War rape

War rape

War rape describes rape committed by soldiers, other combatants or civilians during armed conflict or war. Rape in the course of war dates back to antiquity, ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible. During war and armed conflict rape is frequently used as means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate the enemy and undermine their morale. War rape is often systematic and thorough, and military leaders may actually encourage their soldiers to rape civilians. War rape may occur in a variety of situations, including institutionalised sexual slavery, war rapes associated with specific battles or massacres, and individual or isolated acts of sexual violence. War rape may also include gang rape and rape with objects.

When part of a widespread and systematic practice rape and sexual slavery are now recognised as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Rape is also now recognised as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted group. However, rape remains widespread in conflict zones.

Women casualties of war

Kelly Dawn Akin observes that increasingly, the victims of war are civilians. It has been estimated that 50 million people "perished" during World War II. Male and female civilians may be subject to torture, but war rape is more frequently perpetrated on women than men.cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 12 - 13] Cite web | last1 = Thomas | first1 = Dorothy Q.| last2 = Reagan| first2 = E. Ralph| title = Rape in War: Challenging the Tradition of Impunity| Publisher = SAIS Review, Johns Hopkins University Press| year = 1994| url = http://www.hrw.org/women/docs/rapeinwar.htm] Sexual violence in warfare is frequently perpetrated against women and children, and the perpetrators of sexual assault "commonly include not only enemy civilians and troops but also allied and national civilians and even comrades in arms."

The victims of war rape are usually "civilians", a notion that was only recognized in the 19th century. Before that military circles supported the notion that all persons, including unarmed women and children, were still the enemy, with the belligerent having conquering rights over them. cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 26-27] Although war rape of women is documented throughout history, laws protecting civilians in armed conflict has tended not to recognise sexual assault on women. Even when laws of war have recognised and forbidden sexual assault, few prosecutions have been brought. According to Kelly Dawn Akin the laws of war perpetuated the attitude that sexual assaults against women are less significant crimes, not worthy of prosecution. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages=13 ] War rape has until recently been a hidden element of war, which according to Human Rights Watch is linked to the largely gender-specific character of war rape - abuse committed by men against women. This gender-specific character has contributed to war rape 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."

"To the victor goes the spoils" has been a war cry for centuries and women were included as part of the spoils of war.cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages=10-21 ] Furthermore war rape has been downplayed as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of sending men to war. Also, war rape has in the past been regarded as tangible reward to soldiers (which were only paid irregularly) and as a soldier's proof of masculinity and success.cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages=27] In reference to war rape in ancient times Harold Washington argues that warfare itself is imaged as rape and the cities attacked are its victims. He argues that war rape occurs in the context of stereotypes about women and men which are part of the basic belief that violent power belongs to men and women are its victims. [cite book |last= Levinson |first=Bernard M. |title= Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East |origyear=2004 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2rZnXQwPX8gC&dq=rape+in+warfare+ancient&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |pages= 20]

War Prisoners

Male prisoners of war may be subject to rape and sexual violence which some commentators have interpretated as a way for captors to feminise the captive. Imposing sexual humiliation has been described as expression of masculine domination. Sexual violence against male prisoners of war has been widely publicised when graphic photos documented such abuses on male Iraqi prisoners by US guards at Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070402/ai_n18782444] More generally it has been observed that captured military personnel of both sexes are vulnerable to explicitly sexual humiliation, up to and including rape. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070402/ai_n18782444]

International law

War rape has been until recently not been punished under international law. War crimes or humanitarian law specifically considers the treatment of the civilian population and "any devastation not justified by military necessity". Nicolas Werth, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Panné, Jean-Louis Margolin, Andrzej Paczkowski, Stéphane Courtois, "The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression", Harvard University Press, 1999, hardcover, 858 pages, ISBN 0-674-07608-7, page 5. ] War rape has rarely been prosecuted as a war crime. After World War II the Nuremberg Tribunals failed to charge Nazi war criminals with rape, although witnesses testified on war rape. The War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo did convict Japanese officers "of failing to prevent rape" in the Nanking massacre, which is known as the "Rape of Nanking".cite web |url= http://www.nytimes.com/specials/bosnia/context/0628warcrimes-tribunal.html| last = Simons | first = Marlise | title = For first time, Court Defines Rape as War Crime| publisher =The New York Times |date=June 1996] [cite web |url= http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E3DD133AF936A35757C0A96E958260| last = Rosenberg | first = Tine | title = Editorial Observer; New punishment for an ancient war crime| publisher =The New York Times |date=April 1998]

Justice Richard Goldstone, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said that "Rape has never been the concern of the international community."

Customs of war

Some scholars argue that the lack of explicitly recogntion of war rape in international law or applicable humanitarian law may not be used as a defence by the perpetrator of war rape. Laws and customs of war prohibit offenses such as "inhuman treatment" or "indecent assaults", adding to this domestic military codes and domestic civil codes (national law) may make sexual assault a crime.cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 17]

Humanitarian law prior to World War II

In Ancient time on of the first references to the "laws of war" or "traditions of war" was by Cicero who urged soldiers to observe the rules of war, since obeying the regulations separated the "men" from the "brutes". Conquering the riches and property of a enemy was regarded as legitimate reason for war in itself. Women were included with "property", since they were considered to be under the lawful ownership of man, whether a father, husband, slave master, or guardian. In this context the rape of a woman was considered a property crime committed against the man who owned the woman. In ancient Greece war rape of women was considered "socially acceptable behaviour well within the rules of warfare" and warriors considered the conquered women "legitimate booty, useful as wives, concubines, slave labour or battle-camp trophy". "To the victor goes the spoils" has been a war cry for centuries and women were included as part of the spoils of war.

