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        Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
        Monday, August 28, 2006
        Get food, but you may be raped
        It has been three months since the peace agreement was signed between the largest rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement, and the Sudanese Government. Unfortunately, the agreement has not brought about any significant change to improve the situation in Darfur.

        Reports of militias raping civilian women is one constant disaster that comes out of the Darfur civil war. Fetching fire wood or water often ends up in the women being raped. Just imagine running to the grocery store to get a gallon of milk and there is a very high possibility of you being raped. Just imagine.

        I was curious to find out how war rapes have been dealt with in other parts of the world – I admit that I suffer from this conspiracy theory that there is little interest to human rights abuse in Africa and abuse against African women, forget it! Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how a problem is dealt with in different contexts.

        Dorothy Thomas and Regan Ralph of John Hopkins University have an interesting chapter on Rape in War: Challenging the Tradition of Impunity (via Human Rights Watch). The bottom line is that rape should be taken for what it is - a strategy in achieving a military objective. "In the former Yugoslavia, rape and other grave abuses committed by Serbian forces are intended to drive the non-Serbian population into flight."

        While there are international rules on how to be fair in wars – which I think is ironic – raping women has not been given the attention it deserves.

        But while other abuses, such as murder and other forms of torture have long been denounced as war crimes, rape has been downplayed as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of sending men to war…. Despite the pervasiveness of rape, it often has been a hidden element of war, a fact that is linked inextricably to its largely gender-specific character. The fact that the abuse is committed by men against women has contributed to its being narrowly portrayed as sexual or personal in nature, a portrayal that depoliticizes sexual abuse in conflict and results in its being ignored as a war crime. A more accurate understanding of the political function of wartime rape and the complexity of its motivation is necessary if adequate and responsive remedies are to be applied.

        What makes the Darfur situation even sadder is that international law cannot protect the women there. Civil wars and the gruesome effect of them are the business of individual countries.

        As for civil wars, unfortunately, international law today has fewer rules regulating the conduct of internal conflicts, which many States consider part of their domestic jurisdiction and, consequently, there is a shorter list of war crimes. (source)

        More links
        Darfur: Rape as a Weapon of War
        Amnesty International on rape in Darfur
        Testimonials of rape as ethnic cleasing in Darfur
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:45 PM   Digg!
        • name<="c115685480225260378" id="c115685480225260378">

          At 8:33 AM, Blogger sokari said…

          Another excellent reference is "Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia by Beverely Allen.

        • name<="c115763023960390688" id="c115763023960390688">

          At 7:57 AM, Blogger Leighton Cooke said…

          This is so sad. I know some of the victims in Bosnia personally, as a friend of mine used to help them.

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        Kamilat - victim of acid burning The face of VAW - violence against women. It should and can be stopped with enough commitment. Helping one woman at a time is a start.
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