Sunday, August 24, 2014

Memorial to women who have been raped in conflict

International Gender/Post-conflict reconstruction specialist Lesley Abdela will chair a discussion courtesy of the British Council at their headquarters in London in November 2014 on the idea of a monument dedicated specifically to the female spirit of survival after rape used systematically as a strategy of war. World-wide there exists a deeply damaging and unfair attitude towards women who have experienced such sexual violence, and this remains an unconscionable stain on humanity.

Lesley Abdela has worked 'boots on the ground' on gender issues in post-conflict regions including Kosova, Sierra Leone, Aceh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Iraq. She asks why men injured or killed in war are treated with respect, dignity and honour, with statues raised to them in every Capital, whereas women who have been raped in conflicts are met with shame and derision. Their dignity is stripped away to the point they can never talk to anyone about their experience, amplifying the medical and psychological suffering

'Rape has been a pervasive feature of war from ancient times. Unfortunately, it is both a very effective and ‘cost-effective’ tool of warfare, which has been used systematically and strategically linked to military objectives in innumerable conflicts. It is only relatively recently that rape has been recognized as a war crime and that prosecutions have been undertaken by international courts.'
'Sexual violence in warfare is the most obvious distinctive experience of women in armed conflict; it is not something that they experience to any great degree in common with civilians generally, it results in immense suffering and trauma, unrelated to any arguments as to military necessity, and is almost universal in all types of warfare.'

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