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G8 moves to combat rape commended

19 April 2013

AP

"Moral vigour": William Hague leads a press conference after the Foreign Minister' meeting, in London, last week

"Moral vigour": William Hague leads a press conference after the Foreign Minister' meeting, in London, last week

PROPOSALS to tackle the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon in war, adopted at this month's summit, in London, of G8 foreign ministers, have been welcomed by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten.

The Bishop, who recently instigated a debate in the House of Lords on sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict areas, said that he was delighted that the G8 leaders were determined to take "a firm lead". He has also written to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, congratulating him on his "moral vigour and political determination" in pushing the agreement through.

After the ministers endorsed the Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Mr Hague announced that there would be £10 million in aid to support the work. He described the use of rape and sexual violence in conflicts as "one of the greatest and most persistent injustices in the world".

Bishop Platten said: "The funding to support grassroots and human-rights projects addressing violence against women and girls is much to be welcomed. It is, of course, fair to say that this is very much the start of this work, and there is much to be done before the promises made by the G8 leaders will result in real changes for individuals.

"In carrying this work forward, I am sure that the governments will want to recognise that the underlying causes of gender-based violence will need to be addressed."

The senior child rights policy adviser for World Vision UK, Erica Hall, said: "Children represent around half the reported victims of sexual violence in wartime - sometimes more. Yet these children are often overlooked in emergency responses, and don't get the support they need to rebuild their lives."

The UN Special Envoy for Refugees, the actress Angelina Jolie, said: "Finally, we have some hope to offer victims." Wartime rape should not be regarded as inevitable, she said. "It can be prevented, and must be confronted."

The Church of England's representative on the Foreign Secretary's Steering Group on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Charles Reed, said: "The Declaration is an important first step in tackling the prevailing culture of impunity, but it is only a first step. More needs to be done to widen and deepen the scope of this Declaration, to ensure that all those who use rape as an instrument of war or torture are brought to justice."

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