Pakistan urges UN to end sexual violence in conflict zones

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called for steps to end sexual violence taking place in conflict zones around the world in an obvious effort to highlight in the UN Security Council the atrocities being perpetrated on women and girls in Indian occupied Kashmir.
“From Myanmar to our own neighborhood, the world continues to watch in horror as several state and non-state actors employ rape and sexual abuse as a deliberate policy to subdue and oppress entire populations,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said during a Council open debate in preventing sexual violence in conflict.
She voiced concern that complicated realities surrounding ongoing conflicts and divisions among Council members, some perpetrators of sexual violence crime to continue carrying out heinous atrocities with impunity.
“For far too long, sexual violence has remained a grim and inevitable reality of armed conflicts, which has often been employed systematically and with impunity, to coerce, punish, humiliate and instill fear in the targeted civilian population,” the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council.
“Even as the international community has come together to collectively condemn such acts of unimaginable horror, sexual abuse of women and girls continues to be used as a tactic of war in conflicts around the world.
“Lack of verifiable and independent reporting from many of these hotspots is letting those who commit and condone these acts go scot-free,” she added.
The debate, opened by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and also addressed by Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, was held as the Council prepares for a visit later this month to Myanmar and its neighbour Bangladesh, which hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.
While sexual violence remained a designated war crime and a crime against humanity, Ambassador Lodhi said its impact on survivors went well beyond the ordeal of the harrowing experience itself. “Stigma and marginalization often outlasts the conflict, and the trauma haunted survivors for the rest of their lives.”
The Pakistani envoy urged the Security Council to focus on addressing the root causes of the conflict to remove the grounds where such crimes bred. Concrete steps were needed to enhance the capacity of national institutions and improve criminal justice systems in countries facing armed conflict.
Ambassador Lodhi also called for mechanisms to independently investigate and verify reports emerging from conflict situations where sexual violence occurred. Moreover, victims required protection, rehabilitation, justice ad redress.
Pakistan, she said, had always advocated integration of the gender perspective into the peace-building paradigm to promote the cause of sustaining peace.
“As one of the world’s leading troop contributing countries, Pakistan has set the highest standards in fulfilling peacekeeping mandates, including protection of vulnerable segments of population especially women and children from violence,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
More than 7,000 Pakistanis are currently serving UN peacekeeping missions around the world. More than 170,000 Pakistanis have served over the past decades. One hundred and fortyseven Pakistani peacekeepers have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of world peace and stability. – APP


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