Special Rapporteur on Women’s Concerns from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaks out against violence against women in Libya, Egypt, and Iran
Vienna – There has been significant progress over the past years and key changes of opinions among the international community particularly concerning violence against women in conflict zones. An example of this is that the systematic use of rape and sexual violence has been acknowledged as a war crime and crime against humanity by the international criminal court and is proscribed by international law.
“It is shocking to see the current examples of structural violence against women from our neighbors in the South and the Near East,” stated Ursula Plassnik, Special Rapporteur for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Women’s Concerns.
“The murder of women’s rights activist Haleh Sahabi, virginity tests for demonstrators arrested in Egypt, and Qadaffi’s suspected use of special forces sanctioned to use rape as a weapon must be a wake-up call for the international community to continue pushing for women’s rights and human rights in the region,” demands Plassnik. “The UN, the EU, and the Arab League must urgently speak out on this matter. The disregard for the most fundamental human and women’s rights should not stain the ‘Arab Spring’.”
“Luis Moreno Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, told the UN that there is convincing evidence of mass rape by the Libyan army. Qaddafi is using this incomprehensible cruelty as a weapon of war for the clear purpose of demoralizing his enemies. The international community of states must ensure that Qaddafi and others taking part in these actions will be held responsible for these war crimes,” says Passnik.
“The time when these acts could be committed with impunity is over. This was clearly demonstrated by the extradition of a high officer in the Congolese army who was been arrested and handed over to UN troops in October of 2010,” concluded the Special Rapporteur.
For the original German, click here.
Translation: Arseh Sevom
Do your part to lift the pain of sanctions on Iranian families.
Dear Catherine Ashton:
We, the undersigned, are concerned about the effects the implementation of sanctions are having on average Iranians. We are particularly concerned that items that are not sanctioned, such as medication and humanitarian goods are not reaching the people in Iran.
This is a time of great suffering in the region. We want to ensure that we are not further contributing to the suffering because of the denial of access to a payment channel for humanitarian items. We know the intention of the sanctions is to put pressure on Iran’s ruling elite. We worry that this is not the reality.
The brunt of the suffering falls on women and children and the most vulnerable in society. They suffer the consequences in very real ways. They lose their incomes, their homes, and their access to life-saving medication. Some of this suffering can be alleviated by facilitating the seamless implementation of the existing humanitarian exemptions. These include financial transactions related to medications, basic needs, and other items that are currently not sanctioned.
We ask the European Union to create a payment channel to accept transactions from Iran. This channel should be closely scrutinized. This will allow much needed financial transactions for medications and basic needs to take place.
It is crucial at this time when the people of Iran are desperately trying to make their own voices heard that we show we are listening. They went to the polls in an attempt to show their own government that they wanted reform and better relations with the outside world. We need to show we are listening.
Please help to avert a humanitarian disaster. Allow Iranians access to the international banking system to purchase medications and humanitarian goods.