Using sexual violence as a weapon in war is a “threat to our collective security” and a “stain on our common humanity”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday in his message commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The UN chief in his address said sexual violence was used by militants as a “a tactic of war, to terrorize people and to destabilize societies.”
He noted that the vice had ripple effects on downward generations, leaving victims traumatized and facing stigma, poverty, long-term health issues and unwanted pregnancy.
“They are mostly women and girls, but also men and boys, calling for our support to access life-saving health services, justice and reparation”, he elaborated.
Guterres called for an end to the practice, urging authorities across the world to bring perpetrators of sexual violence to book.
“Our global response must include more concerted action to ensure accountability for the perpetrators – and to address the gender inequality that fuels these atrocities,” he said.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict was proclaimed by the UN in June 2015, setting aside 19 June for this purpose.
The day was set aside in order to raise awareness on the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world and to pay tribute to all those who have courageously devoted their lives to and lost their lives in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.
The date was chosen to commemorate the adoption on 19 June 2008 of Security Council resolution 1820 (2008), in which the Council condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war and an impediment to peacebuilding.