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Live webchat with Foreign Sec William Hague on sexual violence in conflict

(147 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 31-May-14 18:47:08

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, will be joining us for a webchat this Monday (June 2) between 3.15pm and 4pm, to discuss a global campaign to end sexual violence in conflict.

In war zones across the world, sexual violence is used as a devastating weapon - and according to UNICEF, those most at risk are women and their children, both girls and boys. One of the starkest current examples is the conflict in Syria; nearly three out of four refugees who spoke with researchers on their arrival in neighbouring countries last year reported that sexual violence in Syria was on the rise. Earlier this year, JustineMumsnet joined others in highlighting the need for action.

William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will co-chair the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel London on June 10-13 2014. The summit, which is set to be the largest-ever gathering on the subject, will hear calls for international leaders to commit to protect women and children in war zones from rape and sexual abuse.

If you've questions for William Hague on the summit, what's likely to be discussed and which measures we can hope for in the wake of it, please do post them now, and come back on Monday to join the discussion.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sat 31-May-14 20:01:38

Thanks for this.

CocktailQueen Sat 31-May-14 20:23:43

Which world leaders are attending the summit? Are any leaders attending from countries such as Syria, which are actually experiencing this?

What concrete measures for you hope will come from the summit?

What can Angelina Jolie do to help? Does she use her celebrity to publicise the summit?

I think it sounds like a great and very welcome initiative. But I question whether it will work. How can it be enforced?

AndHarry Sat 31-May-14 20:33:12

Great topic. I'll come back with a question.

mrsruffallo Sat 31-May-14 20:36:00

How can we end it? What can be put in place? I am also interested in what kind of commitment we can are hope for.

Just wanted to say I think William Hague has been a fantastic champion for international women's rights and I am proud of him.

keepyourchinupdear Sat 31-May-14 22:18:21

What is happening about Meriam Ibrahim? Will she be released? Will the UK fight for her & her family's human rights?

I am outraged that such barbarism is still rife in this day in age. She gave birth with her feet shackled together sad

EffectiveCommunication Sat 31-May-14 23:43:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

FairPhyllis Sun 01-Jun-14 11:05:13

How do you hope to achieve an end to sexual violence in conflict situations when rape and other forms of sexual violence in the UK are so widespread and have such a low conviction rate that they are effectively decriminalised? 1 in 5 women in England and Wales has experienced sexual violence since the age of 16 (source: MoJ, ONS and HO joint bulletin on sexual violence).

If we are so unable to effectively tackle sexual violence in a stable country with a functioning criminal justice system, what exactly do you think you will be able to achieve in contexts of lawlessness and extreme violence?

And as a follow-up question, mightn't we more effectively tackle sexual violence if we looked at it as a global pattern of violence perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women in every sphere of life - domestic, non-domestic, in conflict situations, in non-conflict situations? I agree that it's always more extreme in conflict situations, but I feel we're not going to solve the problem unless we tackle every front simultaneously.

BriarRainbowshimmer Sun 01-Jun-14 12:54:17

Good question, FairPhyllis.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 01-Jun-14 14:10:06

Marking my place - I'd also like to see an answer to fair's question.

sarinka Sun 01-Jun-14 17:19:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrsruffallo Sun 01-Jun-14 18:32:23

With the recent knowledge that sharia law has been enshrined in the British legal system, do you believe it is a step back for muslim women in this country?

lionheart Sun 01-Jun-14 18:54:57

Same question that Fair has asked.

scallopsrgreat Sun 01-Jun-14 19:06:02

Can I ask why you think it has taken so long to recognise rape as a weapon of war? And why is rape not classified as a hate crime by the UK?

CailinDana Sun 01-Jun-14 20:21:51

I echo FairPhyllis's questions and would like to see the answers.

In addition I'd like to know, from a non-PR point of view, what the actual purpose of this summit is? The website says the purpose is to create "irreversible momentum against sexual violence in conflict and practical action that impacts those on the ground," which comes across as pretty meaningless to me.
I, like many millions of other women have experienced sexual violence from more than one man. I was not in a conflict situation, I was in my family home in the first instance and in my own bed in the second. My experience of sexual violence was down to the fact that society across the world sees women as inferior and endorses the idea that men deserve access to women's bodies. Less than 30 years ago a man could rape his wife with impunity. That is in this country, not in any other war-torn or conflict-riddled backwater, this very country. Millions of women were raped, regularly, by their husbands and the law condoned it. I never bothered reporting my rapes, why would I? What would be done about it?

So, I as an educated woman in a first-world country feel powerless against sexual violence and yet this summit has the intention of protecting women in lawless countries against it. How? Because any ideas you come up with might be useful for your own home country Mr. Hague.

