New York, US (PANA) -The annual UN report documenting conflict-related sexual violence around the world for the first time on Thursday named some of the military forces, militia and other armed groups that are suspected of being among the worst offenders.
A statement on the report made available to PANA in New York said that the groups listed in the document included the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in South Sudan, armed militia groups and former armed forces in Cote d’Ivoire, and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
It stated that the report provided examples of how sexual violence had threatened security and impeded peacebuilding in post-conflict situations, such as in Chad, CAR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It also revealed how it has been used in the context of elections, political strife and civil unrest in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya and Syria, among others.
"Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent. It is a global risk. The terror of unarmed women facing armed men is age-old and universal,” the UNSecretary-General’s Special Representative, Ms. Margot Wallstrom, who presented the report to the Security Council in New York, noted.
She said: "The report stressed that over the past year there have been several new and ongoing armed conflicts where sexual violence was widespread and, in some instances, may have been systematically targeted at civilians by armed forces and armed groups with the intent of punishing and humiliating the population."
Wallstrom also said that, "wars have entered the marketplaces where women trade, they follow children enroute to school and haunt the prison cells where political activists are detained".
She also added that when rape is part of political coercion it threatens collective peace and security with long-term consequences.
The UN envoy said that the report highlighted the need to put measures and frameworks in place not just to address sexual violence in conflict but to prevent it.
"It also outlined various UN initiatives that seek to identify early warning signs of sexual violence, and to ensure that peace agreements address this issue so it is not repeated in the future," Wallstrom said.
She added: "The terms of the debate have shifted from reacting to sexual violence like any other tragedy, to preventing it like any other threat.
"Instead of talking about women’s wartime suffering, year after year after year, protection mechanisms have been established. Instead of seeing the same few women in meeting after meeting we are building a broad coalition."
Wallstrom emphasized the need to protect not only women and children but also men from sexual violence.
She expressed particular concern about the reported sexual abuse of men in detention in Syria as a method of extracting intelligence.
"The report, which covers the period from December 2010 to November 2011, also underscores the importance of ensuring that sexual violence does not continue in post-conflict situations, as there are many cases when this type of violence will prevail long after wars have ended," she stressed.
As a process of intimidation, targeted rape was often a precursor to conflict, as well as the last weapon to be relinquished in its wake, Wallstrom noted, saying it was important not to exclude from consideration sexual violence that continued after the guns fell silent.
The UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous and Amina Megheirbi from the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Stability also addressed the Security Council, as well as representatives of more than 40 member states.
Ladsous highlighted various UN missions that are working with governments to empower women and implement measures to prevent sexual violence.
He stressed that accountability and political will from member states was essential, and called on all countries to commit to mandates that protected women and integrated them into political life.
On her part, Megheirbi argued that without the full participation of women in society and ending of impunity for those who hadcommitted sexual crimes, there could not be lasting peace and stability.
-0- PANA AA/MA 23Feb2012