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AU calls for investments on access to information, data, evidence

The African Union Commission says an important investment Africa must make is to ensure access to information, data and evidence on all forms of sexual violence.

H.E. Amira Elfadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission, made the call on the occasion of the 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on Friday.

The 2020 African Union theme is on: “Silencing the Guns by 2020’’.

According to him, for over a decade, the international community has raised its voice against sexual violence, among other forms of violence.

“An important investment Africa must make is on ensuring access to information, data and evidence, which would inform legislative, programme, political and community level action.

“As we work to ensure all the guns are silenced in 2020 and beyond, the continent and particularly in places that have hosted periods of instability and conflict, we need to ensure Africa is emerging to a sustained future of peace, security, development.

“It should invests in the wellbeing and potential of all people, particularly girls and women.

“We need to be making the investments that address the disease burden; that expands economic participation; that expands our human capital and capacity; and one that ensures we address the gender inequalities perpetuated by gender-based sexual violence.

“The commission distinctly associates itself with elimination of sexual violence in conflict settings.’’

The commissioner said the
commission would inform legislative, programme, political and community level action against sexual violations and gender inequalities perpetuated by gender-based sexual violence.

He also commended survivors of sexual violence and other powerful authorities in Africa for raising their voices against the atrocities of sexual violence in conflict.

Elfadil said: “Standing up against this violation of human rights continues to break the culture of silence, brings communities and the world together, and strengthens the fight.

“Sexual violence during conflict does not just violate women and men, girls and boys on a massive scale, but also destroys families and communities.

“In many conflicts and post-conflict situations, we see the effects of this act of war echoing across generations, through gender inequalities, trauma, stigma, poverty, poor health and wellbeing.

“Africa and the world needs to do more.

“For Africa, it is to transform our communities, our countries and the continent to pursue social and economic change, to educate our girls, to empower our women and to transform the lives of our people

“Sexual violence in conflict is a threat to our collective security and a stain on our common humanity.

“Protecting our communities collectively means ensuring accountability for perpetrators and providing ensuring access to care and services, and resources for victims.’’

According to him, this has, and is impacting Africa’s opportunity to harness the demographic dividend, to unlock the potential behind investing in girls and women’s empowerment.

He said the commission would also impact a chance for a healthy, prosperous population – a key prospect of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 on the “Africa We Want”.

The commissioner said that health sector had a very important role to play in terms of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, seven out of 10 women in conflict settings and in refugee populations are exposed to gender-based and sexual violence.

“Women who have experienced violence are 50 per cent more likely to be living with HIV.

“Media and service-provider reports often register an increase in sexual violence perpetrated against women and children in armed conflicts.

“Young girls and women are subjected to rape and forced marriages, and other forms of gender-based sexual violence, including female genital mutilation, particularly in communities where these harmful practices have been normalised into the social fabric,’’ Elfadil said.

He said the commission would continue to advocate for silencing of the guns and eliminate the use of sexual violence as a tool to displace populations, and as a means of repression, terror, and control.

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