QUESTION: Honorable Secretary, my name is Mohammad Saifullah. I am
with the IRM Bureau, working for the government for 20 years in the Foreign Service. I also work with the local South Asian
community. And during the campaign we had a slogan, “Change.” And I used that slogan also in our community. And
at the same time, I just recently visited Bangladesh and India, and I have observed increasingly human rights, women rights,
and child labor violation. And what kind of policy you – and measurement you are taking to Bangladesh, India, Southeast
Asian countries, to protect their rights and their local South Asian community member? If I can help you with my experience
and anything I can do for protecting their rights. Thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you for your service, and thank you for that offer. And I hope you will share any ideas you
You know, this is kind of coming full circle. Our first
question was about women’s rights and disability rights, child labor rights, human rights, which are at the core of,
you know, our mission and who we are as a people. We will be, you know, sending a very clear message that we are hoping to
encourage changes in law and behavior. I feel very strongly, and said so at my hearing, that the abuses of human rights, particularly
women and children, is a crime against all of us, and it is not cultural. You know, when a young girl on her way to school
in Afghanistan is attacked by the Taliban and acid thrown in her face because she wants to learn to read and write, that is
a crime. When a young child is deprived of the opportunity for an education and forced into labor, that is a crime. When women
and children are trafficked into sex trade or other forced labor, that is a crime. There are so many reasons why it’s
important for us to speak out against these crimes wherever they occur, and we intend to do so.
We also want solutions. You know, not everything is as,
you know, clear as we would want it to be. You know, there is a great deal of concern on the part of some of our friends in
South Asia and elsewhere that ending child labor drives families further into poverty. You know, these are the kinds of difficult
questions we have to work in partnership with other countries, and recognize and respect the cultural norms, but not end there.
And I’ll just end with this one story because it
made a big impression on me. You know, as First Lady, I went to Senegal. And there is an NGO in Senegal that has worked for
years. This is not the kind of work that happens overnight. It doesn’t often correspond with our sense of time. And
it is something that has to be consistent and continued over however long it takes. And because of the grassroots work supported
by the United States Government with small grants, this NGO worked to influence village elders to end the practice of female
cutting, convinced the elders that it was a health risk, that it was not religiously based – in one village –
and then supported those elders who traveled from village to village to make the case. It wasn’t instantaneous, it wouldn’t
fit into a headline, but eventually, it started to change attitudes and behaviors and even laws.
So we have to be creative in our diplomacy and our outreach,
and we have to be respectful and humble about others’ life experiences and norms. But we can effectively, and I believe
persuasively, make the case as to why we believe certain actions violate common universal human rights. And if we do that
with the right attitude and with the patience that is called for, I think we can make more progress than just by issuing edicts,
pointing fingers, and making demands.
So with that, thank you all for being part
of the American foreign policy instrument. (Applause.)