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17 June 2016

Women and Peace and Security

Press Release: Cologne, 16 June 2016. “Rape and other forms of gender based violence are still gruesome everyday reality for many women and girls in crisis areas,” says Monika Hauser, founder of the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on June 19. “It is time to go beyond rhetoric and finally put into practice the international agreements on women, peace and security.”

The International Day is held to mark the passing of UN-Resolution 1820 by the United Nations Security Council (UN) on June 19, 2008. In this resolution, the United Nations expressly recognise sexualised violence and rape as a strategy of war and a crime against humanity. Furthermore, the members of the Security Council state that sexualised violence can pose a threat to world peace and international security. The aims of the resolution are to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, to put an end to the culture and practice of impunity, and to secure particular protection for women during and after armed conflicts.

Dr Hauser criticises the fact that eight years after UN Resolution 1820 was passed, rapes are still rarely being pursued in the courts: "The prevailing culture of impunity gives rapists the impression that their acts do not really constitute a serious crime." Weak and corrupt justice systems, a lack of documentation, insufficient mechanisms for sanctions, and poor access to justice are all factors obstructing any effective prosecution of these crimes. Furthermore, there is a lack of training for military and humanitarian staff to raise their awareness on issues of violence against women or human rights and ensure adequate prevention of violence. Survivors of sexualised violence still do not receive sufficient medical, psychosocial or legal assistance.

The resolution also emphasises how important it is to involve women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Dr Hauser comments: "I am calling on the German government to counter current conflicts such as those in Syria, Libya, the Ukraine or Afghanistan by promoting civilian conflict prevention and resolution. It is also clear that these crises cannot be resolved if half of the population is excluded from the peace negotiations."