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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs