Leading female campaigners, human rights lawyers – including Queen Mary University of London’s Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC – and UNICEF UK joined the Foreign Secretary William Hague this week to discuss how to drive forward international action to end the rape and abuse of children in war zones.
The group, which also included Mumset Campaign manager Rowan Davies, UNICEF UK Deputy Executive Director Anita Tiessen and human rights barrister Amal Alamuddin, visited the Foreign Office for talks on how to deliver change for children ahead of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London in June.
Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC comments: “Sexual violence is destroying childhoods across the world. Unless there are coordinated efforts to protect children and help them seek justice, children will continue to endure vicious cycles of violence and poverty.
“The culture of impunity surrounding sexual crimes against children must be tackled – both in international law and at community level. Furthermore, children who have suffered acts of abuse must be supported to report the crimes and hold their abusers to account.”
The meeting was arranged after the women wrote a letter to The Times in March, along with other prominent women such as author J.K. Rowling, international fashion designer Victoria Beckham, UNICEF UK Ambassador Jemima Khan and Mumsnet Co-Founder and CEO Justine Roberts.
They highlighted that during conflict children are at huge risk of abuse and violence as networks that usually protect them – like social services and extended family – often break down.
Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK Anita Tiessen comments: “Sadly children are some of the most at risk of rape and abuse in war zones and the impact on their physical and social wellbeing can be catastrophic,” says
“It is admirable and vital that the UK Government has taken the lead in addressing this international crisis and has organised a crucial summit in London in June.”
“Now world leaders must seize this opportunity to take urgent action to protect children from sexual violence in conflict - and support child survivors around the world.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in 2012 and is hosting the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence at London's Excel Centre from June 10 - 13.
Photo: l-r Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC, Rowan Davies, William Hague, Anita Tiessen, Amal Alamuddin