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U.N. Security Council Adopts Resolution Condemning Sexual Violence

“The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning sexual violence in war zones, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presiding and appealing for global action to end the scourge,” the Associated Press reports. “The U.S.-sponsored measure, passed by a 15-0 vote, creates a special United Nations envoy to coordinate efforts to combat the use of rape as a weapon of war and directs U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to dispatch a team of experts to advise governments on how best to prosecute offenders,” the news service writes.

“Today, the United States joins with the international community in sending a simple and unequivocal message: violence against women and children will not be tolerated and must be stopped,” President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House. He added that his administration “will continue to support the right of all women and girls to live free from fear, and to realize their full potential” (Lee, 9/30).

“‘Even though women and children are rarely responsible for initiating armed conflict, they are often war’s most vulnerable and violated victims,’ said Clinton, who visited the Democratic Republic of Congo in August and met with rape victims,” Reuters reports. “‘The dehumanizing nature of sexual violence doesn’t just harm a single individual or a single family or even a single village or a single group, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings,’ she said” (Nichols, 9/30).

Christian Science Monitor: “Secretary Clinton, who has committed to making women’s issues a ‘centerpiece’ of her work as the Obama administration’s chief diplomat…was moved to seek additional action against the growing use of rape [during conflicts] as a result of her visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” The article also notes there are growing reports from the West African nation of Guinea “accusing the military of resorting to mass rapes as part of a crackdown on opposition protesters” (LaFranchi, 9/30).

During the Security Council session, Clinton commended the work of Indian peacekeepers in preventing violence against women in Liberia, the Times of India reports. As Clinton described, the all-women police unit from India “provide[s] an excellent example of the steps a U.N. mission can take in cooperation with the host government to prevent violence against women and girls.” The group, she said, “helped to motivate more Liberian women to participate in a campaign against rape, launched jointly by U.N. and the Liberian government” (10/1).

In a related story, British Medical Journal News examines the ongoing violence against refugee women in Sudan, “despite the presence of international security forces,” as documented in a recent report by Amnesty International (Moszynski, 9/30).

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