Extremist groups systematically subjugate women: UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United Nations,  Extremist groups have systematically subjugated hundreds of thousands of women to slavery, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, trafficking and other horrific ordeals, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

Speaking on Friday at a meeting of the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism, a group co-chaired by Jordan and Norway and launched at the UN Headquarters in September 2017, he said that groups like IS, Boko Haram and others were responsible for such ordeals, Xinhua reported.

“What is common to these and many other groups that spread terror is the specific targeting of women’s rights,” Guterres said.

“It is no surprise, then, that a sudden and extreme pushback on women’s rights is often among the earliest warning signs of the spread of violent extremism.

“Our focus is on how to defend the rights of women, place their voices and expertise at the centre of our strategies, and work together with them to limit and prevent violent extremism,” he said at the UN Headquarters.

The Secretary-General said that many of the UN entities are integrating gender dynamics into their responses.

In Nigeria, the UN has helped establish a gender desk as part of national counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism efforts, which recruited additional female investigators. In North Africa, the UN is supporting national institutions to research the gender specific dimensions of violent extremism, Guterres said.

The UN’s work in Asia and Africa has shown that women are more likely than men to work on prevention, he said.

“Recruiting more women to serve in law enforcement can result in earlier access to crucial information, better policing styles and reduced escalations of violence,” he said. “However, women continue to be seriously under-represented in law enforcement and security agencies in the vast majority of countries.”

In the next few months, the UN will launch a handbook on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism, to help countries develop gender-sensitive security measures, the UN chief said.