UK’s Leadership, progress on preventing sexual violence in conflict around the world

Nov 28,2022 – JORDAN TIMES /

Lord Ahmad

In the cruelty of war, it is not just bullets and bombs that cause lasting damage.  

Sexual violence is tragically an all-too-common consequence as well.

Right now – in Ukraine, in Tigray, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name but three conflict areas; civilians, mostly women and girls, are sickeningly facing rape and sexual abuse in active conflict zones. 

The aggressors usually walk away from their crimes, knowing they’re extremely unlikely to be held to account and punished.  

Such abhorrent abuses must stop. 

That is why the UK government is at the vanguard of global action to prevent and prosecute conflict-related sexual violence, and why from Monday, November 28 we started bringing together partners from around the world in London to discuss how we can take more action to tackle this global evil. 

This week’s conference has been a decade in the making.  

Ten years ago, former Foreign Secretary Lord William Hague and Angelina Jolie launched the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), an initiative I have been honoured to lead for the last five years. 

Since then, the UK has supported provided £50m over the last ten years to nearly 100 projects across more than 29 countries, helping thousands of survivors to rebuild their lives.  

It has not been easy, as we know from shocking first-hand testimonies that this terrible crime can affect some of the most vulnerable people in some of the most inaccessible places around the world. We also know that sexual violence is far from an inevitable consequence of war. There is a lot we can do, both to help survivors and to prevent others from going through a similar ordeal.    

With our partners and allies, we are involved in many successful initiatives in Jordan and around the world.

In Jordan, reported incidents of Gender Based Violence increased by 50 per cent in 2021. The British Ambassador Bridget Brind recently launched a new humanitarian protection programme at the Queen Rania Family and Child Centre in Marka. This is part of the UK’s support for the right of women and girls to live free from all forms of violence and be able to access protection and support.  The UK will provide up to £12.5m over three years for this work, with a focus on mitigating and preventing child exploitation and gender-based violence, provide rehabilitation services to people with disabilities, and improve access to these services across Jordan for the long-term.

Women play an important role in building sustainable peace and security. British Army female engagement teams have trained women in the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) to prepare for deployment. To date, 146 female officers from the JAF have been deployed as part of Jordan’s contribution to UN peacekeeping missions. Through our support to the Jordan National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security, we are proud to see the security sector in Jordan taking robust action to increase uniformed women’s participation in Jordan’s security sector, with 9.6 per cent women in JAF and 6 per cent women in PSD in 2021. 

In Ukraine, we are involved in a series of new projects, including the provision of safe spaces for women and girls, and we are sending UK experts to train prosecutors and police in handling cases of conflict-related sexual violence. 

Elsewhere, in Bosnia’s Brcko region, we helped support legislative changes that recognise children born of wartime rape as civilian victims, providing these children with important legal protection. We are now building a global coalition of countries to protect other children in this situation.  

In Iraq we’ve helped to fund an online portal for applicants seeking reparations because of sexual violence against the Yazidi community. 

In the last 10 years, we have all come a long way, but we know that much more must be done, both to help survivors and to prevent others from suffering such violence. Rape, torture, sexual violence is real, it is happening today. It is a shocking reality of our world in 2022.     

At the conference we will be able to share details of the lessons learned in tackling this global scourge in the last decade, and critically discuss the actions we must take next.  

Our aim is to make a long-lasting, tangible change in the lives of survivors, while preventing others from going through similar horrific ordeals in the future. 

This is a global problem that requires a global response. We owe it to the courageous survivors who are an inspiration to us all.

Lord Ahmad, is the Minister of State at the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Affairs for Middle East and the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict


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