In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century this attitude and practice prevailed, and the legal protection of women in war time related directly to the legal protection women were granted in peace times. In medieval Europe women were considered as an inferior gender by law. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 23-24] In 1159 John of Salisbury wrote Policraticus in an attempt to regulate the conduct of armies engaged in "justifiable" wars. Salisbury believed that acts of theft and "rapine" (property crimes) should receive the most severe punishment, but also believed that obeying a superior's commands whether legal or illegal, moral or immoral, was the ultimate duty of the soldier. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 24-25] In the 15th and 16th century, despite considerations and systemisation of the laws of war, women remained objects to be used by the conquering male in any way whatsoever. The influential writer Francisco de Vitoria stood for a gradual emergence of the notion that glory or conquest were not necessarily acceptable reasons to start a war. The jurist Alberico Gentili insisted that all women, including female combatants, should be spared from sexual assault in wartime, however in practice war rape was common. It is suggested that one reason for the prevalence of war rape was that at the time, military circles supported the notion that all persons, including unarmed women and children, were still the enemy, with the belligerent having conquering rights over them. In the late Middle Ages the laws of war even considered war rape as an indication of a man's success in the battlefield and "opportunities to rape and loot were among the few advantages open to...soldiers, who were paid with great irregularity by their leaders... triumph over women by rape became a way to measure victory, part of a soldier's proof of masculinity and success, a tangible reward for services rendered...an actual reward of war".

During this period in history, war rape was not necessarily committed as a conscious effort of war to terrorize the enemy, but rather as earned compensation for winning a war. There is little evidence to suggest that superiors regularly ordered subordinates to commit acts of rape. cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 28] Throughout this period of history war became more regulated, specific, and regimented. The first formal prosecution for violations of war crimes did not take place until the late Middle Ages.

Hugo Grotius, considered the father of the law of nations and the first to conduct a comprehensive work on systematizing the international laws of war, concluded that rape "should not go unpunished in war any more than in peace". Emmerich van Vattel emerged as an influential figure when he pleaded for the immunity of civilians against the ravages of war, considering men and women civilians as non-combatants. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 30-32]

In the late 18th century and 19th century treaties and war codes started to include vague provisions for the protection of women: The Treaty of Amity and Commerce (1785) specified that in case of war "women and children... shall not be molested in their persons". Article 20 of the Order No. 20 (1847), a supplement to the US Rules and Articles of war, listed the following as severely punishable "Assassination, murder, malicious stabbing or maiming, rape". The Declaration of Brussles (1874) stated that the "honours and rights of the family.... should be respected". [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages=34 ]

In the 19th century the treatment of soldiers, prisoners, the wounded, and civilians improved and core elements of the laws of war were put in place. However, while the customs of war mandated more humane treatment of soldiers and civilians, new weapons and advanced technology increase destruction and altered the methods of war. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages= 33]

The Lieber Code (1863) was the first codification of the international customary laws of land war and an important step towards humanitarian law. The Lieber Code emphasises protection of civilians and states that "all rape...(is) prohibited under the penalty of death", which was the first prohibition of rape in customary humanitarian law. [cite book |last= Askin |first=Kelly Dawn |title= War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |isbn=9041104860 |pages=35-36 ]

After World War I the War Crimes Commission, set up in 1919 to examine the atrocities committed by Germany and the other Axis powers during World War I, found substantial evidence of sexual violence and subsequently included rape and forced prostitution among the violations of the laws and customs of war. Efforts to prosecute failed. [cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=5 ]

The Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals

After World War II the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals were the first international criminal tribunals of real significance and were established in 1945 and 1956 respectively to prosecute the major war criminals of the European Axis countries (in fact only Germany was tried) and Japan for "crimes against peace," war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The possibility of prosecuting sexual violence as a war crime was present because of the recognition of war rape as serious violation of the laws of war in the Lieber Code and the Hague Convention assertion that "family honour and rights...must be respected". Also, there was evidence that previous war crimes trials had prosecuted for sex crimes, hence war rape could have been prosecuted under customary law and/or under the IMT (International Military Tribunals) Charter's Article 6(b): "abduction of the civilian population... into slavery and for other purposes" and "abduction unjustified by military necessity. Similarly it would have been possible to prosecute war rape as crime against humanity under Article 6(c) of the Nuremberg Charter: "other inhumane acts" and "enslavement". However, notwithstanding evidence of sexual violence in Europe during World War II a lack of will lead to rape and sexual violence not being prosecuted at the Nuremberg Tribunals. [cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=5-7 ] In the War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo sexual violence and war rape were prosecuted as war crimes under the wording "inhumane treatment", "ill-treatment," and "failure to respect family honour and rights." According to the Prosecution in excess of 20,000 women and girls were raped during the first weeks of the Japanese occupation of the Chinese city of Nanking. The War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo included accounts of sexual violence crimes in the trial testimonies as well as public records.cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=8 ] On a national level, a commander of the 14th Area Army, General Yamashita, was convicted for, inter alia, "rape under his command." Some 35 Dutch comfort women brought a successful case before the Batavia Military Tribunal in 1948.

Geneva Conventions

Since 1949 Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits wartime rape and enforced prostitution. These prohibitions were reinforced by the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.


In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda established by the United Nations made landmark decisions that rape is a crime of genocide under international law. The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu, the mayor of Taba Commune in Rwanda, established precedents that rape is a element of the crime of genocide. The Trial Chamber held that "sexual assault formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide."Fourth Annual Report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to the General Assembly (September, 1999), accessed at [] .]

