Male-domination the biggest impediment to fight against sexual violence

Gender & Equality
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A global summit has been told that male-domination in many cultures is the biggest impediment to the fight against end to sexual violence, in both developing and developed nations.

A global summit has been told that male-domination in many cultures is the biggest impediment to the fight against end to sexual violence, in both developing and developed nations.

 

"A male-dominated culture prevails in governments, armed forces, the judiciary, international organizations. It is a barrier to fully understanding the scale and depth of suffering and must be overcome," said Mr. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees . "This gap is a very serious one and it is not limited to the developing world. We see how difficult it is to deal with family violence in industrialized countries."

He was speaking during the "Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict" summit held in London last week, which was co-hosted by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Minister William Hague.

Mr. Guterres said that the prevailing culture of impunity for rape and other sexual violence in conflict areas was another impediment. He regretted that perpetrators are rarely arrested, prosecuted and punished.

Timely and adequate support for survivors and their families remains the third key gap, he said. He called on the international community to do more to end sexual violence in conflict by paying more attention to the need for a global cultural shift; ending impunity; and providing better support for victims.

In South Sudan, more than a million people - mainly women and children - have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict. Many atrocities have been reported, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The recent report by United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on human rights abuses in the country notes that sexual violence is well-known to be under-reported during peacetime, and that during conflict, obstacles to reporting are even greater.

It further says that because of breakdown in hospitals and primary care clinics in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States, the ability of survivors of sexual violence to receive services in such an environment was severely diminished. Consequently, most incidents of sexual violence could not be reported to health actors, or documented or verified through medical reports.

The report further says that social stigma also prevented reporting, and where incidents were reported, investigations often could not proceed in order to protect the survivor. While some incidents have been verified, many remain under investigation.

Addressing the delegates, Mr. Guterres highlighted the progress made over the past six months since a call to action on prevention and response was launched in London last November. He lauded the United States-led initiative, "Safe from the Start;" progress in monitoring sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and treatment of victims; new policies; and an increased operational response.

"The lack of capacity is particularly serious in relation to psycho-social support. The gap is huge and it requires massive investment to be addressed," said the High Commissioner.

The London gathering brought together government representatives of 123 countries to hear directly about the nature and impact of sexual violence in conflict; to draw on recommendations from experts; and to provide an opportunity for governments to discuss national perspectives and challenges as well as outline their own implementation of the UN General Assembly's Declaration to End Sexual Violence in Conflict and any new commitments.

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