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Ms. Should-Reads: Rape as a Weapon of Conflict


Feminists have lengthy been sounding the alarm on using rape as a weapon of conflict, and the battle to safe justice for the victims of rape by conflict crimes prosecutions continues to at the present time. Under, we’ve curated some Ms. reporting from the final decade, to assist readers higher perceive the feminist combat to designate rape as a conflict crime and a criminal offense towards humanity.

Notice: This content material accommodates graphic descriptions of sexual violence which may be disturbing for some readers.


World Information Brief Takes: Israel

Ms. Winter 2024 problem, by Camille Hahn.

Family and friends members attend the funeral of Shiraz Tamam on Oct. 17, 2023 in Holon, Israel. (Leon Neal / Getty Pictures)

When a whole bunch of Hamas terrorists tore by Israeli communities and navy bases on Saturday, Oct. 7, they murdered roughly 1,200 folks, no less than 846 of them civilians, and took about 240 folks hostage, together with youngsters. The our bodies of some girls and women who have been murdered bore proof of brutal remedy—rape and gang-rape, torture and mutilation. Images shared on-line present girls hostages being paraded by Gaza’s streets, “blood gushing from between their legs,” in keeping with the net journal Pill. And The New York Occasions reported, in video footage taken from physique cameras worn by the attackers and compiled by the Israeli navy “victims are seen gagged and with their palms certain behind their backs. Faces are frozen in shock and agony. Girls’s bones are damaged, their legs twisted in unimaginable angles.”

The New York Occasions shared harrowing firsthand accounts of Israelis who witnessed the horrors. An unidentified survivor of the Oct. 7 music pageant remembered:

All the pieces was an apocalypse of corpses. Women with none garments on. With out tops. With out underwear. Folks reduce in half. Butchered. Some have been beheaded. There have been women with a damaged pelvis resulting from repetitive rapes. Their legs have been unfold broad aside, in a break up.

Shari Mendes of the Israel Protection Forces stated:

It appears as if the mutilation of those girls’s faces was an goal of their murders. 

Simcha Greinman, an emergency medical employee, recalled:

I used to be known as right into a home, instructed there have been a number of our bodies there, and I walked into the home. I noticed in entrance of my eyes a girl; she was bare. She had nails and totally different objects in her feminine organs. Her physique was brutalized in a manner that we can not determine her, from her head to her toes.


‘Girls, Conflict and Peace’: Rape as a Weapon of Conflict

October 2011, by Natalie Wilson.

There are individuals who assume that crimes towards girls are much less vital.

Peggy Kuo

The five-part collection Girls, Conflict and Peace, was executive-produced by Abigail Disney, Gini Reticker and Pamela Hogan. Wilson interviewed Peggy Kuo, a war-crimes prosecutor featured in “I Got here To Testify,” the primary phase to air, which focuses on the first-ever worldwide felony tribunal that addressed rape as a weapon of conflict.

Addressing the case of Muslim girls and women enslaved and raped repeatedly by Serb forces within the metropolis of Foca, Bosnia, in 1992, the landmark tribunal led to worldwide legal guidelines defining rape as a criminal offense towards humanity

Ms.: How did you become involved within the Foca rape case?

Peggy Kuo: I used to be working as a prosecutor on the Justice Division within the civil rights division. I had at all times been focused on worldwide legislation, however the alternative had by no means offered itself to become involved. After the conflict crimes trials in Nuremburg and Tokyo, there was by no means one other worldwide felony tribunal. After I heard the Yugoslavia Tribunal was being arrange, I knew I needed to go. The Foca case occurred to be gearing up after I received there, and that’s the case I used to be assigned to.

Why do you assume it took so a few years for such a tribunal to return about?

Kuo: A whole lot of organizations had been engaged on the thought of getting worldwide justice for a very long time. The Yugoslavia battle within the early ’90s grew to become a flashpoint. A whole lot of issues got here collectively, together with the ladies’s motion and the media. The reviews of atrocities resonated with lots of people, particularly as a result of most of the pictures that got here out harkened again to the Nazi focus camps. That galvanized individuals who have been already engaged on this. ….

How is sexism contributing to our incapability to cease rape as a weapon of conflict?

Kuo: Not everybody on this planet believes that rape is severe. And I additionally assume that there are individuals who assume that crimes towards girls are much less vital. That layer makes it tougher to handle the issue.

