G8 Sexual violence announcement: 'We are the the start line not the finish line'

Welcoming the commitments announced by G8 Foreign Ministers who met in London today to discuss how to address sexual violence, Amnesty International cautioned that world leaders were at the start line, not the finish line and that there was work to be done before the promises made today resulted in impact on the ground.   Amnesty’s UK Director Kate Allen has been part of the steering group convened by Foreign Secretary William Hague to shape the ‘Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative’ announced today, and has worked closely with the Foreign Secretary to refine the focus of the initiative.    The organisation said that the commendable passion the UK’s Foreign Secretary clearly felt for addressing the issues must now be translated into tangible change for victims of sexual violence. Amnesty also stressed the specific urgent need for women human rights defenders to be protected when carrying out their work at great personal risk.   The UK government has pledged that tackling sexual violence will be a priority throughout this year during its presidency of the G8. Amnesty said it would be monitoring progress on the commitments closely.   Director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen said:   “We welcome the leadership shown by the Foreign Secretary whose commitment to addressing the challenge of ending sexual violence in conflict is admirable. It’s a great achievement that he has been able to convince his fellow Foreign Ministers to make these pledges too.   “We are, though, at the start line, not the finish line.    “For a start, G8 Foreign Ministers must act without delay to give proper support and protection to women human rights defenders who are at the coalface seeking justice for those who have been raped or sexually attacked and who are being ignored. Their work is dangerous but essential.    “Tackling impunity for sexual violence is a worthy move, but it is also vital that the underlying causes of gender-based violence be addressed. This is good news, but now it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get down to the business of putting promise into practice.”

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