Australian army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison delivers speech on gender equality at London summit





Australian army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison delivers speech on gender equality at London summit

Australia's army chief has made a powerful speech on gender equality and against the use of rape as a weapon of war at a summit in London.

The four-day Global Summit To End Sexual Violence has ended with 155 countries signed up to a declaration to end impunity for rape in war.

Lieutenant General David Morrison is already well known for a video address to his forces during a sexual abuse scandal last year, where he told sexist members of the armed forces to "get out".

Sharing the stage with the UNHCR's special envoy Angelina Jolie and British foreign secretary William Hague, Lt Gen Morrison called on women to serve in all roles in armed forces across the world.

"I'm no sociologist, I have no anthropological training but I'm certain of this ... we live in a world where the squandering of women's talent, the traducing of their potential, is a global disgrace," he said in the speech.

He said some militaries were changing their culture in order to become more capable and that was cause for hope.

Armies that revel in their separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, ... who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seek ways to contain it ... they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute.

"Armies that revel in their separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, that use their imposed values to exclude those that don't fit the particular traits of the dominant group, who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seek ways to contain it ... they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute," he said.

Lt Gen Morrison encouraged militaries around the world to open up all areas of service to women as a way of changing their culture and helping end sexual violence.

"It wipes away the barriers to achieving potential and sends a clarion call to all who serve that talent will prevail, not gender," he said.

'Powerful message' from Morrison says Natasha Scott Despoja

Australian delegation head Natasha Stott Despoja said Lt Gen Morrison was a "bigger star" at the conference than Ms Jolie.

"He had a powerful message," Ms Stott Despoja told reporters.

"He reminded people, both in the symbolism of him standing up there in his uniform but also with his words, that the military have a key role to play in ending this awful, abhorrent, sexual violence in conflict."

Ms Stott Despoja said the role of victims and survivors was "fundamental" in helping governments prevent future violence.

"We need to remove the stigma and the shame associated with what they've been through and move it onto the perpetrators," she said.

She was quizzed about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, some of whom may have suffered sexual violence in warzones.

"I'm always concerned about anyone who has experienced violence, and in particular sexual violence - whether that's a man, a woman, a boy or a girl - ending in another institution be that a detention centre or elsewhere," she said.

The summit also endorsed a new protocol relating to the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict areas.

Lt Gen Morrison acknowledged he had received some "notoriety" for making a stand against sexist behaviour in the military but insisted he was not the star of the London summit.

That honour went to conference delegates who had travelled from around the world to help end sexual violence, the army chief said.

Australia is soon to launch its second national action plan to ensure roles for women in peacekeeping.

Australia has lifted the restriction on women serving in combat roles with internal transfers opening in January 2013.

Women recruits will be able to apply direct for combat units from 2016.


 














Copyright 2007 mideast-times.com