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The Secret War Crime from Time Magazine - really must be read. #EyesOpen

Stashed in: International Incidents, Rape, XX

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To put an end to rape in war, it must be treated as a war crime. 

The U.N. reports that 200,000 Congolese women and children have been raped during Congo’s long-simmering conflict. Estimates for South Sudan are in the thousands. Both numbers are likely too low, says Pablo Castillo-Diaz, a specialist on sexual violence in conflict for U.N. Women, the U.N. agency tasked with issues of women’s equality, protection and empowerment. “Rape is one of the most underreported war crimes that there are. Women, if they survive the attack, rarely tell anyone else. We only hear of the most brutal incidences or the public ones that the whole community sees.”

But that’s begun to change. Rape may be a common war tactic, but it was only prosecuted as a crime against humanity in 1998, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, following the discovery of the rape camps used by Serb soldiers during the Bosnian war. At the same time, Rwandan officials were also charged with rape as a war crime during that country’s 1994 genocidal conflict. Widespread media coverage of both trials drew international condemnation. Talking about rape in war became less taboo.

Most recently, harrowing revelations about ISIS’s sale of Yezidi women as sexual slaves in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram’s abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls for forced marriages in Nigeria, have pushed survivors and activists to demand a real global response to a war crime with consequences so enduring it all but precludes peace. “The raping of women, the holding of women as chattel and slaves is utterly horrific, but it isn’t new. It’s just an escalation and amplification of what has been going on for many years,” says Eve Ensler, the American playwright and activist. “Anytime people are talking about this, it’s a good thing. But what hasn’t happened is that we haven’t ended the violence. That is the next step.”

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