New UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Envoy Appointed
Friday, July 6, 2012 11:20 AM

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Zainab Hawa Bangura to serve as Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, an envoy position created to address issues like rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriage.  Bangura will replace Swedish women’s rights activist Margot Wallström, who was the first to hold the position of Special Representative, created only a few years ago.

Bangura, currently the Minister of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, has been outspoken on issues of female genital mutilation and is “an experienced results-driven civil society, human and women’s right campaigner and democracy activist,” according to a UN statement.  Wallström indicated confidence in both her successor and her former team to carry out the envoy’s mission of combating sexual violence.
The position is increasingly relevant, as armed conflict frequently involves sexual violence against civilians as a mechanism of military and political strategy.  About 150 million girls and 73 million boys have experienced rape or sexual exploitation, according to the World Health Organization.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country mired in conflict for many years, rape has been called a ‘weapon of war,’ and one study estimated that 48 Congolese women are raped every hour.
Compiled from: "UN Appoints New Sexual Violence Envoy," AWID (25 June 2012).