The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has advocated punishment for sexual violence, saying that sexual violence in conflict “reverberates down generations” and threatens both human and international security.
Guterres advocated this on Thursday in his message for the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is a United Nations observance on June 19 to raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence.
Guterres said the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had made it even more difficult to hold perpetrators of sexual violence to account.
He said “Even as we respond to the pandemic, we must investigate every case, and maintain essential services for every survivor.”
Even as COVID-19 has triggered new obstacles for survivors to report crimes and access support services, the UN chief said recovery must also include tackling the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence.
“We cannot allow this already underreported crime to slip further into the shadows; perpetrators must be punished,” he said.
Concluding his message, he said, “Let’s resolve to uphold the rights and meet the needs of all survivors, as we work to prevent and end these horrific crimes.”
Prior to the annual commemoration on 19 June, a virtual event was co-hosted by the Offices of the Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SVC) and Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).
It was co-hosted along with the Argentinian Mission, to foster measures for an enabling environment that encourages survivors to safely come forward and seek redress.