Resolution key to violence reduction

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Sebastian Beurich (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Operations, Events

(From left) Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) Gender Advisor, Lieutenant Commander Donna Sill, talks with the Deputy Commander of JTF633, Air Commodore Guy Wilson about the work the ADF is doing to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.  (photo: CPL Sebastian Beurich)
(From left) Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) Gender Advisor, Lieutenant Commander Donna Sill, talks with the Deputy Commander of JTF633, Air Commodore Guy Wilson about the work the ADF is doing to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.

As part of the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 – Women Peace and Security – personnel on operations in the Middle East have marked the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

For Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 Gender Advisor, Lieutenant Commander Donna Sill, 19 June was an opportunity to highlight the role of the Defence members in addressing the significant impact of sexual violence on security and stability. 

“All Defence personnel receive training on specific responses to conflict related sexual and gender-based violence when they enter the Middle East region,” she said.

“This training is delivered specifically to the areas they will be operating in and focuses on recognising what constitutes sexual and gender-based violence, as well as detailing specific reporting requirements,” Lieutenant Commander Sill said.

Sexual and gender-based violence is not limited to sexual assault and harassment as it covers a wide range of acts, some of which may be an ingrained part of a country’s culture.

For example, some cultures still practice forced marriages (including with children), genital mutilation and exploitation based on gender.

Sexual and gender-based violence can sometimes be precursors to a wider conflict – as a group or organisation grows more violent, the civilian population is more likely to be subject to sexual violence.

“Acts of sexual and gender-based violence are known to be part of the strategic objectives and ideology of certain terrorist groups,” Lieutenant Commander Sill said.

“Australian medical personnel, who have worked in Africa, have told of a number of local women presenting for a contraception injection, because they knew they were going to be raped in an imminent conflict and didn’t want to become pregnant. 

“Acts like these can prolong and exacerbate conflict and instability or intensify its impact on civilian populations.”

Lieutenant Commander Sill said there were no specific metrics to measure Defence’s efforts to reduce conflict related sexual and gender-based violence but this was in the process of changing.

“Joint Task Force 633 is trialling indicators and warnings of conflict-related sexual violence which will be applied across all areas of operation across the Middle East region,” she said.

“These will provide an indicator of sexual violence, which in turn is a significant marker of changes to the security environment.”

Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force 633 Air Commodore Guy Wilson said helping to end sexual violence in operational theatres was an important part of the Australain Defence Force’s mission.

“It is our responsibility as professional sailors, soldiers, airmen and women to do our best to prevent human exploitation and gender-based violence in any form,” he said. 

“We are rightfully committed to Resolution 1325, but on a human level we all share the same values that every person on earth should be able to feel safe and secure in their homes and country.

“It’s important for our mission, especially now we are committed to the training, advising and assisting role, that we report any instances of conflict related sexual and gender-based violence to the appropriate authorities.

“We have an obligation to stand up for those who might be unable to stand up for themselves,” Air Commodore Wilson said.