Marissa introduction



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MARISSA

INTRODUCTION

  • Visibility to a wider audience

    • In this seminar, we would like to present a hidden truth and oftentimes forgotten issue

    • It is often recognized but rarely afforded the attention it deserves because of its complexity

    • The severity of the issue must be recognized – for by not doing so, we are further exacerbating and legitimizing it

  • Building the bridge between theories and practice

    • We are using two case studies to link theory and practice, the DRC and Burundi

    • While there are a variety of theories available concerning gender-based violence during and after war – with no concrete consensus – these theories serve as a point of reference

    • Theories are dynamic and adaptable – and the international community must engage with them to address these issues

  • Methodologically

    • We are attempting to demonstrate the perpetual cycle of gender-based violence before, during and after war

    • This is why we have chosen these two case studies – the conflicts are interrelated and have been tightly interwoven since the Rwandan genocide

  • Stimulating a debate

    • What is the path forward?

    • Recognizing and analyzing the challenges that face the DRC, Burundi and the international community

    • What has failed and what has produced success?

    • What are some of the theories that can help us to start thinking about what can be done in practice

  • Recognize our limitations and attempt to avoid falling victim to the dichotomy present in literature

    • Need to acknowledge the logistical challenges of date collection in the DRC and Burundi

    • Do not want to present women solely as victims


THEORIES: RAPE AS A WEAPON OF WAR

  • Wartime rape is one of history’s great silences dating back to Ancient Greek, Roman and Hebrew wars

  • Some scholars suggest that the intensity and systematic organization of wartime rape has increased in the late 20th century, while others suggest it is a timeless phenomenon

  • However, what is certain is that the nature of warfare is changing in ways that increasingly endanger women and girls

  • Consequently, wartime rape drew the attention of the media and the international community in the 1990s during the wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda

  • So, the only way to address the issue of wartime rape is to identify and understand the factors and conditions that enable it

  • While there is general agreement on some of the causal factors that contribute to wartime rape, there is no unified consensus on one single theory that can explain this phenomenon

  • Thus, none of these theories are sufficient on their own, but rather simultaneously overlap to contribute to our understanding of wartime rape

  • So, I will briefly present some of the most prominent theories regarding wartime rape

  • However, it’s first necessary to clarify what the definition of wartime rape is – the term is used to indicate distinct patterns of rape by soldiers at rates that are much higher than rates of rape during peacetime

  • The first two theories are separate, but overlapping and interrelated

  • Gender Inequality Theory

    • … is based upon the predication of unequal power relations, discrimination and misogyny in patriarchal societies, which are exacerbated by the promotion of aggression and violence during war

    • Simply put, this theory suggests that mass rape manifests itself during conflict because of pre-existing culturally and socially imbedded discriminations against women

    • This theory is important because, as was discussed by Priscyll, it illustrates Galtung’s notion of structural and cultural violence

      • This is particularly relevant in regards to the DRC whereas women are subjected to the unquestionable will of their male relatives and husbands and are also discriminated against by customs and laws

  • Feminist Theory

    • Rape in war, as rape in peace, is identified not as a crime of sexual passion but as a crime motivated by the desire of a man to exert dominance over a woman

    • Men in patriarchal societies are conditioned to distrust, despise and dominate women

    • Wartime rape is a way to vent contempt for women while simultaneously enforcing patriarchal gender roles

    • A (systematic, not necessarily consciously) attempt to dominate and oppress women

    • Perhaps this theory is too aggressive and simplistic – it seems predicated upon primal instincts and emotions of hate

      • It does not take into account several factors of war such as political and military objectives, poverty, social inequalities, etc.

