Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive chief of the UN organization dealing with gender equality issues, voiced her concerns about severe cuts in funding for UN Women implemented between 2013 and 2016, stressing that Rohingya women in Myanmar increasingly fall victims to "new types of violence and torture, worse than anything we’ve ever seen before." A petty 2 percent of the money sent to the embattled grounds is spent on improving women rights, she noted.
Her warning follows a storm of criticism directed at the UK slowing down in combatting sexual violence, which started actively in November 2012 and has since involved 74 experts in 13 countries. The initiative, originally set up by Angelina Jolie and the then Foreign Secretary William Hague, has been reluctant in battling the Rohingya crisis, in which 620,000 indigenous people were forced to flee Myanmar, harassed by the military. Besides, the organization’s finances are reportedly poorly managed.
"There have been a lot of questions around the amount of money that has gone into it versus what has come out of it and whether that money has been used in terms of on-the-ground services," said Hillary Margolis, a women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
"Measuring outcomes and then reporting very transparently on that would be very welcome," she added.
Collecting evidence and boosting the sexual violence profile is what the expert community has advanced in, yet William Hague’s initiative should be used effectively and "protect people who are going through hell," said Andrew Mitchell, a former secretary for international development.
Mlambo-Ngcuka called on the UK to promptly respond to the crisis and provide resources to Bangladesh, citing a vast number of people brutally treated and displaced.
"What I would encourage them to do is to wake up and do their best because the need is still there and it’s [happening] now. The situation, even if there is not violence, is complex, [because] there are a lot of unaccompanied children, and the girls among those children are destined to be exposed to violence. It has been going on for such a long time and it is not abating yet. We need sustained attention and we need to mobilize more resources in order to help the government in Bangladesh."
Sources close to the Foreign Office, cited by The Guardian, blame the insufficient action on a lack of leadership from the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. "To make a difference, you have to have leadership from the very top," said one of them.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has reported on having trained a 17,000-strong police staff to deal with Myanmar’s perpetrators who went too far in their "ethnic cleansing," as the Rohingya crisis was, controversially enough, referred to in a statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
According to the WHO statistics, more than a quarter of women worldwide have been subject to physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. This is what Sehnaz Kiymaz from Women for Women's Human Rights — New Ways told Sputnik, commenting where the issue is in actual fact rooted, right after November 25 marked the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:
"Many international agreements have declared that the root, the cause [of the problem] is unequal par relationships between women and men,so it is the patriarchal society. As long as men do believe they have control of the lives and bodies of women, violence will persist."
Kiymaz said gender equality vs. abuse matters look like a vicious circle:
"It’s kind of a loop that goes around. So, when you start breaking one point, like making gender equality more implementable in your country, then you are also able to reduce violence against women. And if you reduce violence against women, you aid gender equality, vice versa."