Sophie Wessex Warns U.N. That Coronavirus Has Likely 'Amplified' Cases of Sexual Violence
Sophie Wessex fights for victims of sexual violence during the coronavirus pandemic.
At a United Nations virtual event to mark the sixth International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the countess, who is married to Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, spoke passionately about how quarantine and self-isolation are likely to have "increased" suffering for some women and teenagers.
"Since the pandemic began, the number of cases of sexual violence in conflict situations and at home has very likely increased significantly," said Sophie, 55.
"Women and girls are again disproportionately affected, with increasing difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive health care, a higher number of maternal deaths and teenage pregnancies, the closure of shelters for domestic violence, the closure of schools, the reduction in aid work and of funds for charities, delays COVID-19 has exacerbated suffering by the restrictions on survivors, "she continued.
The Royal family
The Countess of Wessex takes part in a virtual @UN event to eradicate sexual violence in conflict.
Speakers reflect on how the effects of COVID-19 increase survivors' suffering, with restrictions on movement to report crimes or get to safety
5:12 p.m. - June 19, 2020
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To combat the problem, the countess, who volunteers behind the scenes of NHS medical professionals and participates in events with Kate Middleton, emphasized the importance of local government action.
Kensington Palace Kate Middleton and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
"Time is against the victims, so it is imperative that national action plans be implemented or even accelerated if possible," she added. "But it is important that we ensure that all of the answers are best geared towards them in the course of our actions.
"My message today is therefore simple, and I hope that I can speak for all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence if I say: We must listen to the needs and wishes of all survivors and act accordingly."
Sophie has been working with the Initiative for the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI) since November 2018, when she appeared with her co-founder Angelina Jolie at the Festival Fighting Stigma Through Film in London.
At the time, she wrote in the Telegraph and told how "it is easy to overlook the pioneering work of the changers" against the backdrop of horrific crimes.
"Only when women and men work side by side on an equal footing will conflict resolution in the world improve sustainably and reduce sexual violence in conflict," she added.
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Luiz Rampelotto / EuropaNewswire
The PSVI campaign aims to prevent the use of rape and sexual violence as a means of terror in times of conflict by providing standardized rules for the compassionate investigation of sexual crimes that protect the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of survivors.
On Friday, the British government launched a draft code to make this ambition a reality. The regulations, known as the Murad Code after Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, provide a framework for strengthening the law so that survivors are not further traumatized by their own governments or international organizations.
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