On the eve of International Women’s Day, FIDH joins human rights and women’s rights organisations in Mali and the Coalition of the Campaign “Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and respect !” to call for the full participation of women and the protection of their rights to be at the centre of the process towards peace and democracy in Mali.
During the conflict that has ravaged Northern Mali for over a year, women and girls have been particular targets of violence: rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced marriage, sometimes to several men, public floggings, and beatings as punishment for “immoral acts”. Islamist armed groups occupying the region focussed attacks on the status of women, preventing girls from going to school, preventing women from working and moving freely in public spaces, obliging women to wear the veil... Thousands of women and children are among those who fled the violence and who now find themselves displaced within the country or across its borders.
Today, our organisations pay tribute to the combat of the Malian people who have struggled for democracy and equality and against obscurantism and who have rejected the imposition of measures violating women’s rights. We underline that the future must be built with the full participation of women in all efforts aimed at establishing a society based on dignity, justice and equality.
Justice is a priority. Durable peace cannot be achieved without justice for the victims. Those responsible for crimes against the civilian population must be prosecuted in conformity with international standards. There must be no impunity for crimes of violence against women, in accordance with victims’ right to justice and reparation and to deter the commission of future crimes. Our organisations underline that rape and other forms of sexual violence can be qualified as crimes against humanity and war crimes under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which in January 2013 opened an investigation into crimes committed in Mali since January 2012. As affirmed in UN Security Council Resolutions1820,1888 and 1889, there must be no amnesties for the perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence. We call on the Malian authorities, with the support of the international community, to ensure that victims have access to legal, medical and psycho-social support.
We also call on the Malian authorities and the international community to guarantee the effective participation of women in the peace process, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2085 (authorising the deployment of an international mission in Mali), as well as Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Full representation of women in the new political bodies, including the forthcoming Commission for Dialogue and Reconciliation and the National Commission on Negotiation, must be ensured. We also call for the “Roadmap for the transition”, recently adopted by the Malian government, which currently contains no mention of women’s rights, to be amended into order to integrate these obligations.
The future of Mali must be built on the foundations of respect for human rights, in accordance with the Constitution and international and regional obligations.