By: Beverly Kwakye
Sexual violence against women is a widely ignored crime as many victims continue to receive little to no justice globally, U.N. Special Representative, Zainab Hawa Bangura, explained at an event on Human Security in the Face of Violent Extremism, at Georgetown University, Monday.
The event was held to address human security and the effort to protect global women from sexual violence as a weapon of war, and award both Bangura and New York Times reporter Alissa Rubin, for their services in addressing human rights.
Bangura, a social activist originally from Sierra Leone, works to prevent sexual violence specifically in countries outside the U.S. where the issue is critical.
Bangura explained her initiative and her global agenda to keep women protected. She delivered a powerful speech, often personalizing it with experiences from her life. Bangura recalls her visits to countries like Bosnia where many women are still waiting for reparations or justice on past sexual misconduct against them. She bemoaned the lack of justice for victims and how that helps keep it an invisible crime. According to Bangura, women are often ethnically targeted.
These women and girls face several obstacles to getting justice as they are shamed and harassed in efforts to silence them. Cultural stigmas are obstacles that prevent abused women from getting the justice they deserve. In some foreign nations, Bangura detailed how women are objectified by their society. They are seen as commodities. Women are stripped of rights as they continue to be owned rather than live at free will.
According to Bangura, sexual violence is a major threat to security. Internationally, rape and other forms of molestation against women, aren’t viewed as acts of terrorism. Law enforcement and the justice system don’t see women as victims of the crime as they ignore these sexual acts. Bangura decries that in itself is a crime that the justice system fails to take further action against predators.
These female abuse victims are forced into submission and are silenced by sexual predators and law enforcement officials who lack proper authority. These foreign abused women are trapped in a stigmatized society that renders them no justice.
Although women remain an unprotected minority against sexual abuse in many foreign nations, Bangura and her team have made progress that she believes should be heralded.
As for solutions to protect women globally, the first step is to acknowledge that sexual abuse is an issue that officials must address.
“No problem in human history has ever been solved through silence,” Bangura said.