Orange Day, 25th August 2013
‘Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Conflict’
In July last year the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day. Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign Global Youth Network, worldwide activities implemented on this day by UN country offices and civil society organizations strive to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.
Under the heading ‘Safe spaces for women and girls’, this year the UNiTE campaign is focusing its Orange Day activities on highlighting recommendations of the agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) which took place in March this year. In April, UNiTE focused on ‘Safe Work Places for Women and Girls’, in May it highlighted ‘Safe Homes for Women and Girls’ while in June, UNiTE’s Orange Day coincided with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26th) and the campaign focused on ‘State Custody and Care as Safe Spaces’ and in July it drew attention to ‘Cyber Space as Safe Space for Women and Girls’. This month, the theme for Orange Day is ‘Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Conflict’.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS IN CONFLICT
Multiple forms of human rights violations take place in the context of armed conflict, all too often with impunity. Sexual violence is used as a military tactic with the aim of damaging individuals and tearing apart families and communities. Women and girls face sexual violence at the hands of state and non-state actors such as rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation or forced impregnation.
Conflict situations are often characterized by lawlessness, and state institutions may function poorly, if at all. Perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings are often allowed to act with impunity, leaving survivors with little chance of accessing justice, reparations, or the care and services they need. When the conflict is over, women and girls who have faced violence are likely to suffer from psychological and physical effects of the violence they have faced, and may also face social stigma and rejection from their family or community.
57th COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
At the 57th Session on the Commission of the Status of Women, governments made a range of commitments directed towards preventing violence against women and girls in conflict, ensuring the provision of adequate support to survivors and ending impunity for sexual violence in conflict:
“The Commission urges States to strongly condemn violence against women and girls committed in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, and recognizes that sexual and gender-based violence affects victims and survivors, families, communities and societies, and calls for effective measures of accountability and redress as well as effective remedies.” (p2. 13).
“Ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations the prevention of and response to all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, are prioritizedand effectively addressed, including as appropriate through the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators to end impunity, removal of barriers to women’s access to justice, the establishment of complaint and reporting mechanisms, the provision of support to victims and survivors, affordable and accessible health-care services, including sexual and reproductive health, and reintegration measures; and take steps to increase women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes and post-conflict decision-making”. (p7, l)
“Ensure accountability for the killing, maiming and targeting of women and girls and crimes of sexual violence, as prohibited under international law, stressing the need for the exclusion of such crimes fromamnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes, and address such acts in all stages of the armed-conflict and post-conflict resolution process, including through transitional justice mechanisms, while taking steps to ensure the full and effective participation of women in such processes” (p7, m)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
There are a number of internationally agreed norms and standards which relate to women, peace and security which result from long term work on this issue by key actors within the UN System and Civil Society which precede the CSW recommendations. In recent years the UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions related to women, peace and security (including 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1969 and 2106). These resolutions collectively aim to address sexual violence in conflict, address the issue of impunity and to establish the importance of the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, post-conflict peace-building and governance. Learn more.
UN ACTION AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT
One of the key actors in efforts by the UN System to prevent and end sexual violence and conflict is UN Action. UN Action unites the work of 13 UN entities with the goal of ending sexual violence during and in the wake of conflict. UN Action is committed to aligning the UN’s work more effectively behind national efforts to address sexual violence, and to deepen partnerships with NGOs and civil society organizations at all levels. It aims to strengthen both the UN’s response to survivors and efforts to prevent sexual violence during and after conflict.
ORANGE DAY ACTIVITIES (25th August)
This Orange Day, the UNiTE campaign will highlight sexual violence against women and girls in conflict and post conflict situation.
What can you do?
- Spread the X: Participate in UN Action’s ‘Get Cross’ action. Take a picture of yourself wearing orange with your arms crossed. Post it on your FB page. Tell people why you are doing it. Upload it on the UN Action site: http://www.stoprapenow.org/get-cross/
- Send a letter: write to your elected official to ask them to intensify efforts to end sexual violence against women and girls in situations of armed conflict and other crises. Download the letter from: http://www.stoprapenow.org/take-action/
SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES
- Today is #OrangeDay! Wear orange and #UNiTE to end #violenceagainstwomen&girls in conflict. http://owl.li/mlJkg v @SayNO_UNiTE
- This #orangeday,write 2ur elected official.Ask them to step-up efforts to end #sexualviolence in conflict! http://owl.li/mlJkg
- After #CSW57,this #OrangeDay #UNiTE campaign says end impunity 4crimes of #sexualviolence in conflict http://owl.li/mlJkg @SayNO_UNiTE
- Happy #OrangeDay!This month #UNiTE focuses on #sexualviolence in conflict.Take action to #endVAW & #GetCross. http://owl.li/mlJkg
- Today is #UNiTE campaign’s #OrangeDay! Take a stand against #sexualviolence in conflict. Post ur crossed arm photo. http://owl.li/o03Qm
Sample Facebook messages
- Today is #OrangeDay and the UNiTE campaign is highlighting sexual violence against women and girls in conflict. At #CSW57 on ending violence against women and girls, governments committed to: “Ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations the prevention of and response to all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, are prioritized and effectively addressed[…and] ensure accountability for the killing, maiming and targeting of women and girls and crimes of sexual violence.” Learn more about #OrangeDay and [@SayNO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women]: http://owl.li/mlJkg
- The UNiTE campaign has declared the 25th of each month #OrangeDay and today calls for an end to sexual violence against women and girls in conflict. Get Cross. Take a picture of yourself wearing orange with your arms crossed. Tell people why you are doing it and upload it at http://owl.li/o03Qm
- Today – 25 August – is #OrangeDay, a day to highlight violence against women and girls. Take action and write to your elected official to ask them to intensify efforts to end sexual violence against women and girls in situations of armed conflict and other crises. Download the letter from http://owl.li/o044m