Enough is enough!
Following the 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, the gang-rape and murder of “low-caste” Indian teens, and a myriad of similar cases around the globe, the United Nations is taking action against perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict-ridden countries. Reparations, UN Women says, will be their first step in ensuring justice for sexually-abused victims.
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, held in London on Wednesday, was highly-publicized with the hashtag #TimeToAct. The hashtag, proving to be more effective than just a Twitter trend, indeed impelled the world to act — UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka unveiled the “Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” guidance note.
Maleficent actress Angelina Jolie, who co-hosted the summit, applauded this UN-pushed initiative, which finally addresses the sexual violence plaguing women in war-torn countries.
“It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians… done to torture and humiliate people and often to very young children,” Jolie said. “We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries.”
The written plan of action offers advice on how to compensate victims of sexual violence — not just once-off cash payments, but access to land and inheritance rights for “long-term, in-depth solutions.” The new UN policy also seeks to grant affected women with fistula surgery and “income-generating skills” to help them launch a better future.
“Once the perpetrator is behind bars, a woman’s life is not healed at that point. The tragedy continues for her. The stigma she lives with, and her economic wellbeing, are significantly compromised … she needs psycho-social support and material support to get her life back. Women need collateral, access to finance,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said, according to EurActiv.com.
This document was the result of two years’ work with 25 experts who field-tested the guidance note in countries such as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We will pursue [you] with every means at our disposal. There will be no hiding place and no safe haven,” UN special rep Zainab Bangura says to perpetrators. “Sooner or later, we will get you… This is not mission impossible.”