On March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. It’s a somber celebration, though: despite progress in some areas, more must be done to end impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Today on March 8, as every year, the world celebrates the International Women’s Day. We celebrate women’s advances in many arenas, but we also deplore the ongoing violence. Women’s Day is a remainder that millions of women around the world are still enduring crimes that should have been prevented and should never happened.
WITNESS has worked on these issues, and you can see some of them illustrated in this video:
WITNESS and its partners around the world take this opportunity to stress the need for more actions against impunity of those who commit sexual and gender crimes, both in conflict and non-conflict situations. To ensure that justice is served for the millions of victims, states need to take a leading role.
The International Criminal Court has been at the forefront of the fight, showing aspirational examples across the world by going after the most responsible of these heinous crimes. But it cannot do it by itself.
Governments, the UN Security Council, regional bodies and communities should work together to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice and justice is served for survivors and survivors receive adequate assistance. The commitment to fight the impunity of this crime should be in line with the Rome statute, several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, regional treaties and conventions, and of course meaningful domestic legislations criminalizing rape and sexual violence.
We must do this for the women, and for all of us: the effects of this unpunished violence go far beyond the victims themselves. In countries like Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo—to name a few—families and societies are devastated by the crimes of rape and sexual violence, while the perpetrators are walking free.
So today, on International Women’s Day, take a moment to think about the actions you can take–and those you can urge to take action–to support women’s rights around the world.
Bukeni Tete Waruzi is the Program Manager for Africa & the Middle East at WITNESS. He has expertise in working against gender-based violence, and has worked extensively on decommissioning child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.