  • Cultural Pathology Theory

    • This theory involves aspects of cultural psychoanalysis and helps to better understand wartime rape in specific cases

    • The aim is to look back into a nation’s history and analyze what developmental factors culminated to cause its men to participate in sexual violence

    • For example, one possible explanation that falls under Cultural Pathology Theory is a militarized culture in which soldiers feel hostile towards women and entitled to rape

    • Reviewing sociocultural factors that may have contributed to the frequency and intensity of wartime rape

    • While this theory does not provide any general foundations that may be applied to every conflict, it is useful in emphasizing the need to analyze each conflict with it’s specific dynamics in order to address underlying causes of sexual violence

 The first three theories are similar in that they focus upon societal factors that contribute to that outbreak of mass wartime rape; however, the next two theories take a difference stance

  • Biosocial Theory

    • Sociocultural factors are insignificant variables in a perpetrator’s decision to rape; the activity is wholly under genetic control

    • Wartime rape is inevitable, genetically predetermined and a natural reflex

    • Must consider not only sociocultural factors but also the evolved sexual psychology of human males, and it emphasizes that sexual desire is likely to be a primary influence on a soldier’s decision to rape

    • On one hand, like the Feminist Theory, this is rather simplistic in basing mass wartime rape solely upon biological factors – it disregards the hostile environment of war

    • On the other hand, it may help to explain the high rates of civilian rape

  • Strategic Rape Theory

    • This theory is currently the most influential regarding mass wartime rape

    • Rape may be considered a tactic executed by soldiers in the service of larger strategic objectives

    • Military officials do not necessarily instruct soldiers to rape; however, it may serve as a coherent, coordinated, logical and brutally effective means of prosecuting warfare

    • Some advocates of Strategic Rape Theory refer to it as “genocidal rape” – rape intended, with consciousness or not, to annihilate a people and culture

    • However, while this is currently the most prominent of all theories regarding mass rape, some scholars remain skeptical

      • Some skeptics claim that advocates of the theory may be confusing the consequences of wartime rape with the motives

        • That is to say, while mass wartime rape may result in destabilizing a population, that does not necessarily mean that was the original intention of the perpetrators

      • Also, it is well noted that mass wartime rape can be counterproductive to achieving strategic military objectives

        • It may produce vengeful populations and result in reprisals leading to a perpetual cycle of sexual violence

  • Research Gaps

    • Patterns of variation in sexual violence

      • Groups or conflicts where sexual violence does not occur should not be neglected here

      • “Negative cases”

    • Within-case contrasts

      • One party does not mirror the use of sexual violence as the others

    • Study of perpetrators

      • Understanding the motives of sexual violence perpetrators first hand

      • However, later in this seminar we will attempt to present the perspective of soldiers from the DRC


DEFINITIONS OF RAPE

- Galtung’s Triangle – Direct Violence

  • Rape: “Rape should be understood as the insertion, under conditions of force, coercion, or duress of any object, including but not limited to a penis, into a victim’s vagina or anus; or the insertion under conditions of force, coercion, or duress, of a penis into the mouth of the victim” – UN Commission on Human Rights Report

  • Mass Rape: The term is used to indicate systematic patterns of rape by soldiers at a much higher rate than the rape that prevails during peacetime

  • Gang Rape/Collective Rape:

  • Sexual Mutilation/ Sexual Torture??

  • Sexual Abuse and Exploitation:


MOTIVATIONS AND PURPOSES OF WARTIME RAPE

  • While we have discussed the theories regarding the occurrence of wartime rape and briefly looked at some definitions, we will now attempt to explain some of the specific motivations and purposes of this phenomenon (which generally fall under strategic rape theory)

  • These motivations vary

  • Sexual violence may be more or less random and opportunistic – a consequence of the complete breakdown of cultural and social norms, as well as the collapse of law and order

    • This explanation may reflect the increase in civilian rape

    • In this case, the perpetrator can exploit the chaos of conflict without fear of punishment

  • Sexual violence may also be systematic, carried out by fighting forces for the explicit purpose of destabilizing populations and destroying bonds within communities and families

    • In these instances, rape is often a public act, aimed to maximize humiliation and shame

  • Sexual violence can also serve to quell resistance by instilling fear in local communities or in opposing armed groups

    • In such cases, women’s bodies are used as an envelope to send messages to the perceived enemy

  • Particularly in conflicts defined by racial, tribal, religious and other divisions, violence may be used to advance the goal of ethnic cleansing or the disruption of a particular group’s bloodline

    • Forced impregnation, mutilation of genitals and intentional HIV transmission are other techniques of ethnic cleansing

