Rape as a Weapon or Tactic of Armed Conflict

Cape Town, South Africa, 27 and 28 August 2012

Resolution

Rape is being used as a major and effective weapon or tactic to accomplish military objectives in armed conflicts worldwide. Sexual violence against women and girls is used to destroy communities, ethnic populations, and sometimes to accomplish genocide.

While it is difficult to know the extent of rape in conflict; what is known is shocking. Statistics, show that between 250 000 and 500 000 women were raped during the genocide in Rwanda in the course of 100 days and between 5 000 and 20 000 children were born as a result of rape. Local health centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo estimated that about 40 women are raped in the South Kivu region every day. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that for every rape reported, there are 30 that are not reported.

Further, these statistics are only of survivors of rape, and does not include the numerous women and who die from rape during conflict. One reason that the numbers of women injured and killed by rape are so scarce is that rape is not treated as the unlawful weapon of war that it is by states and major global weapons monitors such as the ICRC. Consequently, injuries and deaths to women and girls from rape in armed conflict are not tracked like other injuries to civilians from other weapons.

In UN Security Council resolution (SCR) 1325 in 2000 the Security Council (SC) addressed sexual violence in armed conflict as a threat to global peace and security, and mandated that all states take specific actions to address this problem. First and foremost, the SC required that all states ensure the equal treatment of women and that guarantees under international humanitarian law and human rights law are complied with and enforced for women, including the Geneva Conventions and CEDAW. Accordingly, this includes the obligations of all states under international humanitarian law to end impunity for war crimes, and prevent and stop conflict. Furthermore, this resolution commits the UN system and UN member countries to ensure that countries in conflict comply with the laws of war, act to end the use of sexual violence, prosecute all violations of the laws of war, and not grant amnesty to perpetrators.

SCR 1325 is intended to ensure women have more, not less rights, that the laws of war are equally enforced for them, and that measures are taken to ensure that women are part of peace processes, transitional justice mechanisms and post-conflict governments. SCR 1325 has been followed by several resolutions which reinforce and strengthen the rights of women during armed conflict, including against sexual violence in conflict; SCRs 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960.

Socialist International Women believes that social democratic countries should take on a leadership role in ensuring that the SCR 1325 and other related resolutions and the laws of war that they are based on are actually utilized and are enforced.

To strengthen women’s opportunities for health care and freedom from sexual abuse, it is important that we examine how women are not receiving the medical care they are entitled to and seek to join with other countries in remedying this any deficiencies.

The health sector has an important role to play in terms of preventive measures, treatment and rehabilitation. Women who are victims of sexual violence or rape require urgent medical treatment and follow-up. Socialist International Women believes that access to safe abortion must be a part of the treatment provided to these victims. According to the Global Justice Center, the practice of some humanitarian aid organizations prevents the provision of safe abortion service to rape victims in conflict, which contravenes the rights of these women under international humanitarian law and specific EU regulations which provide that safe abortion should be a part of the treatment accorded to these victims.

However, the United States government, including through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), places strict restrictions on how U.S. humanitarian aid is used and distributed. One of these restrictions is that U.S. funded health centers cannot provide abortions for women, including to women raped in conflict. For Socialist International Women, it is important that aid money will provide comprehensive medical care for women during conflict, and that the option of abortion should be offered to those victims of sexual violence who want one. Socialist International Women requires that all countries recognize that girls and women raped in armed conflict have the right to the option of abortion.

Furthermore, Socialist International Women believes that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war, and is not merely a side product of war violence, but rather, that it is used deliberately and strategically to destabilize communities and achieve military objectives.

Socialist International Women requires that:

- The use of sexual violence used as an illegal tactic and weapon of war is put on the international agenda;

- International aid organizations that provide health care for women in conflict-affected areas, to provide abortions for women who have been raped, as they are entitled to under the Geneva Conventions;

- Rape is included on the list of unlawful weapons of war under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

- Prohibitions on the use of sexual violence as an illegal tactic and weapon of war are enforced so as to hold states civilly accountable, and high officials criminally responsible for its use.

 

 

News

A Good Education is the Best Guarantee for a Good Life

Article by Tuula Peltonen, published in the Brussels Morning Online Newspaper on 09 September 2021

In Finland, schools are just beginning their autumn term. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, schools will reopen as normal and thousands of teachers will return to teaching...

Situation of Women and Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

26 August 2021

Following the fall of Afghanistan into the control of Taliban forces, the Socialist International Women stands in firm solidarity with the international community both in condemnation of all forms of violence and oppression in Afghanistan and in firm support of innocent civilians caught up in this distressing situation...

Role of Women in Sustainable Peace for Inclusive Development and Economic Security

Article by Shazia Marri, published in the Brussels Morning Online Newspaper on 30 July 2021

Throughout history, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the future. Whether it is the freedom struggles in Asia and Africa or the economic uplift of Europe after the Second World War, women have proved — time and again — their resilience in the face of danger and difficulty alike...

Debt Cancellation: A burden lifted from women

Article by Chantal Kambiwa, published in Brussels Morning Online Newspaper on 17 June 2021

Over the years, acknowledgement of the rights of women and girls has become increasingly central to development strategies across the world and in Africa more particularly. Does this represent a recognition of the value of women and girls and a desire to see them flourish?...

We must defend progress in gender equality after the COVID-19 pandemic

Article by Ouafa Hajji, published in Brussels Morning Online Newspaper on 24 May 2021

Women and girls paid a disproportionate price of the economic shutdown during the pandemic, particularly in developing economies — our policies need to prevent this becoming the new norm, argues Ouafa Haji...

Our Support to Sandra Torres

30 April 2021

Socialist International Women, SIW, would like to show its support to Sandra Torres, leader of the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE) of Guatemala and one of the SI Vice-Presidents...

SIW Council Meeting

30 April 2021

How to reinvent our future after Covid-19

Women are each other’s homeland

Article by Hilal Dokuzcan, published in Brussels Morning Online Newspaper on 30 March 2021

As Turkey withdraws from the Istanbul convention – to which an AKP government acceded in 2011 – a Turkish politician reflects on the prosecution of women, everywhere. There is no homeland for women, she notes, other than other women...

Statement on Turkey's Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention

22 March 2021

The Socialist International Women are very sorry to receive the news of Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention determined by the President's decree on March 20, 2021...

Effective Participation and Decision-Making in Public Life - Key to Achieving Gender Equality

16 March 2021

65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), United Nations, New York, from 15 to 26 March 2021

Virtual Parallel Event hosted by the Socialist International Women (SIW)

International Women's Day Declaration

08 March 2021

Socialist International Women (SIW) warmly applauds this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”...

Season's Greeting!

December 2020

Wishing peace and equality for 2021

SIW Executive Meeting

18 December 2020

COVID-19 and the Impact this is Having on Women and Gender Equality in the Different Regions

Declaration on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November 2020

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a powerful call to stand in solidarity with all women and girls worldwide...

Message of Support for Turkey and Greece Following 30th October Earthquake

October 2020

The Socialist International Women offers its sincere condolences to Turkey and Greece following the devastating earthquake under the Aegean Sea on 30th October 2020...

Message of Solidarity with all Women and Girls Worldwide during the COVID-19 Pandemic

October 2020

The Socialist International Women stands in firm solidarity with all women and girls worldwide during this deeply painful, devastating period of the COVID-19 pandemic...

Publications

The First Hundred Years

A Short History of Socialist International Women

By Irmtraut Karlsson

This book tells the history of the first one hundred years of the Socialist International Women

END