At UN Pakistan calls for resolving conflicts to eliminate sexual violence

New York, 16 May, 2017

Pakistan’s top diplomat told the UN that prevention and resolution of conflicts was the best way to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence.

Speaking in the Security Council’s debate on sexual violence in conflict, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi expressed Pakistan’s support for the UN Secretary General’s emphasis on conflict prevention as the core of the global and security paradigm.

She said that multidimensional peacekeeping missions with protection mandates play a key role in combating violence against women in conflict and post-conflict situations.

As a leading troop contributing country, she assured the 15-member Council of Pakistan’s commitment to protect women and girls from sexual violence and said that gender sensitization was part of mandatory training for Pakistani peacekeepers.

“My country will continue to uphold and value the principles underpinning protection of the vulnerable including women and children”, the Pakistani envoy said and added, “For us, they are not only a global peace and security concern but more importantly, an imperative of humanity”.

Ambassador Lodhi asserted that exploitation of women and girls was not an incidental byproduct of conflict, but  a  widely employed instrument  to humiliate and terrorize civilians.

She said that several state and non-state actors have employed rape and sexual abuse as a deliberate policy to subdue and suppress entire populations.

“We see this in Pakistan’s neighbourhood as well. Unfortunately, those who commit and condone sexual violence are often not fully held to account”, she added.

Pakistan called for strengthening and enhancing the capacity of national institutions and criminal justice systems in countries facing armed conflict. Ambassador Lodhi argued that as prosecution was critical for prevention, combating impunity for these crimes was of utmost importance.

She  also called for provision of support to the victims of sexual violence. Dr. Lodhi said that justice does not only mean punishment for the perpetrators but also redress for the survivors.

“Survivors not only need financial compensation but also access to health care, social services and legal support. They must also be given assistance to reintegrate into society”, she added.

Supporting the Secretary General’s recommendation that conflict-related sexual violence should be considered a ground for asylum, Ambassador Lodhi stressed that the plight of migrant women and girls, require special attention to  ensure that in their quest for protection and safety, these victims of conflict do not fall prey to human trafficking and abuse.

Sexual violence, she said, was amongst the most egregious crimes in armed conflict, one that disproportionately affects women and girls.

She regretted that for far too long, sexual violence has been considered as an unfortunate and inevitable reality of conflict and the humanity has stood at the sidelines, seeking justification for its collective inaction, in an evasive sense of fatalism.