By Dennis Kabatto :
The main focus of a recent Classroom Conversations on Sexual violence in conflict and beyond: a conspiracy of silence was what we can do individually and collectively to stop violence against women?
The highlights of the two hour conversation held at the UN Headquarters in New York was the devastating forms of sexual violence which are sometimes deployed systematically to achieve military and political objectives and condoned in every continent, country and culture as noted by UN Secretary-General Ban ki Moon.
The panel led by Sierra Leonean diplomat Zainab Hawa Bangura the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence was joined by two experts – Makiko Oku, Program Leader of the Gender Program and Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University. Rekha Dutta, Professor of Political Science, Monmouth University, and Founder of Women and Girls’ Education (WAGE)–International.
“My mandate is to lead and coordinate UN and the global effort against sexual violence as well as to be the international advocate to speak for and to campaign to bring an end to sexual violence,” said Mrs. Bangura stressing that no woman should be raped as it is the most dehumanizing, most humiliating and most degrading thing you can do to a woman.
The UN Classroom Conversation event brought the issue of sexual violence in conflict closer to university students who attended and watched the discussion via webcast said Dr. Oku in her response to a request for comment from her office at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “Sexual violence is a serious and urgent matter, and it needs to be discussed with the younger generation who will likely carry on with the fight to stop the atrocity.”
Dr Oku also warns “the silence, invisibility, and erasure of the violence will not go away unless we talk about it and provide students with knowledge and tools to address the issue effectively with a gender-sensitive lens.”
The Classroom Conversations was moderated by Maher Nasser, Director, Outreach Division, UN Department of Public Information the Classroom Conversations and attended by several students from New York University, Columbia University and Rutgers University.
Political scientist and panelist Professor Dutta dedicated her presentation to honor all women who face discrimination and brutality for being what she calls “daughters.”
Professor Dutta admitted even when there is no armed conflicts women are not safe pointing out India which boosts of high economic growth and scientific achievement but its capital is dubbed the rape capital of the world is a “national shame and global pain,” said Dutta.
With the use of technology and social media Professor Dutta hopes education will prevail in the fight against sexual violence because as she puts it “if you educate a boy you create a man, if you educate a girl you create a community and if you educate girls, boys women and men you create humanity.”
Classroom Conversations an ongoing interactive discussion forum on today’s global issues organized by the United Nations Academic Impact in association with the Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict continues.