Tag: <span>Rape</span>

Reconciliation Appeals

Reconciliation in Africa: A Vital Need.

Featured Image: USAID has integrated reconciliation and trauma healing into peace building. This has helped communities moveout of the cycle of violence and revenge.Photo credit: Pact/Aernout Zevenbergen. By USAID in Africa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Francis’ Appeal to the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan for reconciliation and forgiveness stresses a vital need to overcome the divisions of the armed conflicts in the two countries.  A million people came to the Kinshasa airport to hear the Pope call for an end to the armed conflicts in the eastern Congo, basically the administrative provinces of North and South Kivu.  The area is huge, about the size of the U.S.A. east of the Mississippi River.  Originally, he had hoped to go to Goma, the major city of eastern Congo, with many refugees from the surrounding area. 

However, the security situation was such that the itinerary was modified.  However, his words reached the area.

Pope Francis in 2021. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a large Christian population.  The activity of Christian missionaries was part of the agreement to create the Congo Free State which was the personal property of the King of Belgium before becoming a Belgium colony.  Thus, the Pope’s influence can be real with a fairly strongly developed Catholic Church infrastructure to follow up.

However, the divisions within the country are deep and of long duration.  The divisions have both ethnic and economic roots.  The Congo’s vast mineral and timber riches have drawn in neighboring armies which have joined local insurgencies as well as local commanders of the national army to exploit the mines and to keep miners in near slavery.  The eastern area of Congo has been the scene of fighting at least since 1998 – in part as a result of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.  In mid-1994, more than one million Rwandan Hutu refugees poured into the Kivus, fleeing the advance of the Tutsi-led Rwandan Front, now become the government of Rwanda led by Paul Kagame.

Rwandan PRESIDENT KAGAME ATTENDS THE NEPAD@20 SYMPOSIUM Virtual Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda (2014). By Вени Марковски | Veni Markovski, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Genocidaire.

Many of these Hutu were still armed, among them the “genocidaire” who a couple of months before had killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda.  They continued to kill Tutsis living in the Congo, many of whom had migrated there in the 18th century.  As the Rwandan groups created their own militias, so did different Congolese ethnic groups, often drawing on their ethnic brothers who deserted from the Congolese army.  Deserters and ethnic militias combined to rob and burn villages and to rape on a large scale.  Rape as an instrument of war has been widely practiced in eastern Congo.

Systematic rape is a crime which is covered by the mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.  Rape is a violation of international humanitarian law.  Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions prohibits:

“violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture…outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault, slavery.”

Image: Photo by Stewart Munro on Unsplash.

A Step Forward in the U.N.’s Efforts Against Rape as a Weapon of War.

The MONUC.

Into this disorder, in 2002, the United Nations sent peacekeepers, the MONUC, currently some 18,000 persons – the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation.  The MONUC mandate has been prolonged with a new Security Council resolution each year that the sponsors hope will be the last.  Each year, there is so little improvement in the security situation that the mandate is continued with little debate and with general indifference of world public opinion.

On paper, the U.N. mandate is clear and comprehensive – to build the political, military, institutional, social and economic structures needed to create a secure environment.  However, there is no effective Congolese administration.  The U.N. troops are not trained to deal with the cultural issues – especially land tenure and land use issues, which are the chief causes of the conflict.  U.N. peacekeepers are effective when there is peace to keep.  Today, there are an estimated 120 separate armed militias in action.

What is required today in eastern Congo is not so much more soldiers under U.N. command as reconciliation bridge builders, persons who are able to restore relations among ethnic groups of the area.  Such bridge builders can help to strengthen local efforts at conflict resolution and the restoration of confidence among peoples in conflict. It must be hoped that the Appeals of Pope Francis will provoke creative action on the part of bridge builders.

 Picture: MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Weak but Necessary.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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Rape Appeals

U.N. Highlights Rape as a War Weapon in Ukraine.

Image Featured: Photo by Melanie Wasser,  Unsplash 

Pramila Patten, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on sexual violence in times of conflict reported mid-October 2022 that rape is increasingly used in the armed conflict in Ukraine as a weapon to humiliate and discourage the populations.  Therefore, there had been an earlier 27 September report to the High Commissioner for Human Rights setting out many of the same facts and calling for international action.

Patterns of systematic rape become part of International Humanitarian Law.

In the past, sexual violence had often been dismissed as acts of individual soldiers, rape being one of the spoils of war for whom rape of women was an entitlement.  However, with the 2001 trials of war crimes in former Yugoslavia by the International  Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, the first convictions of rape as a crime against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war were handed down against Bosnian Serb soldiers.  Bosnian Serb fighters were charged with mass rape and forced prostitution involving dozens of Muslim women and girls some only 12 years old.  The case had taken five years of investigations and more than 30 witnesses for the prosecution.  The three soldiers being tried were given a sentence of 12 years imprisonment.

Since then, we have seen patterns of systematic rape become part of International Humanitarian Law, and since 2002 one of the crimes that can be prosecuted within the International Criminal Court.  (1)

Pramila Patten
Pramila Patten. Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Film Festival: Fighting Stigma Through Film in London, 23 November 2018. By Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rape as a war weapon.

There have been reports of systematic rape in Ukraine since 2014 with the creation of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Louhansk by both Ukrainian and separatist soldiers.  However, little international attention was given to these reports.  It is only with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on 24 February 2022 that international attention has focused on reports of rape especially in areas that were for a time under the control of the Russian military or the militias of the two People’s Republics. (2)

Unfortunately, it would seem that the armed conflict in Ukraine will drag on.  There are few signs of a willingness for a negotiated settlement.  International Humanitarian Law moves slowly.  Rape as a war weapon is used in other armed conflicts, such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Sudan, and Syria. Strong non-governmental pressure is needed to keep governmental and United Nations efforts going.

