Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A Victory for Women Caught in War

It's International Tuesday, and today we have an article from Human Rights Watch, written December 17, 2009. Rape has arguably been used in almost every conflict throughout history. For centuries, it was not considered part of the war, but rather a "reward" for the winning soldiers. Women were property, so soldiers were invited to "rape and pillage" - steal property as well as rape property. Thankfully, that opinion is changing, with the international community recognising that the use of rape as a weapon of war is a serious issue facing any woman in a conflict situation. Visit the link above to learn more about rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to hear testimonies.

After years of our advocacy on ending rape as a weapon of war, we were proud to see the Security Council vote to create a senior position dedicated to ending sexual violence in armed conflict.

The groundwork was laid in June 2008, when the Security Council passed a resolution identifying rape during war as a problem in need of special attention and resources. For the last two years, we worked to create a climate in which the United Nations would be compelled to act. We met repeatedly with Bush administration officials to persuade them to take leadership on this issue. We distributed press releases, disseminated The Greatest Silence, a powerful film on the subject, and supported women’s groups worldwide to exert pressure on the Security Council.

Following the June 2008 vote, we intensified pressure on Security Council members to stand behind their vow and commit resources to stopping sexual violence in war. In the end, no country wanted to be seen as not taking sexual violence seriously, and the Security Council passed Resolution 1888, which provides for the senior position dedicated to ending rape in war. The resolution marks a huge step forward in protecting women during wartime. We are now pressing the secretary-general to fill the post soon, by early 2010.

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