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Ending Rape in War

Earlier this month, MADRE joined our sisters and survivors worldwide for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the largest convening ever on this issue. 

The success of this summit relies on activists holding governments accountable to their pledges. Last year, 122 countries signed a declaration to end sexual violence in conflict, and this conference grew out of that stated commitment.

However, unless governments seize the opportunity to learn and change, we will not see the policy changes we need to protect women. And unless we confront sexual violence in conflict – by gathering evidence, providing services to survivors, and prosecuting offenders – the echoes of war will live on long after any peace agreement is signed.

Even with war raging, we can still challenge rape. Syria is a key example. Women’s rights activists there are working to prevent and document sexual violence, provide peer counseling and outreach, train and sensitize doctors to recognize rape and respond effectively, and more. They are passing out information cards and leaflets to checkpoint military guards warning them that sexual abuse, from forced prostitution to rape, is a crime under international law. This strategy works because assailants are not afraid of domestic prosecution. But they know what has happened to military who commit these crimes in other countries after conflict ends.