Stefan Kirchner1

Introduction: Rape in times of war

Despite decades of emancipation and women’s liberation, women are and will remain vulnerable due to their gender and their status in society.2 Wartime rapes3 are anything but new. Since the earliest days of human warfare, women were often considered to be not more than war booty. So much that Coomaraswamy calls it “an accepted practice of conquering armies”.4 During its war in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, Japan held women from many countries as so called “comfort women”, meaning that they were interned and had to be available for the sexual desires of members of Japan’s armed forces. This sexual slavery resulted in millions of rapes.5 Immediately after the fall of Berlin in 1945, Soviet soldiers were given free reign in the city which was mainly populated by women, children and elderly as the male population had been send off to fight Hitler’s war, again resulting in an uncounted number of rapes.6 Earlier, German forces invading the Soviet Union had committed numerous rapes.7 More recently, rape has been employed not only to terrorize the population but also as weapon of genocide for example in Bosnia,8 Darfur,9 Iraq,10 Rwanda11 and – to this very day – in the Democratic Republic of Congo12:

Systematic Rape in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Often the women are kidnapped while working in the fields13 or on the way to fetch water, food or firewood. Often kidnappings occur during raids of villages by armed attackers, who often come in groups of two to five.14 The victims are taken from the villages into the forest where they are held captive and are gang raped for days or months.15

Children as victims

The gravity of the situation is highlighted by a UN report on the situation of children in Ituri, North- and South-Kivu, dated 28 June 2007: “Despite all of the initiatives undertaken to counter sexual violence and the adoption of two national laws on sexual violence on 20 July 2006, the number of sexual abuses remains extremely high. Sexual violence has occurred virtually unabated, in a climate of impunity and judicial dysfunction. Although the reported rate of sexual violence remains high, such incidents are un-derreported and accurate statistics are difficult to obtain because of a number of factors, including the fear of ostracism and retribution which prevents survivors from coming forward; the prohibitive distance and lack of access to medical care owing to the prevailing security situation in some areas; a lack of faith in the judicial system; and the local tendency of amicable settlement, whereby the perpetrator pays the victim an agreed upon sum or value in kind. [Between June 2006 and May 2007], 12,867 survivors of sexual violence were identified by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) partners in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of those survi-vors, 4,222 were children (3,740 girls and 482 boys). Children represent an alarming 33 per cent of survivors of sexual violence. Of 100 survivors in Ituri, 43 were children (of whom approximately 18 per cent were boys). Of the aforementioned 4,222 children, information on the perpetrators is available in only 690 cases; in 29 cases, the perpetrators were members of [the Armed Forces of the D.R.C.] or [Congolese National Police] (4.2 per cent); in 458 cases, they were from armed groups (66 per cent); and in 203 cases, they were civilians (29 per cent).”16

The stigma of rape

In some villages, two thirds of all women are thought to have been raped17 but until recently remaining silent was all that stood between the women and complete disgrace in the eyes of their families18 and communities.19 Often the problem runs deeper than the wounds which are visible.20 Yet, it has become impossible for the women to remain silent and many finally dare to seek medical help.21 Exact victim numbers, though, are impossible to come by since many women are still prevented from seeking medical help. Often victims will not be able to afford the trip to the nearest hospital or are simply unable to travel due to their health condition. Often traditional taboos force victims to essentially hide in the house. That is, if they are lucky enough to have a family which is decides to allow them to return and which does not force them out of the house. The stigma which is associated with having been raped is particularly strong in the D.R.C.: among the most severely affected victims are the women who become pregnant during the rape because they are burdened with the additional stigma of carrying the enemy’s child, making it more likely that they are being abandoned by their families. Consequently they will often have to raise the child without the family support which is vital in traditional societies such as the rural D.R.C.22 Also many victims will never see a doctor out of shame. Often rape victims will not even be willing to refer to what the crime as rape but as “it” or “what happened” and traditional ideas concerning the status of women in the D.R.C. are a major obstacle to progress.

