ECA Press Release No. 06/2011
Addis Ababa, 31 January (ECA) - Stressing that sexual violence thrives on silence and impunity, UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, today in Addis Ababa called on world leaders to speak out against the horrors of rape and sexual violence that are usually termed “unspeakable”.
Mr. Ban said at a media event on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the margins of the 16th African Union Summit, that while the crime of sexual violence was not particular to any culture or continent, the challenge faced by leaders is to prevent the “cycle of violence and vengeance; discrimination and disempowerment; rage and recrimination that give rise to rape as a tactic of war.”
He said the UN and the African Union recognize that sexual violence in conflict is a political and security issue that demands a political and security response.
Stressing that prevention is possible, the Secretary-General said that the UNAMID (the UN and African Union Mission in Darfur) “Firewood Patrols” had been able to increase women’s freedom of movement and cut the number of rapes, while in Liberia, the presence of female police had improved reporting and response on sexual violence.
He said the UN would work closely with the AU and African troop contributors to better prepare peacekeepers to respond to sexual violence as a security threat.
The Secretary-General recalled that the Security Council had, last month, adopted a resolution to enhance accountability for conflict-related sexual violence, adding that the resolution was co-sponsored by more than 60 countries including 10 African countries.
The resolution signals that there would be consequences for sexual violence, including the listing of perpetrators and referrals to Sanctions Committees or international courts.
“Ultimately, we have to create conditions where armed groups see sexual violence as a liability, rather than a tool in the struggle for power. We have to raise the cost of committing atrocities to the point where they harm perpetrators even more than the victims,” he said.
When a peace process begins, said Ban, perpetrators of sexual violence will not be permitted to get or retain positions of military, political or economic influence.
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