Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of women, children, and men have been raped in conflicts in our lifetimes. The numbers are so vast and the subject so painful that we have to stop to remember that behind each number is someone with a name, a personality, a story, and dreams no different from ours and those of our children.
Let us be clear what we are speaking of:
- Young girls raped and impregnated before their bodies are able to carry a child, causing fistula.
- Boys held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault their mothers and sisters.
- Women raped with bottles, wood branches, and knives to cause as much damage as possible.
- Toddlers and even babies dragged from their homes and violated.
I will never forget the survivors that I have met or what they told me:
The mother in Goma whose five-year-old daughter had been raped right outside a police station — in plain view.
Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity. Addressing warzone sexual violence is therefore your responsibility, as well as the duty of governments in countries afflicted by it. But the starting point must be you, the UN Security Council, shouldering your responsibilities and showing leadership.
That five-year-old child in the Congo must count, because you represent her.
And in her eyes, if her attacker gets away with his crimes, it is because you have allowed it.
You set the bar.