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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid