Sexual violence in Sudan and Burma: Baroness Cox responds to the Queens’ Speech

12 June 2014

In her contribution to the debate on the Queens’ Speech, Baroness Cox highlighted the plight of women suffering from sexual violence in war, particularly in places where Governments allow it to continue with impunity.

Baroness Cox reminded peers that all is not well in Burma: “Despite some welcome reforms, the Burmese Government are continuing brutal policies of repression against the Muslim Rohingya people and the Burmese army has been continuing military offensives against ethnic nationals, with frequent violations of ceasefires in Shan and Kachin states and associated atrocities, including the use of rape and sexual slavery as weapons of war.” 

Whilst welcoming the Burmese Government’s signing of the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, she also raised concerns that this was designed to maximise publicity for the Burmese Government and may not lead to tangible change. She therefore asked Her Majesty’s Government to urge the Burmese Government to make clear commitments within a strict timeframe: “to end impunity and to hold perpetrators of sexual violence to account; to support an independent investigation involving international expertise; to amend the 2008 constitution that condones sexual violence by guaranteeing impunity for sexual crimes; and to provide support for international civil society organisations, including women’s organisations such as the Women’s League of Burma, for their work in documenting cases of rape and providing support for victims of sexual violence.”

Baroness Cox then moved to Sudan, where rape has been systematically utilised as a weapon of war, particularly in Darfur by the Rapid Support Forces. She asked the Minister “what particular representations have been made to the Government of Sudan to call perpetrators, including the army, to account in order to ensure the cessation of violence against girls and women, and whether there has been any consideration of the provision of treatment, aftercare and support for such victims.”

The full text of the debate can be downloaded below, or found online here.

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