  • Rape may also be used to punish a particular community for suspicion of or actually supporting an opponent

  • Rape may also be undertaken by advancing forces as a means of reward

  • It has also been suggested that collective and gang rape serves the purpose of boosting the morale of and establishing bonds between soldiers

Also, women and girls may be abducted to serve in the armed forces while simultaneously being sexually exploited

    • Their responsibilities may include portering water, cooking, cleaning and active combat, with the additional expectation that they will provide sexual services to their superiors or fellow combatants

    • Even those women and girls who voluntarily join fighting forces are unlikely to anticipate the extent to which they will suffer sexual exploitation


FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE DRC

  • “Violence against women does not originate with war and conflicts; it emerges from prior social, economic and cultural discrimination that fuel sexual violence when a conflict erupts”

  • So, perhaps in line with the Gender Inequality Theory…

  • Women in the DRC are discriminated against through laws and customs

    • While this will be discussed in greater detail later, generally speaking…

    • Women and girls are expected to carry out tasks in the domestic sphere and are discriminated against in terms of educational and commercial opportunities

    • Customary practices entail arranged marriage, early marriage and forced marriage

    • A married woman is subjected to her husband’s will – her goods and assets belong to her husband, she is not free to choose her residence and her husband has to agree to any commercial or work activity

    • Congolese civil law prohibits women from filing a legal complaint without the permission of her husband  contributes to the cultural norm of silence

    • And finally, widows are not entitled to inheritance

  • Years of war and impunity have exacerbated the lack of respect for the physical and psychological integrity of human beings, specifically women

  • War, displacement, trauma and family and community breakdown have destroyed traditional social and cultural points of reference

  • According to the International Men and Gender Equality Survey conducted in and near Goma in Congo’s North Kivu Province…

    • More than one in three men surveyed in the East admit committing sexual assault and three in four believe that a woman who “does not dress decently is asking to be raped”

    • 42.7% think that “if a woman doesn’t show physical resistance when forced to have sex, it’s not rape”

    • 27.9% believe that sometimes women want to be raped


IMPACT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON THE VICTIM

  • Oftentimes, while raping and/or torturing a woman, rapists use different objects such as rifles, sticks, machetes, bananas, bottles, or pepper-covered utensils to insert into a woman’s vagina or anus

  • Also, an increase of instances has been noted where women have been shot in the genitals

  • These actions more often than not result in permanent injuries for those who actually survive the attack

  • Physical

    • Traumatic fistula (one of the most commonly cited injuries): an abnormal opening between the reproductive tract of a woman or girl and one or more body cavities

    • More simply, the tearing of the skin that separates the vagina and anus

      • Women with fistula are unable to control the constant flow of urine and/or feces that leak from the tear

      • Affected women are often divorced by their husbands, shunned by their communities, and unable to work or care for themselves or their families

      • Traumatic fistula, therefore, compounds the psychological trauma, fear and stigma that accompanies rape

    • Uterine prolapse: falling or sliding of the womb (uterus) from its normal position into the vaginal area

    • Destruction of reproductive organs

    • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)  may lead to HIV/AIDS

    • Unwanted Pregnancy

      • Whereas abortion is illegal in the DRC, even in cases of rape, a woman may be inclined to engage in a self-induced or illegal (and often unsafe) abortion

      • It is estimated that 60% of combatants in the DRC are HIV-positive, increasing the risk of the baby contracting HIV/AIDS if a woman is impregnated

  • Problems:

    • Absence of adequate healthcare facilities and trained staff

    • Many state-run health centers operate on a cost-recovery basis

    • Lack of privacy

    • Refusal of women to disclose rape due to cultural stigma

  • Psychological

    • Separates a woman from and shatters her sense of the self, community, security and trust

    • When the victim is a child or an unmarried woman, she may be forced by her family to marry the perpetrator to avoid stigma (because losing her virginity makes her less valuable in Congolese village culture)

      • This compounds the psychological trauma of the actual rape and forces the victim to engage with the perpetrator that caused her so much distress on a daily basis

