As members of GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion and concerned global citizens, we are closely following the situation in Tigray and the increased reports of alleged atrocities, that include accusations of systemic gender-based violence.
Violence against women and girls, including sexual violence in conflicts, represents an abhorrent practice and constitutes cruelty beyond comprehension. Allegations of rape being used as a weapon of war call for urgent investigation, preventative and/or mitigating action and support to victims.
As women dedicated to promoting human rights and humanitarian action, advancing sustainable development, and committed to contributing to the search for solutions to the world’s most complex problems, our concern over the protracted situation in Tigray, reports of human suffering, including growing allegations of grievous gender-based violence, evoke our worst moments as humanity:conflicts in which women and girls have been ruthlessly and cruelly targeted, and generations scarred for life.
We therefore urge the Security Council to act urgently to uphold the principles enshrined in UNSCR 1325 and call on all parties to the conflict to take all measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, in particular rape and al forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. We also recall the commitments set forth in UNSCR 1612, UNSCR 1674, UNSCR 1820 ,UNSCR 1882 ,UNSCR 1888 , UNSCR 1960, UNSCR 2106, UNSCR 2122, UNSCR 2467, UNSCR 2493, addressing the necessary protection of women and girls during conflict and condemning in the strongest form any instance of rape as a weapon of war.
To date, the lack of a UNSC pronouncement through a Security Council resolution or Presidential Statement on Tigray represents a grave vacuum in our global leadership and united commitment to act decisively and swiftly when allegations of rape and other forms of gender-based violence are systematically reported in conflict zones.
We join our voices and echo the alarms raised as expressed by multiple humanitarian organizations, including the that of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, in her statement, and the briefing offered by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, in his 15 April 2021 briefing to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia.
The people of Tigray, and notably its women and girls, require that we as global citizens act with unity of purpose and urgency to investigate and prevent all forms of gender-based violence.
How many victims does a conflict need for it to be addressed? How much gender-based violence can a conflict stand without it being addressed?
Let’s stop this. Let’s help girls and women live the lives they deserve, without constant fear and violence.
The world is watching, act now, avoid further suffering.