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". Mr President, Commissioner, this report on women in armed conflicts and reconstruction is based on three vital documents: United Nations resolution 1325 from 2000, Mrs Theorin's report to the European Parliament on the same issue in 2000 and, finally, the shocking report by Mrs Rehn and Mrs Sirleaf, now President of Liberia, also on the same subject. What has happened since those reports were published? Well, now in 2006 everything still remains to be done, and in my report I wanted to shed light on three aspects of this. The first is that of women as victims of conflict. I must say that, in this field, which has already been widely discussed, the situation is absolutely unacceptable. Today, women are still being raped, because rape is an instrument of warfare. Today, women are still having their vaginas torn apart with bayonets. Today, ladies and gentlemen, living babies are still being torn from their mothers' wombs. Today in the displaced persons' camps, the sexual exploitation of women and children is still, whilst not permitted, common practice, including by the peace-keeping forces and members of the diplomatic corps. It is unbearable! The second aspect I wanted to raise is that of women as vehicles of peace. Indeed, in situations of chaos throughout the world, there are brave women demanding justice, holding out their hand to the aggressors and saying 'we women want peace'. We must protect these associations, we must promote them, and we must allow these women of peace, once they reach the negotiating table, to have an equal part and to play a decisive role in the construction of democracy. We at least owe them that. The third aspect is even more sensitive, because women are not only vehicles of peace, but also – alas – vehicles of war; the American servicewoman in the Abu Ghraib prison is a terrible example of that. So, women can be cruel, and I wanted to focus on the very sensitive subject of female suicide bombers. It is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one. In Chechnya, 50% of women are suicide bombers, and in Palestine we have witnessed the appearance of a wave of female suicide bombers. What is causing this? We must analyse it in Parliament, we must undertake a study, and we must hold a conference, but we already know that there are three intermingled factors. Firstly, it is true that there is a warped reading of the great religion of Islam: it is in fundamentalist countries that this happens. The second aspect is resistance, in situations of conflict that violate international law every day: a resistance which we must understand, whilst still rejecting it and condemning the fact that it kills innocent victims. The third factor is related to societies in which women are culturally isolated, or sometimes are even exiled from their villages because they have been raped. That is where we will find female suicide bombers – among women who are already the victims of society. I therefore call on the Commission and Parliament to look into this problem. What can we do now about all this? Everything still remains to be done. Everything has been said and all the measures have been laid down, but what we now need to do is apply them. We do need to set up better reproductive health services, but that is not the main focus of this report. In all of our financial instruments, in all of our programmes – the stability instrument, the neighbourhood policy – and through our action plans, we must implement measures in which the issue of gender and the dignity of women is taken into account. We must also train our peace-keeping forces, now that we have them, to ensure that they, too, respect the rights of women, that they are sensitive and that they also include women in their midst. In this enormous shambles, there is both cause for hope – in the form of the women of peace – and cause for concern. We have a lot on our plate, and I am grateful to all my colleagues in the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality for the way they have risen above ideological debates to say 'we agree with this report'. For my part, I will respect everything adopted in the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality and I should also like to thank the chairman of that committee, Mrs Záborská, who is not here today but who sent me a brief note this morning. It has to be said: we women will rise above partisan politics in this field. Thank you in advance for your support."@en1

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