Sexual Violence

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Nov 2018 10:52:55


INDIA has called for the UN Security Council sanctions regime to “proactively” list terrorists and terror groups involved in sexual violence in armed conflicts, underscoring that prosecution of criminals engaged in trans-boundary crimes is critical to delivering justice to victims. First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Paulomi Tripathi voiced concern that sexual violence, abductions, and human trafficking continued to be used as weapons of war in armed conflict by non-State actors and terrorist organisations.

“Rapidly expanding trans-boundary criminal networks finance terror, supply arms, recruit and train of foreign fighters and destabilise whole regions which disproportionately affect women,” she said during a UN Security Council debate on ‘Women, Peace, and Security.’
Tripathi noted that large-scale movements of refugees emanating from armed conflicts increased the vulnerability of women to discrimination and exploitation. Emphasising the need for global cooperation in this front, she said no country was in a position to effectively counter these challenges alone.

“The Council must push for effective cooperation on countering terrorism that threatens peace and security,” she said. Tripathi asserted that the Council must make all efforts to realise the full potential of integrating women, peace and security considerations in sanctions regimes.

The Sanctions Committees of the Security Council need to address the issue of proactively listing terrorist individuals and entities involved in sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflicts. International cooperation for the prosecution of criminals engaged in trans-boundary crimes is important to bring justice to the victims, a large number of whom is women and girls. The participation of women in formal peace processes itself remains extremely limited and the international community still has “far to go” as the conflict continues to have a devastating effect on women and girls. Between 1990 and 2017, women constituted just 2 per cent of the mediators, 8 per cent of the negotiators and 5 per cent of the witnesses and the signatories in all major peace processes.

The UN documented more than 800 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 2017, a 56 per cent increase since 2016. Women’s marginalisation, lack of access to health and education services, and economic disempowerment continue to be both a cause and an effect of conflict. Funding for programmes to promote gender equality and empowerment of women in countries affected by conflict is just 5 per cent of the total bilateral aid to such countries.

Despite the greater participation of women in building and sustaining peace and the recognition from all quarters of the value they bring, the realities on the ground show that much more remains to be done. It is crippling to our credibility and protection capacity that women represent only four per cent of our military peacekeepers and ten per cent of police.

Tripathi pointed out that the importance of women’s active engagement and leadership in peace and reconciliation processes and in countering the spread of violent extremism is well established. Tripathi told the 15-nation UN body that India was committed to a higher representation of women in peacekeeping missions and had fulfilled the pledge to have 15 per cent of military observers as women.

India has recently partnered with the UN Women toward a capacity building initiative. Under the initiative, the New Delhi-based Centre for UN Peacekeeping (CUPNK) conducted the third UN female military officers’ course for 40 women military officers from 26 countries. India also fully supports UN Secretary General’s zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse and the strong commitment to achieving gender parity in peace operations.

The condition of women is such not only in war-torn countries or conflict zones but even in times of peace, in the greater part of the world, including India. Women’s safety and uplift is a global issue and many countries and societies are grappling with this problem. We have not been able to improve the general situation of women in most of the world.

There have been marked improvements but the process has been slow and fraught with impediments and oppositions from a patriarchal dominion. Women, even in the developed west, suffer various forms of exploitation in the form of abuse, harassment, bias, conjugal violence and pay disparities even today, though so much has been done by women’s rights groups for women’s emancipation.

Unless people’s mentality changes and it gives more space to women and their needs and wants, the skewed relationship will continue. It should not be just a UN concern or prerogative to change things – it is the responsibility of all stakeholders and right thinking persons.
Husbands, fathers, sons, leaders, all are responsible for whatever is happening to women. If they are powerful and more participating in societal affairs, the credit largely goes to the support of the family— the husband, the father. Conversely, if women are subjugated, and they fail to realise their potentials and don’t have the right and power to fight for their rights, the blame for the same to a great extent must fall on the male members who are part of their life.

Male support is very essential for women to flourish because a woman’s life ultimately revolves around her home and the concerns of her family. If the family breaks, it may not ruffle a man much or to the same intensity as it disturbs a woman. She would always want to knit the family together even at the cost of her career and professional ascendancy.

Therefore, it becomes pertinent for her to have a supportive ecosystem, which, unfortunately, is largely missing in most cases. It is a matter of outlook and perception that we need to change and that comes with a lot of effort through education and awareness over a long period of time. This is why the task is daunting and its ways and methods ambiguous.

In times of crisis and uncertainty, the fixtures and certitudes of society perish and women thus get exposed to forces which are debilitating, destructive and even traumatic for them. Hence, it becomes a more difficult task to contain such violent implications during wars and conflicts. Here, the role of UN and its compliant countries come into play. The more they are involved, efficient and informed, the better they can fight the negative forces.

By the way, it is important for the UN to have more say and teeth in its actions to tame unsavory forces that undermine human dignity in times of vulnerability when true valor is in restraint, not in bestiality. The UN has resources and authority – it must play a more proactive role in controlling insurgent elements and their inhuman actions by involving more countries and their resources and expertise, and envisaging a more constructive role to lay the path for a more inclusive world order.