UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — The plight of women and girls living in conflict zones who often are targeted for violence, including rape, must be addressed without delay, said an official with the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations.
Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, charge d’affaires at the mission, called upon the U.N. Security Council to identify programs “to eradicate this scourge,” in an intervention Jan. 30 as the council discussed challenges to the protection of women and girls in armed conflict and post-conflict settings.
Citing Catholic social teaching on human dignity, Msgr. Urbanczyk said all violence is an affront to that dignity, but that women and girls are particularly vulnerable when violence arises.
He said sexual violence against women “tears at the very fabric of society.”
The Vatican official recalled the words of Pope Francis, who told members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in an address Jan. 12 that humanity must not overlook the fact that wars involve the crime of rape, which the pope described as “a most grave offense against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit.”
Msgr. Urbanczyk also pointed to violence perpetrated against women and girls because of their faith.
The Vatican’s U.N. delegation “remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of women and girls who are targeted and attacked purely because of the faith they profess,” he said. “The lack of focus and priority for protecting them is troubling when Christians face extinction in some regions of the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked.
“This is a shared reality of members of all faiths and therefore requires the shared commitment of members of all faiths and governments to condemn and confront such violence,” Msgr. Urbanczyk said.
The kidnapping of girls is of particular concern, he added, because they are often trafficked for sex or labor around the world. “This is an abominable trade that must come to an end. This scourge must be eradicated since it strikes all of us, from the individual families to the entire international community,” he said.
Msgr. Urbanczyk called upon world leaders to “reject the ‘culture of enslavement,’ which is incapable of doing good or pursuing peace and accepts as inevitable the spread of war and violence.”
“We must redouble our efforts to replace this ‘culture’ with a culture of life and peace in which governments and the international community fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect all people,” he said.