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An umbrella term for any harm that is perpetrated against a person’s will; that has a negative impact on the physical or psychological health, development, and identity of the person; and that is the result of gendered power inequities that exploit distinctions between males and females, among males, and among females.
A variation of GBV that periods of armed conflict and consequent social disruption exacerbate.
IDPs and Sexual Violence
Paramilitary groups regulated communities under "sexual violence regimes"
Paramilitaries built specific forms of social relationships and established the idea of "woman" and "man".
Women were confined to private spaces
Homosexuals were punished
Case of "Beauty Pageants" in Libertad organized by "El Oso"
Mandatory participation of underaged girls
Rape of some of the candidates
Reproduction and exacerbation of gender inequality
84% of IDP women do not report what sexual abuses
"The rapes in the Serbian war of aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia are to everyday rape what the Holocaust was to everyday anti-Semitism: both like it and not like it at all, both continuous with it and a whole new departure, a unique atrocity yet also a pinnacle moment in something that goes on all the time."
A rape-free culture?
"Ethnic cleansing" campaign conducted by the Serbian military forces against all non- Serbs (i.e. Muslim and Croatian women) from territory that was called Yugoslavia.
Conscious Policy of War
Forms of Sexual Violence:
Rape of both men and women
Forced sex between men
Filming of actual rapes of Muslim and Croatian women by Serbian soldiers
Arranged to be watched by soldiers
Televised on the evening news in Serbian-occupied cities in western Bosnia-Herzegovina
Women presented as Serbian
Men (rapists) presented as Muslim and Croatian (their faces not shown)
Verbal abuse dubbed
as a tactic of war (and genocide)
Gender discrimination is exacerbated in zones of territorial dispute
Sexual violence is used against men, women, and the LGBT population
FARC, ELN, Paramilitaries, and state actors continue to sexually abuse women.
84% percent of human rights violations against women are committed by paramilitaries, 12% by guerrillas, and 3% by state actors*
Most women are raped before being murdered
Colombia traffics approximately 35,000 women a year to the US, Europe, and Asia.
Sexual Violence and
*U.N. Rapporteur on violence against women
Internal Displacement- territorial control
Destroying bonds within communities and families
Expressing hatred for the enemy
Supplying combatants with sexual services
"Mata, controla, viola" - Kill, control, rape
1960's to present
"The worst thing for me is that you don't have to worry about the enemy, you have to worry about your own soldiers." - Dora Hernandez, former member of the National Guard
The Invisible War (2012)
Available on Netflix
Forms of Sexual Violence
Forced contraception and abortions
Sex slavery/ forced prostitution
The Department of Defense estimates there are about 19,000 sexual assaults in the military per year.
Many of the victims are male
Only 14% of sexual assaults get reported*
A culture where men are entitled to rape female troops
Chain of command and a military justice system that almost never seeks justice for victims
Failure to report because of extreme retaliation measures
Shaming combined with homophobia (in the case of men)
*Those most at risk are women and children
Forms of Sexual Violence:
Intentional HIV transmission
One hundred-day genocide campaign conducted by militia groups working in methodical concert with the ruling Hutu government’s Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR) against 750,000 Rwandan Tutsi and Hutu moderates.
Pre-war denigration and sexualization of Tutsi women to create a climate in which mass sexual violence seemed as an appropriate form of retribution for long standing issues.
Cartoons in Hutu-controlled newspapers showed Tutsi women having sex with Belgian peacekeepers (seen as allies of Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front).
The Northern Triangle is now the corridor to the U.S. for drug trade
Violence has intensified because of the "war on drugs"
Territorial and economic control by means of fear and coercion
Control the bodies and minds of gang members
Gang culture strengthens hyper-masculinity and misogynist behavior
Women also go through the same induction processes (e.g. gang beatings)
Women associated with gang members or rivals also become targets
Rape, torture and mutilation of women are used to intimidate enemies
Sexual violence reflects power relations between the genders more than organized crime.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
Rape-free vs Rape-prone societies*
Anthropologist, Peggy Reeves Sanday, examined the socio-cultural context behind rape in a cross-cultural study
Her findings determined that rape is not an inherent tendency of human nature
Instead, sexual behavior is an expression of cultural forces
Rape is part of the following cultural configuration:
Forms of Sexual Violence:
Forced domestic labor
Forced child marriage
These groups frequently and systematically commited acts of sexual violence:
Combatants of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD)
Armed groups of Rwandan Hutu
Burundian rebels of the Forces for Defense of Democracy (FDD)
Front for National Liberation
Irregular combatants (police and those in positions of authority, common criminals and bandits that took advantage of the climate of impunity and the culture of violence against women and girls)
Respond to gang crimes with a "mano dura"
Policies of zero-tolerance
A legacy of authoritarianism contributing to a climate of fear that undermines peace efforts
Institutions remain fragile and vulnerable to organized crime
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to hear the case of Claudina Velásquez
Complex regional conflict involving seven nations and a multiplicity of actors
*Rapists attacked young girls as a way to try to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. There is also a belief that sex with a young child could eliminate the virus (HRW, 56).
