Women and Peace and Security
Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 15 April 2015
Sexual violence in conflict has become a weapon of choice because it is cheap, silent and effective. Instead of bullets or bombs, the perpetrators employ barbarism and brutality.
Sexual violence in conflict ruin lives, fuels conflict, and causes lasting damage. The suffering caused by sexual violence does not end even if the women are released or escape. Survivors are often stigmatized by their communities, rejected by their families, infected with sexually-transmitted diseases, and are at increased risk for
For all of these reasons, sexual violence is almost universally underreported. For each rape reported, it is estimated that 10 to 20 go unreported. The great injustice is that in the aftermath of sexual violence, the women live in shame, while the perpetrators live free.
I look around the world today and see an epidemic of sexual violence. The number of victims is so large and so overwhelming that we often lose sight of the fact that we are speaking about individuals.
We are speaking about Arwa, a 15 year-old Yazidi girl who was captured and raped by ISIS fighters, and whose sisters are still in the hands of the Islamic State. And we are speaking about Noora, an 11 year-old from Yemen who was forced to marry a much older man who abused her.
Arwa and Noora have been robbed of their childhoods, families, and their dreams. Many other girls and women have also been robbed of their lives. They might have been silenced, but we cannot be silent.
We cannot be silent when we are told that female genital mutilation and forced marriage are acceptable cultural norms. And we cannot be silent when extremists misconstrue religion to permit sexual assault and slavery. There can be zero tolerance for barbaric acts that should have been relegated to the Dark Ages.
Our family of nations is failing millions of families throughout the world - particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. With every passing day, ISIS and other militants enslave and brutalize scores of men and women.
Last summer, ISIS advanced through the remote communities of northern Iraq lining up men by the side of the road and shooting them into mass graves. They kidnapped thousands of Yazidis and Christians and held them in Mosul’s Badush prison.
The reports from this prison are shocking. Women are raped numerous times a day. Young girls are forced to call their parents to detail being gang-raped by dozens of men. The captured women and girls are sold as brides to Islamist fighters for as little as $25 or given as “sabaya” - a reward for fighters.
ISIS is just one of the radical extremist groups that seek to subjugate women. There is also Boko Haram in Nigeria and Chad, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, like-minded militias in Libya, and Al Shabaab in East Africa.
These groups seek to control every area of a woman’s life - how she dresses, how she spends her days, whom she marries, and how many children she has.
Sexual violence as a tool in war is not a women’s issue. It is a crime of humanity against humanity. Victims of sexual violence should not stand alone. All of us - governments, civil society and UN agencies – must work together to pass stronger laws, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, and introduce tougher penalties for offenders.
If a nation refuses to prosecute domestic sexual abuse, marital rape, and honor killings in times of peace then there is little hope for justice in times of war and conflict.
Our sages teach us that, and I quote, “It is not what one says, but what one does, that makes all the difference in the world.” We have held the debates and passed the resolutions, but we have yet to make the difference we need to make. The time has come for meaningful action. The victims and survivors of sexual violence deserve nothing less.
Thank you, Madam President.