The horrors of conflict-related sexual violence were shockingly brought to mind in early October when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, took hostages, including women and girls, paraded an unconscious woman in the back of a truck as a trophy, and reportedly engaged in rape and sexual abuse. Some of the atrocities were filmed and shared by the Hamas perpetrators.
At a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on October 18, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that “at this very moment sexual violence is being used as a tactic of war.” The meeting on conflict-related sexual violence, or CRSV, convened by Albania, the United States, and the United Kingdom, made clear from testimony that the horrific tactic is used in conflicts around the world.
“We must not become numb to these horrors,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “Conflict-related sexual violence is not inevitable. It can – it must - be stamped out. And to that end, we believe all UN Member States must work collectively on three lines of effort.”
First, said Ambassador Thomas Greenfield, “We must apply conflict-sensitive and participatory gender analyses to our interventions:”
“We know from countless studies that CRSV is rooted in gender inequality, and that gender-based violence can often be … an early warning sign for the onset of other atrocities. We must continue to promote the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls – in all their diversity – in decision making roles at all levels.”
Second, she said, “We must adopt a survivor centered and trauma-informed approach and create a supportive environment in which survivors’ rights are respected, re-traumatization is avoided, and survivors are given the resources they need to thrive.”
“Third, we must do more as a global community to promote accountability for those responsible for CRSV. … We must all use every legal, policy, diplomatic and financial tool we have to fight against impunity for perpetrators and to deter future acts of violence.”
“Women who are victims of rape are counting on us,” declared Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “Those trapped in conflict zones, who deserve peace and justice. So let us raise our voices on their behalf, let us give voice to their voices … and let us act with urgency.”