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UN Has No Update on Its Peacekeepers' Alleged Rape in Mali, Play Conflicts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- It's the International Day to End Violence Against Women, and the UN is celebrating it with a play by Serena Dandini, "Wounded to Death."

 At the press conference held before the play, Inner City Press asked Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, about the alleged gang rapes by UN peacekeepers in Mali.

  Puri answered that Security General Ban Ki-moon has a policy on this, and that the perpetrators must be brought to book.

  But there has been no UN reporting on what's been done with the alleged rapists. So it seemed it would be appropriate to ask for an update on the UN Peacekeepers alleged gang rape in Mali at UN noon briefing on Monday, the International Day to End Violence Against Women.

  There are also questions about the UN's response to Somalia again locking up a journalist for reporting on rape, and this time the alleged victim is also a journalist, from Kasno Voice Women's Radio. The UN has called for a "proper investigation."

  What about the repeated detentions and the policy behind them? These too seemed like questions the UN should answer on the International Day to End Violence Against Women.

  But after taking repeat questions about Syria and the Geneva II talks, including two rounds from a number of correspondents (one from Inner City Press), UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky declared that the briefing was over. So much for International Day to End Violence Against Women, beyond the orange ties and scarves.

  In fact at the UN Women panel, Inner City Press had to push to even ask about UN Mali rape. The first question was automatically given to Pamela Falk of the UN Correspondents Association, which scheduled an event at the same exact time as Dandini's play, "Wounded to Death." Under Falk, UNCA increasingly functions as the UN's Censorship Alliance. Particularly when the number of questions are limited, the new Free UN Coalition for Access asserts that there should be no automatic first (softball) question.

  While the play may be good -- the UN Censorship Alliance event is no problem for Inner City Press, having quit that group as now some others are -- another question arises: why is the oil company ENI a sponsor? We'll have more on this.


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