Sexual violence

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Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person's sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim. [1] [2] [3] It occurs in times of peace and armed conflict situations, is widespread and is considered to be one of the most traumatic, pervasive, and most common human rights violations. [4] [5]

Contents

Sexual violence is a serious public health problem and has a profound short or long-term impact on physical and mental health, such as an increased risk of sexual and reproductive health problems, [6] an increased risk of suicide or HIV infection. Murder occurring either during a sexual assault or as a result of an honor killing in response to a sexual assault is also a factor of sexual violence. Though women and girls suffer disproportionately from these aspects, [5] sexual violence can occur to anybody at any age; it is an act of violence that can be perpetrated by parents, caregivers, acquaintances and strangers, as well as intimate partners. It is rarely a crime of passion, and is rather an aggressive act that frequently aims to express power and dominance over the victim.

Sexual violence remains highly stigmatized in all settings, thus levels of disclosure of the assault vary between regions. In general, it is a widely underreported phenomenon, thus available data tend to underestimate the true scale of the problem. In addition, sexual violence is also a neglected area of research, thus deeper understanding of the issue is imperative in order to promote a coordinated movement against it. Domestic sexual violence is distinguished from conflict-related sexual violence. [7] Often, people who coerce their spouses into sexual acts believe their actions are legitimate because they are married. In times of conflict, sexual violence tends to be an inevitable repercussion of warfare trapped in an ongoing cycle of impunity. [8] [9] Rape of women and of men is often used as a method of warfare (war rape), as a form of attack on the enemy, typifying the conquest and degradation of its women or men or captured male or female fighters. [10] Even if strongly prohibited by IHRL, customary law and IHL, enforcement mechanisms are still fragile or even non-existent in many corners of the world. [4] [5] [11] [12]

From a historical perspective, sexual violence was considered as only happening to women and as being commonplace and "normal" during both war and peace times from the Ancient Greeks to the 20th century. This led to the negligence of any indications of what the methods, aims and magnitude of such violence was. It took until the end of the 20th century for sexual violence to no longer be considered a minor issue and to gradually become criminalized.

Definitions

General

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2002 World Report on Violence and Health defined sexual violence as: "any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person's sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work". [1] WHO's definition of sexual violence includes but is not limited to rape, which is defined as physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object. Sexual violence consists in a purposeful action of which the intention is often to inflict severe humiliation on the victim(s) and diminish human dignity. In the case where others are forced to watch acts of sexual violence, such acts aim at intimidating the larger community. [13]

Other acts incorporated in sexual violence are various forms of sexual assaults, such as forced contact between mouth and penis, vulva or anus. [14] Sexual violence can include coerced contact between the mouth and penis, vulva or anus, or acts that do not involve physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator—for example, sexual harassment, threats, and peeping. [15]

Coercion, with regard to sexual violence, can cover a whole spectrum of degrees of force. Apart from physical force, it may involve psychological intimidation, blackmail or other threats – for instance, the threat of physical harm, of being dismissed from a job or of not obtaining a job that is sought. It may also occur when the person being attacked is unable to give consent – for instance, while drunk, drugged, asleep or mentally incapable of understanding the situation.

Such broader definitions of sexual violence are found within international law. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has established in article 7(1)(g) that "rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" constitutes a crime against humanity. [16] Sexual violence is further explained in the ICC's Elements of Crimes, which the Court uses in its interpretation and application of Article 7. The Elements of Crime establishes that sexual violence is:

The Special Rapporteur on systemic rape sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflict, in a report in 1998, stipulated that sexual violence is "any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means by targeting sexuality". This definition encompasses physical as well as psychological attacks aimed at "a person's sexual characteristics, such as forcing a person to strip naked in public, mutilating a person’s genitals, or slicing off a woman’s breasts". [3] The Special Rapporteur's definition also refers to situations "in which two victims are forced to perform sexual acts on one another or to harm one another in a sexual manner". [13]

A thorough definition is necessary in monitoring the prevalence of sexual violence and studying trends over time. In addition, a consistent definition helps in determining the magnitude of sexual violence and aids in comparing the problem across demographics. Consistency allows researchers to measure risk and protective factors for victimization in a uniform manner. This ultimately informs prevention and intervention efforts.

A distinction is made between conflict-related sexual violence and domestic sexual violence: [7]

Victims

Spectrum

A spectrum of people can fall victim to sexual violence. This includes women, men and children, but also people who define themselves in other terms, e. g. transgender individuals.

