The UK Calls for Worldwide Action to Eradicate Stigma that Children Born in Conflict Endure as a Result of Sexual Abuse

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State, will speak at a special event at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office today (Monday 22 November) about how the international community can protect the rights and improve the lives of children born from sexual violence in conflict. 

Although there are no official figures on the number of children born each year as a result of sexual violence in war, we do know that it is a prevalent problem in conflicts around the world. Since 1998, the UN estimates that over 60,000 women have been raped in Sierra Leone’s civil war, up to 60,000 in the former Yugoslavia’s conflict, and at least 200,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Children who are born as a result of sexual violence in a conflict are often unable to access education and health services because they are not registered at birth. They and their moms are also stigmatized and shunned by society. 

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon will speak today at an event attended by the United Nations, foreign partners, NGOs, academics, and campaigners such as Lejla Damon, who was born as a result of sexual abuse in the Balkan conflict. 

He will call on countries around the world to sign on to a UK-led call to action, pledging to work together to raise awareness about the challenges faced by children born of sexual violence, consider the needs of these children and their mothers, and change laws, policies, and practices that prevent them from realizing their rights and living life to the fullest. 

The UK will collaborate with those who support the call to action, notably nations with high rates of sexual assault in conflict, over the next months to make tangible pledges. The United States, Norway, South Sudan, Mexico, and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict have already endorsed the call to action. 

Following this call to action, the United Kingdom will issue a handbook with expert advice to assist affected nations in ensuring that their laws, policies, and practices address the needs of children and mothers born as a result of sexual assault in conflict. This will provide a gold standard for child care and support, assisting governments in meeting their duties under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The call to action and handbook will lay the groundwork for a shift in how countries and communities support these children and survivors in their daily lives. 

Following the Foreign Secretary’s push to make sexual violence in conflict a red line for the international community, the call to action has been issued. Next year, the United Kingdom will host a worldwide conference aimed at uniting the world around the action to prevent sexual assault in conflict.