The African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, has commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict with a commitment to address conflict-related sexual violence in the country.
Senior AMISOM officials, women representatives, human rights defenders, peacebuilders, traditional and religious leaders met in Baidoa and Kismayo to commemorate the day.
AMISOM continues to support the stablisation efforts in Somalia and to strengthen the capacity of the Somali Police Force and communities to address sexual and gender-based violence.
In Baidoa, the AMISOM Police Gender Officer, Inspector of Police Tracilla Nguzi, said commemorating the day was important to create awareness and support to survivors of sexual violence.
“Conflict exposes women and children to the risk of sexual violence. In Somalia, victims of sexual violence include women, children, vulnerable and minority groups,” said Inspector of Police Nguzi.
A youth representative from Baidoa, Mohamed Nur, said the commitment to eliminate sexual violence would safeguard the lives of the vulnerable groups such as women.
“Sexual violence makes life difficult for vulnerable women. So, this day is an awareness-raising day that is worth commemorating in Southwest,” said Mohamed Nur.
While commemorating the day in Kismayo, the AMISOM Protection Officer, Gloria Jaase, noted the importance of combating conflict-related sexual violence, mainly affecting women and girls.
“Sexual violence in conflict is a weapon of war. It is an international crime, and we need to scale up efforts to establish strategies, laws and policies that end impunity and hold those perpetrators accountable for sexual violence against women and girls in conflict,” said Jaase.
She also encouraged the participants to advocate for the empowerment of women and girls, and to address violations against women.
The Director of Children and Family Affairs in the Jubaland State’s Ministry of Women and Human Rights, Abdikadir Abdi Yare, said it was essential to raise awareness about sexual violence to all stakeholders including traditional elders.
“During clan clashes, there is violence against women and girls, including rape and killings. Our elders need to know that this is an international crime, and they should not resolve such cases through traditional justice mechanisms,” said Abdikadir.
The AMISOM Gender Officer in Kismayo, Oyedele Kazee, underlined the need to end conflicts that increase the risk of sexual violence against women and girls.
Declared in June 2015, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is marked to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence. The day also honours survivors of sexual violence and those who devote their lives or die while striving to end these crimes.
Source – AMISOM