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A war that can be won


The UN's John Holmes on confronting sexual violence worldwide
Plus: blogging 16 days

At the Commission on the Status of Women in February 2007 the United Nations launched an agency wide campaign to 'Stop Rape Now'. John Holmes was then in his first week as Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and declared that tackling sexual violence against women in conflict was a "war that could be won".

Ten months into the job, having met women who have been mutilated by sexual violence in conflict, he told Jane Gabriel that he is a 'marked man': his commitment to reducing the violence against women through the work of the United Nations is increased, but the limitations of what the UN can do remain enormous.

About the author

Jane Gabriel founded and edited the website openDemocracy 50.50 in 2007, publishing critical perspectives on social justice, gender and pluralism. The site was run as a feminist editorial collective until 2017 when Jane stepped down as editor. 50.50’s funders included Hivos, the Ford Foundation, the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Oak Foundation, The New Field Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  Prior to joining openDemocracy, Jane produced and directed more than 30 documentaries for Channel 4 Television and the BBC international current affairs series Correspondent, winning the Royal Television Society award and the One World Media award for her work as a documentary director. In 1980’s she was a member of the UK's first all-women television production company, Broadside. In the 1970's she worked at Granada TV in the UK, and at Pacifica radio KPFA in the US. She is a qualified advocate for children in care, and a Trustee of the IF Project.


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