International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Every new wave of conflict brings with it a rising tide of human tragedy, including new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced, and least condemned crime – sexual violence. Conflict-related sexual violence, regardless of the gender or age of the victims, continues to be employed as a tactic of war, torture, and terrorism. These acts are perpetrated amid deepening political and security crises, exacerbated by militarization and the illicit proliferation of arms.
As entrenched conflicts have deepened, new crises have multiplied, resulting in shrinking civic space and escalating reprisals against human rights defenders, activists, and journalists. Disturbingly, sexual harassment and gender-based hate speech have surged in the digital space. While information and communications technology (ICT) has contributed to the empowerment of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups, it has also facilitated the propagation of violence.
In some contexts, gender-based hate speech and incitement to violence have fueled conflicts, wherein rape and other forms of sexual violence are used to humiliate and destabilize targeted communities. Hate speech, including online, has become one of the most common ways of spreading divisive rhetoric on a global scale.
To address these challenges, we must confront bigotry by working to tackle the hate that spreads like wildfire across the internet. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres states, “We must guarantee safe and equitable access to inclusive and quality education, including digital literacy for all.” This article explores the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, its significance, and the role of ICT in addressing this pressing issue.
Table of Contents – International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict 2023
Every year on June 19, the world observes the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. This day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence and to honor the victims and survivors of these heinous crimes. The day also pays tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to eradicating sexual violence and promoting peace. In recent times, sexual harassment and gender-based hate speech have emerged as concerning issues, particularly in the digital space. This article sheds light on the significance of this international day and explores the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in addressing these challenges.
Sexual Violence in Conflict: An Overview
Conflict-related sexual violence encompasses a range of crimes, including rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, and enforced sterilization, perpetrated against individuals of all genders and ages. It is directly or indirectly linked to armed conflicts and often facilitated by the proliferation of weapons and militarization. Unfortunately, fear and cultural stigma prevent many survivors from reporting these acts of violence. It is estimated that for every reported case of rape connected to a conflict, there are ten to twenty undocumented cases. This underscores the urgent need to address this issue and provide support to survivors.
The Rise of Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Hate Speech in the Digital Space
As societies become increasingly connected, the digital space has become a platform for both positive empowerment and negative behaviors. One disturbing trend is the surge in sexual harassment and gender-based hate speech online. The anonymity provided by the internet has allowed such acts to proliferate, perpetuating violence and further marginalizing already vulnerable groups. Gender-based hate speech, including incitement to violence, has fueled conflicts where sexual violence is used to humiliate and destabilize targeted communities. This form of hate speech has become a global phenomenon, spreading divisive rhetoric and undermining efforts for peace and equality.
The Dual Nature of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
ICT serves as a powerful tool that can be both destructive and empowering. On one hand, it can be used to perpetrate digital threats and incite gender-based violence. Women and girls often face threats of physical and/or sexual violence, rape, and online harassment. On the other hand, ICT can contribute to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It can enhance resilience during crises, facilitate the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, aid survivors in seeking justice, and improve accountability for perpetrators.
Bridging the gender digital divide is crucial in ensuring that all individuals have access to affordable and reliable technologies. Efforts must be made to reduce the price and enhance the affordability of ICT and broadband access. Furthermore, comprehensive digital literacy programs should be implemented to ensure safe and inclusive technology for all.
Strengthening International Cooperation against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
To effectively combat sexual and gender-based violence, robust international cooperation is essential. Cooperation should address both offline and online forms of violence to protect women and girls’ participation in society. Efforts must be made to strengthen legal frameworks, promote accountability, and provide support services to survivors. Collaborative initiatives involving governments, civil society organizations, and technological companies can play a vital role in addressing the challenges posed by sexual violence in conflict.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, observed annually on June 19, raises awareness about the need to end conflict-related sexual violence. This day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and commemorates the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1820 in 2008, which condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war. The day serves as a platform to honor the victims and survivors of sexual violence and recognize the courageous individuals who have dedicated themselves to eradicating these crimes.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict serves as a crucial reminder of the urgent need to address conflict-related sexual violence. It highlights the importance of international cooperation, the role of ICT in both perpetrating and combating violence, and the significance of bridging the gender digital divide. By raising awareness, promoting accountability, and providing support to survivors, we can work towards a world where sexual violence in conflict becomes a thing of the past.
FAQs – International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict 2023
What is the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict?
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is observed on June 19 each year. It raises awareness about the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, honors victims and survivors, and pays tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to eradicating these crimes.
What is conflict-related sexual violence?
Conflict-related sexual violence refers to various crimes, such as rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and forced pregnancy, that are committed against individuals of all genders and ages during armed conflicts.
How does information and communications technology (ICT) contribute to gender equality?
ICT can empower women and girls by improving access to education, providing support during crises, and enhancing the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. However, it can also be used as a tool for harassment and incitement to violence.
Why is bridging the gender digital divide important?
Bridging the gender digital divide ensures that women and girls have equal access to affordable and reliable technologies. It helps promote inclusivity, digital literacy, and safe online environments for all.
What can be done to combat sexual and gender-based violence in conflict?
Combating sexual and gender-based violence requires international cooperation, strengthened legal frameworks, accountability for perpetrators, and comprehensive support services for survivors. Collaboration between governments, civil society organizations, and technological companies is crucial in addressing this issue.