Today I met United Nations Representative Ms. Zainab Bangura. She gave a presentation on sexual violence in conflict.
Her first message was this: DECENT MEN DON'T RAPE.
Her second message: Bodies of civilians are not battlegrounds for war.
Her third message: Rape is history's greatest silence.
Her fourth message: You can determine the greatness of a nation by how the government and in particular the national military behaves towards women in times of peace. If women are second class citizens in rights, respect, safety, and opportunity, conditions only worse during armed conflict. Militaries must shun rapists.
Her fifth message: Women are NOT expendable, everyone is valuable and has something to contribute.
She discussed many things, but here is a summary of her primary commentary:
1. All sexual violence is preventable. Ensure that perpetrators are consistently prosecuted.
2. Sexual violence is a serious peace and security issue. No peace can endure if sexual violence is not appropriately addressed.
3. Political leaders must be engaged in active accountability. Hold them accountable for implementation and enforcement.
4. More research is needed to understand rape as a mechanism of war
5. Global efforts in the total eradication of rape must be organized and coordinated.
6. Nations must take ownership of responsibility for crimes occurring within their borders as international courts and tribunals are not accessible for most victims.
Relevant UN resolutions:
Security Council Resolution 1820- Women, Peace, & Security- created conceptual framework- by Condoleezza Rice
Security Council Resolution 1888- Protecting Women from Sexual Violence- by Hillary Clinton
Security Council Resolution 1960- Required Reporting and Tracking of Suspected Sexual Abuse
The greatest barrier is the culture of silence and denial world-wide. This includes honor killings, domestic violence, and systemic rape as a weapon of war and torture.
Who is responsible for removing this barrier?
Mothers- teach your sons rape is never acceptable under any circumstances.
Fathers- teach your sons to love and respect women by example.
Teachers- educate your students about human rights- theirs and others- and that violence is a crime.
Religious Leaders- teach everyone in your sphere of reach that rape and sexual violence are an abomination before God and are NEVER justifiable.
Politicians- set an example of zero tolerance, hold criminals accountable, publicly condemn their behavior, set punishments capable of deterring potential perpetrators. Attacks systems enabling denial.
Militaries- enforce standards and expectations and hold criminals within the military accountable.
Journalists- document suspected cases of sexual violence. Expose them. Force the issue to get attention. Don't allow it to be ignored.
Police- punish police who commit acts of crime, particularly sexual violence. Train them and hold them accountable for that training.
Courts- do not allow judges to be ignorant of this issue and other systemic human rights violations. Just because it is systemic, doesn't mean it is ok to turn a blind eye.