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March 28th, 2014
11:22 AM ET

Jimmy Carter talks to Piers Morgan about his new call to action to eradicate abuse of women and girls, as well as his thoughts on the new pope's openness to change

It's not every day a former President of the United States stops by the "Piers Morgan Live" studio.

But that is precisely what happened in March, as Jimmy Carter joined Piers Morgan to discuss the seemingly unaddressed human rights abuses that he hopes his new book will help reverse.

“It's very similar to the racial discrimination I knew when I was a boy, uh, living on the farm when the same thing happened just to black people in particularly the South and some other parts of the world,” said Carter, speaking of gender inequalities impacting women. “The white people deplored it, but they didn't do anything about it, most of them, because it really was beneficial to them to be given the best jobs and the best education and all the advantages over our black neighbors.”

The 39th President of the United States, whose time in office was marked by global humanitarian efforts, is the author of over 30 books ranging from global policy and presidential power to personal journeys in his faith and family. He is a man with an endless list of accomplishments, however the collection of goals he's yet to tackle may be more lengthy. At the top of his list today is helping to promote and create the fair and equal treatment of women.

“In our American universities, there is horrible sexual violence, very seldom reported,” said the author of "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power", his newest work. “The same thing happens in the U.S. military, as you know.”

The U.S. military reported that 26,000 women were sexually abused in 2012. According to Carter, only one percent resulted in any punishment of the rapist.

“The problem is that on university campuses and in the military, the rapists are serial rapists. Quite often, it's the same man over and over who gets - who discovers that he can't be punished. And this happens in America.”

His blood doesn’t stop boiling on income inequality in the workplace, where a woman is currently paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

“So this is a pervasive thing in the United States. And if it's bad in our country, with its two - should I say three admired institutions, that is the corporations and the military and the universities, how much more bad it is - how much worse it is in countries where there's not very much respect for - for law and order,” asked Carter rhetorically.

Pointing out the problem is one step, but creating real and lasting change, as President Carter said to Morgan, will come down to leaders wanting to make a difference.

“Well, I like and admire the pope very much,” he told Morgan. "When John Paul II, the Pope, was over in America, he spent a good bit of time with me at the White House, just he and I. And I brought the subject up and I very quickly found that he was inflexible on anything that related to abortion or using contraceptives or women's rights.”

To Carter, Pope Francis is quite different than his predecessors.

“I wrote him (Pope Francis) a letter after I started writing my book. I summarized briefly the points in the book and asked him to help me with some of the elements of women and girls' abuse. And I didn't demand that he make women instantly priests. I know that would be hard to do. And he wrote me a very nice, uh, letter back and said that he saw a need for a greatly increased role for women to play in the Catholic Church,” said President Carter.

Carter was pleasantly surprised last week, when Pope Francis appointed eight people (half of whom are women) to a committee to look into the abuse of children by priests.

“I was very active in the Southern Baptist Convention for almost 70 years,” said Carter. "Then our church took a similar action toward women all of a sudden in the year 2000 and said that women had to be subservient to their husbands and that no woman could serve as a pastor of a church or as a deacon or as a chaplain in the Army. And even said that in some of the seminaries of the Baptist Convention that a woman couldn't teach a class if they had a boy student in it, things of that kind.”

Both Carter and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, left the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000.

“The fact is that Jesus Christ, whom I worship, has never - he never took any action that wasn't acrid,” he said. “Actually, even for men and women or even exalted women above men. And he treated women in a very generous and constructive and personal way that had never been done in history before he came.”

At 89 years old, Carter said he has no plans of slowing down, at least not with his work advocating for the fair and equal treatment of women worldwide. As detailed in his book, genital mutilation and honor killings are the kind of things “that just hurts me,” he told Morgan.

“Well, this is very important to me,” Carter said. "My hope is that in the future, the Carter Center can be kind of a center of anyone on Earth that wants to correct this horrible abuse of women and girls.”

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    March 31, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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