Judge Navanethem Pillay said in a statement after the verdict: “From time immemorial, rape has been regarded as spoils of war. Now it will be considered a war crime. We want to send out a strong message that rape is no longer a trophy of war.”Navanethem Pillay is quoted by Professor Paul Walters in his presentation of her honorary doctorate of law, Rhodes University, April 2005 [http://www.ru.ac.za/academic/graduation/addresses_and_citations/2005/Judge_Pillay_citation.doc] ] An estimated 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. [ [http://www.amnesty.org.nz/web/pages/home.nsf/0/e57ea3f05f6aa848cc256e460012f365?OpenDocument Violence Against Women: Worldwide Statistics] ]

Professor Paul Walters in his April 2005 statement of support of her honorary doctorate of law at Rhodes University wrote:

"Under her presidency of the Rwanda Tribunal, that body rendered a judgment against the mayor of Taba Commune which found him guilty of genocide for the use of rape in “the destruction of the spirit, of the will to live, and of life itself.”"

In September 1999 the United Nations published a "Report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994"

The report states that on September 2 1998, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judges Laïty Kama, Presiding, Lennart Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay, found Jean Paul Akayesu guilty of 9 of the 15 counts proffered against him, including genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination, murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts). Jean Paul Akayesu was found not guilty of the six remaining counts, including the count of complicity in genocide and the counts relating to violations of article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II thereto.

The Akayesu judgement includes the first interpretation and application by an international court of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Trial Chamber held that rape, which it defined as "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive", and sexual assault constitute acts of genocide insofar as they were committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted group, as such. It found that sexual assault formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide.

On October 2 1998, Jean Paul Akayesu was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the nine counts, the sentences to run concurrently. Both Jean Paul Akayesu and the Prosecutor have appealed against the judgement rendered by the Trial Chamber.

Crimes against humanity and war crimes

The Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, recognises rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, "or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" as crime against humanity if the action is part of a widespread or systematic practice. As quoted by Guy Horton in " [http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/Horton-2005.pdf Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma] " April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360 ] [ [http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ] ]

Rape was first recognised as crime against humanity when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War. Specifically, it was recognised that Muslim women in Foca (southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina) were subjected to systematic and widespread gang rape, torture and enslavement by Bosnian Serb soldiers, policemen, and members of paramilitary groups after the takeover of the city in April 1992. [http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/rape.html Rape as a Crime Against Humanity ] ]

The indictment was of major legal significance and was the first time that sexual assaults were investigated for the purpose of prosecution under the rubric of torture and enslavement as a crime against humanity. The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes again humanity. This ruling challenged the widespread acceptance of rape and sexual enslavement of women as intrinsic part of war. [http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR630042001?open&of=ENG-BIH Bosnia-Herzegovina : Foca verdict - rape and sexual enslavement are crimes against humanity] . 22 February 2001. Amnesty International.]

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found three Bosnian Serb men guilty of rape of Bosniac (Bosnian Muslim) women and girls (some as young as 12 and 15 years of age), in Foca, eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. The charges were brought as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Furthermore two of the men were found guilty of the crime against humanity of sexual enslavement for holding women and girls captive in a number of de facto detention centres. Many of the women subsequently disappeared.

Definition of rape

Rape and sexual assault are used interchangeably by some commentators. There is no universally accepted definition of "war rape".

The Explanatory Note of the Rome Statute, which binds the International Criminal Court, defines the "rape" as follows:

"The perpetrator invaded the body of a person by conduct resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim or of the perpetrator with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or any other part of the body." [http://www.icc-cpi.int/library/about/officialjournal/basicdocuments/elements(e).html Elements of Crimes] . PDF: [http://www.icc-cpi.int/library/about/officialjournal/Element_of_Crimes_English.pdf] . International Criminal Court] and"The invasion was committed by force, or by threat of force or coercion, such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of power, against such person or another person, or by taking advantage of a coercive environment, or the invasion was committed against a person incapable of giving genuine consent."

The concept of “invasion” is intended to be broad enough to be gender-neutral and the definition is understood to include situations where the victim may be incapable of giving genuine consent if affected by natural, induced or age-related incapacity.cite web |url= http://www.viol-tactique-de-guerre.org/documents/IMG/pdf/advocacy_paper.pdf| last = Minzoni - Deroche | first = Angela | title = Rape as a tactic of war – Advocacy Paper| publisher = Caritas France|date=November 2005]


War rape has a severe impact on the mainly women victims and may be systematic in nature or an isolated act of sexual violence. [http://apha.confex.com/apha/133am/techprogram/paper_108859.htm War, rape and genocide: From ancient times to the Sudan ] ] A recent study lists the physical injury to the victims of war rape as traumatic injuries, sexually transmitted disease (STD) or venereal disease (VD) (including HIV), and pregnancy. Because war rapes take place in zones of conflict access to emergency contraception, antibiotics, and/or abortion are extremely limited. The short-term psychological injuries to the victims include feelings of fear, helplessness, and desperation. Long-term psychological injuries may include depression, anxiety disorders (including post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS)), multiple somatic symptoms, flashbacks, difficulty re-establishing intimate relationships, shame, and persistent fears.

War rape may include gang rape and rape with objects, such as sticks and gun barrels. Women victims may suffer from incontinence and vaginal fistula as a result of particularly violent instances of rape. Vaginal fistula is a medical condition usually the result of poor childbirth care, and involves the walls between the vagina, bladder and anus or rectum being torn, resulting in severe pain and debilitating incontinence.

