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Many of the crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are brutally obvious: the civilians needlessly wounded or killed, the shattered schools and hospitals, the attacks on cultural sites.

But other crimes are less visible — not least because their victims have to cope with stigma and shame. I’m speaking, of course, of the acts of sexual violence committed by Russian troops.

The fraught nature of these atrocities, which are historically underreported, means that it will be a long time before the full scale of the problem is clear. The same small towns in the suburbs of Kyiv that are already known to the world for the widespread killing of civilians — Bucha, Borodyanka and Irpin — are haunted by tales of rape, too.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man helps Ukrainian soldiers searching for bodies in the debris at a military school hit by Russian rockets. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the last month, Russian forces have assaulted the people of Ukraine. In addition to news of attacks on civilians and families displaced, there are now initial reports that Russian forces have committed sexual violence.

This month, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba claimed that Russian soldiers had committed “numerous” rapes against Ukrainian women. Last week, Ukrainian MPs charged that Russian forces were targeting women and girls specifically and that elderly women had been raped.

No hard evidence for these allegations has yet come to light. But evidence from recent conflicts along with certain aspects of the current invasion suggest cause for great concern.…  Seguir leyendo »

Milica Dekic en una escena del documental 'Hay alguien en el bosque'.Oriol Casanovas

Meliha Merdjic tenía 13 años, el ejército serbio entró en su casa, violó a las mujeres y asesinó a los hombres. A Milica Dekic la retuvieron las tropas croatas en un centro de violaciones y torturas con otras 20 mujeres, conocía a sus agresores. Nevenka Kobranovik fue violada durante la guerra, su marido la siguió violando al volver la paz. No pudo llevar su caso ante la justicia. Le faltaron pruebas.

La guerra no tiene rostro de mujer, la paz tampoco. No es más que una máscara. A 25 años de los acuerdos de Dayton, que pusieron fin a la guerra de los Balcanes, miles de mujeres viven una paz rota.…  Seguir leyendo »

How do you stop — or at least mitigate — the harm done by sexual and gendered violence in humanitarian crises? That’s the topic for this week’s international conference in Oslo, where governments, United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations are coming together to discuss commitments and solutions.

One topic that will probably arise — formally or informally — is the recent controversy over U.N. Security Council Resolution 2467, which calls for ending sexual violence in conflict, holding perpetrators accountable and assisting survivors. Until late April, the draft resolution mentioned the importance of sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence in conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las formas de persecución y violencia en contextos de conflicto no son neutras en función del género. Tampoco lo es la respuesta del entorno. Lo que sobre ellos se considera un crimen de guerra, sobre ellas se percibe a menudo como un crimen individual o incluso como motivo de vergüenza o culpa de la víctima. Son esas formas específicas de violencia y la aceptación o connivencia del entorno lo que convierte a las mujeres refugiadas en doblemente vulnerables.

Se puede ser refugiada por ser mujer. La violencia de género, el matrimonio forzado, la mutilación genital, el feminicidio, la esterilización y el aborto selectivo, los crímenes de honor o la trata de personas con fines de explotación sexual son algunos de los motivos de persecución de las personas refugiadas por razones de género.…  Seguir leyendo »

Denis Mukwege of Congo, left, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor from Iraq. (Christian Lutz/AP)

As Islamic State forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014, they captured the city of Mosul and then attacked the nearby Yazidi people. Thousands of Yazidis were executed — and some 3,000 girls and women were kidnapped. Most were sexually enslaved.

One of the two recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is a survivor named Nadia Murad. The other winner is Denis Mukwege, the gynecologist who founded Panzi Hospital, which treats and supports girls and women brutalized by sexual violence in Congo. The Nobel committee recognized their advocacy on behalf of victims of wartime sexual violence.

Wartime sexual violence, which includes sexual torture and forced marriage, as well as rape and sexual slavery, inflicts excruciatingly painful, sometimes mortal injuries and suffering on victims, their families and their communities.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad was the first to recount her ordeal publicly PATRICK SEEGER/EPA

Like many women I have followed the growing #MeToo movement over the last year with a mixture of delight and horror. Delight that so many assaulted women feel emboldened to speak out and to take no more of the sexual harassment many of us middle-aged women once took for granted from the likes of the mooning news editor in my first job. Horror that it was so prevalent — one in three women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime. Among the victims were strong women I could never have imagined being abused.

