African News

Zainab Bangura in Cote D’Ivoire

26 May 2016 at 03:36 | 2762 views

By PV Staff Writers.

Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict is in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, where she has been meeting with officials of the various UN agencies working on sexual violence in the country.

One of the people she met was Simon Munzu, a Deputy Head of the UN mission in Cote D’Ivoire (photo)

She has had working sessions with various UN staff members.

Sexual violence against women was rampant in Cote D’Ivoire during the political conflict of 2010-2011 that almost destroyed the country when forces loyal to then President Laurent Gbagbo on one hand and those of Alassane Ouattara (the current President) on the other, fought a bitter battle for supremacy on the streets of Abidjan, the capital, and other parts of the country.

Gbagbo lost the election held November 2010 but refused to hand over power to Ouattara, claiming that it was rather he that had won. Ouattara, backed by the international community and a significant number of Ivorians including almost all his people in northern Cote D’Ivoire, decided to go to war.

That conflict only ended with the capture of Gbagbo who is now being tried at the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

Women and children suffered greatly during that conflict as this UN report and this Human Rights Watch report illustrate.

Here is a video (in French) by a reporter and camera man from the French television station, Arte, of the capture of former president Gbagbo, his wife, Simone, and his son Michel, who was severely beaten, after a long siege in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara, UN and French forces.

The viewer should also note the use of civilians as human shields, a common tactic in war zones. One of the civilians was killed by a stray bullet in this video clip. Rape and general violence against women usually occur at night, or in isolated and remote areas, away from the prying eyes of journalists and foreign observers. Warning: Graphic images.