    • The same humiliation a rape victim feels can be reinforced by a society that rejects her

  • Sociocultural/Socioeconomic

    • Many sexual violence survivors face severe stigma

    • Family or community members may also send the woman away out of fear that she contracted HIV during the attack

    • Husbands may leave their wives who have been raped

    • Sexual violence survivors typically face even greater dire economic circumstances – many survivors are forced to relocate after being ostracized from her family or community, after which it can be extremely difficult to find adequate housing or earn a living

      • Leaves a woman vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation – “survival sex”

      • Childbearing responsibilities exacerbate this situation, exposing the child to desperate conditions

    • For unmarried women, the stigma of sexual violence can reduce the chance of getting married


IMPACT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON THE COMMUNITY

  • Women represent a symbolic perpetuation of the nation and it’s culture; thus, when women are raped it destroys the social fabric of a community – degrade a culture from its ability to replenish itself through reproduction

  • In cultures where the sanctity of a woman’s sexuality is valued, displaying a woman’s dishonor in the public area destroys the entire underlying social order of a community

  • Male spouses and relatives of sexual violence survivors often consider themselves dishonored, based on a wide-spread cultural perception that the woman consented to the act

  • Male spouses and relatives often feel humiliated, powerless and emasculated for not being able to protect their wives, female relatives and women of the community

  • Collectively, the society also enters into shock and grieving as they lose their mothers, sisters and daughters through community and familial rejection, physical death or the impacts of psychological and physical wounds


INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

  • The landmark achievement that brought the issue of women’s rights to the forefront of the international community is without a doubt the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

    • This convention is considered the “Bill of Rights” for women

    • It was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and as of 2009, 185 countries have ratified it

    • Defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect of purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of marital status, on the basis of equality between men and women, of human rights or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”

  • Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) was already discussed by Iris, I will now turn to another UNSC Resolution with particular relevance to the DRC

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008) recognizes sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as a threat to world peace and security

  • UNSC 1820 also condemns sexual violence as a tactic of war and requires that states carry out the appropriate judicial reform and transitional justice procedures necessary to prevent sexual violence during conflict

  • UNSC Resolutions 1325 and 1820, and CEDAW share the following agenda on women’s human rights and gender equality:

    • They each demand women’s participation in decision-making at all levels

    • The proclaim the rejection of violence against women as it impedes the advancement of women and maintains their subordinate status

    • They are all concerned with equality of women and men under the law and specifically protection of women and girls through the rule of law

    • They each call for security forces and systems to protect women and girls from gender-based violence

    • And finally, they all declare the recognition of the fact that distinct experiences and burdens of women and girls come from systemic discrimination

  • While it is important that these international documents exist to provide a point of reference to the standards every signatory and UN Member State has agreed to achieve, in reality, they are just that, points of reference

  • They prove hardly enforceable

  • While CEDAW established the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which is composed of 23 experts relating to issues in the Convention, countries are required to submit a report every four years to the Committee regarding matters of the convention

    • Not only did the DRC fail to implement the country-specific recommendations issued to it, but it also failed to submit its 2010 update report

    • Unfortunately, the DRC faces no consequences for failing to live up to its commitments

  • Also, while UNSC Resolutions are legally binding under international law, there are no mechanisms to ensure they are complied with

  • And, while the Security Council claims that sexual violence constitutes a threat to international peace and security, which it is tasked to maintain, it is only minimally engaging in efforts to address this phenomenon

  • While this does not excuse the inaction of the government of the DRC… if the Security Council is unable to execute its own mandates and commitments, how is the DRC supposed to be accountable to such resolutions?

  • Therefore, international agreements and UNSC Resolutions significantly rely upon the political will of individual states to adhere to their commitments, which when embroiled in conflict, let alone the most devastating conflict since World War I as is the case with the DRC, is nearly impossible to achieve

NATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

  • Galtung’s Triangle – Structural Violence

  • According to Article 215 of the DRC’s Constitution, “regularly concluded international treaties and agreements have, when published, greater authority than the law, provided that each treaty or agreement is implemented by the other party”

    • In practice, however, courts and tribunals do not apply the principle of superiority of international law over domestic law

  • So, regarding the DRC’s Constitution and laws...

