UN urges Security Council to protect women's rights 'before, during and after' conflict

A South Sudanese rape victim narrates her ordeal at an undisclosed location near Bentiu town. (December 2018). Picture: Isaac Billy.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council to protect women and children's rights 'before, during and after conflict' as the council passed resolution on violence against women in conflict yesterday.

According to the UN, lengthy negotiations took place surrounding the wording of the final resolution drafted in order to reduce sexual violence in conflict and end rape as a weapon of war, with 13 countries in favour and China and Russia abstaining.

Mr Guerres said that local civil society organisations, many of which are women's organisations, are a priority and deserves the UN's strong and consistent support.

“This must include women’s full and effective participation in political, economic and social life and ensuring accessible and responsive justice and security institutions.”

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, addresses the Security Council meeting on women and peace and security, with a focus on sexual violence in conflict. (April 2019), by UN Photo/Loey Felipe

“Extremists and terrorists often build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and use sexual violence in various ways, from forced marriage to virtual enslavement."

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramilia Patten told the Council that there is more knowledge on the motivations behind and impacts of sexual violence on survivors.

She said: "Sexual violence continues to fuel conflict and severely impacts the prospects for lasting peace”.

Ms Patten recalled a visit to South Sudan where she was horrified by the "sheer brutality of the sexual violence perpetrated along ethnic lines against women and girls, even children as young as four".

She also mentioned the communities in Juba, South Sudan, who were gang-raped and abducted for sexual slavery.

She said:

If we are ever to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, we must confront the unacceptable reality that it is still largely cost-free to rape a woman, child or man in armed conflicts around the world.

"To turn the tide, we must increase the cost and consequences for those who commit, command or condone sexual violence in conflict. We must convert a centuries-old culture of impunity into a culture of accountability,”

Mr Guerres said:“Together, we can and must replace impunity with justice, and indifference with action”.

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