Under-Secretary-General Zainab Hawa Bangura’s Message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The message is attributable to Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura.

(New York, 25 November 2015) Today as we begin the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, I urge everyone to speak out about ending all forms of violence against women. I particularly focus my message on men, who can and must play such an important role in promoting gender equality within their families, at work, and in their social circles. Collaboration is the key to prevention. Together we can change perceptions of these violations, and end gender-based discrimination and violence in all its forms.

When a woman or girl is the victim of conflict-related sexual violence, the effect of the crime is to silence her. The perpetrators know that the stigma of rape is often enough to keep the victim from reporting the crime. They know that survivors are often too frightened to fight back. Conflict-related sexual violence is not about sex; it is about violence and power. It is not a second-class crime that happens to second-class citizens. It is a war crime.

I stand in solidarity with the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and their families, and I call upon everyone to be the voice of those who have been silenced by this crime, and to take action against this atrocity which plagues so many wars.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I want to reiterate my Office’s and my own commitment to ending the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence, and to providing survivors access to justice, psycho-social support and livelihood programs that can help them regain control of their lives.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Paulina Kubiak, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Communications Officer in New York, +1 9173673819 or kubiakp@un.org.