Tag: <span>Women</span>

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.



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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Women-Life-Liberty Appeals

Iran: Women-Life-Liberty

Featured Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

28 Sep 2022 – The cry “Women-Life-Liberty!” is going up in many different parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  It is not possible to know in advance how strong the protests will be and what will be the specific reforms demanded.

Morality Police.

The protests began on 13 Sep 2022 at the announcement of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Anini in police custody, having been arrested by the “morality police” for not having the proper dress.  She was an ethnic Kurd.  The protests began in the Kurdish areas but soon spread to all ethnic groups and many parts of the country.  However, the government is worried that support for the demonstrations from Kurds, especially some in Iraq, could grow and lead to multi-ethnic tensions.

Women have been a central focus of the social policy of the Islamic government.  Even before coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomenini from his exile in France had said that the overly great liberty of women was a chief obstacle to his policies.  Repressive policies against women with compulsory veiling laws were quickly put into place.

However, unlike the Taliban in Afghanistan, women were not barred from higher education.  It is estimated that some 65 percent of university students are women.  Many play important roles within society but must keep a low profile, dress according to the code and be under the control of a man, at least when visible in public.

Ayatollah Khomenini

Portrait of Ruhollah Khomeini By Mohammad Sayyad. By Mohammad Sayyad – محمد صیاد, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Women – Life – Liberty.

Now the cry “Women – Life – Liberty” proclaimed by many women and some men indicates the changes in outlook.  Obviously, the government led by the Guide Ali Khamenei and the conservative President Ebrahim Raisi are worried.  The police, the Revolutionary Guards, and other paramilitary forces have been called out.  Some protesters have been killed, others wounded.  The number of arrested is unknown.  Journalists have been prevented from reporting, and internet services have been cut or are irregular.  Thus there are few photos of the demonstrations.

Ali Khamenei

Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei delivers Nowruz message in his office (2016). By Khamenei.ir, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There have been waves of protests in Iran before without bringing about major changes in policy.

However, some observers believe that there is a new spirit in these protests.  “Women – Life – Liberty” may be the wave of the future and should be watched closely.

Ebrahim Raisi

The eighth president of Iran Ebrahim Raisi. By Khamenei.ir, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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