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International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
19 June 2021 All day
The United Nations has designated 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict since 2015. The day raises awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence. It honours the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world, and all those who devote their lives to fighting for justice for victims, survivors, and vulnerable people at risk of sexual violence. Although the right to live free from sexual violence is upheld in several international agreements such as the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, violence persists – especially against women and girls in war zones – across the world. From the United Nations:
The term “conflict-related sexual violence” (CRSV) refers to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution,
forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilisation, forced marriage and any other form of sexual
violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls, or boys that is directly or indirectly
linked to a conflict. The term also encompasses trafficking in persons when committed in situations of
conflict for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation. – United Nations
One consistent concern is that survivors do not come forward to report crimes due to the fear and cultural stigma they face. There are broader issues of discrimination and gender inequality at play, with women’s rights and full participation in society areas that can aid the prevention of sexual violence. The impact of COVID has also made it harder for reports to be processed. It is estimated that for each rape reported, 10-20 other cases are not documented. Sexual violence is a form and tactic of terrorism. As people committed to truth and healing, we stand in solidarity with survivors, listening to their voices and stories, and acting to protect those most at risk. All people have a right to fully participate in political, social, and economic life, and to access justice that supports their safety.
For Victims and Survivors of Violence
Loving God, you are the author and sustainer of our lives.
You know the anguish of the sorrowful,
you are attentive to the prayers of the brokenhearted.
Hear your people who cry out to you in their need;
strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness.
We pray today for those who have died because of sexual violence.
Draw them to yourself; let your face shine upon them.
May they be greeted with choirs of angels
and experience your eternal peace and joy.
Be near to all those who have been impacted by sexual violence:
those who have been hurt, lost their loved ones,
or lost their sense of security.
Be for them a steady comfort and safe resting place.
Soften the hearts and steady the minds
of those who would harm others.
May hate be replaced with love, violence with peace,
and darkness with your light.
Adapted from the Catholic Health Association of the United States Prayer for the Victims of Violence.
Rohingya human rights advocate and lawyer, Razia Sultana.
No More Violence by Hip Hop Femenino of El Salvador.