Involvement of all armed groups in the region

It is not one but many groups in Eastern Congo which commit such crimes. According to Medecins sans frontieres (MSF), “[a]ll armed groups have been involved in the widespread sexual violence. The intent to terrorise, punish, and humiliate communities seen as supportive of the other side made rape a weapon of war. Sexual violence has been so clearly linked to the military strategy of warring parties and has occurred in such a systematic way that it is wrong to think of it as a side effect of war.”23 Different groups have taken to inflict different types of wounds in order to make clear to everyone who was behind the attack: some insert objects, some burn women, some rape 11-14 year old girls, some tie the hands of the victims so tight that they will often have to be amputated, an other group holds the victims in slavery for months and rapes them until they get pregnant for the sole purpose of aborting the child later.24 The age range is equally shocking: in the Eastern Congolese town of Shabunda, MSF reports that the victims included eleven year old girls as well as grandmothers in their seventies25 and at Panzi Hospital, doctors have treated patients with rape-caused fistulae between 12 months and 71 years of age.26

Widespread occurrence of fistulae caused by rape, insertion of objects

Fistulae can have many different causes, ranging from cervical cancer, lymphogranuloma venereum, coital injury to traditional rituals e.g. in different parts of Africa, including “ritual cleansing” of the vagina through a solution containing potash shortly after the woman has given birth, which can lead to the chemical destruction of the vaginal tissue, to gishiri.27 The latter is a practice found in the northern parts of West Africa and involves the insertion of a long knife into the vagina in order to make a cut with the aim of widening the vagina, since it is believed that many gynaecologic problems were “caused by a vagina that is too narrow”.28 Fistulae are rarely seen in the developed world these days but in eastern Congo they have become an epidemic, that is – fistulae caused by rape. According to a Newsweek report in November 2006, it is estimated that 250,000 women were raped in that conflict and thousands of them have been injured so severely that they suffer from fistulae.29 At the time being, though, it is impossible for either the D.R.C. government or outside observers to give accurate victim numbers. Many women here have not only been raped but often gang-raped repeatedly,30 but “more often the damage is caused by the deliberate introduction of objects31 into the victim’s vagina when the rape itself is over. The objects might be sticks or pipes. Or gun barrels. In many cases the attackers shoot the victim in the vagina at point-blank range after the have finished raping her.”32 Often the perpetrators make sure that they don’t kill the victim but inflict as much damage as possible, leaving the victim behind “permanently and obviously marked”.33

HIV and other sexually transmittable diseases

Given that many perpetrators are HIV positive, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a concern for victims. But while access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is crucial,34 awareness of the existence of PEP needs to be raised in order to encourage victims to seek help as soon as possible after the rape.35 Other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are affecting many victims, too. In Matili, MSF staff reported that on their first visit to the village after three or four month, they had to treat all rape victims for STDs, such as salpingitis.36 But the victims’ husbands are also aware of the victims’ potential exposure to STDs. This knowledge leads many husbands to reject their wives after they had been raped, because they fear that their wives might transmit STDs to them.37 Often, though, the rejection will be based on the stigma associated with having been raped rather than the risk of STDs. But even if a rape victim is allowed to return to her house, it is “normal for [the victim's husband] to find a new wife, moving the old one into a different room and ignoring her.”38

Responses

In order to respond adequately, the problem has to be seen from a number of different angles:

Medical and psychiatric assistance

Any medical help therefore needs to include STD treatment, including PEP, but also needs to take into account the psychological needs of the victims, such as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD), mood disorders, substance abuse and eating and sexual disorders.39 In particular trauma counseling will need to be improved: At the time being, as even MSF admits,40 not enough is being done here: as long as the victim is victimized again by her husband or family, the suffering will continue long after the actual crime has been committed.

In this context the children born out of rape must not be overlooked either. With their mothers often finding themselves in extremely difficult circumstances, there is a danger that these children will be neglected because they are seen as being “the enemy”. This issue needs a two-fold approach: counseling for the mother, including if necessary material support on one hand, but also child protection on the other hand.