CaptChaos Sun 01-Jun-14 20:51:32

I will also be interested to see how you will answer FairPhyllis's question, especially in the light of Yewtree and it's associated investigations. If we, in a country with the supposed rule of law can't keep women and children safe from sexual violence, what do you hope to be able to do in places where there is no real rule?

Will the UN also be looking at the ridiculously high rates of sexual violence toward young women in Universities in the USA?

PlentyOfPubeGardens Sun 01-Jun-14 20:54:31

Some great questions here, I will watch with interest.

It's not just a case of sexual violence in war (although the sheer scale of violence towards women and children in conflict zones is horrifying), sexual violence is war - an undeclared war on women and children that has been going on throughout the globe for as long as anyone can remember.

It's time it was named for what it is: misogynistic terrorism, whether it takes place in a war zone on another continent or in a stable Western country, the effects on women and children are the same.

Yes, let's do our best to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Let's End Sexual Violence in 'Peace' too. Please, let's just end sexual violence. The ball is in men's court, as it always has been.

Crumblemum Mon 02-Jun-14 10:39:44

Hi William - thanks for coming on.

I just wanted to ask how?

It's obviously a great aim, and something being difficult, of course doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but how can we end this practice?

If we just think about the last week, with the stoning in Pakistan and rapes in India, it seems very difficult to achieve change in relatively peaceful countries, we have really deep links with. So what are the practical steps to change the culture of rape in war?

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 02-Jun-14 11:46:06

I'm so glad to hear of this summit which you are co-chairing on such an important issue, and wish you well for this, as for all your work in seeking to make the world a more peaceful place for all.

More immediately, for today, can we do something together here to highlight and help the plight of Meriam? I have been so shocked by her situation, and the complete disregard for her human rights, including the right of freedom of belief and expression. What is the UK doing to help her?

ThurstonWingman Mon 02-Jun-14 12:45:29


I've seen a couple of people recently suggest that we should just stop giving UK development aid to countries that just don't take women's safety seriously - places like Pakistan, Sudan, India. Realise it's a bit simplistic to say they 'don't take women's safety seriously' but it seems hard to deny, in the context of news stories over the past few months and even days, that some of these countries just seem to abhor women's sexuality at an institutional and cultural level, and to punish them in the cruellest possible ways for expressing their individuality and sexuality.

Why is British tax-payer's money still going there? Can you give us your take on this? Not saying I agree with the premise myself but I do feel uncomfortable knowing that, say, my money is supporting business start-ups by men in Pakistan when women there are being stoned to death in public with seeming impunity for the perpetrators.

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 02-Jun-14 12:53:18

Perhaps if overseas aid was focused more on the fundamental things such as humanitarian aid, provision of clean water to villages, hospitals and primary medical care, schools and a basic education for all, then this might go a long way to ensuring that we aren't supporting the wrong things Thurston ? - less opportunity for corruption and self-interest around foreign aid?

FrancesNiadova Mon 02-Jun-14 13:10:46

Is it true that the Sudanese Government has reneged on its promise to free Meriam Ibrahim?
If yes, what is the British Government doing about it, now?

ephpa95 Mon 02-Jun-14 13:11:46

I don't understand the difference: To me it sounds like military violence is ok but sexual violence is not ok in warfare? In such exceptional circumstances, how could that possibly be enforced when everything is exploding around you and all rules of law and human rights are suspended? Sexual violence in warfare is the oldest form of violence and humiliation against the weakest - read the classics - and sadly, I don't think we can ever do anything against it, but actually and truly search and punish the violators. Publish their names and their actions. And withdraw financial aid as that seems to be the only language those in charge appear to comprehend. What goes on the heads of those creatures who love their mamas, want their sisters honoured, but violate others? Beware the power in the hands of a brutal and ignorant creature - because there are just as many women condoning these forms of violence against their enemies. So, I believe strengthening women's status all over the world and helping them to fight back is the key. And a equal amount of women (and not just family members of rulers) in the governments and military leaderships worldwide.

I agree with FairPhyllis - for us personally it means looking at our doorsteps and addressing the daily forms of violence against both sexes at all ages and employing a no tolerance policy in the UK. Then in Europe. Then next. Teach our men and women and our boys and girls. And crash like a wall on those who violate the rules of democratic and equal life together.

IceBeing Mon 02-Jun-14 13:18:11

it is easy to prevent sexual violence in conflict...first you embed respect of women as equals to men. Then you teach empathy so that a soldier in the field sees a woman or child as being alike to his own female relatives and respects them in the same way.

I 100% agree with those saying that if we can't teach that in our own country (and apparently we can't) then we have no business attempting to proselytize elsewhere.

IceBeing Mon 02-Jun-14 13:19:44

hmm I should ask an actual question:

Do you think having women in positions of political power would raise the profile of women, and the level of societal respect for women and thus reduce sexual violence in war time?

Would you like to start with your own party?

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