U.N. holds day to mark sexual violence in conflict

AFP, Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 20 June 2015

The United Nations on Friday declared June 19 International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict to highlight abuses by armed extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS.

"Rape as a weapon of war must be stopped," said Sam Kutesa, president of the U.N. General Assembly, after it approved a new resolution naming the day.

"We should ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes and their superiors who condone their actions are held accountable and that victims get justice.

"Together we must prioritize prevention and response efforts, empower victims, provide comprehensive assistance and shift the stigma of shame from the victims of these crimes to those who commit them and condone them."

The date of 19 June was chosen in memory of resolution 1820 the Security Council adopted on 19 June 2008, which recognized for the first time that sexual violence is a tactic of war and a threat to international peace and stability.

"Our challenge now is to translate advocacy and political will into concrete actions and protection on the ground," said the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura.

The announcement came a few days after U.N. envoy Angelina Jolie delivered a passionate speech about a “global epidemic of violence against women.”
“Women and girls are bearing the brunt of extremists,” Jolie, the Special Envoy of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told delegates at the African Summit on June 11.

“There is a global epidemic of violence against women – both within conflict zones and within societies at peace – and it is still treated as a lesser crime and lower priority. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of extremists that revel in treating them barbarically. This is inextricably linked to our overall failure to prevent and end conflicts worldwide, which is causing human suffering on an unprecedented level,” she said in the speech.

Jolie said any solution must be “designed by women, focused on women, executed by women.”

AFP, Al Arabiya News, 20/06/2015