Women victims of war rape may be stigmatised and excluded from their families or communities as a result of war rape, particularly in societies were female virginity is prized and the husband of a rape victim is considered shamed. [http://www.author-me.com/nonfiction/rapeasaweapon.html Rape as a Weapon of War, by Rutagengwa Claude Shema ] ] [http://www.msmagazine.com/spring2005/congo.asp Ms. Magazine | "Not Women Anymore": The Congo's rape survivors face pain, shame and AIDS ] ]

Military strategy

Amnesty International has challenged the view that rape and sexual abuse are a by-product of war. According to Amnesty International rape is now used as deliberate military strategy rather than opportunistic rape and pillage of previous centuries.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/4078677.stm| last = Smith-Spark | first = Laura | title = How did rape become a weapon of war?| publisher =BBC News |accessdate=2008-07-28] As a military strategy war rape is reportedly used for the purpose of conquering territory by expelling the population therefrom, decimating remaining civilians by destroying their links of affiliations, by the spread of AIDS, and by eliminating cultural and religious traditions. War rape may be described as "weapon of war" or a "means of combat" in the media.

With specific reference to recent war rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other African countries the aims of war rape as a military strategy have been listed as follows: increase in military morale, decrease the military morale of the enemy, to offend the enemy, and to loot the maximum of an enemy’s belongings (including women and children).


Pre-World War II

Rape has accompanied warfare in virtually every known historical era. [cite book |last= Levinson |first=Bernard M. |title= Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East |origyear=2004 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2rZnXQwPX8gC&dq=rape+in+warfare+ancient&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |pages= 203] Rape in the course of war is mentioned in the Bible. Examples include: "They must be dividing the spoil they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man…" (Judges 5:30 NAB) [cite book |last= Nowell |first=Irene |title= Women in the Old Testament |origyear=1997 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xQlzkEefX5MC |publisher=Liturgical Press |isbn=0814624111 |pages= 69] and "For I [God] will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped;..." Zechariah 14:2, from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) [http://www.religioustolerance.org/war_rape.htm] The Israelite, Greek, and Roman armies reportedly engaged in war rape, which is documented by ancient authors such as Homer, Herodotus, Livy and Hebrew prophets. Ancient sources held multiple, often contradictory attitudes to sexual violence in warfare. [http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a713724317~db=all]

The Vikings, Scandinavians that raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late 8th to the early 11th century, [Roesdahl, p. 9-22.] are famed for their popular "rape and pillage" image. Viking settlements on the British Isles are thought to have been primarily male enterprises, with a lesser role for Viking females. British Isles women are mentioned in old texts on the founding of Iceland, indicating that the Viking explorers had acquired wives and concubines from the British Isles. [ [http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v95/n2/full/6800695a.html Heredity - Human migration: Reappraising the Viking Image ] ] Some historians dispute the Vikings' "rape and pillage" image, arguing that exaggeration and distortion in later medieval texts created an image of treacherous and brutal Northmen. [ [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/hist/2003/00000088/00000002/art00002 IngentaConnect The Vikings on the Continent in Myth and History ] ]

World War II

The sometimes widespread and systematic occurrence of war rape by soldiers and civilians of women has been documented during World War II and in its immediate aftermath. War rape occurred in a range of situations, ranging from institutionalised sexual slavery to war rapes associated with specific battles.The term "Comfort women" is a euphemism for the estimated 200,000, mostly Korean and Chinese, women who were forced into prostitution in Japanese military brothels during World War II. [ [http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200703/200703190023.html Comfort Women Were 'Raped': U.S. Ambassador to Japan] ] At the Nanking Massacre in Chine rape was used as a tool to humiliate the civilians under Japanese oppression. As many as 80,000 women were raped by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanking Massacre and many of them were disembowelled and left to die and some soldiers even cut off the breasts of their victims, then nailed the women alive to walls. [ [http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/13/remembering.nanjing/ Chinese city remembers Japanese 'Rape of Nanjing'] ]

According to Peter Schrijvers in "The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II", [ [http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=114661059720058 A Heterology of American GIs during World War II] by Xavier Guillaume, Department of Political Science, University of Geneva July 2003, (H-NET review of Peter Schrijvers. The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II. New York: New York University Press, 2002)] rape "reflects a burning need to establish total dominance of the other" [the enemy] . According to Xavier Guillaume U.S. soldiers rape of Japanese women was "general practice". Schrijvers states regarding rapes on Okinawa that "The estimate of one Okinawan historian for the entire three-month period of the campaign exceeds 10,000. A figure that does not seem unlikely when one realizes that during the first 10 days of the occupation of Japan there were 1,336 reported cases of rape of Japanese women by American soldiers in Kanagawa prefecture alone". [ [http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=114661059720058 A Heterology of American GIs during World War II] by Xavier Guillaume, Department of Political Science, University of Geneva July 2003, (H-NET review of Peter Schrijvers. "The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II". New York: New York University Press, 2002) The citation is cited to page 212 of "The GI War against Japan".]

