The United Nations has officially launched a Global Fund for Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The mandate was established by the Security Council in 2009 under a Special Representative of the Secretary General dedicated to preventing and addressing the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, reflecting on sexual violence in her own country, called for greater attention to be focused on better understanding why the proliferation of sexual violence, particularly against women and girls, continues.

Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramilla Patten, says, “I am extremely pleased that we have launched the global fund for survivors because I think post-conflict reconstruction, there has been a huge oversight. They have failed victims of sexual violence.”

Dr Denis Mukwege, a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2018 for his work with victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says there is a need really to improve the way that justice is delivered for victims of sexual violence in conflict.

“I can take the example of Congo. You know, a report was released in 2010, next year it will be 10 years. This report was done by the experts of the UN about crime happening in the DRC. And 10 years after no one single recommendation of this report was implemented. So, if there is not justice, it’s a message to criminals that they can go on doing crimes without any consequences.”

Fellow laureate Nadia Murad – now a human rights activist – was among almost 7 000 minority Yazidi women and girls kidnapped by Isis in Iraq in 2014 and held for three months where they were enslaved, raped and beaten, before she was able to escape.

Asked to weigh in on the recent death of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, says they want justice.

Minister Pandor, who co-hosted the Global Fund’s launch, talked about South Africa’s shame in dealing with domestic issues of sexual abuse and the exploitation, including when SANDF, UN peacekeepers violated those they were sent to protect.

“One of the areas in which we do need to give greater attention is that of research. I don’t think we’re doing enough to understand the factors that relate to the practice and levels of violence that we see in many of our societies. We need thorough improved research to have a deeper understanding of the causal factors and to attack these in order to ensure that we end the scourge of violence against women and I don’t think we’re yet doing enough.”