More than 60 nations came together at the U.N. Security Council
Thursday to condemn sexual violence against women as a weapon of war.
The United States holds the rotating presidency of the council this
month, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chaired the special
session. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret
Besheer has more.
Secretary Rice said for several years there
has been a debate about whether the Security Council is the appropriate
forum to address the issue.
"This world body now acknowledges
that sexual violence in conflict zones is indeed a security concern,"
she said. "We affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only
the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability
of their nations."
At the end of the daylong debate, the council
is expected to unanimously adopt a resolution demanding that parties to
armed conflicts immediately stop all acts of sexual violence against
"Today's resolution establishes a mechanism for
bringing these atrocities to light," she added. "Specifically, the
resolution requests that the Secretary-General prepare an action plan
for collecting information on the use of sexual violence in situations
of armed conflict and then reporting that information periodically to
Rice and others expressed concern about the
widespread use of rape in such conflict zones as the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan. And she noted that there have
been reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by some U.N.
peacekeepers, as well as by the staff at the U.N. Mission in Liberia.
United Nations has worked to tackle that problem, and Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon told the meeting that the U.N. is committed to a
zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation by its personnel.
went on to say that violence against women has reached pandemic
proportions in some societies attempting to recover from conflict, and
responding to it requires leadership at the top level.
must do far more to involve women in conflict prevention, peace
negotiations and recovery after the guns fall silent," he said.
has been documented in many armed conflicts across the globe, including
in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti, Liberia and Uganda. Many victims
are often ostracized by their family or community. Others find
themselves infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
addition to rape, women are also subject to forced prostitution during
times of war, trading their bodies for food, shelter and protection,
and some are recruited as child soldiers.