Part Two: Solving the problem
(This is a continuation from Part One of my Two-Part series. Part One can be found on my page at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jessica-chan/)
What is currently being done to combat sexual violence so far, and can these actions be taken a step further?
The ICC and other criminal tribunals have made significant contributions to ensuring accountability by demonstrating how sexual violence can be used as a means to perpetrate genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Yet, progress made at the international level is inadequate. It is the predominant duty of states to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes of international concern committed on their territory or by their nationals or residents.
Therefore, in order to close the impunity gap, legislative frameworks must be implemented - legal reforms are needed to enable domestic prosecution of these international crimes so that the right domestic legal framework exists. I attended a roundtable discussion, on the effectiveness of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, at the 'End Sexual Violence In Conflict Global Summit' 2014. At the end of the discussion, many others and I concluded that the resolution was indeed ineffective, fundamentally because the resolution has been disregarded by domestic governments and even continues to remain unheard of on the grassroots level.
So can these actions be taken a step further? Yes: this is why domestic implementation of international policies, as well as domestic prosecution of international crimes, are crucial in combatting sexual violence on a global scale. A concrete solution to this would be for international organisations, such as the UN, to monitor domestic governments closely to ensure they officially implement and prosecute international policies and crimes, by imposing sanctions on those nations that do not comply.
Modern Slavery Bill
On Wednesday 29th January 2013, I attended a forum regarding the proposed 'Modern Slavery Bill', chaired by Frank Field MP. The public bill committee has just given the Bill a second reading. It exists to create new civil orders to prevent modern slavery, establishing an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and to make provision for the protection of modern slavery victims. At the forum, Caroline Spelman MP gave pointers on further measures that would need to be implemented, should the Bill be passed. She spoke about how trafficking victims "are usually very afraid authority, and they must therefore feel a sense of trust around those who they are confiding with". Although noting that "victims must be addressed personally and given dignity", she emphasised that this will eliminate the root of the problem. One of the solutions she gave is that "we must look out for forced labour and sexual violence - we have to audit the supply chains".
What can students do?
Lots! Students should encourage their peers to engage with the issue proactively. To give an example, earlier this year, I organised a human trafficking awareness event at my university, where my team and I invited the director of a human trafficking campaign and charity (http://www.thea21campaign.org) to speak on the topic (https://www.facebook.com/events/1407283099526935/). We ensured all students who attended had the opportunity to participate in discussion at the end of the talk, and gave them tips on how they themselves could get involved with the cause. If you would like to get involved, do contact these two fantastic charities: The A21 Campaign (at http://email@example.com) & Stop The Traffik (at firstname.lastname@example.org), or myself (at email@example.com).
What else can be done?
We need to ensure women are more proactively involved in the process of combatting the issue. Recently, I wrote a university paper on women being victims of injustice in modern societies. I concluded that even in developed countries, women continue to require the provision of special rights; this is because attitudes that discriminate against women can hinder them from speaking out publicly or obtaining public roles, and gender discrimination recurrently excludes women from peace processes. If women remain excluded from formal peace processes, this may lead to an inability to even reach the negotiating table, due to resistance from political actors and institutional structures that discriminate against them. Therefore, I think it is vital that we involve those directly at the centre of the issue - we must include women in discussions, and even in leadership roles, centred on the issue of sexual violence against women.