But through it all I have felt a certain unease.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Sudanese women march to end war on 9 December 2017. Women and religious groups are among the only groups still allowed to publicly protest and march in South Sudan. AFP/Stefanie Glinski

A few years ago, a woman in her sixties outside Banda Aceh in Indonesia told me about the rape and other torture she had endured during the conflict between the Free Aceh Movement and the government. Beyond the psychological trauma, her body still suffered from enduring physical pain. Many years on, while the open conflict had ended, she still had not received comprehensive health care and support. Instead, like too many survivors of physical and sexual violence, she was left in a vicious circle of isolation, carrying the burden of stigma and shame.

In war and its immediate aftermath, it is easy to forget those who are voiceless or invisible in the public space.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Rohingya Muslim refugee woman holds her child as they wait to go to refugee camps near the Thankhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Ukhia district after fleeing Burma. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

The Weinstein Effect is rippling out across the globe. It’s no longer just women in the United States who are speaking up about sexual harassment — their counterparts in many other countries are, too. And we’re once again seeing confirmation of a truth that is often overlooked in discussions of sexual misconduct or assault: These stories are often more about power than they are about sex. Specifically, for men in positions of power, it’s often about demonstrating the extent of their control over the vulnerable.

The same principle applies — albeit in more extreme form — when sexual violence is used as a weapon of war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un refuge accueille des femmes victimes de viols ou de mariages forcés, à Kaboul (Afghanistan), le 20 mars. REBECCA CONWAY / AFP

En zone de conflits, forces armées et bandes organisées violent femmes et filles, mais aussi hommes et garçons, dans le but de déplacer, punir et terroriser les populations civiles.

L’utilisation à grande échelle des violences sexuelles, tout comme celle des armes chimiques et des mines antipersonnel, est bon marché et terriblement efficace. Les violences sexuelles incluent viols collectifs, viols publics et l’insertion forcée d’armes et autres objets divers. Les victimes peuvent aussi bien être des vieillardes que des enfants et parfois même des nourrissons.

Après vingt ans de conflit armé violent, la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) peut témoigner des conséquences dévastatrices, parfois fatales, de l’utilisation du viol comme arme de guerre.…  Seguir leyendo »

La violencia sexual en los conflictos armados sigue provocando cicatrices profundas en los cuerpos de las mujeres y en las sociedades. Aunque este tipo de violencia no es nueva, es ahora cuando se está luchando para sacar a este crimen del olvido histórico. La Corte Penal Internacional ha dictado este año su primera condena por violación, en el caso Bemba. Con esta Sentencia, la Corte ha acabado con la carrera política de un líder congoleño que aspiraba a la Presidencia de su país y ha abierto una nueva línea de acción contra la impunidad, aplicando el principio de la responsabilidad del superior y condenando al acusado como jefe militar de los perpetradores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last year, at a global conference on sexual violence during war, many speakers agreed that the best way to deter such crimes was prosecution, and they called for more of it. But prosecutions are not enough. We must work to reduce sexual violence by armed groups during wars — not just act afterward.

First, we have to better understand it. Although rape during war is an ancient crime, it’s only in the last decade that social scientists have begun to study the patterns in which soldiers and rebels rape. The findings may be surprising: It’s not more likely to occur in particular regions, countries with greater gender inequality or during ethnic conflict; men may be victims, and women can be perpetrators.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is not much information about the Syrian Wars waged between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt between 274 B.C. and 168 B.C.

What is known is that the wars so drained the infrastructure and manpower of both that their destruction and conquest by Rome and Parthia followed.

Today, two years after it started, the conflict in Syria threatens to cause not only tremendous loss of life but also destruction of property and the country’s social fabric.

According to United Nations figures, the conflict has caused over 70,000 deaths, of which about half are estimated to be civilians, many of them women and children.…  Seguir leyendo »