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Updated On: Friday, November 24 2017

New UN Advocate Against Sexual Abuse

Content by: South-South News

6 November 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The first UN Advocate for the Rights of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Jane Connors, said her priority is to “give visibility” to the victims and to “amplify their voices in a way that cannot be ignored and support them as they build their lives.”

Speaking to reporters on November 3, she was asked about UN’s assistance to the victims in the Central African Republic. Connors said “immediate assistance such as psycho-social support and medical assistance and food etc. is provided to anyone who comes forward and complains or alleges sexual exploitation and abuse."

She added that the allegation doesn’t need to be approved at that stage, it can proceed as the allegation goes forward other supports are provided.

Asked about informing the victims about the process of their cases, Connors said, “I found that a significant risk is lack of education, not only because that schooling is protective, but also because those who have no education are much more at risk. They are not as able to be informed.”

Connors, Australian law professional and long-time human rights advocate, was appointed by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres as the first UN advocate for the rights of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The appointment is in line with the Secretary-General's pledge – made in his report on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: a new approach – that the UN will put the rights and dignity of victims at the forefront of its prevention and response efforts.

Connors has just returned from the Central African Republic where she travelled with the Secretary-General.

According to the UN, for the period of 1 July to 30 September, the organization has received 31 allegations. Not all of them have been verified, and some are in the preliminary assessment phase. Out of the 31 allegations, 12 are from peacekeeping operations and 19 from agencies, funds and programs. 10 are categorized as sexual abuse, 19 as sexual exploitation, and 2 are of an unknown nature. 12 of these allegations occurred in 2017, 2 in 2016, 6 in 2015 or prior, and the date(s) are unknown for 11 of them. 38 male alleged perpetrators have been associated with these incidents. Of the 36 victims, 72 per cent are women and 19 per cent are girls. 14 investigations have been launched during this timeframe.

Victims’ Rights Advocates have been appointed at Headquarters and in four field missions.

The UN is also piloting a Victims Assistance Protocol which sets the roles and responsibilities of those on the ground to ensure coordination to provide victims with immediate assistance. And with the most recent voluntary contributions from Member States, the Trust Fund in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse will rise to $1.5 million.

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