A global effort is needed to tackle rape and other sexual violence in war zones, the UN said on Wednesday, calling responses to a worsening problem with tens of thousands of victims "grossly inadequate," Reuters
David Brunnstrom reported from Brussels June 21, 2006 - excerpt:
A UN report for the meeting said Bosnia and Herzegovina documented 40,000 cases of war-related rape until 1993 and up to 45,600 Kosovar Albanian women suffered similarly from 1998-99.
In Sierra Leone's protracted conflict up to 64,000 women may have been sexually victimized and one in five of 1,500 Burundian women surveyed by the UN in 2004 reported being raped and many knew of or had witnessed rape of minors.
"The stories are heartbreaking," said Obaid. "We must scale up the responses so women do not feel their cries for support are cries in the wilderness."
Among incidents highlighted were a woman in Congo who found paramilitary soldiers raping her 10-month-old baby, a young woman raped by six Arab men in front of her family in Darfur, and a young ethnic minority girl repeatedly raped then burned alive by an army major in Myanmar's Shan State.
The three-day Brussels conference, sponsored by the European Commission and Belgium, is the first international meeting to address the issue of sexual violence in war zones and plans to conclude with a global call to action.
Obaid said the tragedy of rape was compounded when women were infected in the process with HIV.
"Our current inability to protect the health of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations represents a human rights failure of global proportions," she said.