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. Gentleman for his care and concern on this really dreadful issue. His last point was about the risk of people trafficking and other safeguarding issues and that is precisely why I met the head of the Charity Commission this week. We want to ensure that we are getting the alert out to charities on the ground about the risk of infiltration by people who they would not want in their organisations—let me put it like that. It is a very serious risk. That is one of the reasons we encourage the British people, if they want to contribute, to do so through the Disasters Emergency Committee.

How do we try to change the dial on this issue? The hon. Gentleman is right that more needs to be done. That is precisely why, at the end of last year, the Foreign Secretary said that we need to look at a new international agreement or convention on dealing with sexual violence in conflict. There is no single treaty that is dedicated to conflict-related sexual violence, and we believe that consolidating all the legal obligations could help to prevent that and to ensure that SV is seen as an early warning sign. We think that having a new international agreement or convention would have a symbolic and practical value, because it could help to increase the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence, strengthen states’ commitment to supporting survivors and, importantly, improve the mechanisms to hold perpetrators to account. It will take time. We are not going for quick political wins; we are working with experts internally and internationally towards a new UN General Assembly resolution to set up a convention on the process.