*Graphs produced by ORMUSA (Observatorio de la violencia de género contra las mujeres)
Democratic Republic of
In Darfur, years into the armed conflict, women and girls living in displaced persons camps, towns, and rural areas remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. In fact, sexual violence continues to occur throughout the region, both in the context of continuing attacks on civilians, and during periods of relative calm.
Mutual respect between both genders
Macho/aggressive behavior is not encouraged
Societies structured to favor the vulnerable (women and children
Government-supported fomentation of ethnic hatred between the Rwandan Hutu majority and their minority Tutsi colleagues, neighbors, and relatives.
ICC Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
ICC Tribunal for Rwanda
"The Holocaust [had] revealed the dramatic failures of the sovereign immunity model and led states to construct the human rights regime, with its state accountability model. But while the the state accountability model had some successes, it was often inadequate in dealing with the most repressive states. This was specially heightened by the conflict in the Balkans (Yugoslavia), since the shock of the discovery of concentration camps and genocide in the heart of Europe fifty years after WWII suggested that the existing accountability model had failed. This provoked a move toward an individual criminal accuntability model at the international level, when the UN Security Council set up the ICTY and the ICTR."
Kathryn Sikkink, 2011, 254
First courts of this kind to bring explicit charges of wartime sexual violence and to define gender crimes such as rape and sexual enslavement under customary law. They handed down sentences that characterize sexual violence committed against women during conflict as a crime of genocide (1998) and a crime against humanity (2000). In 2008 the UN Security Council officially acknowledged that rape had been used as a tool of war.
The trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu established precedent that rape is a crime of genocide. "...the [Trial] Chamber finds that in most cases, the rapes of Tutsi women were accompanied with the intent to kill those women. ... In this respect, it appears clearly to the chamber that the acts of rape and sexual violence, as other acts of serious bodily and mental harm committed against the Tutsi, reflected the determination to make Tutsi women suffer and to mutilate them even before killing them, the intent being to destroy the Tutsi group while inflicting acute suffering on its members in the process" (The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu (Trial Judgement), ICTR-96-4-T).
Almost half of those convicted by the ICTY have been found guilty of elements of crimes involving sexual violence
Sentences handed down in 2001 to three Serbs were the first ever based solely on crimes of sexual violence against women
The first international criminal tribunal to enter convictions for rape as a form of torture and for GBV as a crime against humanity
Outcomes of Sexual Violence:
Survivors are exposed to short- and long-term social, physical, emotional and economic consequences:
Rejection by husbands and families and ostracized by the wider community (shame, rejection, humiliation, stigmatization)
Because they were raped
Because they are thought to be infected with HIV/AIDS
Survival sex/ prostitution
Need to create a new for themselves, sometimes by relocating to communities far from their former homes (IDPs)
Exposure to very dangerous child birth or abortions
Abortions conducted by unqualified personnel
Costly medical consequences
Sexual violence by armies and rebel groups leads to sexual violence by civilians
Women and children, who were ongoing targets of the militias’ civilian rampage continue in peacetime to be at risk
The government of Sudan and the janjaweed (pro-government militias) were responsible for conducting widespread and systematic rape and other forms of sexual violence. The majority of victims of sexual violence are women and girls who live in camps for internally displaced people.
On July 14th 2008 the chief prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, alleged that President Omar al-Bashir bore individual criminal responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Ocampo charged that rape in Darfur has been committed systematically and continuously.
An arrest warrant for Bashir was issued on March 4th 2009 indicting him on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (pillaging and intentionally directing attacks against civilians). The court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide.