Sexual violence is not a new phenomenon in armed conflict. Judith Gardam (1997) has argued that Sexual violence, which is universal in all types of warfare, is seen as the most obvious distinctive experiences; women, children and men go through and it brings massive suffering and trauma .
Current conflicts in sub-Saharan African region has added more embarrassment to humanity with uncountable rape and sexual atrocity cases. These atrocities have neither left women nor men, neither children nor elder. Children from 3 years to elder women of 70 years are victim of this brutal, merciless atrocity which has no boundary of age and gender. (Taylor 2008).
This essay is fundamentally about arguing that the international community should be more serious than ever, to decrease the suffering of victims of rape and jointly work together to eradicate it.
This essay will argue on Rape that is used as a weapon of war to destroy the women, the glue to the society and to humiliate and degrade men, the protector of her (Bleasdale 2011).
The beginning segment will explain some historical background of rape in warfare. It has been existed throughout the history of the conflict (UN Women 1998, 1). It had been used as a tool of ethnic cleansing by Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, means of genocide by Hutus in Rwanda and is inevitable in the ongoing conflict. It has been used by the militia as well as government troops to show their frustration and masculinity.
The change in the nature of war has added risk to the civilian population residing in and around the area of conflict. This has brought a tsunami of violence to the civil population in which half of them are women who suffer violence in various forms. The second segment will examine the rape cases of eastern DRC, to explain how people are suffering from this inhuman atrocity.
Major General Patrik Cammaert, former commander of UN Peace Keeping in eastern Congo mentioned that ‘it has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict’. The essay would examine the fact that is it bullet that is threatening their life and making it more dangerous or something else? Having read the conflict and its impact to the civil population, one doubt has been clear that, it is not only men who are perpetrators of rape. Even men have been the victims of rape but due to attached social stigma have not been able to come forward. It will examine that along with women, children and men are also victims of this horrific atrocity. In this paper, I will focus more on women. The essay will also scrutinize about effects on victims and societal consequences of rape as a weapon of war. I will hit upon why rape is such a useful weapon and why this is used as a most violent and humiliating offense imposed on the enemy.
International community after the year 2000 have been more concerned about sexual violence in conflict zone and passed few UN Security Council resolutions for the protection of women and children from sexual violence. United Nations enforcement of ‘zero tolerance’ policy against sexual abuse may have been able to minimize the sexual violence within the UN structure but has not been able to minimize in conflicting zone. So essay will examine the effort carried out by the international community to save mankind from this scourge and examine the means through which this graph of brutality may decline.
Sexual violence witnessed in World War II, has given the testimony of its existence in conflict. Rapes committed by the German and Russian army, the mass rape during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the use of ‘comfort women’ during World War II, violence against Muslim Bengali women during Bangladesh independence movement, and many others have given the evidence of sexual atrocities committed. It is Estimated 10 million Soviet women was raped by the German military during world war II, whereas up to two million German women were raped during the last six months of World War Two (Remme 2011). The destruction, torture, rape, mutilation, and murder committed during the Second World War was seen as the result of alcohol consumption, but it is seen that commander of both sides in eastern front took it as a means of terror to dominate and terrorize unarmed civilian women and girls.
During the Nanking massacre of the second Sino-Japan war, estimated 20,000 women were raped by Japanese troops (www.History.com, n.d) whereas estimated 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial Army (Brooks 1999, 87).
During Bangladesh’s independence movement, approximately 400,000 women were raped and made sex slaves by Pakistani Army (Miller 1975).
The sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992’95), Rwanda (1994), East Timor (1975’2002) and Kosovo (1998’99) gave the evidence of its existence in any form of conflict. Conflict mentioned later were not interstate conflict, but this intrastate conflict also used rape as a weapon of war to wipe out other ethnic group. Even though the international community is working together to stamp out sexual violence against women, children and men during armed conflict or post conflict period, the use of rape has been frequently used by conflicting groups. Either with the aim of bringing fear and terror among the civilian population or with the purpose of ethnic cleansing, revenge and humiliation, armed groups in different conflicting zone use sexual violence (Chang & Skjelsb??k 2010)