Published: June 19, 2017
Elisa von Joeden-Forgey: “On the third annual International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the world community is asked to focus its attention on an entrenched problem that continues to grow. Similar to the problem of rape in peacetime, sexual violence in conflict, though now recognized as an international crime, remains disturbingly resistant to programs and policies designed to stop it. While the growing awareness of the problem will be helpful in the long-term, the continued widespread use of sexualized violence in conflict by various armed groups as well as by peacekeepers means that the world still must do much more to stop this crime.
At the top of the agenda, must be the promotion of LGBTQIA+ rights around the world, for this community is often subjected to eliminationist and/or licensed violence, including sexualized violence, in ways that make peacetime and conflict virtually indistinguishable.
This year the United Nations has chosen the theme “Preventing Sexual Violence Crimes through Justice and Deterrence.” Countering impunity is indeed one of the most important things the world community can do when faced with sexual violence in conflict. Accountability for perpetrators recognizes and dignifies the experiences of victims and survivors and is necessary to the establishment of any post-conflict peace and security.
In terms of prevention, there is little evidence that punishment alone can work as a deterrent. If we are to prevent sexualized violence in conflict, what is needed now more than ever are justice mechanisms that are engaged in transforming societies towards greater gender equity and social peace. Social justice programs that address the roots of conflict-related sexualized violence alongside the roots of conflict itself can help deepen the impact of post-conflict trials against perpetrators. Since domestic violence, political instability, poverty, climate change, shifting gender roles, and definitions of masculinity and femininity can be seen as contributing jointly to the choices leaders make to undertake violent conflict and to the conditions under which sexualized violence will spread, we hope to see more grassroots gender equality programs in nations threatened by conflict. Bringing together men, women, families and communities to begin to reflect on how the treatment of women may feed conflict is one of our greatest hopes for dismantling the social conditions that can result in catastrophe for entire communities and nations.”