It is nearly impossible to ensure the safety of each and every person. This goes for a stable society, it is true all the more so for countries in the midst of civil war.
This does not mean we should not take every stop possible to ensure the safety and security for as many refugees as possible. And even though the task is difficult, it is doable.
The first step must be passage of Catharine MacKinnon’s recommendations for a new and updated “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. There must be specific language that bans all forms of sexual abuse. Even if the the UN does not have the full ability to enforce those ideas, it would be a step in the right direction of creating a culture that condemns violence against women.
The second step needs to be education, and it needs to be done in the language of the local populace. Obviously it would be difficult, nay impossible, to educate hostile warring bodies, but the residents of an IDP camp should receive some sort of basic code of conduct training.
Finally, there needs to be an international effort to prosecute criminals who commit violent acts against women. These cannot be treated as regular rebels or murderers, but rather as an entire other class of criminal. They attack those who cannot protect themselves, which is a far different violation than attacking those of an enemy combatant.
It is, however, important to remember that there is only so much an outside body can do. Generally speaking, physical revolutions last a long time, and cultural ones last even longer. Here in America we have an intricate and long established system of laws and penalties that is based upon hundreds of years of slow social and economic improvement. While we want to help those in the 3rd world with our excess resources, it is hard to expect them to follow our laws immediately.
But the lessons learned from the movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” teach us that the best way to end violence against the innocent is to end war. The UN does its best work as a peace negotiator, not as another armed force.
When war ends, and rebuilding begins, there comes a time for new laws; ones that promote values that are true for all people regardless of ethnicity, religion, and culture. The UN’s work as a peace negotiator should continue into the rebuilding process. Only then can a new understanding of society truly come to fruition.