Rape in war: ending impunity

Women Peace Laureates urge leaders to protect women in armed conflict, citing evidence from a new report.

26 May 2011

Sexual violence is widespread in armed conflicts around the world, according to a new report published by the Nobel Women's Initiative, and the perpetrators of these war crimes are benefitting from a "culture of impunity."   "War on Women: Time for Action to End Sexual Violence in Conflict" examines studies of sexual violence in five regions of the world, explores the leading causes of such heinous acts, and assesses actions taken by the international community. The report finds that rape as a weapon of war is a crime occurring "on a massive scale," and is a threat to peace and security. For instance, a recent study published by The American Journal of Public Health revealed that an estimated 1,100 women are raped every day in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo - or 48 a minute. "Waging war on the bodies of women has got to stop," says Jody Williams, the 1997 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to eliminate landmines. "Like any tactic of war, it can be eliminated." "War on Women" lauds the efforts of advocates who are challenging the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, and notes that rulings at international tribunals and the International Criminal Court make these acts prosecutable both as crimes against humanity and as war crimes.

Experts and survivors meeting near Ottawa this week supported the report's key recommendation that governments provide support to investigations and assist in the prosecution of crimes of sexual violence.

They also called on Canada to play a leading role, urging the government to boost funding for the protection of women in war and for the prevention of sexual violence.

The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire to work together for peace with justice and equality.

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Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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