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'Eye' on Kashmir amid reports of sexual violence: UN official

Last updated: 10 June, 2011
Geneva, Jun 10 (PTI) 20:11 IST

A top UN official today said she is ''keeping an eye'' on Kashmir where some individual cases of sexual violence have been reported.

"We have some sort of spread reports more from individuals than a consistent reporting other than from the UN entities (in Kashmir)," Margot Wallstrom, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told PTI.

"We cannot say anything (conclusively) today in an area like Kashmir, but we are keeping an eye on that we are gathering information and also creating files on these areas," she said.

She said her office is "collecting" information, suggesting that over the years "we have received reports from people in Kashmir about sexual violence."

"Kashmir is not one of our focused areas of work at this moment," Wallstrom said.
Amid reports that the Libyan regime had provided Viagra-type drugs to its soldiers to promote the rape of women during the current conflict, Wallstrom called on leaders to ensure that conflict-related sexual violence must be stopped at every cost.

She said there was "growing evidence" of escalating sexual abuse in areas ridden by conflict, such as the DRC and Libya.

"Sexual violence has become a tactic of choice for armed groups, cheaper, more destructive and is easier to get away with the other methods of warfare," the UN official maintained.The UN Representative said "the first challenge is for political leaders and of course, an example is what we have in Libya where women are under threat as they are being flogged or stoned, and cases sexual cases of violence."

Wallstrom admitted that the "full scale" of such sexual abuse was never likely to be known as many cases remain unreported.

"It has become such a way of life in some conflict zones that many victims are simply too afraid to report it and you can understand that," she said.

Wallstrom said the current impunity of those responsible must end."I want to go after the perpetrators and put them in jail. We need to name and shame places where this is happening and the UN itself has to coordinate its efforts in this area more effectively," the UN official said.

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