UN recognises rape as weapon of war

The UN has finally acknowledged that rape is used as a weapon of war by voting unanimously in favour of a resolution to classify it as such. Rape has long been used as a means of terrorising and humiliating one’s enemies. It affects not just the people who are raped (most often women and girls), but also the communities to which they belong. Hurting someone is always a means of hurting their family and the wider community of which they are a member. But rape is particularly effective due at least partly to the way in which women and their sexuality are viewed. The norms governing women’s sexual behaviour are typically more stringent or more strictly enforced than those governing the sexual behaviour of heterosexual men. More significantly, deviance from these norms is often held to bring dishonour upon the entire community of which the woman is a part. This Amnesty article has more information about the use of rape as a war tactic. Here also is an article analysing the Rape of Berlin in 1945 and its connection with constructed gender identities. And here is the BBC news report on the UN resolution.

It’s also worth remembering that women in war zones are not just at risk of rape from the warring factions, but also the peacekeepers sent to protect them. Here is an old Guardian report on the issue.

4 thoughts on “UN recognises rape as weapon of war

  1. And, amazingly, being raped is considered to be a matter of “women’s sexual behaviour”. Anyway, this is progress.

  2. I just wish the UN, and the US, and the international “community” would put some money into preventing rape during times of war, prosecuting those who commit war crimes and caring for women and girls who suffer psychological harm and often, physical mutilation as a result of horrific sexual war crimes. The UN Population Fund which, for some reason, is given the task of dealing with rape as a tactic of war, is chronically underfunded. The US has cut funding to it every year, including this year. There have been other UN resolutions in this regard, as well as the 1995 Rome Statute, under which Serbian war criminals were prosecuted for rape. And still, hundreds of thousands of rapes go unprosecuted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Myanmar and so on and so on, apparently forever. And there is little money for assisting women survivors. The US recommends abstinence!

    In fact, the UN really pisses me off – I just don’t think anyone is serious about this issue. I’d like to be optimistic – just can’t manage.

  3. The UN have it all written on their declarations against violence, etc….

    “Nothing in the present Declaration shall affect any provision that is more conducive to the elimination of violence against women that may be contained in the legislation of a State or in any international convention, treaty or other instrument in force in a State.”

    The fact is they don’t care and never did. This kind of declarations mean nothing. The UN help fooling the world, by helping in maintaining war. UN soldiers also kill and rape…and these “unspeakable proportions” have been reached long time ago.

    Every soldier is a potential killer and raper, how come they come back (or not) as heroes?

    joão david from

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