Holy See to UN: stop ignoring attacks on Christian women, girls

Young women walk along a street in Bangalore, India. Credit: Hillary Mast/CNA.
Young women walk along a street in Bangalore, India. Credit: Hillary Mast/CNA.

.- The Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations has warned that Christians face “extinction” in some regions of armed conflict, with Christian women and girls particularly vulnerable.

Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, voiced concern about the “continued lack of attention” given to protecting women and girls who are “targeted and attacked purely because of the faith they profess.”

“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,” he told the U.N. Security Council Jan. 30.

“This is a shared reality of members of all faiths and therefore requires the shared commitment of members of all faiths and governments strongly to condemn and confront such violence.”

The U.N.’s top decision-making body was holding an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, with a special focus on protecting women and girls.

While Msgr. Urbanczy did not name specific areas where Christians are vulnerable, many thousands of Christians have been targeted for violence in Iraq by the Islamic State group and other forces. In Nigeria, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped several hundred girls from a Christian school last year, drawing attention to another violent conflict.

The monsignor voiced the Vatican’s opposition to using armed conflict “as a mean of solving disputes.” He stressed that armed conflict affects the family, forcing families to flee and causing stable communities to disintegrate.

“Ripped from their land and rich history families and entire communities are vulnerable and exploited as outsiders in foreign lands,” Msgr. Urbanczy said.

War also means that men primarily are called to fight, leaving their wives and daughters particularly vulnerable to exploitation and “gross human rights violations.”

The monsignor lamented increases in “brutal and horrific” crimes against women including sexual slavery, rape and trafficking. Sexual violence against women “tears at the very fabric of society,” he said.

Kidnapping and trafficking is “an abominable trade that must come to an end,” Msgr. Urbanczy continued.

He echoed Pope Francis’ call to reject the “culture of enslavement,” saying this must be replaced with “a culture of life and peace in which governments and the international community fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect all people.”

Msgr. Urbanczy stressed the help that the Catholic Church is providing to women and girls victimized by war and conflict.

“The Catholic Church through her institutions and agencies around the world is providing assistance, care and support  to  thousands  of  survivors  of  sexual  violence  in  situations  of  armed  conflict,” he said. “These institutions and their courageous individuals sacrifice themselves on a daily basis and many of these have paid dearly for their endeavors.”

Tags: Violence against women

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