VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Confronting rape as a weapon of war - part 2
March 9, 2011 by Elisabeth Roesch
|Over the last decade, the world has woken up and been moved to action by the horrific violence that women and girls often face on an almost daily basis in countries torn apart by strife and war Photo courtesy Kevin Sites|
Yesterday I wrote about Margot Wallström’s recent meeting with aid agencies including the International Rescue Committee. Wallström is the UN’s first ever Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, tasked with leading the UN’s efforts to mobilize the international community to address sexual violence.
Today I’d like to share the three goals that I think are critical to the fight not only to end sexual violence but also to extend basic human rights to women and girls all over the world:
- Ensure that no survivor of sexual violence goes without lifesaving care and assistance. Standards for the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in humanitarian settings exist but are ignored. Wallström could change this by working with UN agencies to strengthen their ability to assist women and girls in conflict zones.
- Give rise to women’s voices. Women need to have a say in the way that wars are resolved and peace is built. Women’s conception of justice for crimes of sexual violence often goes beyond the prosecution of individual cases. Many women want to live without fearing for their safety and have their power and abilities recognized. Meaningful justice requires embracing a larger vision and supporting women’s leadership across social, economic and political spheres.
- Stop the denial. Believe it or not, not everyone is convinced that the UN, UN peacekeepers, other international organizations and government ministries have a role in addressing sexual violence. UN member states routinely ask for “proof” that violence is occurring and drag their feet in responding. The IRC has supported tens of thousands of survivors of sexual violence over the past decade (40,000 in the DRC alone). In almost every conflict in which we intervene, women and girls are at risk. And yet the question arises again and again – is this violence really happening? Wallström must call out such comments for what they are: simple denial. This must be a fundamental part of her campaign to end impunity. Impunity is more than a perpetrator going free, it is also the inaction of leaders who have the capacity to respond but refuse to believe there is a problem.
Margot Wallström writes about her recent meeting with the aid agencies and the challenge of rape in conflict in an opinion piece published yesterday in The Huffington Post.