Carol Rittner and John K. Roth (Eds) Rape: Weapon of War and Genocide.
(St.Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2013)
Carol Rittner and John Roth have edited a fine study; for use in the campaign against the use of rape as an instrument of war. This is a campaign; in which the Association of World Citizens has been active in the United Nations human rights bodies.
Rittner and Roth have selected contributions of authors; who highlight cases going back to the Second World War. However; as they point out
“Unfortunately, when rape as a weapon of war and genocide is the topic, research, reflection and calls to action about the catastrophe are scarcely ever out of date and it remains much more than a topic of historical interest.”
As Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya; point out in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa. (London: Zed Press, 1998, 173pp.)
“There are Numerous Types of Rape”.
Rape is committed to boast the soldiers’ morale, to feed soldiers’ hatred of the enemy, their sense of superiority, and to keep them fighting; rape is one kind of war booty; women are raped because war intensifies men’s sense of entitlement, superiority, avidity, and social licence to rape; it is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize a society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence women;
and force them to flee homes, families and communities; rape targets women; because they keep the civilian population functioning and are essential to its social and physical continuity; rape is used in ethnic cleansing; it is designed to drive women from their homes or destroy their possibility of reproduction within or “for” their community;
genocidal rape treats women as “reproductive vessels”, to make them bear babies of the rapists’ nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, and genocidal rape aggravates women’s terror and future stigma, producing a class of outcast mothers and children — this is rape committed with consciousness of how unacceptable a raped woman is to the patriarchal community and to herself.
This list combines individual and group motives; with obedience to military command; in doing so, it gives a political context to violence against women and it is this political context that needs to be incorporated in the social response to rape.”
The Association of World Citizens.
The Association of World Citizens; first raised the issue in the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2001; after the judgement of the International Criminal Tribunal; for the Former Yugoslavia sitting in the Hague on 22 February 2001; in the case of Kumarac, Kovac and Vukovic.
The Tribunal maintained that there can be no time limitation; on bringing an accused to trial. It is also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction — that a person can be tried; not only by his national court; but by any court claiming universal jurisdiction; and where the accused is present.
The Association of World Citizens again stressed the use of rape as a weapon of war; in the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights; on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and has repeatedly drawn attention to the issue there since.
Wartime rape; is a dramatic example of violence against women; therefore; we must keep in mind that world-wide, girls and women, across lines of income, class and culture, are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Violence can take many forms; including rape, genital mutilation, “honour” crimes, and sexual trafficking.
However; women should not only be seen as victims of war. They are often significantly involved; in taking initiatives to promote peace; and finding alternatives to violence. UN Security Council – Resolution 1325 (31October 2000); called for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes and peace-building; thus; calling for women to be fully involved in governance and leadership.
We need to have a peace-building approach; which asks how does political conflict; degenerate into pervasive mass violence; generating new crises and new forms of violent conflict in the future. How does a community pull itself out from the cycle of violence; and set up sustainable ways of living; in which different categories of people are able to contribute?. This campaign can take mny forms; and is this an avenue for action on the part of many.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.