Louise Allain, 26th November, 2013
One of the most persistent and horrific crimes is the use of rape and sexual violence against women, as a weapon of war.
When we think of war, we think of blood shed, the wounded, blitzed towns and cities; but do we think of the ravages to women caught in the cross-fire of a conflict? One of the most persistent and horrific crimes is the use of rape and sexual violence against women, as a weapon of war. Tens of thousands of women were raped in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, hundreds of thousands in Rwanda's genocide and up to a quarter of a million in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last decade.
When war reaches a natural conclusion or a cease fire is declared, physical wounds are healed, townships and cities rebuilt, reparations handed out - but what about the victims just outlined? What justice is there for the countless women left violated, sexually abused and psychologically damaged? None.
Earlier this year you may remember pictures in the press of a very somber and beautiful Angelina Jolie alongside an unlikely male paring, Foreign Secretary, William Hague. They, along with others, launched the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. A beginning.
"Our goal must be a world in which it is inconceivable that thousands of women, children and men can be raped in the course of a conflict - because an international framework of deterrence and accountability makes it impossible." (William Hague, G8 Declaration)
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 days of activism against Gender Violence, the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), alongside the international criminal court's Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) have published a report highlighting the effective strategies for addressing effects of war on individuals and communities. The results help outline the effective solutions for helping survivors of war crimes - particularly women and young girls, proving how they can recover from the indescribable horrors committed against them during conflicts.
Though it is hard to quantify the results of an issue such as this, with support and encouragement from the international community, we must hope to eradicate not just the origins of the violence perpetrated against all echelons of our indigenous, female populations, from the infant to the elderly, but also to work, assist and empower women so that gender re-education and feminine positivism, embolden their role within societies.
"We have an opportunity like at no time before in history to break the back of this age-old evil. Sexual violence in conflict is not inevitable; to eradicate it is not a ‘mission impossible" (William Hague, G8 Declaration)
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