News / Europe

Protocol on Sexual Violence in War Launched in London

Protocol on Sexual Violence in War Is Launched in Londoni
X
Henry Ridgwell
June 12, 2014 1:01 AM
A conference in London -- organized in part by actress Angelina Jolie -- has launched a new international protocol on investigating sexual violence in war. Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The conference goal is to tackle the culture of impunity that now surrounds rape and sexual violence in conflict. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
A conference in London - organized in part by actress Angelina Jolie - has launched a new international protocol on investigating sexual violence in war. Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The conference's goal is to tackle the culture of impunity that now surrounds rape and sexual violence in conflict.
 
Lejla Damon was 18 years old when her parents told her the details of her adoption at the height of the Balkans war.

She was born on Christmas Day in Sarajevo in 1992 - in the midst of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. Her mother did not want to see her newborn child. Lejla explains why.

“My mother, who was Bosnian Muslim, was raped repeatedly in the concentration camps at the time, and she became pregnant and then in the end, ended up having to give birth to me in the central hospital in Bosnia, in Sarajevo,” said Damon.

Harsh fallout

She grew up in Britain after being adopted by the husband and wife team who filmed her birth. The guns on Bosnia have long fallen silent, but the conflict has cast a long shadow.

“Out of so many rapes that went on in Bosnia, I think there were only 12 that actually went to court. It's probably my birth mum's story; this kind of sense of injustice, that nothing ever really got done to help her,” said Damon.

She now works with the charity War Child, which is taking part in a four-day global conference in London on ending sexual violence in conflict. On Wednesday, organizers launched an international protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict.

Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, spoke at the launch. “I have met survivors of warzone rape around the world. And almost without exception, they ask for one thing: justice. The right to be accepted, not shunned by society. The right to long-term economic and health support. And above all, the right to see their attackers held accountable in a court of law,” she said.

Sense of impunity

Campaigners say the level of impunity in many African countries is particularly high - and the use of rape as a weapon of war in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo is endemic.

Helen Kezienwha is Uganda country director for the charity ISIS-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange, which gives medical and emotional support for rape victims.

“Most times, when women are raped, their families and especially their husbands reject them, so they suffer from depression, loss of memory sometimes, and sometimes they have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes they see the perpetrators of the violence and nothing has happened,” said Kezienwha.

In Burma, political reforms have drawn widespread praise from the international community. But activists say the situation for women has not changed - particularly in ethnic minority areas where there is still conflict. Zoya Phan is Campaigns Director at Burma Campaign UK.

“In Burma Campaign UK, the reports of rape and sexual violence that we received has increased since President Thein Sein started this reform process. And many of the women who have been raped have been gang raped.”

Conference organizers hope the international protocol will shatter the culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict. Ministers from dozens of countries will debate the proposals over the coming days.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid