Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, believes we have the ability to make rape a thing of the past. She sees preventing the rapes of thousands of women and children as her top priority. She is responsible for all sexual violence in conflict globally.
Bangura was asked in a recent press conference about how she is responding to the allegations that Syrian citizens are facing sexual violence in their conflict, as well as how this sexual violence has reportedly begun to spread to the refugee camps. Her response stated that the conflict in Syria hasn’t even begun. She was invited to Syria to conduct investigations, however she has not agreed to go. Bangura would like to travel to Syria on her own terms to ensure her security, as well as her ability to complete thorough investigations into the allegations of sexual violence.
She believes that so little information about the rapes is being leaked because of the reluctance of the victims. There is a serious stigma and shame attached to rape, and people would rather kill the women than reintegrate them into society- a serious problem for women worldwide.
UN Special Representative Bangura has worked extensively in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as her home country Sierra Leone. She has hauntingly threatened perpetrators of sexual violence, warning them, “Whoever you are, wherever you are, I will get you.”
While Syria is a large problem, Bangura has stated that her top five countries to work on at the moment are the DRC, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Syria. She has expressed serious concern in Syria that women are often unable to visit the gynecologist without male accompaniment. Additionally, refugees have been fleeing in record numbers to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, easily surpassing the 1.6 million mark. Aid workers in the refugee camps have been reciting the stories of rapes, illegitimate pregnancies, domestic violence, and abandoned children. The problem now lies in documenting, and collecting data on these cases.
As more continues to unfold from Syria and neighboring countries, Bangura and other aid workers will do as much as they can to protect and help the victims of rape, sexual assault and violence, and unwanted pregnancies to return their lives to as much a state of normalcy as possible.
– Caitlin Zusy
Source: New Europe