In 1998 the remains of three US Marines stationed on Okinawa were discovered outside of a local village. Accounts from elderly Okinawans verify that the men had made frequent trips to the village to rape the women that lived there but were ambushed and killed by men from the village on one of their return trips. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E0D7153CF932A35755C0A9669C8B63&scp "3 Dead Marines and a Secret of Wartime Okinawa"] New York Times, June 1, 2000] According to the same article, published in 2000,: "rape was so prevalent that most Okinawans over age 65 either know or have heard of a woman who was raped in the aftermath of the war." Okinawan historian Oshiro Masayasu (former director of the Okinawa Prefectural Historical Archives) writes based on several years of research::Soon after the US marines landed, all the women of a village on Motobu Peninsula fell into the hands of American soldiers. At the time, there were only women, children and old people in the village, as all the young men had been mobilized for the war. Soon after landing, the marines "mopped up" the entire village, but found no signs of Japanese forces. Taking advantage of the situation, they started "hunting for women" in broad daylight and those who were hiding in the village or nearby air raid shelters were dragged out one after another. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=4qdLb-LKtpgC&pg=PA112&dq=raped+okinawa&lr=&sig=SHjXgvBF78U67PL23j-pKaXMDJ0#PPA111,M1 Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II] By Yuki Tanaka, Toshiyuki Tanaka, page 111] "A former prostitute recalled that as soon as Australian troops arrived in Kure in early 1946, they 'dragged young women into their jeeps, took them to the mountain, and then raped them. I heard them screaming for help nearly every night'." [Eiji Takemae, Robert Ricketts, Sebastian Swann, Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy. p.67( [http://books.google.com/books?id=Ba5hXsfeyhMC&pg=PA67&dq=Kanagawa+prefecture+rape&sig=ACfU3U3_7MFOnBKgutBavggHUGIPQw9Vrg Google.books] )] [For detailed accounts of rapes by Australian occupation troop during the occupation of Japan, see Allan Clifton, "Time of Fallen Blossoms". [http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/42647 Australian Military Gang Rape of ‘Fallen Blossoms’] ] "When US paratroopers landed in Sapporo, an orgy of looting, sexual violence and drunken brawling ensued. Gang rapes and other sex atrocities were not infrequent." [Eiji Takemae, Robert Ricketts, Sebastian Swann, Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy. p.67( [http://books.google.com/books?id=Ba5hXsfeyhMC&pg=PA67&dq=Kanagawa+prefecture+rape&sig=ACfU3U3_7MFOnBKgutBavggHUGIPQw9Vrg Google.books] )] Some of the rape victims committed suicide. [Eiji Takemae, Robert Ricketts, Sebastian Swann, Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy. p.67( [http://books.google.com/books?id=Ba5hXsfeyhMC&pg=PA67&dq=Kanagawa+prefecture+rape&sig=ACfU3U3_7MFOnBKgutBavggHUGIPQw9Vrg Google.books] )]

French Moroccan troops, known as Goumiers, committed rapes and other war crimes after the Battle of Monte Cassino [ [http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9705&L=twatch-l&D=1&O=D&F=P&P=1025 Italian women win cash for wartime rapes] ] and in Germany. In Italy victims of the mass rape committed after the Battle of Monte Cassino by Goumiers, colonial troops of the French Expeditionary Corps are known as Marocchinate.

The Wehrmacht ran "brothels" where civilian and captured partisan women were forced to work. Ruth Seifert in "War and Rape: Analytical Approaches" writes, "In the Eastern territories the Wehrmacht used to brand the bodies of captured partisan women - and other women as well - with the words 'Whore for Hitler's troops' and to use them accordingly." [ [http://www.wilpf.int.ch/publications/1992ruthseifert.htm War Rape Ruth Seifert (1992?) ] ] There are numerous cases of rapes conducted on Jewish women and girls by German soldiers during Invasion of Poland"55 Dni Wehrmachtu w Polsce" Szymon Datner Warsaw 1967 page 67 "Zanotowano szereg faktów gwałcenia kobiet i dziewcząt żydowskich" (Numerous facts of cases of rapes made upon Jewish women and girls were reported)] . Rapes were also committed against Polish women and girls during mass executions made primarily by Selbstschutz, which were accompanied by Wehrmacht soldiers and on territory under administration of German military, the rapes were made before shooting female captives. [ [http://www.kki.net.pl/~museum/rozdz3,2.htm 2 ] ] Thousands of Soviet female nurses, doctors and field medics fell victim to brutal German rapes when captured during the war, and often they were murdered afterwards"Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu na jeńcach wojennych w II Wojnie Światowej Szymon Datner Warsaw 1961 page 215] .

After the German armed forces had surrendered, the half of Germany under Soviet Union occupation was split roughly in half and one part was allocated for temporary Polish administration (see Former eastern territories of Germany). In order to ensure that the German territory under communist Polish administration would become permanently de-facto Polish territory, the Polish communists ordered that the German population be expelled "by whatever means necessary".Norman M. Naimark. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949. Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-674-78405-7 pp 74-75] The communist Polish administrators of the occupied territories as a consequence did little to protect the German population from Polish and Russian rapists.. "Even the Soviets expressed shock at the Poles’ behavior. Polish soldiers, stated one report, 'relate to German women as to free booty'."

Polish soldiers (under Soviet control of army) raped German women in retaliation for war rape of Polish women by German soldiers. During the war Polish women were equally victims of brutal mass rapes by both GermanAnna Reading. The Social Inheritance of the Holocaust: Gender, Culture, and Memory. Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0333761472, 9780333761472 pp 166] Dagmar Herzog. Sexuality and German Fascism. Berghahn Books, 2005. ISBN 1571816526, 9781571816528] and Soviet [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=MONM4PR45A5UNQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2002/01/24/wbeev24.xml Red Army troops raped even Russian and Polish women as they freed them from camps] ] soldiers. Polish sources claim that there are cases of mass rapes in Polish cities taken by the Red Army. It is reported that in Kraków Soviet occupation brought mass rapes of Polish women and girls, as well as plunder of all private property by Soviet soldiers. Reportedly the scale of the attacks prompted communists installed by Soviets to prepare a letter of protest to Joseph Stalin while masses in churches were held in expectation of Soviet withdrawal."Alma Mater 64(2004) – "OKUPOWANY KRAKÓW- z prorektorem Andrzejem Chwalbą rozmawia Rita Pagacz-Moczarska"] .

