The General Assembly of the UN met today and named June 19th as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict. Many representatives spoke to reiterate the fact that this day should stand out from the others as a rallying cry to end the devastating epidemic of sexual violence in war.
The the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura stated that “This annual commemoration will serve as a global call to action for security, justice and service actors on behalf of survivors of sexual violence in conflicts all over the world.” June 19th also commemorates the date 7 years ago when the Security Council adopted the resolution officially declaring sexual violence a “war crime.”
This issue comes at a critical time when the world is still reeling from the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls by Boko Haram, who frequently use sexual violence as a form of torture, terror, and control.
A documentary, Slaves of the Caliphate, was shown. The film features a woman in Iraq who works to free Yazidi women who are held captive by ISIL fighters. Take the time to watch this video, though it contains graphic descriptions of violence.
Rape and sexual violence in war are tactics that have been used for centuries to terrorize communities and an attempt to taint future generations. Yet with international pressure and attention to these tragedies, such atrocities can cease to occur. Rape as a weapon of war must be stopped, and today marks an important step toward achieving that goal.