Access to justice

Equally lacking is the access to justice for the victims: Although thousands of women have been raped,41 less than a dozen perpetrators had been prosecuted by 2005.42 Rape and other forms of sexual violence in times of war are prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.43 These prohibitions can be argued amount even to jus cogens44, that is, to rules of international law which take absolute precedence over other rules. In 1999 the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights demanded that all acts of sexual violence be condemned and prosecuted45 and today wartime rape constitutes a war crime46 which can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague47 and which in the past has already been prosecuted for example before the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR)48 and the former Yugoslavia (ICTY):49 In Akayesu, the ICTR convicted the defendant for rape as a form of genocide50, in Delalic, the ICTY held that sexual violence can constitute torture51 and in Kunarac the defendant was convicted for sexual slavery, rape and violations of human dignity which the ICTY considered war crimes and crimes against humanity52, to give just a few examples. In the short term, targeting perpetrators as directly as possible will have the greatest deterring effect. The message that has to be sent must be clear: whoever commits such crimes will be identified, hunted down and brought to justice. Many war criminals actually do not believe that they will be caught.53 There is a general feeling that one gets away with rape. This illusion has to be shattered. Since the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is unable to take adequate action, it has already asked the ICC to deal with the international criminal law implications of the conflict in the D.R.C. – that is the entire conflict in the D.R.C. of which wartime rapes are just one of many issues. The only case pending at the ICC at the time being in relation to the D.R.C. concerns the recruitment of child soldiers and there is no telling as to when the Court will address the issue of systematic rape in the D.R.C. It would be unrealistic in any case to assume that the ICC will be able to bring justice to all victims. At best it will bring global attention to the problem and send a message that the law also reaches to the D.R.C. Whether that will actually prevent potential rapists from committing future crimes remains to be seen, in particular since the ICC does not have a police force of its own but would have to rely on international troops on the ground. This is not a feasible option because at the time being the international community sees more danger than potential for good in sending more troops to the D.R.C.,54 making the deployment of international forces highly unlikely which in turn will make it extremely difficult if not impossible for the ICC to investigate properly. A criminal justice solution is therefore not likely to be achieved anytime soon, if at all. This also means that there will be es-sentially no deterrent against future rapes and that the problem will continue.

Creating a culture of respect for women

But the key to ensuring both greater access to health care and improving overall support for victims is the same as to protecting women against rape in the first place: the traditional position of women in the D.R.C. (and the problem is essentially the same in many other cultures around the Earth) has to be overcome. This is certainly not “culturally sensitive”, but it is a fundamental respect for women which is lacking here. It is necessary to create a culture of respect for women and girls. This might take generations and many obstacles will have to be overcome, such as ethnic of religious taboos and views concerning the position of women in society and in particular the relation between men and women, or low levels of education in most fundamental ethical issues. Such changes, though, cannot be imposed top down but have to start with each individual. The state, the international community or any outsider for that matter, can only help by giving impulses and by assisting in creating a favorable environment which includes better education opportunities for both genders. The dissemination work of the Red Cross could play an important role here, as well as work by religious and other groups. But the key to protecting women hold those who have the greatest impact on the perpetrators: other men. By treating women with respect in everyday life and by setting examples to their children and indeed everyone else around them, it is men who have to set the standard as to how to treat women. Respect is the key to preventing future atroci-ties against women – in fact, against our wives, sisters, mothers and daughters.

Summary

Despite the peace agreement which officially ended the war in the D.R.C., massive and systematic rapes continue in the war-torn nation in the heart of Africa. In fact, rape has become a weapon of terror directed against the civilian population in the Eastern D.R.C. and all armed groups are thought to be involved. Often rape in the D.R.C. takes particularly violent forms, leading to injuries such as fistulae. The high prevalence of HIV and other STDs among perpetrators adds to the risks the victims are facing. In particular psychological support needs to be improved as does access to any form of medical help: although there has been some improvement, traditional taboos continue to prevent many women from seeking help and the stigma associated with having been raped places victims in danger long after the crime has been committed. Given that it is highly unlikely that justice can be done for all victims and there is no effective deterrent against systematic rape, the position of women in the D.R.C. has to be strengthened considerably. The creation of a culture of respect for women, though, will take generations rather than years.

