Combating gender-based violence

Last week, Ambassador Wegger Strømmen participated in a panel discussion and a film screening on the issue of gender-based violence. “These are criminal acts under any jurisdiction, and must be dealt with properly,” he says.

The event, hosted by the World Bank, was part of the United States Institute of Peace’s three-day “Women and War”-conference, consisting of a series of lectures and debates in Washington DC.

The conference marks the tenth anniversary of the UNSCR 1325, the historic United Nations Security Council Resolution on women’s role in matters of peace and security.

Film screening: Weapon of War

The discussion was preceded by a screening of the documentary “Weapon of War – confessions of rape in Congo”, directed by Ilse and Femke van Velzen. The documentary illustrates how gender-based violence is used as a strategic weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Drawing on interviews with soldiers from different militias, the documentary tells the story from the point of view of the perpetrators.

The directors were unable to participate in the discussion, as they are currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) working on a new documentary on the subject.

Criminal acts

In his remarks, the ambassador emphasized the need to see gender-based violence as serious criminal acts.

“These are criminal acts under any jurisdiction, both at the level of individual perpetrators and at higher points in militias’ chain of command”, says Ambassador Strømmen. “Some of these cases may also be war crimes, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

Governments must provide security

Among the points made during the discussion was Sylvie Maunga Mbenga’s emphasis on the lack of a functional state apparatus in the DRC. “There are more than 60 armed groups in the DRC, and a national army that does not function properly. The authority of the state has not been established, and, legal initiatives are rarely effective”, she said.

Ms. Mbenga is a consultant on Conflict, Human Rights, Peace Building Processes and Gender-Based Violence in the DRC.

Pia Peeters, Senior Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, also participated in the discussion. The event was chaired by Elisabeth Huybens, Sector Manager at the Social Development Department of The World Bank.

Source: Royal Norwegian Embassy

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