Senate Committee Hearing on Rape as a Weapon of War
On Tuesday, United States Senator Dick Durbin chaired the first-ever Congressional hearing on the use of rape as a weapon of war. The Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law discussed the need to hold perpetrators accountable for sexual violence against women. The focus of the hearing was sexual violence as a weapon of war in Democratic Republic of the Congo, with testimonies from Lisa F. Jackson, Karin Wachter, Dr. Kelly Dawn Askin, and Dr. Denis Mukwege.
Senator Durbin convened the hearing by stating his disappointment with the U.S. failure to take action on the issue. He said, "I'm sorry to say that if a foreign warlord who is engaged in mass rape found his way to the US today, he'd likely be beyond the reach of our laws. That is shameful. If we fail to close these loopholes, we will allow these crimes to continue with impunity."
During the hearing, scenes from the documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape in Congo were shown. Lisa F. Jackson, the director of the documentary, testified on the lack of attention and stigma that is attached to rape as an act of war.
She asked, "Why has the world been so silent? Why in the last 10 years, has there been only ONE front-page story in the New York Times about the epidemic of sexual violence that is devastating the Congo? Why is it that rape in conflict is so infrequently prosecuted in the world’s courts? Where is the outrage?"
Congolese Dr. Denis Mukwege described to the Senate Subcommittee the sexual terrorism that women in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have faced for over 10 years. Dr. Mukwege said, "This type of sexual terrorism is done in a methodical manner by armed groups. The rapists are not seeking to satisfy some kind of sexual desire, but to destroy her family and destroy her community."
Media Resources: Senate Judiciary Committee 04/01/08; The Greatest Silence
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .