Tuesday, October 31, 2017
War is Hell – A Woman’s Perspective:
Aggressors Kill, Rape, Violate Human Rights
The death and destruction that war brings are easily observable. You see lifeless bodies of soldiers and civilians strewn about at the site of skirmishes and in the destroyed vestiges of what were once homes, schools or office buildings.
War also leaves devastating repercussions in the minds of the survivors, many of which are women.
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, speaking at the UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security, on October 27, elaborated on how the violence of Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 will reverberate in the Ukrainian women long after the Russian invaders have been expelled from Ukraine.
“The Russian aggression against Ukraine and temporary occupation of the part of the Ukrainian territory has resulted in widespread human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, since the beginning of this aggression 32,252 conflict-related casualties were recorded, including 2,505 killed civilians,” Klympush detailed.
“A direct consequence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine has been a displacement of individuals and families with 1.7 million internally displaced persons registered countrywide. Of them, older persons make up 78 %, women — 58 % and children — 8 %.”
Despite the well-documented list of crimes against humanity committed by Russian soldiers and their mercenary allies, no one has been held accountable for these transgressions. Klympush noted that sexual violence is not among the least offenses perpetrated by Russian invaders.
“This is partly due to the fact that the conflict is ongoing and that a part of Ukraine’s territory remains under the control of illegal armed groups, supported by the RF (Russian Federation). While there is still much to do, Ukraine has made significant progress towards implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda,” she said.
Sexual violence – a euphemism for rape – is a violent crime in every decent society and it’s not seriously considered in the thus-far unproductive Minsk negotiations. Rape, even in time of war, has been denounced by the United Nations: “Sexual violence in conflict needs to be treated as the war crime that it is; it can no longer be treated as an unfortunate collateral damage of war.”
Rape, a war crime, in the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine must be included in a future Nuremberg Trial against Russia.
Klympush applauded the UN system and leadership for their tireless commitment to women’s rights and empowerment and continued efforts and support to Ukraine in its pursuit of peace and security. However, she continued: “War and conflicts are devastating communities across the world today. In recent years we have also seen widespread targeting of women and girls in conflict zones. Since the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda remains relevant and critical in the face of rising violence, extremism and deadly conflicts.” She urged the UN Security Council to endlessly reinforce the importance of implementing existing WPS resolutions.
Klympush believes that a solution to the danger facing women and girls in conflict zones is for law enforcement security forces and peacekeeping missions that are supposed to protect civilians to do a better job of seeking out and listening to the needs of women and prioritizing their participation and protection.
“The international community must pay sufficient attention to providing and delivering the necessary protection to women in conflict-affected areas, in parallel with ensuring a meaningful women’s participation, so as to ensure complementarity between both pillars,” she said. “Thus the deployment of senior gender advisors and senior women protection advisors is critical to ensure that missions have sufficient gender expertise, authority, capacity to address those objectives.”
Klympush suggestion that senior women advisors’ visible role at the peace table can have positive results. Women can improve the negotiation process, contribute to a more comprehensive peace agreement, and bolster the prospect of sustainable peace. Indeed, the historic and notorious absence of women from this process has led to recurrent wars around the world.
Women at the peace table, she said, provide an “important window of opportunity to set an agenda for sustainable peace that includes the needs of the often-excluded half of the population.” Klympush made noticeable reference to countless peace negotiations that focused on ceasefire, combatants, and weapons. She rightly indicated that the other half of the population – woman – have priorities that focus on families, children and life after hostilities have ended that also need to be addressed.
“Ukraine recognizes the importance of equal and full participation of women in all activities for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and peacekeeping,” Klympush declared. “I am proud to say that in the two last years that Ukraine has been a member of the Security Council, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 has been our great and long-standing daily priority.”
Klympush told the council members that the Ukrainian government integrates women, peace and security in on-going security and defense reform programs. Kyiv has conducted a comprehensive gender impact assessment of the security sector and will soon adopt a multi-year Gender Equality Strategy for Security and Defense, she said. The result will be a comprehensive integration of gender equality and women’s rights in all areas of security and defense reform.
“Over the last two years Ukraine has achieved progress in improving the recruitment policies. This resulted in a steady increase of a number of women working in the security and defense sector,” Klympush said.
While still in a minority, Klympush said Ukrainian women play a prominent role in the peacebuilding process. President Poroshenko appointed a woman to a position in charge of the process of peaceful settlement in the Donbas region and two women in Minsk working groups are dealing with humanitarian and political issues.
“Building peace in my country requires women’s participation and influence, including the Minsk processes. It also requires action to stop the attacks against women and making sure that women will not be attacked with impunity. We will continue to work towards development of a full range of judicial and non-judicial measures, and institutional reform in line with the international standards,” she said.
However, as with all facets of life in Ukraine, talk of progress is overshadowed by the deadly effects of Russia’s murderous aggression. Klympush said as long as foreign aggression continues, “For the majority of women in the territory of Ukraine, peace and security will remain a far-fetched and almost unattainable notion. Women will continue lacking protection, living in fear, having almost no recourse to justice, remaining economically disadvantaged and living in limited freedom.
“The situation in Ukraine, suffering from the Russian aggression showed the importance of striking a balance between the two main pillars of the women and peace and security agenda: protection and participation. We believe the Security Council must prioritize these two.”
War is hell. But peace for the perpetrator of war should not be a well-deserved respite.
IN MEMORIAM: A veteran of the Anti-Terrorist Operation against Russian invaders, Ukrainian police lieutenant, ethnic Chechen Amina Okuyeva has been killed in the second assassination attempt this year. Her car was ambushed at a rail crossing near the settlement of Hlevakha in the Kyiv Oblast, and gunfire was opened from roadside shrubs. Okuyeva died of wounds on the spot. Her husband Adam Osmayev was wounded, however, his condition is non-life-threatening. Rest in Peace.