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“War does not mean licence to rape”, says UN rapporteur

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Sara Dzregah
WVoN co-editor

A United Nations report has, for the first time, named the worst offenders of conflict-related sexual violence.

Among those listed in the report, presented to the Security Council last week, are the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Margot Wallström, the UN’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict said:

“Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent: it is a global risk. The terror of unarmed women facing armed men is age-old and universal.”

The report also provided examples where rape and sexual violence have threatened security in post-conflict situations such as Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The report highlighted the need for further preventative work and early identification of sexual violence in conflicts.

“The terms of the debate have shifted from reacting to sexual violence like any other tragedy, to preventing it like any other threat,” Wallström said.

She added: “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.”

Wallström also highlighted what has been achieved so far in recognising that rape can be used as a tactic in conflict and war.

“What we have already achieved gives us hope. The actions of this Council tell survivors that their lives matter.

“It also tells perpetrators and potential perpetrators that war does not mean licence to rape. The world is watching,” she said.

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