Toronto : From May 23-25, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Mairead Maguire led an unprecedented conference in Canada, to develop strategies for ending rape as a weapon of war. They were joined by over 120 civil society activists, corporate and security sector leaders, military and peacekeeping personnel, and academics to discuss and share ideas at the conference, entitled Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict.
According to Nobel Women’s Initiative who organised the Conference, “Sexual violence takes place in every region of the world, with the reasons for its use varying from conflict to conflict. It has been used as a tactic to terrorize communities suspected of supporting guerrilla forces, as a way to force population off land, and to punish human rights defenders”.
“Waging war on the bodies of women has got to stop,” says Jody Williams, who won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to end anti-personnel landmines. “Like any tactic of war, it can be eliminated.The magnitude of the problem must be matched by our collective effort. Working together, we can finally bring an end to this scourge on women and their communities.”
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and honorary member of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Aung San Suu Kyi also sent a video message emphasizing the critical importance of ending sexual violence in conflict.
On 26 May, which was declared as international day of action against sexual violence in conflict, the three Nobel Peace Laureates called upon concerned people and nations from around the world to TAKE A STAND to end rape in war.
Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder of the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network who participated in the conference spoke about the situation in Manipur and in India’s Northeast Region and the non-violent ways of unique protests in which women in Manipur and Northeast India have undertaken to respond to sexual violence against women in conflict zones.
A declaration was also unanimously adopted at the historic conference which called up Government of India, Manipur and Other Northeast Indian States and also to non-state armed groups stop violence against women in conflict areas and work to protect women. Following is the resolution that was taken at the conference:
“We, 120 women from 33 countries including three women Nobel Peace Laureates gathered at the conference “Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict” in Montebello, Canada, May 23-25, 2011, call upon the Governments of India and the state of Manipur and other Northeast Indian states and non-state armed groups operating in the region to end violence against women in Manipur and Northeast India. We declare our solidarity with Irom Sharmila and hundreds of thousands of women in Manipur and India’s Northeast region who have non-violently resisted militarization in the name of insurgency and counter-insurgency. We call upon the Government of India to uphold its democratic values by repealing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958. We call on all parties to cease attacks on the civilian population and seek peaceful solutions”
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