  1. Referendar jur.; Diploma in International Law (with distinction) (University of Helsinki); Diplom Humanitäres Völkerrecht (ICRC Geneva – IFHV Bochum – DRK Bonn); M.J.I. Candidate, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany. Doctoral student and former Lehrbeauftragter (Associate Lecturer) at the Faculty of Law, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen Germany; Rechtsreferendar, Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main; former Emergency Medical Technician, German Red Cross. Email: kirchnerlaw@yahoo.com. The authors wishes to thank Beate Rossmanith at Hohemark, Oberursel, Germany, for many discussions and Dr Margaret Salmon MD MPH at Harvard for her helpful editorial remarks. All opinions expressed in this article, though, are of course only attributable to the author. [return]
  2. Cf. Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 15 September 1995, UN Doc. A /CONF.177/20 (1995) and UN Doc, para. 136. A/CONF.177/20/Add.1 (1995). [return]
  3. On wartime rape in general cf. Forum Menschenrechte (ed.) – Hearing: Vergewaltigung – Verbrechen an Frauen in Kriegs- und Friedenszeiten, 25 April 1996, Redebeiträge, Materialien No. 6 (1996); Gleich-stellungsstelle für Frauen (ed.) – Nirgend erwähnt – doch überall geschehen: Vergewaltigung im Krieg (1992); Amnesty international – Rape as a Tool of War: A Fact Sheet, 25 August 2005; Peter Harder – 2. Rape and Ethnic Warfare, in: 5 International Journal of Refugee Law (2006), pp. 111 et seq.; Leslie Shanks / Michael J. Schull – Rape in war: the humanitarian response, in: 163 Canadian Medical Associa-tion Journal (2000), pp. 1152 et seq.; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slaverylike practices, Sub-Commission resolution 1999/16. [return]
  4. Radhika Coomaraswamy – Report on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Commis-sion of Human Rights, 54th Session, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1998/54 (1998), Provisional Agenda Item 9 (a). [return]
  5. On the comfort women system cf. Ustinia Dolgopol / Snehal Paranjape – Comfort Women: an Unifinished Ordeal (1994); Christine M. Chinkin – Women’s International Tribunal on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, in: 95 American Journal of International Law (2001), pp. 335 et seq.; Karen Parker / Jennifer Chew – Compensation for Japan’s World War II War-Rape Victims, in: 17 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review (1994), pp. 497 et seq.; Mira Choi / Regina Mühlhäuser – “Wir wissen, daß es die Wahrheit ist…”. Gewalt gegen Frauen im Krieg – Zwangsprostitution koreanischer Frauen 1936-45 (1996); Koreanische Frauengruppe in Deutschland (ed.) – In die Prostitution gezwungen – Koreanische Frauen erinnern sich. Zeugenaussagen aus dem japanischen Asien-Pazifik-Krieg (1996). On the rarely mentioned issue of state-forced prostitution in Nazi Germany cf. Christa Paul – Zwangsprostitution – Staatlich errichtete Bordelle im Nationalsozialismus (1994). [return]
  6. Cf. Pascale R. Bos – Feminists Interpreting the Politics of Wartime Rape: Berlin, 1945; Yugoslavia, 1992-1993, in: 31 Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2006), pp. 995 et seq., at pp. 997 et seq.; Barbara Rohr – Rape of Women in Germany During and After World War II, in: Swiss Peace Foun-dation (ed.) – War against Women (1995), pp. 69 et seq.; Barbara Rohr – Krieg gegen Frauen – Verge-waltigung während und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, in: Notruf und Beratung für vergewaltigte Mädchen und Frauen (ed.) – Frauen und Krieg, pp. 21 et seq. [return]
  7. Pascale R. Bos – Feminists Interpreting the Politics of Wartime Rape: Berlin, 1945; Yugoslavia, 1992-1993, in: 31 Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2006), pp. 995 et seq., at p. 1002. [return]
  8. Cf. ibid., at p. 1012; Libby Tata Arcel – Deliberate Sexual Torture of Women in War: The Case of Bos-nia-Herzegovina, in: Arieh Y. Shalev et al. (eds.) – International Handbook of Human Response to Trauma (2000), pp. 179 et seq.; Karen Engle – Feminism and its (Dis)contents: Criminalizing Wartime Rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in: 99 American Journal of International Law (2005), pp. 778 et seq.; Catherine A. McKinnon – Rape, Genocide, and Women’s Human Rights, in: Alexandra Stiglmayer (ed.) – Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994), pp. 183 et seq.; Joanne Barkan – As Old as War Itself: Rape in Foca, in: Dissent, Winter 2002, pp. 60 et seq.; Cynthia Enloe – Have the Bos-nian Rapes Opened a New Era of Feminist Consciousness ?, in: Alexandra