Press Conference on Secretary-General's latest report on 'Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Abuse'

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19-Mar-2021 00:32:37
Press Conference by Jane Connors, Victims Rights Advocate and Christine Besong, the Field Victims Rights Advocate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Abuse.”

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UN Victims’ Rights Advocate Jane Connors zeroed in on prioritizing the rights and dignity of victims by institutionalizing them systemwide.

And while this is “gaining traction”, she flagged that “we are constantly looking for ways to do more, particularly as the needs are great”.

Ms. Connors pointed to a pilot programme, mapping services and assistance for victims in 13 countries with a differing UN presence, noting that partners generally supported those affected through programmes to combat gender-based violence.

She noted however, that these programmes vary in quality and availability and that more must be done “to respond to the specific needs of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse”.

The UN advocate has continued to focus on resolving paternity/child support claims while exploring ways to help women access legal assistance, including through pro bono lawyers and national human rights institutions.

“These are complex from a legal point of view, often involving several jurisdictions, and require close cooperation with Member States”, she said.

Her office is also working on developing an effective way of integrating feedback from victims on its work, as “responses crafted without their input are unlikely to be successful”.

Meanwhile, Christine Besong, Field Victims’ Rights Advocate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), explained the areas of support her office provides to victims, including, medical, legal and psychosocial assistance along with security and shelter.

It also provides livelihood support through projects as well as reporting and referral pathways, she told journalists via videoconference from DRC.

“In my conversations with victims, I will often hear that they can build back their lives and restore their dignity if they were empowered to sustain themselves and take care of their children”, she said.

The DRC victim’s rights advocate elaborated on a UN Trust Fund that supports SEA victims through a variety of projects.

In 2018, three projects in the country helped more than 400 beneficiaries, including children, she explained, adding that similar ones are currently underway in six other locations.

“We have seen victims who have turned around their lives…some of them are now able to take care of their children and become leaders in the communities”, Ms. Besong said.

“They tell us that now they are happy and have become mentors for others”, she said proudly.

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