Guterres: Getting out of the “shadows” crimes of sexual violence in conflicts, punishing the perpetrators |
Already a “cruel tactic of war, torture, terror and repression”, Secretary General António Guterres underlined the unrest caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which “has made it even more difficult to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence” .
“Even as we respond to the pandemic, we must investigate every case and maintain essential services for every survivor,” he said.
Tackle the root causes
Even though COVID-19 has triggered new barriers for survivors to report crimes and access support services, the UN chief said recovery must also include addressing “the root causes of sexual violence and sexist “.
“We cannot allow this already underreported crime to slip further into the shadows. The perpetrators must be punished, ”he said.
He concluded his message for the day by saying, “Let us resolve to stand up for the rights and meet the needs of all survivors as we work to prevent and end these horrific crimes.”
Ahead of the annual commemoration on June 19, a virtual event was co-hosted by the offices of the Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict. (SVC) and Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), as well as the Argentina Mission, to foster measures for an enabling environment that encourages survivors to come forward safely and seek redress.
In the context of a global pandemic that has exposed the intersecting inequalities that afflict our societies, aggravated by conflict, displacement and institutional fragility, the event presented “the only solution to these overlapping evils”, as an injection of political determination and resources, equal to the scale of the challenge.
Key areas of intervention
CAAC Special Representative Virginia Gamba expressed concern over children born of rape during conflict who face “distinct, sometimes fatal and lasting risks.”
To better protect children victims of sexual abuse “by, in and for armed conflict”, she stressed the importance of focusing on key areas, such as strengthening accountability measures to end cultures of violence. impunity and ultimately prevent recidivism.
She stressed the need to recognize as “essential services” the work of monitoring and reporting teams, and protection advisers for women and children, as priorities that must be adequately funded.
Finally, Ms Gamba said there was “an urgent need to increase human and financial resources to reach child survivors, hear their stories and” get the support they desperately need “.
Trigger ‘decisive change’
The Special Representative expressed strong hope that this seventh annual commemoration “will bring about a decisive change” and that all child survivors of conflict-related sexual violence can receive “appropriate, gender-sensitive and age-appropriate services”.
“The post-pandemic world can only be better rebuilt by including those most affected. It is imperative for societies if they wish to prosper and for peace to endure, ”concluded Ms. Gamba.