Sexual violence is an ancient and often unseen war crime. Is it inevitable?
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NPR
Posted: February 12th, 2024
Despite its long history as part of conflicts, sexual violence is often not reported because of the trauma and shame it brings to survivors, their families and their wider communities. There has also been reticence among various authorities to speak out. Only in modern times, in the 1990s when wars broke out in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, did the United Nations begin to recognize sexual violence as ... a category of war crime. The specific term "conflict-related sexual violence," or CRSV, was first introduced in 2000 when the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution that launched the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The U.N. defined the term as "rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys that is directly or indirectly linked to a conflict." [CRSV] is widespread and is used as a tactic of war to assert dominance and power. "It can be just as traumatizing to see your daughter, your sister or your parents being raped in front of you," says [Dr. Ranit] Mishori. "Or you're forced to strip naked in front of soldiers or in the city square. People often carry this trauma without knowing it's an international crime and minimize what happened to them." For conflict resolution and peace building to be successful, survivors need to be included in the process. For some countries this method has already started to work. [In Colombia], they have built women into the peace process. It's not perfect — no peace is perfect — but it is progressive and it is intentional, and that is important. Intentional peace building must be inclusive of survivors of this form of violence.
Note: The public receives censored and sanitized versions of war from the government and the media. Yet in reality, unethical violations of domestic and international human rights law are common and often kept hidden during wartime. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.