On International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the European Commission has outlined its vital efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict was first marked by the UN in 2015, and aims to raise awareness of the need to combat sexual violence in conflict, and serves as an opportunity to honour victims and survivors of sexual violence, as well as those who have given their lives to stand against such crimes.
In a statement to mark the occasion, UN Women welcomed ‘ground-breaking advancements in the fight against conflict-related sexual violence’ over the past ten years, including successful prosecutions by national and international tribunals, legal and legislative reforms to enhance protection, the establishment of specialised services for survivors and codes of conduct for security services.
How has the EU contributed to the fight?
In a joint statement, European Commissioners Federica Mogherini, Johannes Hahn, Neven Mimica, Christos Stylianides and Věra Jourová, emphasised the ongoing need to combat sexual violence in conflict, particularly as such conflicts continue in Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere around the world.
In the statement, the commissioners said: “Sexual violence against women and girls, boys and men is a despicable crime, and even more so when it occurs in situations of conflict, or as a tactic of war. It is a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. For this reason, the European Union always has and will continue to condemn and fight sexual violence in conflict with the strongest commitment.”
Europe’s commitment includes a joint EU-UN spotlight initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, into which the EU has invested €500m, alongside an additional €22m which was allocated in humanitarian aid, with the direct aim of preventing sexual and gender-based violence.
Further, the EU is currently leading a call to action on protection from gender based violence in emergencies, a global initiative with more than 70 stakeholders, who are directly tasked with preventing conflict-related sexual violence.