In an exchange with reporters outside the United Nations late last week, a high-ranking UN official described sexual violence during war as one of the greatest security risks of our time. Margot Wallstrom the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told reporters that using rape as a tool of war is no more acceptable nor inevitable than committing mass murder.
Wallstrom stressed the importance of recognizing rape as a crime against humanity and warned against creating a hierarchy of such crimes. She noted that "Rape is not a side effect but is actually a new frontline. Widespread and systematic sexual violence is both a crime against the victim and a crime against humanity. And sexual violence is the only crime against humanity that is routinely dismissed as being random or inevitable."
The United Nations is fighting wartime sexual violence through their Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. Its mandate includes providing strategic support for Peacekeeping Operations, raising awareness of the issue, and advocating for further political action to prevent wartime sexual violence. According to CNN, the UN is currently monitoring conflicts in the Republic of Congo, Liberia, Darfur, Chad and Cote d'Iviore because of the high incidence of sexual violence in those regions.
Media Resources: CNN 8/12/10; UN Radio 8/6/10; Stop Rape Now Website