At the end of World War II, Red Army soldiers are estimated to have raped around 2,000,000 German women and girls. [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,707835,00.html |title='They raped every German female from eight to 80' | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited |publisher=guardian.co.uk |last= |first=] [cite web |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/01/24/wbeev24.xml |title=Red Army troops raped even Russian women as they freed them from camps - Telegraph |publisher=www.telegraph.co.uk |last= |first=] Norman Naimark writes in "The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949." that although the exact number of women and girls who were raped by members of the Red Army in the months preceding and years following the capitulation will never be known, their numbers are likely in the hundreds of thousands, quite possibly as high as the 2,000,000 victims estimate made by Barbara Johr, in "Befreier und Befreite". Many of these victims were raped repeatedly. Antony Beevor estimates that up to half the victims were victims of group rapes. Naimark states that not only did each victim have to carry the trauma with her for the rest of her days, it inflicted a massive collective trauma on the East German nation. Naimark concludes "The social psychology of women and men in the soviet zone of occupation was marked by the crime of rape from the first days of occupation, through the founding of the GDR in the fall of 1949, until - one could argue - the present." [Norman M. Naimark. "The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949." Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-674-78405-7 pp. 132,133] German women who became pregnant after being raped by Soviet soldiers in World War II were invariably denied abortion to further humiliate them as to carry an unwanted child.Fact|date=September 2008 As a result, according to the book "Berlin: The Downfall, 1945" by Antony Beevor, some 90% of Berlin women in 1945 had venereal diseases as results of consequential rapes and 3.7% of all children born in Germany from 1945 to 1946 had Russian fathers. The history behind this particular rape of the German women by the Soviet troops was considered a taboo topic until 1992. (See also Red Army atrocities.)

1950s to 1990s

It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 Bangladeshi women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 by the Pakistani army during night raids on villages or after women were carted off to soldiers' barracks. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/4078677.stm How did rape become a weapon of war?] ] During the 1974 invasion and occupation of Cyprus Turkish troops were notorious for the widespread rape of women and girls.

Other documented instances of war rape include the Liberian civil war and in East Timor since the occupation by Indonesia in 1975.http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol5/No3/art2.html] It has been reported that in Peru, throughout the 12 year internal conflict, women were frequent victims of sustained war rape perpetrated by government security forces and the Shining Path. It has also been reported that during the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait an estimated 5,000 Kuwaiti women were raped by Iraqi soldiers.

Former Yugoslavia

Evidence of the magnitude of rape in Bosnia prompted the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to deal openly with these abuses. Reports of sexual violence during the Bosnian War (1992–95) and Kosovo War (1996–99), part of the Yugoslav wars, a series of conflicts from 1991 to 1999, have been described as "especially alarming".cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=9 ] Since the entry of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, rapes of Serbian, Albanian, and Roma women by ethnic Albanians, sometimes by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, have also been documented.cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=11 ]

It has been estimated that during the Bosnian War between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped. The majority of the rape victims were Muslim women raped by Serbian soldiers. Although men also became victim of sexual violence, war rape was disproportionately directed against women who were (gang) raped in the streets, in their homes and/or in front of family members. Sexual violence occurred in a multiple ways, including rape with objects, such as broken glass bottles, guns and truncheons. War rape occurred as a matter of official orders as part of ethnic cleansing, to displace the targeted ethnic group out of the region.cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=10 ]

During the Bosnian War the existence of deliberately created "rape camps" was reported. The reported aim of these camps was to impregnate the Muslim and Croatian women held captive. It has been reported that often women were kept in confinement until the late stage of their pregnancy. This occurred in the context of a patrilineal society, in which children inherit their father's ethnicity, hence the "rape camps" aimed at the birth of a new generation of Serb children. According to the Women's Group Tresnjevka more than 35,000 women and children were held in such Serb-run "rape camps". [cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=9-10 ] [ [http://www.newint.org/issue244/rape.htm new Internationalist] issue 244, June 1993. Rape: Weapon of War by Angela Robson.] [ [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2001/02/22/bosher256.htm Human Rights News "Bosnia: Landmark Verdicts for Rape, Torture, and Sexual Enslavement: Criminal Tribunal Convicts Bosnian Serbs for Crimes Against Humanity"] 02/22/01]

During the Kosovo War thousands of Kosovo Albanian women and girls became victims of sexual violence. War rape was used as a weapon of war and an instrument of systematic ethnic cleansing; rape was used to terrorise the civilian population, extort money from families, and force people to flee their homes. According to a 2000 Human Rights Watch report war rape in the Kosovo War can generally be subdivided into three categories: rapes in women's homes, rapes during fighting, and rapes in detention. The majority of the perpetrators were Serbian paramilitaries, but they also included Serbian special police or Yugoslav army soldiers. Most rapes were gang rapes involving at least two perpetrators. Rapes occurred frequently in the presence, and with the acquiescence, of military officers. Soldiers, police, and paramilitaries often raped their victims in the full view of numerous witnesses.

Mass rape in the Bosnian War

During the Bosnian war, Serb forces conducted sexual abuse strategy on the thousands of Bosnian Muslim girls and women which became known as "mass rape phenomenon. No exact figures on how many women and children were systematically raped by the Serb forces in various camps were established. [Odjek - revija za umjetnost i nauku - Zločin silovanja u BiH - [http://www.odjek.ba/index.php?broj=03&id=21] ] [Grbavica (film) - [http://www.coop99.at/grbavica_website/] ] [ICTY: Krnojelac verdict - [http://www.un.org/icty/krnojelac/appeal/judgement/index.htm] ] , but estimates range from 20,000 [ [http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Anthropology/21A-217Fall-2004/BC205381-420D-471A-8B40-2AF7FFA4B0C0/0/6_yugoslavia.pdf Massachusetts Institute of Tehnology-short time line of Yugoslav war with number of rapes] ] to 50,000. [The Independent (London): Film award forces Serbs to face spectre of Bosnia's rape babies - [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20060220/ai_n16146172] ] Mass rape was mostly occurred in Eastern Bosnia (especially during Foča and Višegrad massacres), and in Grbavica during the Siege of Sarajevo. Numerous of Serb officers, soldiers and other participants were indicted or convicted of rape as the war crime by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. [Guardian: Mass rape ruled a war crime - Hague tribunal finds Serbs guilty of systematic enslavement and torture of Bosnian Muslim women - [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/feb/23/warcrimes] ] [Serbs convicted of mass rape - [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3693/is_200103/ai_n8945781 ] ] The events inspired the Golden Bear winner at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival in 2006, called "Grbavica".

