Rape as a Weapon of War in Ukraine

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 am on 31st March 2022.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 10:32 am, 31st March 2022

I thank the hon. Member for his support for women and girls. I, too, read the truly harrowing story of Natalya in the papers. It was so brave of her to come forward and tell the world that story. Indeed, the women who come forward to give their testimonies about the sexual violence that they have faced in conflict are incredibly brave. Recently, women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo came forward to give testimony that led to a conviction at the international court of a senior military leader for war crimes, including sexual violence. That was a true moment to show that we can—and will—hold these people to account.

The Government are supporting the ICC investigation. As I said, the UK was a leader in getting that set up and we have given it £1 million of funding to allow efforts to get started. Indeed, Karim Khan, who is the leader of the investigation and is from the UK, recently visited Ukraine. We are working with humanitarian organisations. In fact, just this week I met the head of the Charity Commission to discuss safeguarding issues and to remind UK charities on the ground about the risk of safeguarding concerns, including trafficking, child trafficking and so on. We will support the efforts of the ICC rather than trying to build an entirely new tribunal from scratch. That process could take many years, so we believe that it is best to ensure that it works through the ICC, which is why we are funding it.

We have not deployed to Ukraine at the moment, but we stand ready to do so if that becomes appropriate.