Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, observed on 19 June:
Sexual violence in conflict is a cruel tactic of war, torture, terror and repression. It reverberates down generations and threatens both human and international security.
In places affected by conflict, the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to hold perpetrators of sexual violence to account. At the same time, survivors face new obstacles to reporting crimes and accessing support services.
Even as we respond to the pandemic, we must investigate every case and maintain essential services for every survivor. We cannot allow this already underreported crime to slip further into the shadows. Perpetrators must be punished.
Investment in recovery from the pandemic must tackle the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, let’s resolve to uphold the rights and meet the needs of all survivors, as we work to prevent and end these horrific crimes.
For information media. Not an official record.