Actions Taken to Stop Conflict-Zone Rape
Monday, July 27, 2009 10:50 AM

A forum on the United Nations' efforts to stop crimes of conflict-related sexual violence around the world was held at the Aspen Institute and included speakers from the U.S. State Department, the European Commission and the United Nations. An increasing understanding that rape is not just a side effect of war, but a tool that is purposefully used to terrorize communities, has driven this call for action.


Sexual assault, along with disfigurement to brand the victim, destroys the victim’s acceptance in their community. They are often rejected by their own husbands and families, leading to permanent damage of not only the victim but also their family and community. Sexual violence in conflict zones not only threatens victims, but whole communities and countries, explained Vice President of the European Commission Margot Wallstrom, and therefore it needs a national response. Wallstrom went on to say, “It has to be put to the fore because it destroys societies. Even if there is eventually peace (in war-torn countries), what kind of society does this leave behind?”


Thus far, international response has taken the form of two U.N. resolutions in 2000 and 2008 that brought attention to parts of the problem and called for those involved in conflict situations to take actions to protect women and girls from sexual violence. According to the U.N., implementation of these resolutions has been shaky. The U.N. Security Council is projected to discuss ways to improve the implementation of the 2008 resolution later this month. The executive director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Ines Alberti, explained to the forum that the attitude that sexual assault is an unavoidable result of war has begun to shift due to the U.N. resolutions. Alberti also said that more steps must be taken and women’s security must be a central part of all U.N. peacekeeping missions.


Compiled from Stronger Action Urged to Stop Conflict-Zone Rape, Rich Daly, Women’s eNews (9 July 2009).