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The Edinburghs

The Duchess of Edinburgh speaks out for survivors of sexual violence

The Duchess of Edinburgh has said it’s time to put the rights and voices of survivors of sexual violence in conflict at the heart of efforts to eradicate the crime.

Sophie made her plea in a video speech to the Restoration of the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Conference held in Ukraine.

Addressing delegates including the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, the Duchess said ”we must stand shoulder to shoulder with all survivors to secure justice and holistic redress, and ensure that this crime isn’t an accepted part of conflict. Their rights and their voices must be at the heart of all our efforts to consign conflict-related sexual violence to the history books.”

She was invited to address the conference by Olena Zelenska and by the Foreign, Commonealth and Development Office.

Sophie also told the conference, organised by the government of Ukraine, that ”The scale of the challenge that conflict-related sexual violence presents around the world, from Myanmar to Ethiopia, from Colombia to Sudan, the current crisis in the Middle East to Ukraine, both from past and present conflicts, is enormous. Sadly, the landscape seems to be getting worse. As we gather here today, thousands of women, men, boys and girls are being subjected to sexual violence in order to demean, over-power and destroy.”

And she had words for those who have suffered in Ukraine, saying ”emale and male survivors have bravely recounted their experiences of the most appalling atrocities they have endured, since the start of the war in 2022. This conference is an important opportunity to ensure that those survivors are not forgotten, to shine a spotlight on their bravery and the need to ensure justice and accountability are upheld.”

The Duchess of Edinburgh has spent several years working to support survivors and to end sexual violence in conflict.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.