Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 July 2021:
Speaking at an event organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Jeanine Mabunda Lioko, an MP in the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighted activities that had demonstrated success in her own country in relation to conflict-related sexual violence, but stressed much more action was needed globally.
The NDI is working on developing an International Mechanism to Support Accountability and Justice for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict.
Whilst there has been some progress, the absence of accountability for sexual and gender-based violence can prevent healing and reconciliation as well as weakening the rule of law and undermining the strength of institutions.
Ms Mabunda said that the under-reporting of crimes was a concern, as highlighted in a UN Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council in June 2020.
There is a need for countries to empower people to report sexual and gender-based violence safely and anonymously, she said. In the DRC, a hotline was set up, in 2014, to do so had proved successful, in part because it allowed crime to be reported but also provided a ‘safe space’ where women could be heard. This is particularly important where a physical safe space is not accessible.
The reporting of sexual violence would also aid countries in understanding the issues they have and dealing with them. Some of the most successful initiatives are designed and implemented by the community but this needs to be supported by the rule of law. She said that victims needed to be given confidence that justice will be served should crimes be reported.
Ms Mabunda called on all Governments to act to combat gender-based violence, harassment and discrimination, saying a global conversation was needed to address the issues that many faces across the world.
Mabunda said, “There is a role for the international community which has demonstrated previously that it can react and have an impact. Linking international financial support to improvements being made in certain areas is one such way that international bodies could influence countries to take action against this problem.” If there was a better understanding of the levels of gender-based violence, then clear targets, and actions to meet those targets, could be set. Failure to meet targets could result in a reduction of international aid a country could receive.
For many, there are still stigmas that are attached to sexual and gender-based violence and this needed to be addressed. Countries should take responsibility and make sure that they raise awareness of the issues. It is also essential that the judiciary are trained in handling cases of this type and that perpetrators face justice and are held to account.
Gentlemen – Someone once said that universe would have been a thing of utter significance, incomplete without the presence of women of different races,ethnicities, religious beliefs and cultural values; Totally agree! First things first, I would like to applaud Ms Mabundas courage for her efforts to ensure that violence against women in Africa and other places around the globe becomes a problem of utmost urgency that deserves our undivided attention during these difficult Covid Economic times in Africa. Again,I would like Ms Mabunda to know that sexual violence against women and girls is an acceptable norm in some places; In Pakistan, Kuwait, Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries many women are still being bullied ostracised and flogged for their mistakes and indiscretions in broad daylight in the eyes of their family and friends with no one to turn to for help. Madam, violence against women in Africa is deeply entrenched in the minds of our people as something quite trivial in any mutual romantic relationship.
Prepare yourself lady for a long hard fight against the same women you are trying to uplift and protect; Beware for they are their own worst enemies – women in Africa won’t testify against their attackers out of fear of being harmed – most of them would gladly prefer to suffer quietly in pain,silence instead of being stigmatised by their communities; Oh, What a very big price for someone to pay after being traumatised and brutalised. Honorable Mabunda violence against women is prevalent worldwide; In Egypt the percentage of women that were physically and sexually assaulted last year was 34%, in Canada 29% and in the United States 33% – Africa sits at the bottom of the table at 22%. Go figure! Madam, donors and lenders are also experiencing and trying to solve those same problems we are dealing with in their own countries/
Trying to link aid to results on sexual violence could backfire – Its not a practical solution in a continent where accountability is frowned upon and waved off by our self seeking leaders. Here’s the first and most essential step you would need to take in order to succeed in your quest – Get women to cooperate by educating them about the need to stand up boldly against sexual and gender based violence.(lol)