Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls. Their network of around 80,000 club members in 130 countries and territories works at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls. This event was organized by Soroptimst International Malta.
Sexual violence in conflict is a uniquely destructive act and method of war. It is an outrage to all morality. Survivors who have gone through the trauma of an attack too often also face rejection by their families and reprisals from their communities. It affects not only women and girls, but also men and boys.
But it is not only our values that are at stake. Sexual violence in conflict poses a grave threat to international peace and security. It exacerbates tension and violence and undermines stability. Thus sexual violence has a devastating impact on societies already traumatised by war, and overwhelming social, psychological and economic consequences for those it affects.
All too often the stigma and shame associated with sexual violence remains with the victim rather than the perpetrator. By undermining reconciliation, deepening grievances and devastating communities, sexual violence feeds a cycle of conflict.
From 10 to 13 June 2014, in London, Government representatives from over 120 countries, over 1,000 experts, faith leaders, youth organisations and representatives of civil society and international organisations came together at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Together, they committed to break the taboo around wartime rape and take action to put an end to its use, and to shatter the culture of impunity. Participants were united in their determination to tackle sexual violence in conflict, just as previous generations joined forces to put an end to slavery and landmines. This is a matter of our common humanity.
Governments are crucial to ending sexual violence, but the Summit drew inspiration and ideas from survivors, activists and artists. Participants at the Summit agreed to work with regional and international organisations to ensure that no corner of the globe is left untouched by this campaign to end Sexual Violence in Conflict. They pledged support for engendering a global shift in attitudes towards sexual violence, causing a lasting and profound shift, transforming world opinion.
The Resolution that came from the Global Summit was that sexual violence is not a lesser crime: it is an atrocity of the first order and there must be no safe haven for perpetrators any more. Malta is not a war zone country but it is getting victims of violence. Soroptimist International Malta goal was to appeal to their Government, MPs and MEPs to unite with other countries to condemn all violence and to provide care and support for victims who come to our shores to overcome their trauma so that they can move on to a better life.
As a survivor or domestic violence and a Member of the EESC working on gender equality ad domestic violence I was invited by the organizers to share my experiences with the participants in forming a strategy that could a effectively combat sexual violence in conflict.
Other speakers included HE Marie-Louise Coleiro Prec, President of Malta, Hon. Claudette Buttigieg, MP, and Hon. Helena Dalli, Minister..
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Thank you for this great opportunity to introduce the EESC’s initiatives the field of Violence Against Women.