In March, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Margot Wallström Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Wallström, a Swedish native with a vast background in politics, a champion of women’s rights and an environmental advocate, will begin her journey on a two-year commitment to curb sexual abuse and violence around the world, and attempt to help the human condition for women.
Calling her new job “mission irresistible”, Wallström told a news briefing how she would focus on the nations where sexual violence is most notorious, specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is a hot spot for sexual violence in the region.
A UN report from August of 2009 pointed out that the combination of sexual violence and the government’s refusal to acknowledge many of the cases creates a dangerous situation for women and children of the region. The report also cites that in the DRC 65 percent of sexual violence cases involve children, but the government of the DRC will only address 2 percent of those cases.
The DRC encompasses a huge portion of the sexual violence cases in underdeveloped regions, and Wallström says that the DRC will be one of the first places she will visit to try to mitigate the problems there. Her job is monumentally important to keeping a focus on sexual violence.
Wallström addresses the issue saying “sexual violence against women is not cultural, it’s criminal. It’s not a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue. It’s for both men and women to make sure that women have the right to their body,” also adding “women carry half the sky, so they have to be valued that way”.
Sexual violence is essentially a weapon used to perpetuate political and economic goals while also tarnishing the successes of peace-building that the UN does. Wallström’s goal of eradicating the hot spots for sexual violence will be an enormous task that will take years of attention to attain, but combating the weapon of sexual violence is necessary to bring human rights to women who are being dehumanized.
Kelsey Klemme, UN Blogger