Reports Of Sexual Violence In Ukraine Rising Fast, Security Council Hears

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Allegations of sexual violence by Russian troops in
Ukraine are mounting, a senior UN official told the Security
Council on Monday, expressing regret over a stark
discrepancy between that painful reality, and the global
community’s ambition to end the use of rape as a weapon of
war.

Pramila
Patten
, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative
for Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, recalled her recent
visit to Ukraine and outlined the elements of a recently
signed Framework
of Cooperation
on the Prevention and Response to
Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, which seeks to strengthen
accountability and combat those abhorrent
crimes.

“Too often have the needs of women and girls
in conflict settings been side-lined and treated as an
afterthought,” she said, welcoming that fact that the
newly signed Framework makes them an explicit
priority.

‘Painful’ reality

Recalling the
Council’s many resolutions – backed up by international
law – prohibiting the use of sexual violence as a tactic
of war, the Special Representative highlighted the gaping
chasm between those commitments and the situation of many
women around the world.

“Painfully, my visit cast
into stark relief the gap that still exists between the
aspiration of prevention expressed by this Council through
the robust normative framework that has been established
over the past decade, and the reality on the ground for the
most vulnerable,” she said.

As of 3 June, the Human
Rights Monitoring Team of the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights had received reports of 124 alleged acts of
conflict-related sexual across Ukraine.

Forced to
watch

Women and girls constituted most of the alleged
victims, while some reporting instances of sexual violence
were also men and boys.

A national hotline on domestic
violence, human trafficking and gender-based discrimination
has been set up, and has received multiple shocking reports
ranging from gang rape, to coercion, where loved ones are
forced to watch an act of sexual violence committed against
a partner or a child.

Urgent action

Against
that backdrop, Ms. Patten urged humanitarian actors to
prioritize support for survivors of sexual and gender-based
violence as a life-saving component of their work.

She
also warned against waiting too long to act.

“An
active battle-ground is never conducive to accurate
‘book-keeping’ […] if we wait for hard data and
statistics, it will always be too late,” she said, calling
on the international community to mobilize
immediately.

“We do not need hard data for a
scaled-up humanitarian response, nor for all parties to put
in place preventive measures,” she
added.

Trafficking risks ‘alarmingly
evident’

Detailing the provisions of the recently
signed Framework of Cooperation, she said it will help
strengthen cooperation between those working to combat and
deter sexual violence in Ukraine.

It also aims to
reduce the risk posed by human traffickers to those fleeing
Ukraine, and to provide services to victims.

However,
she cautioned that the protection challenges facing the
nearly 6.8 million people who have fled the country are
unprecedented, and the heightened risks of trafficking in
persons – including for purposes of sexual exploitation
and prostitution – have been “alarmingly evident”
since the start of the conflict.

Against that
backdrop, she urged the Council and the global donor
community to stand in solidarity with Ukrainian authorities
and UN entities to support the Framework’s
implementation.

“It is crucial to ensure that the
level of political focus, as well as the allocation of
resources for a comprehensive response, is commensurate with
the scale and complexity of the problem,” she
said.

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https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2206/S00090/reports-of-sexual-violence-in-ukraine-rising-fast-security-council-hears.htm

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