Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on International Day of the Girl Child
Today, the international community pays tribute to the almost one billion young girls living around the world; acknowledges their immense potential for the furtherance of humanity and commits to eradicating the unique challenges that regrettably still stand in the way of fully realizing such promising potential.
Today, we renew our commitment to do all that we can to protect their daily lives as children and ensure their promise for adulthood as constructive and productive citizens is fulfilled.
The shameful truth remains, however, that the cycle of violence against girls is yet to be decisively broken. We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of girls subjected to terrifying forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based crimes, whether in armed conflict or otherwise.
Sexual violence is often used as a most destructive criminal weapon of war. As we have seen time and again, it has the power to not only destroy the individual, but to shatter the family unit and tear violently at the social fabric of society. Forced marriages continue to blight the lives of countless girls, and an estimated 100,000 girls are currently being used as child soldiers in raging conflicts around the world. The costly effects of such crimes on the girls are unbearable to contemplate. It is a global curse that weighs heavily on our collective consciousness.
Today, as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in strict accordance with the Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and on the strength of my Office’s policy on Sexual and Gender based Crimes and upcoming policy on children, I reiterate my commitment as well as that of my Office to employ the full force of the law to investigate and punish the worst perpetrators of these crimes and deter their commission in the future
Violence against girls and women is a scourge that must be confronted with unified resolve. We all have a role to play in this struggle. My Office is committed to do its part.