UN Chief Hails Recognition of Rape as a Form of Genocide
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week lauded the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for classifying rape as a form of genocide.
In his latest report on the scourge to the UN Security Council, Ban said the tribunal in Rwanda recognised sexual violence was a step in the process of group destruction “of the spirit, of the will to live, and of life itself”.
He warned that sexual violence was being “perpetrated mainly against civilians in direct violation of international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law”.
Systematic sexual violence as a weapon, mainly against women, was rife in armed conflict in Africa, Asia and Europe. He called on countries concerned “to strengthen prevention and protection measures against the crime”.
“In a number of contemporary conflicts, sexual violence has taken on particularly brutal dimensions, sometimes as a means of pursuing military, political, social and economic objectives,” Ban wrote.
While women and girls made up the majority of victims of such violence, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone had heard testimony about male victims.
“In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 200000 cases of sexual violence have been recorded since hostilities began in 1996,” Ban said. That was a conservative estimate with gross underreporting as many victims do not survive their attack.
“In eastern Chad, cases of rape and gang rape committed by officers and soldiers of the Armée Nationale Tchadienne have been documented. In Nepal, in the Tarai region, an estimated 15 to 20 armed groups are reportedly participating in violent activities, including sexual violence against women and girls,” the report said.
Ban expressed concern at the inadequacy of measures to prevent sexual violence and protect civilians, and lack of action on discrimination against women and girls.
He called for the ratification of and implementation of human rights treaties; strengthening of capacity to hold all perpetrators of sexual violence accountable; and exclusion from amnesties and immunities of those who committed or commissioned sexual violence.