International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is observed every year on June 19 to raise awareness about sexual violence in conflict and to strategize ways to end these crimes throughout the world.
What is Conflict-Related Sexual Violence?
Despite being referred to as “war’s oldest crime,” sexual violence remains a disturbing reality in today’s conflicts. The term “conflict-related sexual violence” encompasses various forms of grave sexual abuse, such as rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage, and other similarly severe acts of sexual violence. These acts can be directed towards women, men, girls, or boys and are directly or indirectly linked to a conflict. The term also includes instances of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation that occur during conflicts.
A consistent and troubling issue is that many survivors of conflict-related sexual violence do not come forward to report these crimes due to a combination of fear and cultural stigma. It is estimated that for every reported rape connected to a conflict, there may be 10 to 20 additional cases that go unreported and undocumented, according to professionals working in the field.
History of the Day and UN Resolutions
On June 19, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated June 19 of each year as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict (resolution A/RES/69/293). This important day aims to raise awareness about the urgent need to eradicate sexual violence in conflict, honor the victims and survivors of such violence worldwide, and pay tribute to those who have dedicated their lives, and in some cases lost their lives, in the fight against these crimes.
- The chosen date holds significance as it commemorates the adoption of Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) on June 19, 2008. This resolution condemned sexual violence as a deliberate tactic used in times of war and recognized it as a barrier to peacebuilding efforts.
- In recognition of the growing link between violent extremism, trafficking, sexual violence, terrorism, and transnational organized crime, the Security Council passed resolution S/RES/2331 (2016). This resolution, addressing this interconnectedness, acknowledged sexual violence as a tactic employed by terrorist groups.
- Furthermore, it affirmed that victims of trafficking and sexual violence committed by such groups should be considered eligible for official assistance and support as victims of terrorism.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) — a tool for Empowerment and Destruction
This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict focuses on technology and the digital divide. The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can have both positive and negative effects on gender-based violence and women’s empowerment.
- On one hand, it can be used as a tool to perpetrate digital threats and incite violence against women, including harassment, abuse, and encouragement of harm.
- On the other hand, ICT has the potential to promote gender equality, empower women and girls, build resilience in times of crisis, prevent violence, support survivors, and enhance accountability.
- However, there is a significant challenge of limited access to affordable and reliable technology, particularly for women and girls in many countries.
- It is important to address this issue by reducing the cost of technology and improving its affordability, as well as bridging the gender digital divide. Ensuring that technology is safe and accessible to all is crucial.
- Furthermore, promoting inclusive and quality education, including digital literacy, is essential to guaranteeing equitable access to technology for everyone.
- To effectively combat sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and hate speech, both offline and online, international cooperation is necessary.
- These issues pose a threat to democracy and hinder women and girls’ participation in society.
- By working together, we can strengthen efforts to counter these challenges and create a safer and more inclusive environment for all.
Accessible technology plays a crucial role in addressing and combating crimes such as sexual violence. It can serve as a valuable tool in alerting individuals to potential danger, assisting them in finding safe spaces and support, and facilitating the documentation and verification of abuses, which is essential for pursuing accountability.
What is UN Action?
UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action) is a collaborative network comprising 24 United Nations entities. These entities are united by a shared goal of putting an end to sexual violence that occurs during and after armed conflicts. The network works together to address and combat the scourge of sexual violence in conflict-affected areas.
Working as one UN, the UN Action aims to
- Prevent conflict-related sexual violence
- Enhance accountability
- Meet the needs of survivors of sexual violence
By leveraging the collective expertise and resources of its member entities, UN Action aims to prevent sexual violence, provide support and services to survivors, promote accountability for perpetrators, and foster a comprehensive response to this grave violation of human rights. Through its collaborative efforts, UN Action strives to create a safer and more just world, free from the horrors of sexual violence in conflict situations.
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International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict – FAQs
When was International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict established?
What is International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict Theme 2023?
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is an opportunity to take action to end this horrific crime. By using technology to bridge the gender digital divide, we can help to prevent, address, and respond to conflict-related sexual violence.