Wartime rape is one of the greatest challenges of modern times, yet it remains low on the agenda of global policy efforts, the UN said on Friday.
UN secretary-general's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, made the comment as she spoke on the UN's efforts to combat sexual violence against women, Xinhua reported.
"There can be no security, without women's security. Rape is not a lesser evil in the hierarchy of wartime horrors, it is not a crime that the world can dismiss as collateral damage, or as cultural, or inevitable," said Wallstrom.
"Widespread and systematic sexual violence is both a crime against the victim and a crime against humanity," she said.
Wallstrom said that because sexual violence increases during times of war, it is often dismissed as being an inevitable part of conflict.
"All political and military leaders must recognise that mass rape is no more inevitable, nor acceptable than mass murder," she said.
On her return from a trip to Liberia, Wallstrom said that rape is still the number one reported crime in the formerly war-torn country.
According to the UN "Stop Rape Now" advocacy group, 46 percent of reported rape cases to the Liberian police involve girls under 18.
Throughout history, rape has been the least condemned and most silenced war crime, said Wallstrom. "There will always be numbers that are left in the shadows."
However, she said she aims to bring the stories of rape survivors to the top of international peace and security agenda.
"My role is to sustain the drum-beat of public outrage and bring those voices to the policy forum of the UN and the Security Council," she said.