Pakistan calls for end to conflict-related sexual violence


NEW YORK: Pakistan has called for greater international efforts to address the root cause of conflicts, saying that foreign occupation creates the breeding ground for violence perpetrated by occupying forces against women and girls.

“After all one of the most effective ways to prevent conflict-based sexual violence is to eliminate the breeding grounds that are spawned by unresolved disputes,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council.

“By leaving disputes unaddressed, the Council runs the risk of acting selectively and displaying a blind spot for some of the most vulnerable women who suffer disproportionately from violence perpetrated by foreign occupation,” she said in a debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The Pakistani envoy pointed out that while Security Council was leading global efforts to eliminate the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence, women, especially young girls, continued to carry the main burnt of physical and psychological abuse and trauma.

Ambassador Lodhi underscored that occupying forces and aggressors were employing sexual violence as a broader strategy for repression, domination and subjugation of defenseless and vulnerable communities.

“From Myanmar to my country’s neighborhood”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “the world continues to watch in horror as rape and sexual abuse is employed with impunity as a deliberate means to oppress entire populations and to humiliate and terrorize them”.

She stressed that the legal and normative framework to fight conflict-based sexual violence should be supplemented by a stronger commitment by the international community to fight such horrible crimes.

“Our fight against impunity for conflict related sexual violence must continue with greater commitment to hold aggressors to account, and to never allow political or geo-political interests to constrain or compromise our efforts”, she added.

Calling for more meaningful participation of women in the area of peace and security, Ambassador Lodhi said, “by securing their seats at the table as true partners and stakeholders in all matters related to peace, mediation and reconciliation, we can give peace efforts a much better chance to succeed”.

“We also need to enlist more women in peace building and mediation processes and also as special envoys and special representatives to take advantage of their unique skill sets”, she added.

Ambassador Lodhi also called to fully integrate gender perspectives in the UN’s peace-building paradigm. This, she maintained, would greatly enhance women’s role in peace accords, as well as in the post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction phases.

Pakistan, she told the Council, was deploying a female infantry engagement team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo next month. In addition, Pakistan had achieved the goal of deployment of 15 per cent female staff officers in peacekeeping missions, thus fulfilling its responsibilities in accordance with the uniformed gender parity strategy and Security Council Resolutions.

“Our professional peacekeepers to the UN, including our female peacekeepers, continue to set the highest standards in fulfilling peacekeeping mandates, and protecting all vulnerable segments of the population, including women, from violence in some of the most dangerous and complex conflict situations around the world”, she added.

Opening the debate, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored the need for strengthening justice and accountability in dealing with sexual violence in conflict.

In this regard, he outlined a series of recommendations that were intended to “provide a comprehensive approach to conflict-related sexual violence”.

According to the UN chief, the term “conflict-related sexual violence” refers to sexual assault, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys directly or indirectly linked to a conflict.

Sexual violence continues to be a horrific feature of conflicts around the world, the secretary-general said. “We must recognize that sexual violence in conflict largely affects women and girls because it is closely linked to broader issues of gender inequality and discrimination.”

Prevention must therefore be based on promoting women’s rights and gender equality in all areas, before, during and after conflict,” he added.