International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict – 19 June 2022

by: Ch. Muhammad Natiq
Pakistan joins the international community in commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which signifies our common resolve to end all forms of violence, exploitation and human rights violations in the conflict zones. On this day, we reaffirm our commitment to the universality of all human rights and their equal application in conflict areas and occupied territories.
Sexual violence is one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by the occupation forces in conflict zones, and a grave violation of both international human rights and humanitarian law. The experiences of past wars as well as current conflicts, point out the peculiar vulnerabilities and situations of people caught up in these unfortunate events. It is incumbent upon the international community to rise above geopolitical and economic interests and show its commitment to the UN Charter and international law in providing protection to the victims and in holding the perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.
On this Day, we must not forget the brave people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), who have been facing gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Indian occupation forces with full impunity. Rape is employed as a tool of suppression and as a means of collective punishment in IIOJK. The women, girls and children of IIOJK have witnessed the most egregious forms of sexual violence in recent times. The horrendous mass rape of Kashmiri women in Kunan Poshpura villages of IIOJK on 23 February 1991 continues to haunt the victims who still await justice. The Indian state machinery has perpetrated sexual violence with full impunity to silence, subjugate and stifle the people of IIOJK and stop them from demanding their legitimate right to self-determination, as pledged in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. However, the resilient Kashmiris remain undeterred in their just cause.
Since 5 August 2019, sexual violence against all genders including children has drastically increased in IIOJK. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its two Kashmir reports, the UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders (SPMHs) in their joint communications, the international civil society and media in their publications have expressed serious concerns about the widespread sexual violence being committed by the Indian occupation forces with full impunity in IIOJK and have inter alia demanded investigations by a UN Commission of Inquiry. Unfortunately, all these international calls for the prosecution of perpetrators have been blatantly rejected by India. There remains a pervasive culture of impunity through connivance between the Indian state machinery, judiciary and the media.
The international community must take cognizance of the sexual crimes against the people of IIOJK and hold the perpetrators of these condemnable acts accountable through various mechanisms including sanctions against offenders of these grave crimes. India must be urged to respect its international obligations, especially those related to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the 4th Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocol 1. Pakistan will continue to raise its voice in favour of the oppressed and these victims of sexual violence.