The first complete report on the rape and abuse of women during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo concludes that all sides commit atrocities against women as a common military tactic intended to subdue the civilian population.
The report, entitled Women’s Rights Violations During the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was compiled by two researchers at the local organization, Association for the Rebirth of Human Rights in Congo, according to Women’s Enews. The report indicates that tens of thousands of Congolese women have been subjected to rape, torture, and humiliation during the country’s four-year war. Local physician, Dr. Denis Mukaweye told the BBC, “We’ve had cases of serious wounds to the women’s genitals and anus. Sometimes after the actual rape, women have been shot in the vagina, or they are cut with knives.” Resistance is often met with additional brutality, including being shot in the arms, legs, and/or genitals. Women have even been sliced to pieces in front of family members, according to the BBC.
A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in June 2002 entitled The War Within the War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, states that despite the prevalence of rape as a war strategy, soldiers continue unpunished. HRW confirms that soldiers and combatants rape women and girls—ranging from five to 85-years old—as part of their larger campaign to terrorize communities and impose their control. Even though those guilty of committing acts of sexual violence have been successfully tried and imprisoned via International Tribunals for Bosnia and Rwanda, rape in Congo remains a crime that goes unchecked.
In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to adopt the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). Article 7 of the Rome Statute presents clear language defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Under Article 7, the rape and torture of women and girls in the Congo would qualify as a crime against humanity; therefore, violators could be tried before the ICC.
Media Resources: Women's ENews 11/07/02; BBC 11/06/02; HRW report summary 6/2002, Feminist Daily News Wire 5/17/01
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .