Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation of women in North Africa

Delivered in Plenary - 14th March 2013

Mr President

Spring heralded many positive changes in this politically repressed part of the world, but it is our duty now to ensure that women’s rights do not suffer from the continuing upheavals and increased extremism in the region.

Women played a fundamental role in the North African revolts, but the appalling sexual abuse perpetrated by the security forces, and the continued practice in some countries of forced marriage and female genital mutilation, demonstrate that a revolution counts for little if the state fails to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

In my role as rapporteur for human rights in the Sahel and Western Sahara, I am witnessing how women too often bear the brunt of war, political strife and chronic poverty.

We must do all we can now to help our partners in African countries to improve women’s access to healthcare, education and decision-making, end legally sanctioned discrimination and reverse once and for all the acceptability of sexual violence as a weapon of war.