On 29 September, Baroness Anelay, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Vesna Pusić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for the Republic of Croatia, chaired a side event during the UN General Assembly on Challenging Attitudes to Prevent Sexual Violence in Conflict.
This event was an opportunity to examine the attitudes and cultural ideas which can lead to or perpetuate sexual violence in conflict and some of the way of overcoming these. The panellists spoke about the work some communities are doing to challenge such practices including through engaging men and boys, the role of education and encouraging faith leaders to use their influence to speak out.
As well as Baroness Anelay and Foreign Minister Pusić, the panel consisted of Pari Ibrahim, founder of the Free Yazidi Foundation and Paul-Andre Wilton, Conflict Policy Adviser at Care International.
Following the meeting, Baroness Anelay said:
Today’s discussion builds on those started at last year’s Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict and the International Inter-Faith Conference earlier this year.
We know that there is no one action which will end the use of sexual violence as a tactic in conflict. Addressing the underlying causes of inequality has to be part of the solution. We must challenge ideas which see women and children as the spoils of war. We have to continue to speak out about stigma so that it moves firmly onto the shoulders of perpetrators and not survivors.
I am pleased that today we have been able to hear about the excellent work being carried out in Croatia through legislation to recognise survivors and by Care International and the Free Yazidi Foundation. Although this is a complex area, this demonstrates that it is not an impossible to create meaningful change.