Rwanda genocide

During the Rwanda genocide, from April until June 1994, hundreds of thousands of women and girls were rape and/or became the victim of other forms of sexual violence. Although no explicit written orders to rape and sexual violence have been found, evidence suggests that military leaders encouraged or ordered their men to rape Tutsi as well as condoned the acts taking place, without making efforts to stop them.cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=13 ] Compared to other conflicts the sexual violence in Rwanda stands out in terms of the organised nature of the propaganda that contributed significantly to fuelling sexual violence against Tutsi women, the very public nature of the rapes and the level of brutality towards the women. Anne-Marie de Brouwer concludes that considering the massive scale and public nature of war rape during the Rwanda genocide, "it is difficult to imagine anybody in Rwanda who was not aware of the sexual violence taking place." cite book |last= de Brouwer |first=Anne-Marie |title= Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence |origyear=2005 |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JhY8ROsA39kC&dq=war+rape+in+ancient+times&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |publisher=Intersentia |isbn=9050955339 |pages=14 ] In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda made the landmark decisions that the war rape during the Rwanda genocide was an element of the crime of genocide. The Trial Chamber held that "sexual assault formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide."

In his 1996 report the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rwanda, Rene Degni-Segui stated that "rape was the rule and its absence the exception." The report also stated that “rape was systematic and was used as a "weapon" by the perpetrators of the massacres. This can be estimated from the number and nature of the civtims as well as from the forms of rape.” A 2000 report prepared by the Organisation of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that “we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it”.

The Special Rapporteur on Rwanda estimated in his 1996 report that between 2,000 and 5,000 pregnancies resulted from war rape, and that between 250,000 and 500,000 Rwandese women and girls had been raped. Rwanda is a patriarchal society and children therefore take the ethnicity of the father, underlining that war rape occurred in the context of genocide.

Within the context of the Rwanda genocide victims of sexual violence were predominantly attacked on the basis of their gender and ethnicity. The victims were mostly Tutsi women and girls, of all ages, while men were only seldomly the victims of war rape. Women were part of the anti-Tutsi propaganda prior the 1994 genocide. The December 1990 issue of the newspaper “Kangura” published the “Ten Commandments”, four of which portrayed Tutsi women as tools of the Tutsi community, as sexual weapons that would be used by the Tutsi to weaken and ultimately destroy the Hutu men. Gender based propaganda also include cartoons printed in newspapers that portrayed showed Tutsi women as sex objects. Examples of gender based hate propaganda used to incite war rape include statements by perpetrators such as “You Tutsi women think that you are too good for us” and “Let us see what a Tutsi women tastes like “.Victims of war rape during the Rwanda genocide also included Hutu women considered moderates, such as Hutu women married to Tutsi men and Hutu women politically affiliated with the Tutsi. War rape also occure regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation, with young or beautiful women being targeted based on their gender only. Sexual violence against men occurred significantly less frequently, but frequently included mutilation of the genitals, which were often displayed in public. The perpetrators of war rape during the Rwanda genocide were mainly members of the Hutu militia, the “Interahamwe”. Rapes were also committed by military soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forced (FAR), including the Presidential Guard, and civilians.

Sexual violence against women and girls during the Rwanda genocide included: rape, gang rape, sexual slavery (either collectively or individually through "forced marriages"), rape with objects such as sticks and weapons often leading to the victim’s death, sexual mutilation of, in particular, breasts, vaginas or buttocks, often during or following the rapes. Pregnant women were not spared from sexual violence and on many occasion victims were killed following the rapes. Many women were raped by men who knew they were HIV positive and it has been suggested that there were deliberate attempts to transmit the virus to Tutsi women and their families. War rape occurred all over the country and was frequently perpetrated in plain view of others, at sites such as schools, churches, roadblocks, government buildings or in the bush. Some women were kept as personal slaves for years after the genocide, forced to move to neighbouring countries after the genocide along with their captors.

The long-term effects of war rape in Rwanda for the victims include social isolation (social stigma attached to rape meant some husbands left their wives that had become victim of war rape, or that the victim became unmarriageable), unwanted pregnancies and babies (some women resorted to self-induced abortions), sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV/Aids (access to anti-retroviral drugs remains limited).

Recent occurrences

According to Amnesty International recent documented cases of war rape include ongoing conflicts in Colombia, Iraq, Sudan, Chechnya, Nepal, and Afghanistan.


Commenting on the rape of women and children in recent African conflict zones, UNICEF said in 2008 that rape was no longer just perpetrated by combatants but also by civilians. According to UNICEF rape is common in countries affected by wars and natural disasters, drawing a link between the occurrence of sexual violence and significant uprooting of a society and the crumbling of social norms. UNICEF states that in Kenya reported cases of sexual violence doubled within days of recent post-election conflict erupting. According to UNICEF rape was prevalent in conflict zones in Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. [cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7242421.stm| title = Africa war zones’ ‘rape epidemic’| publisher =BBC News |date=February 2008]

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since fighting broke out in 1998 tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/africa_tales_of_rape_in_dr_congo/html/1.stm BBC NEWS | Photo journal | Tales of rape in DR Congo ] ] It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today. [ [http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,2279021,00.html Kira Cochrane talks to filmmaker Lisa F Jackson on her documentary about rape in the Congo] ] [ [http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/lumo/special_ensler.html A Conversation with Eve Ensler: Femicide in the Congo] ] War rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo has frequently been described as a "weapon of war" by commentators. Louise Nzigire, a local social worker, states that “this violence was designed to exterminate the population.” Nzigire observes that rape has been a "cheap, simple weapon for all parties in the war, more easily obtainable than bullets or bombs."

