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Sexual violence as a weapon of war

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Jessica Reed was participation editor for openDemocracy between November 2006 and February 2008.

Last Tuesday the UN Security Council approved the use of a hybrid armed force in Darfur, hoping it will help to bring a sense of stability in the region. The resolution also grants the use of force ("necessary measures") to the UN soldiers who will be in charge of securing the region by protecting and assuring the circulation of humanitarian workers, stoping the attacks and threats towards civilians, and encouraging the peace process in Sudan. (more...)

This force will not intervene before the beginning of next year, but this is still a positive step in the right direction. French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner said the resolution brought "great hope" - I personally hope this force will make a significant change in the daily life of thousands of women living in the fear of rape in Darfur, where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war by both the Janjawid and the government's army.

Rape, sexual violence and sexual enslavement have been used in conflicts zones for decades - such practices contain and humiliate 'enemies', effectively becoming a tool of political repression. A UN human rights expert reported on Monday that such atrocities were also widely spread in Congo:

"Sexual atrocities in Congo’s volatile province of South Kivu extend "far beyond rape" and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism, a U.N. human rights expert said Monday.

 

Yakin Erturk called the situation in South Kivu the worst she has ever seen in four years as the global body’s special investigator for violence against women. Sexual violence throughout Congo is "rampant," she said, blaming rebel groups, the armed forces and national police."
Related: Amnesty International's campaign "stop the rape in Darfur".

 

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