Paris: Sexual violence as a weapon of war
and as an outcome of turmoil and disaster is inflicting a
terrifying toll on women, the United Nations said today.
"Women rarely wage war, but they too often suffer the
worst of its consequences," the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
said in its annual snapshot of the state of the world`s
"Gender-based violence, including rape, is a repugnant
and increasingly familiar weapon of war. The immediate toll it
takes extends far beyond its direct victims, insidiously
tearing apart families and shattering societies for
generations to come."
The report is issued in the run up to the 10th
anniversary on October 30 of UN Security Council resolution
1325, which condemns violence against women and girls in armed
conflicts and calls for women to be given a greater role in
policing and peace building.
It also coincides with growing international outrage
at the evidence of mass rapes -- by rebel militia and
government troops alike -- in a strife-torn region in the
eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
More than 15,000 rapes were committed there last year,
the head of the UN force in the DRC, Roger Meece, said last
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said
conflict today was less and less about soldiers confronting
each other on the battlefield and more about seeking to break
the will of civilians.
"In many of today`s conflicts women are disempowered
by rape or the threat of it, and by the HIV infection, trauma
and disabilities that often result from it," she said.
"Girls are disempowered when they cannot go to school
because of the threat of violence, when they are abducted or
trafficked, or when their families disintegrate or must flee."
Women and girls also become vulnerable in the
aftermath of protracted emergencies, such as earthquakes and
The 116-page report says the outlook is not entirely
grim, highlighting the experiences of grassroots workers and
self-help groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Liberia, the
West Bank, Uganda and the DRC among other locations.
It stresses the need for protection in legal text and
policing and swift judicial redress.
"For war-affected women, justice delayed is more than
justice denied -- it is terror continued," said Margot
Wallstrom, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon`s special
representative on sexual violence in conflict.