Violence Against Women and Girls Debate

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Department: Home Office

Violence Against Women and Girls

Lord Pannick Excerpts
Monday 4th December 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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On noble Baroness’s second question, the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative is a key focus for the UK. We are a global leader on this. We have committed £60 million since the launch of this programme in 2012. In November 2022, the UK hosted an international PSVI conference with over 1,000 attendees. A political declaration came out of that, which was endorsed by 53 countries. It sends a clear message that these types of crimes must end and sets out steps on how to achieve that. We have also launched the PSVI strategy, which sets out how the UK will work to drive global action to prevent and respond to CRSV—conflict-related sexual violence—and that includes sanctions. I refer noble Lords to my noble friend Lord Ahmad’s comments on that in June. Regarding the domestic picture, significant amounts of money and resource have been committed. I am sure I will be answering more questions on that shortly.

Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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My Lords, does the Minister share the widespread outrage at the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by Hamas in Israel on 7 October? Does he also share the widespread outrage that so many individuals and groups who do such excellent work in combating sexual violence have remained silent until now—almost two months since those outrages? Can he think of any reason why in this respect Jewish women do not matter?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, this is a very sensitive subject. I found Christina Lamb’s article in the Sunday Times very distressing and upsetting, but very powerful. Why did it take the UN so long to condemn those actions? The words of Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, who was quoted in the article, deserve mentioning:

“It’s mindblowing. We were there for our sisters when terrible things happened across the ocean, when they took away abortion rights in US, the killing of women in Iran, the abduction of Yazidis … but with us they looked away and I can’t think of a reasonable answer”.

Unfortunately, I can think of an unreasonable answer, and it disgusts me. From a personal point of view, I hope the perpetrators get what is coming to them—and believe me, I do not mean sanctions.