The Guardian view on sexual violence in conflict: an unending crime that can be tackled | Edtorial


Despite growing awareness of the issue, impunity endures. But these horrors must be addressed

“The trendlines for conflict-related sexual violence are worsening,” the United Nations special representative on the issue, Pramila Patten, warned this summer, highlighting “new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced and least condemned crime”. Greater awareness has not translated into more than very rare and limited accountability for a weapon unleashed primarily against women and girls, though also against men and boys. Wartime sexual violence is neither ubiquitous nor inevitable. Commanders can and do prohibit and prevent it. Yet it remains widely used by warring parties and repressive regimes.

Last week, Amnesty International reported that Iranian security forces used rape and sexual violence against women, men and children as young as 12 during nationwide protests last year. Two days before, the UN heard graphic accounts of rape and other sexual violence, including the mutilation of women’s genitals, in the 7 October attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, with testimony from first responders and recorded evidence from a survivor of the festival massacre.

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