Stiglmayer (ed.) – Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994), pp. 219 et seq. On rapes during the Balkan wars cf. Reports of the Secretary General of the United Nations to the UN Commission on Human Rights on Rape and Abuse of Women in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1994/5, 30 June 1993 and UN Doc. A/48/858, 29 January 1994 the Report of the Secretary-General on Rape and Abuse of Women in the Areas of Armed Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia, UN Doc. A/50/329, 4 August 1995, as well as UN General Assembly Resolution UN Doc. A/Res/49/205, 6 March 1995; Beverly Allen – Rape Warfare: the Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (1996); Magdalini Karagiannakis – The Definition of Rape and Its Characterization as an Act of Genocide – A Review of the Jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, in: 12 Leiden Journal of International Law (1999), pp. 479 et seq.; James McHenry – Justice for Foca: The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia’s Prosecution of Rape and Enslavement as Crimes Against Humanity, in: 10 Tulsa Journal of Comparative and International Law (2002), pp. 183 et seq.; Beverly Allen – Rape War-fare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (1996); Richard P. Barrett / Laura E. Little – Lessons of Yugoslav Rape Trials: A Role for Conspiracy Law in International Tribunals, in: 88 Minnesota Law Review (2003), pp. 30 et seq.; Susan Brownmiller – Making Female Bodies in the Battle-field, in: Alexandra Stiglmayer (ed.) – Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994), pp. 180 et seq.; Norma von Ragenfeld-Feldmann – The Victimization of Women: Rape and Re-porting of Rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1993, in: Dialogue, March 1997, http://www.members.tripod.com/~unconqueredbosnia/balk8.html; Jelena Batinic – Feminism, National-ism, and War: The ‘Yugoslave Case’ in Feminist Texts, in: 3 Journal of International Women’s Studies (2001), http://www.bridgew.edu/SOAS/jiws/fall01/batinic.pdf; Vera Fonegovic-Smalc – Psychiatric Aspects of the Rapes in the War Against the Republics of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in: Alexandra Stiglmayer (ed.) – Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994), pp. 174 et seq. [return]
  9. Amnesty international – Sudan, Darfur – Rape as a weapon of war – Sexual violence and its conse-quences, July 2004. [return]
  10. Diane King – Using Rape as a Weapon, in: International Herald Tribune, 8 July 2007, http://www.iht.com. [return]
  11. Medecins sans frontieres – Rape as a Weapon of War, 5 March 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  12. See also Marion Pratt / Leah Werchick – Sexual Terrorism: Rape as a Weapon of War in Eastern De-mocratic Republic of Congo – An assessment of programmatic responses to sexual violence in North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Orientale Provinces, USAID / DCHA (2004); Juliane Klippenberg – The War within the War – Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, Human Rights Watch (2002) and Juliane Klippenberg – Seeking Justice: The Prosecution of Sexual Violence in the Congo War, 17 Human Rights Watch Reports (March 2005), No. 1 (A). Both reports include a large number of case studies based on interviews with victims in the D.R.C. [return]
  13. Medecins sans frontieres – Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War: MSF report eastern DRC, 1 April 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  14. Medecins sans frontieres – Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War: MSF report eastern DRC, 1 April 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  15. Cf. Polly Markandya / Fiona Lloyd-Davis– DRC: A plaster on a gaping wound, 16 April 2002, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  16. United Nations Security Council – Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 28 June 2007, UN Doc. S/2007/391, p. 10. [return]
  17. Andrea Böhm – Wenn Frieden Männersache ist – Gegen die Frauen im Kongo wird noch immer Krieg geführt, in: Die Zeit, No. 50 (2006), available online at http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2006/50/kongo. [return]
  18. On the situation of the children born as a result of rape cf. Ruth Harris – The “Child of the Barbarian”: Rape, Race and Nationalism in France During the First World War, in: Past & Present, Nos. 138-141 (1993), pp. 170 et seq. [return]
  19. Andrea Böhm – Wenn Frieden Männersache ist – Gegen die Frauen im Kongo wird noch immer Krieg geführt, in: Die Zeit, No. 50 (2006), available online at http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2006/50/kongo. [return]
