AU must act on sexual violence

HARARE - Building an action plan to end sexual violence in conflict is a powerful way for the African Union to celebrate its 50th anniversary at the ongoing historic summit this week.

But far from providing leadership, the African leaders are showing an appalling camaraderie to protect perpetrators of crimes against women.

Protecting women from gender violence in conflict should be at the top of the AU agenda.

We have many achievements to celebrate, but future prosperity hinges on African women living lives free from violence and participating fully in the peace process.

The African Union (AU) Summit agenda included a discussion of peace and security in five countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Central African Republic — all countries where rape and gender violence are widespread.

Eastern DRC in particular has been unstable since the overthrow of Mobutu Seseko in 1997, with rival militias and rebel groups vying for the control of the region’s mineral wealth.

As a result, there has been widespread rape and sexual violence blamed on militias, rebels and sometimes government troops.

AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has highlighted the need to address this issue.

In a statement marking International Women’s Day she said, “Now is the time to dedicate ourselves to the plight of women in conflict situations, where sexual violence has often become a tool of war aimed at humiliating the enemy by destroying their dignity.”

We are encouraged by her leadership, and ask Dlamini-Zuma to follow through with a targeted action plan that includes resource allocation and accountability measures.

Heads of State, including, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta gathered for the summit that marked the 50-year anniversary.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has charged both Al-Bashir and Kenyatta with crimes against humanity, including orchestrating sexual violence.

Neither has been held to account for their alleged crimes. We call on the AU to press Al-Bashir and Kenyatta to co-operate fully with the ICC, to respect the rule of law and to promote the human rights of women and girls who have experienced sexual violence but have yet to see justice.

It is appalling that African leaders are due to pass a resolution urging the ICC to refer back to Kenya the crimes-against-humanity cases against the country’s top leaders.

Leaders must provide suggestions for an action plan. As the AU celebrates 50 years, it must take urgent steps to stop rape in conflict, protect survivors, and prosecute perpetrators.

Is that too much to ask?

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.