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    US seeks to combat sexual violence in war zones

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    US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on November 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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    President Joe Biden signed an order Monday to combat sexual violence in war zones, elevating the problem — increasingly documented in Ukraine and other conflicts — to the level of a possible serious human rights violation punishable by sanctions and other punitive measures against the perpetrators.

    The US president signed the memorandum to combat the use of rape as a weapon of war, whether by individuals or foreign governments.

    The document stipulates, for the first time, that the Departments of State and the Treasury and other United States agencies must give equal consideration to acts of sexual violence as to other human rights violations when sanctioning or taking other punitive measures against actors. foreign.

    Current US policy allows sanctions for sexual violence in conflict zones, but is generally not enforced.

    The measure comes at a time when the United Nations has denounced that sexual violence in Ukraine, especially against women and girls, is prevalent and higher than reported.

    US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield has cited “a mountain of credible reports of atrocities committed by Russian forces against civilians” including “grisly accounts of sexual violence.”

    The Biden administration cited the proliferation of sexual violence in Ukraine, Ethiopia and elsewhere on Monday. He cited a UN report according to which in 2021 there were 3,293 verified cases of sexual violence in 18 countries, compared to about 800 the previous year. The UN estimates that for every rape reported in a conflict zone, there are between 10 and 20 that go unreported.

    The US government had previously pledged another $400,000 on top of its $1.75 million annual contribution to the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The State Department plans an additional investment of $5.5 million over the next two years in civil society projects and survivor groups, and will expand programs that assist survivors and that document and investigate such acts of violence.



    Source: El Nuevo Herald

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