When survivors stand up, they help end and prevent the use of sexual violence as a method of warfare. Their voices render rape as a weapon of war ineffective.
Sexual violence in conflict is not only committed against individual women and men, but it is used to generate terror against millions. It is not just a physically violent act committed against one victim but it is a violation of the values of humanity. Due to the stigmatization of victims and the fear of rejection, most survivors are keeping silent, enabling the perpetrators to continue.
Darfur, Sudan is one of the conflicts where silence has persisted for many years. The government has denied that sexual violence occurs in the country. Few cases have ever been prosecuted and survivors have been threatened to speak about the atrocities committed against them.
As members of the UN Security Council convene for an Open Debate on preventing sexual violence in conflict through empowerment, gender equality and access to justice this week, they should enable women and men to raise their voice in their communities, countries and at the international level. In their strategies, they must give survivors of sexual violence in conflict a central role.
When survivors raise their voices, rape is not a secret weapon anymore. It can no longer be ignored. When they have the space and the freedom to speak out, they can name and shame the perpetrators, open the door to justice by enabling prosecutions and prevent future atrocities by deterring other perpetrators.
As members of a global survivor movement, we survivors of wartime sexual violence from around the world, call on the Security Council to encourage and listen to the voices of those who have suffered the worst atrocities. In order to prevent sexual violence in conflict, governments should help us break the silence.