Kuo closed with an vital reminder concerning the significance of girls’s involvement within the wider conversations about conflict and peace-building:

“When girls go away the desk, the problems don’t at all times stay there. Typically the problems sink to the underside if nobody is conserving them afloat. You might really feel such as you’re being a ache within the neck, however you simply should preserve at it.”

Learn the complete piece right here.


Violence Is Not Inevitable: How U.N. Sanctions Can Stop Rape and Sexual Assault in Armed Battle

April 2018 by Georgetown Institute for Girls, Peace and Safety.

Widespread and horrific sexual violence just isn’t an inevitable a part of battle.

Experiences from Syria, Libya and Myanmar have documented the continuing use of sexual violence as a weapon of conflict. They reveal the identical patterns: widespread sexual violence and rape used as a instrument for genocide and ethnic cleaning—aimed to humiliate, dominate and instill worry in communities and perpetrated to forcibly displace civilians with the intention to redraw ethnic boundaries or management areas wealthy in pure assets.

This isn’t new. We noticed comparable patterns of sexual violence used as a tactic of conflict throughout conflicts in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. And though for a few years, sexual violence in conflicts went unnoticed, unmentioned and unpunished, the United Nations acknowledged in 2008 that sexual violence used as a tactic of conflict towards civilian populations can considerably worsen hostilities and impede peace. That recognition led the United Nations Safety Council to supply for using focused sanctions, one of many Chapter VII coercive measures, towards those that have interaction in such violence—a groundbreaking shift within the remedy of conflict-related sexual violence by the worldwide neighborhood. ….

Sadly, there may be nonetheless a protracted approach to go. Political issues throughout the Safety Council typically spoil or paralyze the design and use of focused sanctions. Member states have differing opinions on whether or not sexual violence is a precedence in coping with conflicts or not; Russia, China and varied different elected members corresponding to India and Pakistan are additionally typically reluctant to make use of coercive measures towards governments, particularly after they contemplate these governments professional of their fights towards armed teams and insurgent actions. The Safety Council additionally faces competing goals, a few of which obtain precedence over sexual violence—for instance, assist of mediation efforts. …

Widespread and horrific sexual violence just isn’t an inevitable a part of battle. If the Safety Council begins to make use of sanctions constantly and systematically targets key perpetrators, they’ll stop, curb or finish sexual violence in conflicts world wide—and combat the impunity of these tolerating or ordering it.

Learn the complete piece right here.


Each mom, Jewish and Arab, offers delivery to her youngsters to see them develop and flourish and to not bury them.

Girls Wage Peace

In Ms. Winter problem, Hahn continues:

Within the ensuing conflict in Gaza, girls and youngsters account for 67 % of those that have died, U.N. businesses reported in early November. Some 180 girls give delivery in Gaza day-after-day, however when delivery problems happen, they’re unable to entry emergency care. “Some girls are having to provide delivery in shelters, of their houses, within the streets amid rubble, or in overwhelmed healthcare amenities, the place sanitation is worsening, and the danger of an infection and medical problems is on the rise,” the World Well being Group reviews.

“The overwhelming majority of people who find themselves affected by this conflict are girls and their youngsters,” feminist creator Jill Filipovic wrote. “The overwhelming majority of decision-makers and violence-purveyors on either side of this present conflict are males who’ve lengthy made clear they’ve little curiosity in girls’s rights, freedoms and even primary security.”

Practically 35 years in the past, Israeli and Palestinian girls gathered in Brussels for the primary Girls’s Peace Convention. Based on journalist and media govt Pat Mitchell, who was a witness to the gathering, “These girls put apart their variations to draft a seven-point settlement that might have offered a plan for a peaceable, safe future for Israel and the Palestinians. However regrettably, with out sufficient girls in both the Knesset or within the Palestinian Authority management on the time, the settlement was by no means given severe consideration.”

Screengrabs from Girls In Conflict: Voices from the Frontlines, produced by Diana Meehan, Pat Mitchell and Mary Muldoon (Filmakers Library, 1991) Clockwise: “Give Peace a Probability: Girls Converse Out” banner, Rep. Bella Abzug in attendance, and a view of the delegates from Israel, Gaza, the West Financial institution, Europe and America.

