The United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallström, has urged authorities in Côte d'Ivoire to immediately investigate reported rapes that have occurred during the post-election crisis. She also urged authorities to ensure security for women and girls.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the employment of sexual violence as a means to political ends. From preliminary information, it seems that the assaults follow carefully selected political targeting,” said Margot Wallström.
Since the elections in November when Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office, there have been increasing acts of violence against civilians, thousands of whom have been forced from their homes.
“I call for urgent steps to be taken to avert the risk of increased sexual violence and to ensure the protection of civilians, especially women and girls," she said. "I expect the authorities to investigate these incidents swiftly and thoroughly. It is important not only to get an accurate picture of what has happened, but also to clarify who has perpetrated the suspected human rights violations...Ultimately, it is crucial that the perpetrators are held accountable and that the victims of all forms of sexual violence in Côte d'Ivoire see justice done.”
Compiled from: UN News Centre, UN envoy urges protection from sexual violence amid Côte d'Ivoire crisis (January 27, 2011).