  20. On the psychological effects of wartime rape cf. Sabina Popovic – Delayed Psychological and Psychiatric Effects of Violence Committed Against Women During the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992 – 1995, in: Commission for Gathering Facts on War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ed.) – The sin of silence – risk of speech, Collection of the reports from international conference held in Sarajevo on 10th and 11th March 1999, pp. 523 et seq.; Mujo Haskovic – Psychosocial Support for Women – Victims of Sexual Violence During the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992 – 1995, in: Commission for Gathering Facts on War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ed.) – The sin of silence – risk of speech, Collection of the reports from international conference held in Sarajevo on 10th and 11th March 1999, pp. 533 et seq.; Gillian Mezey – Rape in War, in: 5 Journal of Forensic Psychiatry (1994), pp. 583 et seq. [return]
  21. Cf. Andrea Böhm – Wenn Frieden Männersache ist – Gegen die Frauen im Kongo wird noch immer Krieg geführt, in: Die Zeit, No. 50 (2006), available online at http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2006/50/kongo [return]
  22. See ICRC – Stories from the Field: Democratic Republic of the Congo: “I want my child and me to be accepted”, 2 March 2007, http://www.icrc.org. [return]
  23. Medecins sans frontieres – Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War: MSF report eastern DRC, 1 April 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  24. Andrea Böhm – Wenn Frieden Männersache ist – Gegen die Frauen im Kongo wird noch immer Krieg geführt, in: Die Zeit, No. 50 (2006), available online at http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2006/50/kongo; Rob Nord-land – Congo’s Wounds of War: More Vicious than Rape – The atrocity reports from eastern Congo were so hellish that Western medical experts refused to believe them – at first, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/is/15704030/site/newsweek/page/3, 13 November 2006. [return]
  25. Polly Markandya / Fiona Lloyd-Davis– DRC: A plaster on a gaping wound, 16 April 2002, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  26. Rob Nordland – Congo’s Wounds of War: More Vicious than Rape – The atrocity reports from eastern Congo were so hellish that Western medical experts refused to believe them – at first, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/is/15704030/site/newsweek/page/3, 13 November 2006. [return]
  27. http://www.worldwidefistulafund.org/Other%20Causes.html. [return]
  28. Ibid. [return]
  29. Rob Nordland – Congo’s Wounds of War: More Vicious than Rape – The atrocity reports from eastern Congo were so hellish that Western medical experts refused to believe them – at first, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/is/15704030/site/newsweek/page/3, 13 November 2006. [return]
  30. Ibid. [return]
  31. The insertion of objects, including broken bottles and gun barrels, into the victim’s vagina has already been described as a practice also employed in Bosnia, Pascale R. Bos – Feminists Interpreting the Politics of Wartime Rape: Berlin, 1945; Yugoslavia, 1992-1993, in: 31 Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2006), pp. 995 et seq., at p. 1019, there fn. 28. [return]
  32. Rob Nordland – Congo’s Wounds of War: More Vicious than Rape – The atrocity reports from eastern Congo were so hellish that Western medical experts refused to believe them – at first, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/is/15704030/site/newsweek/page/3, 13 November 2006. [return]
  33. Ibid. [return]
  34. Medecins sans frontieres – Rape as a Weapon of War, 5 March 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  35. Cf. Lucy Clayton – MSF confronts sexual violence in Sierra Leone, 8 September 2003, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  36. Polly Markandya / Fiona Lloyd-Davis– DRC: A plaster on a gaping wound, 16 April 2002, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  37. Ibid. [return]
  38. Ibid. [return]
  39. Cf. Carlo Faravelli / Alice Gugni / Stefano Salvatori / Valdo Ricca – Psychopathology after Rape, in: 161 American Journal of Psychiatry (2004), pp. 1483 et seq., at p. 1483. See also D. S. Rose – “Worse than death”: psychodynamics of rape victims and the need for psychotherapy, in: 143 American Journal of Psychiatry (1986), pp. 817 et seq. [return]
