Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive director of UN Women, expressed concern over women's conditions in conflict areas, saying that a mere 2 percent of the total aid sent to the conflict regions, is spent to ensure women's welfare, adding that the sexual violence against women is at its worst.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Mlambo-Ngcuka's dismal observation comes a day after the world marked the Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, where people in countries like Turkey, France, Chile, Italy, Mozambique, Sweden, Spain, Ecuador and many more marched in solidarity with the cause over the weekend.
Focusing on the ongoing Rohingya crisis, she pointed out that women fleeing conflict are constantly at risk as they are exposed to "new types of violence and torture, worse than anything we’ve ever seen before."
The UN executive called on the international community to come forward in helping over 600,000 displaced people who, according to the UN, are experiencing "ethnic cleansing."
"The killing of babies and girls, throwing them in the water to poison the water so it’s not drinkable, the gang-raping of women and girls – it is very gruesome," she said.
"The situation, even if there is not violence, is complex, [because] there are a lot of unaccompanied children, and the girls among those children are destined to be exposed to violence. It has been going on for such a long time and it is not abating yet. We need sustained attention and we need to mobilize more resources in order to help the government in Bangladesh."
The observations also come at a time when an important sexual violence initiative spearheaded by the UK government and initiated by Angelina Jolie and the then Foreign Secretary William Hague, in 2012 that deployed 74 experts to 13 countries has shown little progress, and advocates have pointed out that the program has been extremely slow in responding to the recent Rohingya crisis.
Mlambo-Ngcuka urged the UK to act promptly by sending relief materials and assistance to people now living in limbo in the regions bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh.
"What I would encourage them to do is to wake up and do their best because the need is still there and it’s [happening] now. The situation, even if there is not violence, is complex, [because] there are a lot of unaccompanied children, and the girls among those children are destined to be exposed to violence," she said.
"It has been going on for such a long time and it is not abating yet. We need sustained attention and we need to mobilize more resources in order to help the government in Bangladesh."
Andrew Mitchell, the former secretary for international development, said, per the Guardian, "The Foreign Office has seen some very good work collecting evidence of human rights abuses in the Syrian conflict, so its capacity to help and do work on this is real."
“William Hague’s initiative needs to be used effectively to help and protect people who are going through hell," Mitchell added.
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Nearly 25 percent of women have suffered some kind of violence during their lifetime, according to World Health Organization, WHO.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said gender equality and taking a stance against sexual violence are intrinsically linked.
"It’s kind of a loop that goes around. So, when you start breaking one point, like making gender equality more implementable in your country, then you are also able to reduce violence against women. And if you reduce violence against women, you aid gender equality, vice versa," she said.