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UN urges the international community to address conflict-related sexual violence.

“We must act urgently and sustainably to save succeeding generations from this scourge.”

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UN urges the international community to address conflict-related sexual violence.
UN urges the international community to address conflict-related sexual violence.
Ms Pramila Patten, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict has called on the international community to address conflict-related sexual violence.

Patten called on Friday while briefing the Security Council at UN headquarters in New York.

The UN official said the international community should act to protect future generations from the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence.

“Every new wave of warfare brings with it a rising tide of human tragedy, including new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced and least condemned crime,” she said.

The council meeting to examine the implementation of its resolutions on conflict-related sexual violence was convened by the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating presidency this month.

Patten presented data from her latest report, published last month, documenting 2,455 UN-verified cases of wartime rape committed during 2022. Women and girls accounted for 94 per cent, with six per cent against men and boys.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) again had the highest cases, 701.

The UN expert visited the country in June and was horrified by the testimonies of women and girls, many of whom had recently been raped.

“So many of them stressed the daily risk of sexual violence while carrying out livelihood activities around the camps, such as searching for food, collecting wood or water. Just imagine facing the reality each day that you are likely to be raped, yet having no choice,” she said.

Patten also conducted her first field visit to Ukraine in 2022.

She was struck by both the occurrence of sexual violence in conflict zones and the vulnerability of women and children forced to flee to countries such as Poland and Moldova.

“I witnessed first-hand the extraordinary toll on women, children and the elderly, including their vulnerability to unscrupulous individuals and criminal networks for whom the rapid and unprecedented mass displacement of people is not a tragedy but an opportunity for trafficking and sexual exploitation,” she said.

Patten’s annual report also detailed horrors committed in other countries, such as Haiti, Ethiopia and Iraq. Serious allegations of conflict-related sexual violence in Sudan have surfaced since fighting erupted in April.

The report also clearly demonstrates the emboldening effects of impunity, she said.

Nearly 50 parties, primarily non-State actors, are listed for systematically committing sexual violence. Over 70 per cent have appeared on the list for five years or more.

“The reality is that until we effectively raise the cost and consequences for committing, commanding or condoning sexual violence, we will never stem the tide of such violations,” she said.

Patten, however, called for greater political resolve and resources.

She said there was more knowledge today about what motivated sexual violence, who the perpetrators were, and the response required by survivors.

She said prevention efforts must be grounded in this enhanced knowledge, which is at the heart of a strategy launched by her office in September 2022.

She advised that the international community must ensure the implementation of Security Council resolutions while adapting actions to today’s conflicts and emerging global challenges, such as cyber threats and climate-related insecurity.

“The time is now to double down on the institutional and accountability frameworks put in place by successive resolutions,” she said.

“We must act urgently and sustainably to save succeeding generations from this scourge.”

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