  40. Polly Markandya / Fiona Lloyd-Davis– DRC: A plaster on a gaping wound, 16 April 2002, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  41. Cf. Medecins sans frontieres – Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War: MSF report eastern DRC, 1 April 2004, http://www.msf.org. [return]
  42. Human Rights Watch – D. R. Congo: Tens of Thousands Raped, Few Prosecuted, http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/07/congo/10258.html; for more in-depth information see Juliane Klippenberg – Seeking Justice: The Prosecution of Sexual Violence in the Congo War, 17 Human Rights Watch Reports (March 2005), No. 1 (A). [return]
  43. For a good overview over how international law deals with gender-related crimes cf. Christine Chinkin – Rape and Sexual Abuse of Women in International Law, in: 5 European Journal of International Law (1994), pp. 1 et seq. and Helen Durham – Women, armed conflict and international law, in: 84 International Review of the Red Cross (2002), pp. 655 et seq. [return]
  44. Cf. Kelly Dawn Askin – The Quest for Post-Conflict Gender Justice, in: 41 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (2003), pp. 509 et seq. [return]
  45. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights – Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slaverylike practices, Sub-Commission resolution 1999/16, 26 August 1999. [return]
  46. On wartime rape as a crime cf. Theodor Meron – Rape as a Crime Under International Humanitarian Law, in: 87 American Journal of International Law (1993), pp. 424 et seq.; Aiko Utsumi – How the Violence against Women were dealt with in War Crime Trials, in: Indai Lourdes Sajor (ed.) – Common Grounds (1998), pp. 187 et seq.; Kelly Dawn Askin – Prosecuting Wartime Rape and Other Gender-Related Crimes Under International Law: Extraordinary Advances, Enduring Obstacles, in: 21 Berkeley Journal of International Law (2003), pp. 288 et seq.; Kelly Dawn Askin – War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals (1997), pp. 262 et seq. [return]
  47. Art. 8 (2) lit. b (XXII) and Art. 8 (2) lit. e (VI) ICC-Statute; cf. Human Rights Watch – International Justice for Women: The ICC marks a New Era, 1 July 2002, http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/icc/icc-women.htm; Valerie Oosterveld – Sexual Slavery and the International Criminal Court: Advancing International Law, in: 23 Michigan Journal of International Law (2004), pp. 605 et seq. [return]
  48. Kelly Dawn Askin – Sexual Violence in Decisions and Indictments of the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribu-nals: Current Status, in: 93 American Journal of International Law (1999), pp. 97 et seq.; Stephanie K. Wood – A Woman Scorned for “Least Condemned” War Crime: Precedent and Problems with Prosecut-ing Rape as a Serious War Crime in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in: 13 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law (2004), pp. 274 et seq. [return]
  49. Catherine N. Niarchos – Women, War, and Rape: Challenges Facing the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in: 17 Human Rights Quarterly (1995), pp. 649 et seq. See also Kelly Dawn Askin – War Crimes against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals (1997) and Richard Goldstone – The United Nations’ War Crimes Tribunals: An Assessment, in: 12 Connecticut Journal of International Law (197), pp. 227 et seq. [return]
  50. ICTR – Prosecutor v. Akayesu, ICTR-96-4-T, Judgment, 2 September 1998. [return]
  51. ICTY – Prosecutor v. Delalic, IT-96-21-T, Judgment, 16 November 1998. [return]
  52. ICTY – Prosecutor v. Kunarac, IT-96-23-T, Judgment, 22 February 2001. [return]
  53. Charlotte Lindsey – Women Facing War (2001), p. 52. [return]
  54. Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d’Information (Kigali) – Sécurisation du Kivu – la communauté internationale opposée à une solution armée préconisée par les députés, 9 July 2007, http://fr.allafrica.com/stories/200707091236.html. [return]
 

One Response to Hell on Earth – Systematic Rape in Eastern Congo

  1. Tawnie says:

    I never knew, until about two months ago when I viewed an interview on CNN. I was heart sick at the thought of what these females had endured. To use them as a means to break down villages in the event of war, is a war crime. This is more than just an instance of rape, these are warm crimes against humanity and a call for assistance from more than non-profit organizations. We went to war over oil, we can sure as hell go to war over these atrocities that mutilate our fellow humans.

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