Promote Women’s Rights, Punish Perpetrators To End Sexual Violence

“The story of sexual violence in conflict is as old as war itself. It knows no boundaries — location, ethnicity, religion, or age,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General and UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and Zainab Bangura, a U.N. under-secretary-general and the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. They discuss sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), writing, “The roots of such widespread and rampant violence — specifically women’s inequality and the abuse of power — have been there for centuries. … Conflict brings violence, insecurity and an environment of impunity, which in turn exacerbates the prevalence of sexual violence.”

“To effectively eradicate conflict-related sexual violence we must redouble our efforts to promote women’s rights as human rights and create viable systems that will end impunity for perpetrators and send a strong message that this most extreme and pervasive abuse of power will not be tolerated,” Osotimehin and Bangura state, adding, “We must be loud and clear: it will be prosecuted. It will be punished.” They discuss a joint mission in DRC, writing, “Together, our goal is to make sure that the commitments that have been made and the work that has been done by the government and the U.N. make a difference in the lives of the women, girls, boys and men who live in fear every day” (11/6).