Sexual violence in conflict becomes more serious in the face of Covid-19.
Conflict-related sexual violence became thorny at an open debate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on April 14 as all participants took it a critical opportunity to take stock of the issue in order to eradicate the scourge of it.
The open debate, which was hosted by Vietnam, the UNSC President for the month of April, drew attention to the chronic underreporting of wartime sexual violence, especially at a time being compounded by Covid-19 containment measures.
The participants thanked Vietnam for keeping this important topic on the agenda of the Council.
Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations said the victims should be assisted to access psychological, medical, training and legal services, integrate into the community and seek livelihood sources.
He emphasized the need to take a comprehensive approach to the problem, noting the prevention and full and equal participation of women in decision-making and peace processes, much-needed development assistance, capacity-building, technical support and training.
Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary-General Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, stressed the need of prevention, saying that “prevention is the best and only cure” to stem the multiple, devastating and enduring consequences faced by survivors of sexual violence in conflict, especially as a brutal tactic of war.
Citing over 2,500 UN-verified cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 18 countries last year alone, Patten said there was a “chasm between resolutions and reality”.
She mentioned the long litany of battles fought on the bodies of women and girls in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Syria and other places to remind others of what they did to honor their commitments to solving the problem.
The Delegation of the EU to UN said they owe this to all victims and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence who expect us to move urgently from commitments to action.
This thorny issue was mentioned one year ago by the UN Secretary General who called for a cessation of violence both on battlefields and in homes.
The UN latest report shows that sexual and gender-based violence has spiked globally during the Covid-19 crisis and that conflict-related sexual violence remains a cruel and rampant tactic of war, torture, terror, and political repression.
Representatives of the countries in the Council expressed concerns about the persisting threat and occurrence of sexual violence in conflict in many countries and called on the international community to do more and better to prevent these crimes and human rights violations, stop impunity and support the survivors and their families including children born out of rape.