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Rape an increasing weapon of war, says UN report

Marcus Bleasdale

Rape and other gender-based violence is increasing and the way to fight it is to empower women, according to a UN report published on Wednesday. The State of World Population 2010 produced by the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA) has been issued in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of a Security Council resolution which condemns violence against women and girls.


“Gender-based violence, including rape, is a repugnant and increasingly familiar weapon of war,” says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the executive director of UNFPA, in the foreword of the report.

Conflict and war is less about traditional battle lines and national borders, but “more about combatants struggling for control within a single country and employing any means to break the will of civilians”, she adds.

The report’s release coincides with the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council’s resolution 1325.

On 31 October 2000 it called for a greater role to be given to women in respect of policing and peace building, and recognised that women and children are the “vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict”.

Wednesday’s report looks at how “conflict and protracted humanitarian emergencies affect women and girls – and men and boys”.

“Governments need to seize opportunities arising out of post-conflict recovery or emerging from natural disasters to increase the chances that countries are not just rebuilt, but built back better, and renewed, with women and men on equal footing,” it says.

The release of the 116-page document also coincides with recent reactions to evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo of mass rapes. Margot Wallstrom, UN special envoy on sexual violence said last week that there was evidence of new attacks in the the Walikale region, following earlier attacks in July and August.

It uses the stories of individuals who get caught up in conflict or natural disasters across the world to show how communities and civil society are “healing old wounds and moving forward”.

Countries featured in the report include: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, the Palestinian terrorities, Timor-Leste and Uganda.

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