Belgium seeks to put sexual violence in conflict zones on international agenda

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Together with the European Commission and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium chaired a side event on Wednesday about the fight against impunity for sexual violence in conflict zones, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"Whether it's girls or boys who were raped in Ukraine or the Central African Republic, had to be sex slaves for IS, or mothers who had their child after violence: the survivors each have their own horrific story. What they need, are tailor-made solutions," Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib argued.

Access to healthcare, psychosocial assistance and reparations are part of that package, but above all the victims need justice, Lahbib said. This is no easy task. The vast majority of reported crimes remain unpunished. Early collection and preservation of evidence must therefore be a priority.

"Whether it's girls or boys who were raped in Ukraine or the Central African Republic, had to be sex slaves for IS, or mothers who had their child after violence: the survivors each have their own horrific story."

Sexual violence is punishable by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but it took the ICC almost 20 years to deliver a first-time conviction. Last year, the court awarded 30 million dollars in compensation to child soldiers and victims of sexual violence by Congolese former warlord Bosco Ntaganda.

Belgium contributes to the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and other organisations active in the fight against sexual violence in war zones. In addition, diplomacy systematically tries to put the issue on the international agenda.

(BRV)

 

"The survivors each have their own horrific story. What they need, are tailor-made solutions", Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib argued. © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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