Momentum to Stop Rape in Conflict Builds Ahead of United Nations Gathering in New York

New York—March 4, 2013

As the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women kicks off, members of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are rallying in New York to call on leaders for increased action to end conflict-related sexual violence.

 “It is urgent for us as an international community to move quickly to end sexual violence because it is one of the greatest barriers to women’s empowerment and sustainable peace,” says Jody Williams, Nobel Peace laureate and co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence.  “Decades after the guns are turned in, women and their communities are still bearing the physical and emotional scars of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed during conflict.”

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict calls on all member states, institutions, and organizations participating at the Commission on the Status of Women to commit to action to prevent rape in conflict, provide protection in the form of comprehensive psychosocial and medical services for survivors, and support justice for survivors of gender violence in conflict.

In its work, the Campaign is building upon recent momentum to tackle stopping rape in conflict.  Members of the Campaign have been instrumental in bringing international attention to the role of rape and gender violence in recent conflicts—including in Libya and Syria, where data collection by civil society has led to the first investigations into rape and human rights abuses in these countries. In Somalia, the coordinated effort of the Campaign spotlighted the recent case of a young rape survivor sentenced to prison and brought international policymakers to her defense.

The Campaign is also mobilizing quickly to protect those courageous individuals and organizations that dedicate themselves to helping survivors of sexual violence.  When Campaign Advisory Committee member and Panzi Hospital founder Dr. Denis Mukwege barely escaped an assassination attempt in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Campaign rallied to bring attention to his plight and then worked to ensure that he could return to his work in safety.

Some member states of the UN have taken notice of the need to take urgent action on sexual violence.  As it takes up the G8 presidency this year, the United Kingdom is working with Campaign members to make stopping rape in conflict a foreign policy.

Since the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict launched in May 2012, there has been increasing attention placed on the need for more resources and powerful action to stop rape in conflict. Our Advisory Committee members have:

  • Organized events at the UN General assembly and the African Union Summit to provide a forum for survivors of rape and gender violence to speak directly to high-level national and international policymakers;
  • Inspired women and men in 207 countries to rise against violence in the largest global action to end violence against women on February 14, 2013 through One Billion Rising, organized by V-Day;
  • Helped break the silence on sexual violence perpetrated by Sri Lankan security forces and Canadian Royal Mounted Police through reports published by Human Rights Watch in February 2013;
  • Impacted jurisprudence on crimes of sexual violence as South Africa opened an investigation into widespread rape perpetrated by Zimbabwe President Mugabe’s political party—a push by AIDS-Free World;
  • Participated in peace negotiations and launched toll-free phone numbers to report violence ahead of Kenya’s elections on March 4, to provide a coordinated response to possible gender violence during the post-election period;
  • Led delegations to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Liberia to hear testimony from hundreds of survivors—and share what they heard with key national and international policymakers.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is an annual gathering of Member States in New York to discuss and promote gender equality and advancement of women. This year’s session runs from March 4-15.

This year’s commission held on the theme of “eliminating and preventing all forms of violence,” offers organizations and policymakers from around the world a two-week forum to discuss current responses to violence against women, and how gaps can be addressed. Members of the Campaign are in New York organizing high-level side events and meeting with United Nations officials and member state delegations.

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Media contact:

Zuzia Danielski
Acting Coordinator
The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
zdanielski@stoprapeinconflict.org
+1 613 263 0661

 www.stoprapeinconflict.org

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict is led by the Nobel Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and an Advisory Committee comprised of 25 organizations working at the international, regional and community levels to stop rape. Since its launch in May 2012, more than 600 organizations from around the world have joined. The Campaign demands urgent and bold political leadership to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and calls for justice for all—including effective prosecution of those responsible.

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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
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