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U.N. details sexual violence in conflicts

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- An annual U.N. report on sexual violence related to conflict names military forces, militia and other armed groups suspected of being the worst offenders.

They include the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan, armed militia groups and former armed forces in Cote d'Ivoire and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.N. said in a news release.

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After conflicts, the report said, sexual violence has threatened security and hindered efforts to bring peace in Chad, the Central African Republic, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sexual violence has also been linked to elections, political strife and civil unrest in countries including Egypt, Guinea, Kenya and Syria, the report said.

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"Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent; it is a global risk. The terror of unarmed women facing armed men is age-old and universal," said Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative, who presented the report to the U.N. Security Council.

The report, which covers the period from December 2010 to November 2011, said in some conflicts in the past year, sexual violence has been widespread and armed forces and armed groups may have systematically targeted civilians to try to punish and humiliate the population.

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The report calls for measures to prevent sexual violence in conflict and urged all countries to be committed to mandates that protect women and integrate them into political life.

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Wallstrom emphasized the need to protect not only women and children but also men from sexual violence and noted reported sexual abuse of men in detention in Syria as a method of extracting intelligence.

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