  • Articles 12, 13 and 14 of the Constitution guarantee equality between women and men and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex

  • However, there are many contradictions within the Constitution

    • Family Code – This code places a woman in a position of dependence upon her husband

      • A woman’s assets are under the control of her husband

      • A women cannot choose her place of residence

      • A woman must seek the permission and advice of her husband before engaging in any type of legal matter or complaint this contributes to a culture of silence

    • Penal Code – One of the major aspects of this code concerns adultery; adultery committed by a woman is punishable in all cases, whereas that committed by a man is only punishable if it is induced; meaning, when a man’s will is altered or inhibited by a married woman, placing the blame on the woman

    • Labor Code – the need for marital authorization before a woman accepts a salaried job

    • While amendments have been made regarding these discriminatory laws targeting women, they are still practiced as unofficial customs

  • 2006 Constitutional Amendment – As just mentioned, the most significant amendment was that regarding the penal code

    • It was intended to “prevent and severely reprimand infractions relating to sexual violence and to ensure systematic support for the victims of these crimes”

    • This included previously ignored sexual violations addressed in international humanitarian law, and toughened up sentencing for those who violated the vulnerable, including children, the disabled and subordinates

    • However, this amendment has had little effect due to a weak judicial system

  • So, I would like to briefly explain some aspects of the conflict that contribute to a Culture of Impunity and weak judicial System

  • Culture of Impunity

    • While the culture of impunity in the DRC dates back to colonial times, I will focus on factors contributing to it based upon our specified time period

    • When the official conflict was coming to an end, the power sharing agreement of 2003 employed a realpolitik approach to the conflict, privileging short-term cessation of hostilities over a just and accountable peace that addressed the underlying causes of violence

      • Rather than risk derailing the shaky peace process by prosecuting human rights abusers, the strategy of the transition was to purchase stability by distributing powerful government positions to armed groups, regardless of their human rights record

    • A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established during the transitional government but the substance of the Commission’s mandate and structure was left to be decided by the very parties the TRC would investigate

      • However, it ended in 2006 without investigating a single case

    • Factors that contribute to the low priority given to justice

      • Staggering human toll of the conflict: accountability for yesterday’s atrocities seemed less important than preventing those of today and tomorrow

      • The lack of political will of the negotiating parties: negotiating parties did not prioritize justice in the peace process for fear of being subjected to prosecution themselves

      • Weakness of the central state: Government forces were in the unenviable position of negotiating without a credible military threat

      • Lack of the international community interest: faced with a daunting diplomatic task in negotiating a peace agreement, the international community was primarily concerned with securing a peace that would lessen the conflict’s threat to regional stability

    • Continuous rounds of amnesty agreements and army appointments to senior positions – 2005, 2006, 2007

    • Dissatisfied groups understand well that if they are sufficiently violent and troublesome, they will be rewarded with high-level appointments in the Congolese government or army  this strategy incentivizes brutality

 The impunity enjoyed by government and army officials further compounds the already weak and ineffective judicial system

  • Whereas those who are retain high ranking government positions would most certainly be prosecuted if the state possessed a functioning judicial system, little effort has been made towards strengthening its judicial institutions

  • Thus, perpetrators of sexual violence go unpunished due to an underfunded system where a victim must pay for court proceedings to bring the perpetrator to trial

  • Furthermore, there is a lack of judges; however, the judges that the DRC does possess are poorly trained and oftentimes display a discriminatory attitude toward victims, usually finding the woman at fault for the rape

  • Moreover, women are frightened to report instances of sexual violence and rape to authority out of fear of reprisal attacks

  • Rather than use an expensive and weak judicial system, victims are led to reparations mediated by local authority officials and tribal leaders

  • Thus, the culture of impunity prohibits the state from taking progressive measures to ensure accountability and access to a functioning judicial system

  • There is a large disconnect between the government and its people, with no mechanisms for accountability in place

  • This is also attributed to the state’s weak capacity – where there is no established relationship with the governed, there is no basis to build the government’s legitimacy
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