Hague: UK to boost support for survivors of sexual violence

British Foreign Secretary William Hague cohosts summit with Angelina Jolie on battling gender based violence in warzones

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The United Kingdom will boost its financial support to survivors of gender-based violence in warzones, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Tuesday during the opening to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

“I am pleased to announce this morning that the UK will pledge a further £6 million to support survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a further £6 million to help them rebuild their lives and rebuild communities,” Hague said.

“But governments alone cannot end sexual violence in conflict, so this is much more than just a meeting of ministers.We also want to help achieve a change in attitudes all over the world to these crimes – and you are part of changing those attitudes,” he added.

More than 117 countries have sent representatives to the event which is being held between June10 -13 in London.

The summit will establish an “international protocol” to document and investigate instances of sexual violence in warzones.
Hague also called upon states to strengthen their domestic laws “so that there are no safe havens for those responsible for warzone sexual violence.”

Parallel to the summit, British diplomatic posts around the world will hold events related to the conference.

In his speech, Hague focused on holding those responsible accountable for their crimes and pressed that the international community abandon the culture of belittling sexual violence by adhering to international legal instruments and enacting stricter laws.

Hague explained that it will take the combined efforts of governments, civil society, international organizations and the public to achieve the aims of the summit.

No more stigmatizing the victim

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie joined Hague in cohosting the conference. Jolie stressed on the importance of transferring the stigma from the victim, to the perpetrator.

In her opening speech, she attributed the widespread presence of sexual violence in warzones to the lack of medical and legal protection provided to victims. She reiterated Hague’s remarks on the need to train armies and peace envoys to combat gender-based violence.

Hague referred to the plight of those in the Central African Republic, Afghanistan and Syria to stress the urgency of combating sexual violence.

In Syria alone, more than 38,000 victims of sexual violence have appealed to the United Nations in 2013 alone, according to Reuters. Human rights organizations have reported Syrian government forces using sexual violence as a weapon since 2012.

The U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict has previously stated that government forces are “credibly suspected” of committing acts of gender-based violence.