New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Margot Wallstrom, on Friday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a call for solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence in conflict throughout the world.
"These survivors, mainly women and girls, have lived through unspeakable horrors at the hands of armed groups who deliberately and systematically use rape as a tactic of terror,” Walstrom said in statement to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 25 November.
She noted that for for too long, crimes of sexual violence had been perceived as
inevitable, unspeakable and a lesser crime and stressed that "together we must break down the walls of silence and shame".
The statement was issued in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, the current stop on a three-nation tour that also took her to Guinea and Sierra Leone.
It stated that in all three countries, the UN envoy met with survivors of sexual violence, victims associations, UN entities, and officials from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
It quoted her as saying that both in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone they had learned about sexual violence being used as a tool of political intimidation in the context of presidential and legislative elections.
"In Guinea-Conakry, the perpetrators of the 28 September 2009 stadium mass rape still remain at large. This is completely unacceptable," she stated.
Wallstrom also stressed that women could only reach their full potential when they felt safe, saying underlying attitudes about the rights of women would only change when people everywhere worked together to change them.
During her visit to Cote d’Ivoire, the UN envoy travelled to Duekoue and Bouake accompanied by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the country, Bert Koenders.
They met with local authorities, military contingents of the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), UN staff, representatives of women’s and youth organizations, and victims of sexual abuse.
-0- PANA AA/MA 25Nov2011