60 nations around the world came together at the U.N. Security Council yesterday to condemn sexual violence against women as a weapon of war.
Rape has been documented in many armed conflicts across the globe, including in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti, Liberia and Uganda. Many victims are often ostracized by their family or community. Others find themselves infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
In addition to rape, women are also subject to forced prostitution during times of war, trading their bodies for food, shelter and protection, and some are recruited as child soldiers.
At the end of the daylong debate, the council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that parties to armed conflicts immediately stop all acts of sexual violence against civilians.
Chairing the Security Council session, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the resolution established a mechanism for bringing those atrocities to light. She said the UN Secretary-General was requested to prepare an action plan for collecting information on the use of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and reporting periodically to the Council.
Rice and others expressed concern about the widespread use of rape in such conflict zones as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. She noted that there have been reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by some U.N. peacekeepers, as well as by the staff at the U.N. Mission in Liberia.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN has worked to tackle that problem and is committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation by its personnel.
In Uganda thousands of women and girls were raped by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army during its 20-year guerilla war. Many of the girls taken into captivity served as sex slaves for the LRA leaders, forced into motherhood at very early age.
Many abducted girls fled from captivity with their children. With no social or literacy skills many of them have been rejected by their families and with no source of income are living in abject poverty. A lucky few, however, have received psycho-social counseling from various humanitarian organizations and have been assisted in reintegrating in society.
violence against women