurope.org