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Impunity on sexual violence against women must be ended: UN official

11-25-2010 16:36 BJT

by Xinhua writer Bai Jie

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Sexual violence against women is an internationally-recognized crime and the international community must make joint efforts to stop the impunity on this, said a UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"It is not collateral damage; it is not inevitable or a byproduct of war -- this is an internationally recognized crime and we have to stop the impunity on this," Margot Wallstrom, the Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said ahead the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, observed on Nov. 25.

Noting that sexual violence spans history and geography, Wallstrom said it has been used as a weapon or as a tactic of war, despite the changing nature of the war.

Civilians have always borne the brunt of today's conflicts, with women and children paying a particularly heavy toll, she said. "Women have become sort of soldiers on the front line, not as fighting soldiers, but as victims."

Wallstrom stressed the need to make the prevention of sexual violence a top priority, and to end impunity for the scourge.

"If this is a crime with almost total amnesty where the perpetrators feel that they can always walk free, that there is no justice served for these women, then we will continue to see this as an element or a factor in modern warfare," she said.

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