Can Angelina Jolie and the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict Help Stop This Crisis?June 9, 2014
When a violent conflict emerges, it is women and girls who bear the brunt of the conflict in some of the most horrific ways imaginable.
For example, from 2006 to 2007, faced with a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 400,000 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 were raped. In other words, every five minutes in the DRC, four women and girls were raped. These are human rights abuses perpetrated at an astounding rate.
These abuses have touched conflict zones across the world: from Bosnia to Syria to Colombia, and have become a prominent feature of modern armed conflict.
This week, the Global Summit To End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London will call the world to action to end this global human rights abuse.
Chaired by William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, and Angelina Jolie, and the Special Envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the conference is bringing together and calling upon governments, practitioners, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society members to mobilize around sexual violence prevention in conflict-affected countries, all in accordance with the U.N. Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence.
This Global Summit is an important opportunity for states, in concert with civil society, to move forward on an urgently needed plan of action to address sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.
Amnesty International is urging participating states to adopt, and commit to implementing, a practical and cohesive program of action; one that addresses the multiplicity of factors that make sexual and gender-based violence such a common feature of modern day armed conflict.
These factors include gender inequality in every corner of the world, the continuing lack of women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, and lack of access to justice, truth and reparation for survivors of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence under international law, whether they are male or female, adult or child.
Amnesty International has issued a Checklist of key recommendations to the countries participating in the Global Summit which are critical if the summit is to yield an effective, coordinated and human rights-based approach to addressing sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.
The recommendations include:
- Criminalization of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence as crimes under international law;
- Removing barriers to investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes under international law;
- Support and enable women’s human rights defenders, and;
- Pledge to support and consult with survivors.
There is an additional step that the United States can take to help prevent and end sexual violence in conflict – pass the Women, Peace and Security Act.
If passed, the bill would require the U.S. to promote the meaningful inclusion and participation of women in all peace processes that seek to prevent, alleviate or resolve armed conflict.
Amnesty is asking the U.S. Congress to pass the Women, Peace and Security Act to do its part in helping to ensure that women are an integral part of the peace-making process.
Until we recognize the impact of sexual violence in conflict and develop holistic ways to prevent it, this human rights violation will continue to affect millions of women – and men – around the world.
Join Amnesty International USA as we support the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Stay connected to the conversation on Twitter using #TimeToAct! And visit our women’s human rights program to learn more.