To balance out our gentle ribbing of the United Nations for making it 61 years without a madame secretary-general, we'll take a quick moment to acknowledge that it does not take a female leader to see that violence against women is a serious issue over which nations must unite. Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council held a daylong meeting about the implementation of a 2000 resolution that -- recognizing the use of violence against women as a political tool -- called for prosecution of crimes against women, protection of women and girls from gender-based crimes during war and inclusion of women as high-level decision makers in peacemaking processes.
As the Associated Press reported that in a statement read at the end of the meeting, "the council expressed deep concern ... that despite its repeated demands for an immediate end to violence against women caught in armed conflicts, 'rape and other forms of sexual abuse, as well as all other forms of violence, ... remain pervasive, and in some situations have become systematic, and have reached appalling levels of atrocity. The council stresses the need to end impunity for such acts as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking peace, justice, truth and national reconciliation.'"
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "violence against women has reached hideous and pandemic proportions." (Hello, Congo.)
Assistant Secretary-General Rachel Mayanja, special advisor on gender issues, added that "impunity for perpetrators and insufficient response to the needs of survivors are morally reprehensible and unacceptable. Sexual violence in conflict, particularly rape, should be named for what it is: not a private act or the unfortunate misbehavior of a renegade soldier, but aggression, torture, war crime and genocide."
Right. So is the Security Council just going to spend seven more years having meetings, making statements and repeating demands? Thankfully, it doesn't seem so. Mayanja urged all governments, parliaments, international organizations and civic groups to join a worldwide campaign on violence against women and girls that Ban will launch later this year. Stay tuned.