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Lives Blown Apart

A new report says, “women and girls bear the brunt of armed conflicts…and that the patterns of violence are ordered, condoned or tolerated. The report - entitled “Lives Blown Apart” - was released Wednesday by Amnesty International.

The Amnesty report says, “Women and girls are not just killed, they are raped, sexually attacked, mutilated and humiliated.” It says “disparaging a woman’s sexuality – and destroying her physical integrity – have become a means by which to terrorize, demean and defeat entire communities.”

Amnesty says this is taking place around the world in more than thirty conflicts, including Sudan, the DRC, Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

Anna Urrutia-Enciso is the head of Amnesty International’s violence against women campaign.

She says, "Violence against women and girls has been around for a very long time. However, we at Amnesty International believe that it’s not inevitable and that it does not arise naturally. Rather, it’s ordered, condoned and tolerated from the highest levels of politically and military powers."

She says there are millions of women around the world who are being raped and sexually abused as part of conflicts.

"They are raped and sexually abused by all parties of conflicts, whether they are armed forces or government forces, they all commit human rights violations against them with impunity," she says.

The Amnesty report says rape survivors not only suffer physical, psychological and emotional trauma, but risk getting disease, including HIV/AIDS. Many also run the risk of being ostracized by their families and communities.

Ms. Urrutia-Enciso says the mechanisms exist to end human rights violations against women and girls – and promises have been made to end the abuses. She says it is time to “deliver justice, hope and protection.”

She says, "We at Amnesty International are proposing an agenda for change at the international, the national, the regional and the individual level. We believe that the international mobilization of individuals, organizations and institutions from around the world can actually deliver change for women and girls."

Amnesty International’s recommendations include an immediate condemnation by the international community of violence against women. Also, an end to impunity for those who commit the violence -- “full, effective and prompt reparations to survivors of violence” -- And the full involvement of women in the peace process.