Cyprus on Wednesday joined in from a distance with the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is being taking place in London.
The summit aims to shatter the culture of impunity that surrounds the crimes, providing support to survivors, and shifting the stigma of shame from victims to perpetrators.
Over 145 countries, 100 NGOs and members of the public are gathering at the Excel Centre London for the summit.
The event in Cyprus was hosted by the British High Commission in Nicosia. Speaking at the event, High Commissioner Matthew Kidd said that any community, and that included Cyprus, that has faced conflict has also faced cases of sexual violence in conflict and knows some of the consequences.
“So we wanted today to do our part to reflect and echo the messages of the big summit meeting that is happening today in London, including with the presence of the defence minister from here, to look at what can be done to uproot sexual violence from conflict situations,” said Kidd.
“We want to try to build up awareness of it here to try to encourage people here in Cyprus also to make their voice be heard, give their attention to it, show them too that it is time to act,” he added.
In the UK the event was addressed by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and actress Angelina Jolie who is also an envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Jolie said sexual violence in conflict is “a crime like no other”.
“It is hard to document, let alone investigate. It is so destructive it can lay waste to entire communities. Perpetrators do not discriminate, because these crimes are not about sex, but violence, terror and control. Adults and children of both sexes have been made to suffer the horrors of sexual violence in conflicts all over the world. The thought of someone attacking and raping a child is hard to imagine, but a huge number of victims are very young girls and boys,” Jolie said.
She added that her hope was that the summit would be the moment the world would take practical steps to end impunity and enable survivors to receive better support.
During the event, various perspectives of the issue were presented, and personal testimonies were read out. (CNA)