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Assembly calls for end to wartime rape
and violence against women

STRASBOURG, 03.04.2000 - European parliamentarians today pledged action to stem the tide of violence against women and called for an end to the use of rape as a weapon of war.

They were debating two  reports from the Equal Opportunities Committee - Violence against women in Europe and Rape in armed conflicts.

Europe needs a programme to combat violence, with marital rape  criminalised and  tougher laws to protect women from  violent husbands, urged the Assembly. 

Report author Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold (Switzerland, Soc) revealed that violence was a frightening reality for women, with one in five suffering every day, and domestic violence killing or seriously injuring more women every year than cancer or road accidents.  She condemned prevailing values in society which put men above women and led to abuses from rape, through genital mutilation, to sex trafficking and domestic slavery. Member states should do their utmost to  turn the tide by ratifying  and putting into practice international treaties, working to raise awareness amongst police officers and judges, and setting up centres for victims, she said.

Rodica-Mihaela Stanoiu (Romania, Soc) ran through the catalogue of recent conflicts to show that rape was still being used as a weapon of war.  It took the form of gang rape, forced prostitution and pregnancy, sexual slavery, torture and sexual abuse and was used to intentional political purpose.

Women raped during wartime were victims several times over, she said. Yet the crime went largely unpunished. Various international laws existed, but were not put into practice. To bridge the gap, Council of Europe member states should ratify the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court urgently, she stressed.

The Assembly backed her  calls for member states to criminalise rape in wartime,  to grant raped women the right to terminate pregnancy and to give them full support in the courts and social and psychological back-up  from specially trained staff.

Press Contact
Cathie Burton, Council of Europe Press Service
Tel. +33 3 88 41 28 93 - Fax. +33 3 88 41 27 89

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