People's Republics of Donetsk and Louhansk
Image: Return of released citizens to the territory controlled by Ukraine, December 29, 2019. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Vital Autonomy for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk. The Way Ahead.

 

Notes:

1) For a good overview of both specific armed conflicts and the slow but steady international response see Carol Rittner and John K. Roth (Eds) “Rape: Weapon of War and Genocide” (St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2012)
2) See Amnesty International “Ukraine 2021”     www. amnesty.org Secretaru General’s Report, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.   www.osce.org

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Sexual Violence in Conflict Appeals

The Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Greater Awareness…

Featured Image: Photo by Kat J on Unsplash.

International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 19 June of each year to be the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict;  in order to raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence; and to honor the victims and the survivers of sexual violence around the world.  The date was chosen to commemorate the adoption on 19 June 2008 of Security Council Resolution 1820; in which the Council condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war and as an impediment to peacebuilding.
 

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

 
    For the U.N; “conflict-related sexual violence” refers to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced abortion, and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls and boys; linked to a conflict.  The term also encompasses trackficking in persons when committed in situations of conflict for purposes of sexual violence or exploitation.
 
There has been a slow growth of awareness-building trying to push U.N. Agencies to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services; including sexual and reproductive health services; taking into account the special needs of persons with disabilities.  A big step forward was the creation of the U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
 
The post is currently held since April 2017 by Under-Secretary-General Pramila Patten.  She recently said:
 

“We see it too often in all corners of the globe from Ukraine to Tigray in northern Etheopia to Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Every new wave of warfare brings with it a rising tide of human tragedy including new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced and least-condemned crime.”

Sexual Violence in Conflict

Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Film Festival: Fighting Stigma Through Film in London, 23 November 2018. Under-Secretary-General Pramila Patten. By Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
   
The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in March 2001; citing the judgement of the International Court for Former Yugoslavia; which maintained that there can be no time limitations on bringing the accused to trial. 
The tribunal also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction; that a person can be tried not only by his national court; but by any court claiming univesal 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 the Democratic Republic of Congo; citing the findings of Meredeth Turslen and Clotilde Twagiramariya in their book:
 

What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa. (London: Zed Press, 1998).

 
 
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: rape 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 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 prohibition of sexual violence in times of conflict is now part of international humanitarian law. 

 
However; there are two major weaknesses in the effectiveness of international humanitarian law. 
The first is that many people do not know that it exists and that they are bound by its norms.  Thus; there is a role for greater promotional activities through education and training to create a climate conducive to the observance of internationally recognized norms. 
The second weakness is enforcement. We are still at the awareness-building stage.  Strong awareness-building is needed.
 
    René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Rape as a Weapon Appeals

A Step Forward in the U.N.’s Efforts Against Rape…

Featured Image: Photo by Stewart Munro on Unsplash.

On Tuesday, 23 April 2019; the United Nations Security Council voted for resolution N° 2467; concerning the use of rape as a weapon in times of armed conflict.  This resolution builds on an earlier resolution of 24 June 2013; which called for the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violation by all parties in armed conflicts. The new resolution introduced by Germany contained two new elements; both of which were eliminated in the intense negotiations in the four days prior to the vote of 13 in favor and two abstentions, those of Russia and China.

The first new element in the German proposed text concerned help to the victims of rape.  The proposed paragraph was:

“urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the special needs of persons with disabilities.”

Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The U.S. delegation objected to this paragraph claiming that “sexual and reproductive health” were code words that opened a door to abortion.  Since a U.S. veto would prevent the resolution as a whole; the paragraph was eliminated.  

There had been four days of intense discussions among the Security Council members concerning this paragraph; with only the U.S. opposed to any form of planned parenthood action. After the resolution was passed with the health paragraph eliminated, the Permanent Representative of France; Ambassador Francois Delatte spoke for many of the members saying:

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.

Sexual violence in conflict situations.

The second concept of the German draft that was eliminated; was the proposal to create a working group to monitor, and review progress on ending sexual violence in armed conflict.  Such a working group was opposed by the diplomats of Russia and China; both of which have the veto power.  Thus, for the same reason as with the U.S. opposition; the idea of a monitoring working group was dropped. Both China and Russia are opposed to any form of U.N. monitoring; fearing that their actions on one topic or another would be noted by a monitoring group.  The Russian diplomat had to add that he was against the added administrative burden that a monitoring group would present; but that Russia was against sexual violence in conflict situations.

The Association of World Citizens.

Thus, the new U.N. Security Council resolution 2467 is weaker than it should have been; but is nevertheless a step forward in building awareness.  The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 citing the judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia; which maintained that there can be no time limitations on bringing an accused to trial.  The Tribunal 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 Violations; in the Democratic Republic of Congo; citing the findings of Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa. (London: Zed Press, 1998).

Rape is …

They write “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 license to rape:

Rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence 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 the 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 Security Council resolution.

The Security Council resolution opens the door to civil society organizations to build on the concepts eliminated from the governmental resolution itself.  Non-governmental organizations must play an ever-more active role in providing services to rape victims with medical, psychological, and socio-cultural services.  In addition; if the U.N. is unable to create a monitoring and review of information working group; then such a monitoring group will have to be the task of cooperative efforts among NGOs.  It is always to be hoped that governments acting together would provide the institutions necessary to promote human dignity.  But with the failure of governments to act; our task as non-governmental representatives is set out for us.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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