The Terror of Unarmed Women Facing Armed Men

Human Wrongs Watch

“Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent: it is a global risk […] Wars have entered the marketplaces where women trade; they follow children en route to school; and haunt the prison cells where political activists are detained.”


This is the spine-chilling summary of the UN annual report on conflict – related sexual violence around the world, was presented on Feb. 23 by secretary-general’s Special Representative Margot Wallström to the Security Council in New York.

Wallström’s report names for the first time some of the military forces, militia and other armed groups that are suspected of being among the worst offenders.

The groups listed include the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in South Sudan, armed militia groups and former armed forces in Côte d’Ivoire, and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The report provides examples of how sexual violence has threatened security and impeded peace-building in post-conflict situations, such as in Chad, CAR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and how it has been used in the context of elections, political strife and civil unrest in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya and Syria, among others.

Widespread Sexual Violence

it stresses that over the past year there have been several new and ongoing armed conflicts where sexual violence was widespread and, in some instances, may have been systematically targeted at civilians by armed forces and armed groups with the intent of punishing, and humiliating the population.

Wallström told the Security Council that when “rape is part of political coercion it threatens collective peace and security with long-term consequences.”

The report highlights the need to put measures and frameworks in place “not just to address sexual violence in conflict but to prevent it,” and outlines various UN initiatives that seek to identify early warning signs of sexual violence, and to ensure that peace agreements address this issue so it is not repeated in the future.

“The terms of the debate have shifted from reacting to sexual violence like any other tragedy, to preventing it like any other threat. Instead of talking about women’s wartime suffering – year after year after year – protection mechanisms have been established. Instead of seeing the same few women – in meeting after meeting – we are building a broad coalition,” Wallström said.

She also emphasized the “need to protect not only women and children but also men from sexual violence,”, and expressed particular concern about the reported sexual abuse of men in detention in Syria as a method of extracting intelligence.

Violence Prevail Long After Wars Have Ended

The report, which covers the period from December 2010 to November 2011, also underscores the importance of ensuring that sexual violence does not continue in post-conflict situations, as there are many cases when this type of violence will prevail long after wars have ended.

“As a process of intimidation, targeted rape is often a precursor to conflict, as well as the last weapon to be relinquished in its wake. It is important not to exclude from consideration sexual violence that continues after the guns fall silent,” she said.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Amina Megheirbi from the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Stability also addressed the UN Security Council, with representatives of more than 40 UN member States slated to speak.

Read also:

Six in 10 Women Suffer Physical and/or Sexual Violence

Women at ‘Extreme Risk’ in 80 Countries

Say ‘NO’ – UNiTE to End Violence against Women

Who Dares to Challenge a 32 Billion Dollars Business – Human Trafficking?

Amazing UN: Horrific Massive Rapes “Could Be” Crimes Against Humanity!

UN to Jordan: ‘End Violence against Women!’

Afghanistan, The Worst Place To Be A Mother Or A Child

Africa’s Boat People, Victims of Abduction, Extortion, Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

Pakistan: Girls Tormented by Stigma After Rape

‘Because I Am Girl – So, What about Boys’?

Violence And Death For Millions Of Life-Givers

Who Is Afraid of 300 Or 400 Or 500 Million Miserables?

The Huge, Inhuman Power of The Real ‘War Lords’ 

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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