Based in 2014, the Jewish and Arab Israeli coalition, Girls Wage Peace continues the decision for a peaceable decision to the battle and for ladies to be included in negotiations and decision-making. “Each mom, Jewish and Arab, offers delivery to her youngsters to see them develop and flourish and to not bury them,” the coalition wrote on Oct. 15. “That’s why, even at present, amidst the ache and the sensation that the assumption in peace has collapsed, we lengthen a hand in peace to the moms of Gaza and the West Financial institution. We moms, along with girls from all around the world, should unite to cease this insanity.”

In November one of many co-founders of Girls Wage Peace, Canadian Israeli activist Vivian Silver, was confirmed useless by Israeli authorities. She was killed in Hamas’ preliminary assault, however her physique was not found in early searches of the burned ruins of her dwelling. For a month, family and friends believed she is likely to be amongst these held hostage in Gaza.

“Vivian is sitting on my shoulder any more,” Yael Braudo-Bahat, a co-director of Girls Wage Peace, instructed The New York Occasions after studying of Silver’s demise. “I’m going to use the entire issues I discovered from her in order that there shall be peace right here.”

(Be a part of the Ms. neighborhood at present and also you’ll get the Winter problem delivered straight to your mailbox.)


Combating Terrorism and Misogyny Collectively

November 2023, by Annie Pforzheimer and Shabnam Nasimi:

Within the grim panorama of world battle, one factor stands starkly at its core: the systematic oppression and subjugation of girls. ISIS, Hamas and the Lord’s Resistance Military in Uganda use rape as a weapon of conflict. The resurgence of the Taliban demonstrates what an extremist terrorist group will do with a complete nation: create a brutal actuality the place misogyny just isn’t a byproduct however a basic pillar of extremist ideology. Extremists in Europe and america conduct lethal, misogyny-fueled lone wolf assaults

The narrative of worldwide safety and international coverage ignores gender, overlooking the essential function girls play within the cloth of societal stability. Even after 2000, even with the United Nations Safety Council’s Decision 1325 on Girls, Peace and Safety, the world solely fitfully acknowledges gender-based violence in armed battle as a important problem.

Learn the complete piece right here.


What Nadia Murad’s Nobel Peace Prize Means for Conflict-Time Rape Survivors Across the World

October 2018, by Kohinur Khyum Tithila.

Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad. (European Parliament / Artistic Commons)

Girls, specifically, have suffered significantly as they’ve been, and proceed to be the victims of sexual violence.

Nadia Murad

Amal Clooney has remarked that Nadia Murad defied the labels life gave her—orphan, rape sufferer, refugee, slave—and as an alternative created new ones—amongst them survivor, chief, advocate and creator. Now, she has garnered yet another: Nobel Peace Prize Winner. …

When Murad escaped from an ISIS stronghold in Mosul, BBC journalist Nafiseh Kohnavard instructed her they’d movie her anonymously, to guard her id, in order that she may inform her story and shine gentle on the worldwide disaster going through her small village. She refused—as a result of she wished the world to see what occurred to them. She didn’t wish to be lined with disgrace. She refused to let her tales to be echoed throughout the wall of silence.

Murad’s final act of defiance is that she refused to let ISIS silence her indomitable human spirit. She went on to turn into a UN Goodwill Ambassador and testify earlier than the worldwide physique a number of instances concerning the atrocities she confronted. She demanded extra from world leaders who stood idly by as Yazidis suffered at dwelling and overseas, in refugee camps the place they typically felt forgotten.

Even in accepting the Nobel Prize, Murad noticed a instructing second. “I’m grateful for this chance to attract worldwide consideration to the plight of the Yazidi individuals who have suffered unimaginable crimes because the genocide by Daesh [IS], which started in 2014,” she stated in an announcement. “Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and consider relations that have been misplaced, are nonetheless unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 girls and youngsters, which stay in captivity. Like many minority teams, the Yazidis have carried the burden of historic persecution. Girls, specifically, have suffered significantly as they’ve been, and proceed to be the victims of sexual violence.”

Learn the complete piece right here.


Eyes on In all places Else: Sudan, Pakistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Jap Congo

November 2023, by Jill Filipovic.

