Yesterday, via Hysperia, I learned that Human Rights Watch criticized the UN Security Council for doing "little to effectively prevent and address [sexual] violence" against women and girls in war torn areas. HRW urged the UN to correct this "historic failure." Marianne Mollmann, who is named as HRW's advocacy director for women’s rights said, "the council’s response has too often been: ‘Not our problem.’”
Not their problem? I remembered hearing, when I watched The Greatest Silence, how UN peacekeepers engaged in the rape and sexual assault of some of the world's most vulnerable women and girls. And yesterday, shortly after I read Hysperia's post, I read this one at Feministe and this one at What about Our Daughters? that linked to an article entitled Peacekeepers 'abusing children."
I think it's the word 'Peacekeeper' that ought to be in quotes.
When I teach my students about the founding of the UN, I talk about its role in trying to ensure international peace and protecting human rights. And yet representatives of the UN are, as this report by Save the Children states quite bluntly, subjecting children "to every kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation imaginable." As the name of the report implies, when the people who are supposed to render aid and comfort are hurting and humiliating these children, they quite often have no one to turn to.
It is not an anomaly, of course. I know that authors have written much about state/military/police violence against people.* But given the role of the UN--the fact that HRW thinks the Security Council has the authority to take a leading role in addressing and ending sexual violence in areas in conflict, for example--it is quite disturbing.
As is the fact that much of the abuse is never disclosed:
Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.Disturbing, yes.
But I am neither shocked nor surprised.
* In the blogosphere, BfP, Nadia, and Yolanda Carrington come immediately to mind. And as I am settling into reading Killing the Black Body more thoroughly, I see a lot of connect.