International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

UK Spec Rep for Sexual Violence in Conflict speaks to survivors in Bosnia

November 30, 2021
The UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, visited a safe house for survivors of gender-based violence in the Bosnian city of Zenica on Tuesday and spoke to survivors as part of a campaign against sexual violence in BiH, calling for further action on ensuring rights and needs of survivors and children born of sexual violence in conflict are fully recognised.
Lord Ahmad spoke to survivors and representatives from Medica Zenica about the support that is being provided to survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence in the BiH 1990s conflict, a press release by the British Embassy in Bosnia said.
It said that the UK has been “actively committed to preventing and responding to the scourge of sexual violence in conflicts around the world” for nearly a decade and that it is “the only country in the world with a Prime Minister’s Special Representative and dedicated policy team devoted to this issue.”
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss launched a major global campaign to “bring international partners together to condemn rape and sexual violence in conflict” on November 16 with the aim of building a new international consensus to prevent such atrocities, support survivors and hold perpetrators to account.
The embassy statement said that an international conference will take place in 2022 to mark ten years since the launch of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), assess progress and agree further actions.
Lord Ahmad launched the Call to Action to Ensure the Rights and Wellbeing of Children Born of Sexual Violence in Conflict on November 22 – “a first step in galvanising international action to improve the situation for tens of thousands of children who miss out on education and health services due to restrictions on registration at birth and are marginalised and stigmatised by their families and communities.”
The initiative has already been endorsed by Norway, South Sudan, the United States, Mexico, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict.
The press release said that the UK will work with those endorsing the initiative to “develop the pillars for action and individual commitments” and will also publish a handbook providing expert advice so affected countries can ensure their laws, policies and practices meet the needs of children born of sexual violence in conflict and their mothers.
The UK has actively been supporting community-led action against sexual violence in BiH for years, the statement said, adding that the country has focused on “fighting against impunity for conflicted-related sexual violence by working with judges and prosecutors on improving prosecution methods, and increasing access to justice for survivors, including improving health, legal and psychosocial status of survivors.”
“We work with local and international actors to fight stigma, increase public and media awareness, and to create societal conditions to encourage survivors and children born of war to break the silence. We are particularly thankful to all religious communities in BIH who jointly condemned conflict-related sexual violence by signing the Declaration in 2016, and continuously working in their local communities on implementation of its principles,” it said.
UK activity on this issue currently focuses on protecting the rights of survivors of sexual violence in conflict in judicial proceedings, supporting the implementation of the United Nations Committee against Torture decision on compensations for survivors in BiH, and mainstreaming gender equality in higher education.
According to the press release, Lord Ahmad “praised efforts of governments in BiH, responsible authorities and services, CSOs and religious leaders in BiH for their strong support to survivors of sexual violence in conflict, and called for further action on ensuring the rights and needs of survivors and children born of sexual violence in conflict are fully recognised.”
“We all need to work together to end their marginalization and stigmatization in the society,” the press release said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/uk-spec-rep-for-sexual-violence-in-conflict-speaks-to-survivors-in-bosnia/

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