On August 31st, Yvette Kabuo, lawyer and coordinator of the Panzi Legal Clinic, and Nadia Murad, a Human Rights Activist, were panellists discussing, “Fighting Impunity for Conflict Related Sexual Violence”. This was part of a side event leading up to the Human Right’s Council’s 33rd regular session beginning on September 13th.

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor of sexual enslavement, delivered a powerful message to the international community. She asserted that it is not acceptable that women and girls are still being held captive and are to be sold as ‘goods’. This slavery is an international crime, committed in front of our eyes. That is why Nadia calls for more intervention.

‘Consequences of mass victimization must be addressed’

The panel also discussed how, despite the presence of the legal framework, sexual violence related crimes are missed out in investigations into war crimes, are only added at a later stage, or are dropped over time. Yvette Kabuo, among other panellists, emphasized the need for the international community to also support domestic prosecutions, while recognizing the important work that has been done by international institutions, such as the ICC. One way in which international bodies can support national systems is through setting up compensation funds and providing technical support.

The fact that the panel consisted of representatives of several countries also served to illustrate the similarities that exist among conflicts; for example, abuses consist of systematic rape, carried out to destroy the social fabric of the culture and society. Furthermore, even after the conflict officially ends, as was the case in countries such as DRC and the former Yugoslavia, the consequences of mass victimization still linger on for years and must be addressed.

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