Despite the peace process launched in 2003, sexual assault by soldiers from armed groups and the national army continues in the eastern provinces of the country. Evidence of war rape emerged when United Nations troops move into areas previously ravaged by war after the peace process started. Gang rape and rape with objects has been reported. The victims of war rape may suffer from incontinence and vaginal fistula as a result of particularly violent rape. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3426273.stm "Congo rape victims seek solace"] . By Jackie Martens. January 24, 2004. BBC News.]

Kahindo Ndasimwa, dressed in little more than rags, told of how militia attacked her village one night two years ago, forcing her to flee into the bush. The 40-year-old was then repeatedly raped by four men - their legacy a continual stream of urine down her legs. (BBC, 2004)

Witness accounts include an instance of a woman who had the barrel of a gun inserted into her vagina, after which the soldier opened fire. Incontinence and vaginal fistula leads to the isolation of war rape victims from her community and access to reconstructive surgery is limited in the Congo.

An October 2007 "New York Times" article [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War."] By Jeffrey Gettleman. October 7, 2007. "New York Times."] reported on the large numbers of rapes occurring in the Eastern Congo near Rwanda. It reported (emphasis added):

"Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country."

The article also reported on the conclusions of Wilhelmine Ntakebuka, who coordinates a sexual violence program in Bukavu in South Kivu Province:

"Instead, she said, the epidemic of rapes seems to have started in the mid-1990s. That coincides with the waves of Hutu militiamen who escaped into Congo’s forests after exterminating 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s genocide 13 years ago. Mr. Holmes said that while government troops might have raped thousands of women, the most vicious attacks had been carried out by Hutu militias."

Darfur region in Sudan

An October 19, 2004 "UN News Centre" article [ [http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=12280&Cr=darfur&Cr1= "UNICEF adviser says rape in Darfur, Sudan continues with impunity"] . October 19, 2004. "UN News Centre."] titled "UNICEF adviser says rape in Darfur, Sudan continues with impunity" reported:

"Armed militias in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region are continuing to rape women and girls with impunity, an expert from the United Nations children’s agency said today on her return from a mission to the region. Pamela Shifman, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) adviser on violence and sexual exploitation, said she heard dozens of harrowing accounts of sexual assaults – including numerous reports of gang-rapes – when she visited internally displaced persons (IDPs) at one camp and another settlement in North Darfur last week. “Rape is used as a weapon to terrorize individual women and girls, and also to terrorize their families and to terrorize entire communities,” she said in an interview with the UN News Service. “No woman or girl is safe.”"

In the same article Pamela Shifman was reported to have said that:

"every woman or girl she spoke to had either endured sexual assault herself, or knew of someone who had been attacked, particularly when they left the relative safety of their IDP camp or settlement to find firewood."

Abu Ghraib, Iraq

Early 2004 graphic photos showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US Abu Ghraib prison became public. The photographs documented a sexual violence against the male detainees, showing of naked, trussed-up captives, and men being forced to simulate sex with each other. The prison guards were all male, including one woman. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070402/ai_n18782444] The Taguba Report contains a rape with object claim: "Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick". [http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/iraq/tagubarpt.html#ThR1.9 Taguba Report: "Iraq Prisoner Abuse Investigation of the U.S. 800th Military Police Brigade"] . By Major General Antonio M. Taguba. May 2, 2004. "Findlaw.com." Section called "Regarding part one of the investigation, I make the following specific findings of fact."]

Further reading

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7464462.stm UN classifies rape a 'war tactic'] . 20 June 2008. BBC News.
* [http://www.counterpunch.org/rosen04042008.html "Rape as an Instrument of Total War"] . By David Rosen. April 4, 2008. "CounterPunch."

See also

* Allied war crimes during World War II
* Comfort women
* Genocide
* International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
* Joy Division (World War II)
* Navanethem Pillay
* Sociobiological theories of rape
* Total war
* War crime
* Women's rights


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  • Rape (disambiguation) — Rape derives from the Latin rapio , to seize . Rape may refer to:*Rape, forced sexual intercourse. **In some jurisdictions rape refers to other forms of sexual assault *Rape crisis centers, organisations that help victims of rape, sexual abuse,… …   Wikipedia

  • Rape culture — is a widely used term within women s studies and feminism describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized… …   Wikipedia

  • Rape — This article is about a form of sexual assault. For other uses, see Rape (disambiguation). Sexual assault Classification and external resources …   Wikipedia

  • Rape in the Bosnian War — During the Bosnian War many women from all Bosnian ethnic groups were raped. Estimates of the numbers raped range from 20,000 to 50,000.[1][2] This has been referred to as mass rape ,[3][4][5] …   Wikipedia

  • Rape during the occupation of Germany — Territorial changes and occupational zones of Nazi Germany after its defeat. Includes the front line along the Elbe from which U.S. troops withdrew in July 1945 As Allied troops entered and occupied German territory during the later stages of… …   Wikipedia

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  • Rape-aXe — ist eine Variante des Femidomkonzeptes, die im Jahr 2005 erstmals von der Südafrikanerin Sonette Ehlers vorgestellt wurde und der Verhütung von Vergewaltigungen dienen soll. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Anwendung 2 Hintergrund 3 Markteinführung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • war crime — war criminal. Usually, war crimes. crimes committed against an enemy, prisoners of war, or subjects in wartime that violate international agreements or, as in the case of genocide, are offenses against humanity. [1940 45] * * * Any violation of… …   Universalium

  • War crimes of the Wehrmacht — are those carried out by traditional German armed forces during World War II. While the principal perpetrators of the Holocaust amongst German armed forces were the Nazi German political armies (the SS Totenkopfverbände and particularly the… …   Wikipedia

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