June 19 is the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. In 2015, The United Nations General Assembly choose 19 June to commemorate the adoption of Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) on 19 June 2008. This resolution condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war and an impediment to peacebuilding. The goal of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is to raise awareness on the issue, honor the victims and survivors of sexual violence, and pay tribute to people who devoted and lost their lives fighting for the eradication of these crimes.
Conflict-related sexual violence is “rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage, and other forms of violence against women, men, girls, or boys that are directly or indirectly linked to a conflict.” The term “conflict-related sexual violence” can also refer to trafficking in persons if the crime is committed in situations of conflict for sexual violence or exploitation.
Sexual Violence in Ukraine
Since the war between Ukraine and Russia, about 400 cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers were reported to the police, media, and human rights organizations. Many women and girls have come forward with the horrific story that they faced; they were gang-raped, assaulted at gunpoint, and raped in front of children. Many survivors cannot receive help due to the ongoing fight.
Dozens of sexual violence cases are being investigated, and both Ukraine’s prosecutor general and the International Criminal Court said they will open investigations into reported sexual violence of Russian soldiers. La Strada Ukraine, Feminist Workshop, and other organizations are working with the local government to distribute information about medical, legal, and psychological support available for survivors of sexual assault. They also help find shelters for women and girls who are fleeing from the war and domestic violence.
Sexual Violence in Myanmar
The recent conflict in Myanmar started in 2021. Since then, there have been reports of sexual violence against women and children but there are no definite numbers of cases. The Myanmar police use many tactics such as torture, rape, gang rape, threats of rape, and penetration with objects against protesters and journalists. Violence and sexual harassment against transgender are also reported. An increase in online sexism where threats of sexual violence are directed at politically active women.
Only a small number of survivors came forward but there is no report of these crimes being investigated. Will there be investigations into sexual violence in conflict that occur in Myanmar? Will the survivors get justice? These questions still go unanswered.
– Wanwarin Yensuk
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