EU starts sanctioning perpetrators of sexual violence against woman at NL's insistence
For the first time, the European Union imposed sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence against women. At the Netherlands’ initiative, nine people and three institutions from Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, the occupied part of Ukraine, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Syria are on the sanctions list published Tuesday - the day before International Women’s Day.
Women’s rights are under increasing pressure in many places in the world. According to the United Nations, Russian troops use rape as a weapon in Ukraine. Iranian doctors reported the regime targeted women’s genitals, breasts, and eyes when shooting at protesters. And the Taliban has banned Afghan girls and women from going to school.
“The contempt for equality and the lack of rights that it expresses screams for a response,” Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs told AD. The Netherlands advocated hard for this sanctions list in Brussels.
The sanctioned people and organizations will no longer have access to their bank accounts in the EU and will not be allowed to travel to EU countries. EU citizens and businesses are also banned from doing business with them. It is unclear whether any of the men and institutions on the sanctions list actually have money in the EU. But according to Hoekstra, the “power of symbolism” should not be underestimated. “Even without direct consequences, questionable regimes always strongly oppose such sanctions,” he said to the newspaper.
Last year, the UN identified 49 parties guilty of sexual violence against women. The EU sanctions list only includes 12 names. Hoekstra called it “a modest first step” and hopes for more to be added soon. “The 49 that the UN mentions is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.