The cheapest weapon of mass destruction

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UN Photo Marie Freshon 1

19.6.2015 - Contrary to a persisting belief, sexual attacks against women are not random acts of individual soldiers. They are military tactics that exist to shame and demoralize women, tear communities apart and control populations.

1500 000 women were raped during the Rwanda genocide, as many as 64 000 in Sierra Leone, and over 40 000 in the Bosnia & Herzegovina war. Every day, hundreds of women are raped in Darfur, Syria and Iraq. Many suffer torture and mutilation in front of their families, others are impregnated to shift the ethnic balance of territories.

United Nations Member States will take a vote today to commemorate 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The International Day will aim to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence, to honour the survivors of sexual violence around the world, and to pay tribute to all those working on the front-lines, often at great personal risk, to eradicate this scourge.

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“Today it is still largely ‘cost-free’ to rape a woman or a child in conflict. Sexual violence has been used through the ages precisely because it is such a cheap and devastating weapon,” says Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura.

“We can and must reverse this reality, making it a massive liability to commit, command or condone sexual violence in conflict.”

There’s a need to change the attitudes that perpetuate violence against women. This can be done by changing the laws and policies that provide impunity for offenders and by uniting in defiance to end this crime against humanity. 

Show your support for eliminating sexual violence in conflict by Tweeting with the hashtag #endSVC.