Mali: Surge in Sexual Assaults Amid Renewed Fighting
Friday, April 13, 2012 11:20 AM

Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has issued a statement about the recent reports of sexual violence in Mali. She noted the drastic increase in reports of sexual violence associated with the recent political and military unrest in the country. These reports have documented rape, abductions, public rape, and sexual violence in front of family members, and the Special Representative reminded those involved that “[a]cts of conflict-related sexual violence can constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity for which combatants and their commanders will be held to account.”

Malian soldiers seized control of the government last month. This change of control of the federal government added to the challenges of a country that is already dealing with armed conflict with the Tuareg rebellion group in northern Mali. As many as 200,000 – 300,000 Malians have sought refuge in neighboring countries or are internally displaced as a result of this fighting. The UN Security Council has issued statements to the military-controlled government demanding both that it uphold a recent peace treaty signed with the Economic Community of West African States and that it release all human rights workers who have been abducted during the conflict. In her statement, Ms. Wallström emphasized that a peaceful conclusion to the armed combat must include redress for the violence against women.

Compiled from: Senior UN Official Condemns ‘Alarming’ Reports of Sexual Violence in Mali, UN News Centre (10 April 2012).