The brutal conflict in Gaza has understandably captured the world’s consideration, together with mine. However, sadly, human struggling isn’t confined to a slender strip of land on the Mediterranean. …

In jap Congothousands and thousands of individuals have been displaced and tens of hundreds of girls have been raped within the newest convulsions of violence within the area, fueled by the Rwanda-backed M23 militia group. Within the meantime, the U.S. authorities continues to be deporting folks again to Congo, a transfer that many U.S. faith-based teams are asking the Biden administration to halt. …

In Sudan, there’s one other spherical of atrocities occurring in Darfur, the place Arab militias started a well-documented genocide twenty years in the past that left some 300,000 folks useless. …

In PakistanAfghan refugees are being forcibly expelled—despatched again to dwell below the brutalities of the Taliban, who’re little greater than a band of misogynist fundamentalists useless set on making life in Afghanistan as soulless and tough as attainable. …

Within the Nagorno-Karabakh area, a majority-Armenian and long-contested space inside Azerbaijan, an occupation by Azerbaijan pressured some 100,000 folks—80 % of the inhabitants—to flee to Armenia. Armenians are principally Christian, and are an ethnic minority in majority-Muslim Azerbaijan. … Conflict broke out in 2020, and the area has not stabilized since (the Disaster Group has an excellent and way more detailed explainer you must learn). The Armenian authorities is asking the most recent incursion an ethnic cleaning.

Learn the complete piece right here.


Poland’s Close to-Whole Abortion Ban Threatens Ukrainian Refugees

July 2022 by Hannah Phelps.

A professional-abortion protester holds an image of a deceased lady named Agnieszka, throughout a protest in entrance of the Legislation and Justice (PiS) ruling get together workplace towards the abortion ban in Krakow, Poland, on Jan. 26, 2022. Agnieszka, a 37-year-old lady pregnant with twins, died on Jan. 25. After considered one of her fetuses died on Dec. 23, she was made to hold it for over every week whereas medical doctors waited to see what occurred to its still-living twin. (Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto through Getty Pictures)

Refugee girls—together with those that have skilled sexual violence by the hands of Russian troopers—are struggling to entry abortions. …

Based on Poland’s well being ministry, the nation has by no means allowed greater than three abortions per 12 months for pregnancies ensuing from rape. These looking for an abortion have to show they have been raped with a licensed letter from a public prosecutor.

Krystyna Kacpura, president of the Federation for Girls and Household Planning (Federa), a Polish reproductive rights group, stated to obtain the licensed letter from a public prosecutor, particulars such because the time, date and placement are crucial. “For Ukrainian girls who have been raped by Russian troopers, that is unimaginable. And anyway, lots of them are so traumatized that they won’t discuss it in any respect—not even with us.”

Thus, abortion is nearly unimaginable inside Poland. 

In crises such because the Russian invasion of Ukraine, girls disproportionately face sexual and gender-based violence. Though the precise variety of instances involving sexual abuse within the Russian-Ukrainian battle is unknown, Matilda Bogner, a U.N. human rights investigator in Ukraine, stated there are “dozens of allegations,” and plenty of of those reviews occurred in “the areas round Kyiv the place Russian forces have been after which left.” As of early June 2022, U.N. officers acquired greater than 120 reviews of rape, although they imagine the quantity to be a lot larger. 

In response to this humanitarian emergency, United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officers are demanding refugees in Poland have entry to reproductive rights, together with abortion. This echoes the decision made by some Polish politicians earlier this 12 months for the nationwide authorities to assure all refugees the proper to abortion in a public hospital. Whereas the eye of the worldwide neighborhood is on abortion entry in Poland, no change has but been made to ease restrictions for Ukrainian refugees. Because the conflict continues, the necessity for emergency contraception and abortion companies will proceed to develop exponentially. 

Learn the complete piece right here.

Up subsequent:

U.S. democracy is at a harmful inflection level—from the demise of abortion rights, to a scarcity of pay fairness and parental go away, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and assaults on trans well being. Left unchecked, these crises will result in wider gaps in political participation and illustration. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Modification, and centering the tales of these most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we’re redoubling our dedication for the following 50 years. In flip, we’d like your assist, Help Ms. at present with a donation—any quantity that’s significant to you. For as little as $5 every month, you’ll obtain the print journal together with our e-newsletters, motion alerts, and invites to Ms. Studios occasions and podcasts. We’re grateful to your loyalty and ferocity.



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