Most research, reports and studies focus on sexual violence against women and sexual violence in armed conflicts. Mainstream narratives on sexual violence also often depict men as perpetrators and women as victims. Indeed, women suffer disproportionately from sexual violence; however, sexual violence is committed by both men and women, and in peacetime as well as during conflict. [18]

It is possible for individuals to be targeted based on sexual orientation or gender-exhibiting behavior. Such attacks, which are often called "corrective rapes" have been performed to conform an individual to a heterosexual orientation or to more accepted notions of behavior for the perceived gender of the victim.

Domestic sexual violence

Domestic sexual violence includes all forms of unwanted sexual activity. It is considered abuse even if the victim may have previously engaged in consensual sexual activities with the perpetrator. Men and women can both fall victim to this type of abuse. [19]

A 2006 WHO study on physical and sexual domestic violence against women conducted across ten countries, finds that prevalence of sexual domestic violence ranges on average between 10 and 50%. Domestic sexual violence is also considerably less common than other forms of domestic violence. The variations in the findings across and within countries suggest that this type of abuse is not inevitable and can be prevented. [20]

Women

Sexual violence against women and girls can take many forms and is carried out in different situations and contexts. The WHO's World Report on Violence and Health [14] lists the following ways in which sexual violence against females can be committed:

There was a study in 1987 that came to a conclusion that women in college have reported being involved in unwanted sex due to men using verbal coercion, physical force, and using alcohol an drugs to intoxicate them. [21]

Sexual violence is one of the most common and widespread violations to which women are subject in wartime. It also figures among the most traumatic experiences, both emotionally and psychologically, women suffer during conflict. Sexual violence, in particular rape, is often considered as a method of warfare: it is used not only to "torture, injure, extract information, degrade, displace, intimidate, punish or simply destroy," but also as a strategy to destabilize communities and demoralize men. [22] [23] The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war was widespread conflicts such as Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Kosovo. [23] The perpetrators of female-directed violence in times of conflict are often armed groups and local people. [24]

Men

As with sexual violence against women, sexual violence against men can take different forms, and occur in any kind of context, including at home or in the workplace, in prisons and police custody, and during war and in the military. [14] The practice of sexually assaulting males is not confined to any geographical area of the world or its place of commission, and occurs irrespective of the victim's age. [18] [25] The various forms of sexual violence directed against males include rape, enforced sterilization, enforced masturbation, and genital violence (including genital mutilation). In addition to the physical pain caused, sexual violence against men can also exploit local ideas of gender and sexuality to cause tremendous mental and psychological anguish for survivors that can last for years following the attack. [26]

Male-directed sexual violence is more significant than is often thought. The scope of such crimes continues, however, to be unknown largely because of poor or a lack of documentation. The under- or non-reporting of sexual violence against males may often be due to fear, confusion, guilt, shame and stigma, or a combination thereof. [27] [28] Moreover, men may be reluctant to talk about being victim of crimes of sexual violence. In this regard, the way in which societies construct the notion of masculinity plays a role. Masculinity and victimization may be considered incompatible, in particular in societies where masculinity is equated with the ability to exert power, leading to non-reporting. [29] The incompatibility between the conventional understanding of masculinity and victimization can arise both with regard to the attack itself and when coping with the consequences of such crimes. [30] Because of under- and non-reporting on sexual violence against men, the little evidence that exists tends to be anecdotal. [25]

In the case that sexual violence against males is recognized and reported, it is often categorized as "abuse" or "torture". This is considered a tendency to hide sexual assaults directed at men as something else, and it is believed to contribute to the poor- or lack of reporting of such crimes, and can arise from the belief that sexual violence is a women's issue and that men cannot be victims of sexual assaults. [18]

Children

Sexual violence against children is a form of child abuse. It includes harassment and rape, as well as the use of children in prostitution or pornography. [31] [32]

Sexual violence is a serious infringement upon a child's rights, and one which can result in significant physical and psychological trauma to the victim. [31] [33] A 2002 WHO study approximated that 223 million children have been victims to sexual violence involving physical contact. [34] Yet, due to the sensitivity of the issue and the tendency of the crime to stay hidden, the true figure is likely to be much higher. [31] [33]

Girls are more frequent targets for sexual abuse than boys. The WHO study found that 150 million girls were abused compared to 73 million boys. Other sources also conclude that girls face a greater risk of sexual violence, including prostitution. [35]

Causes and factors

Explanations

Explaining sexual violence is complicated by the multiple forms it takes and contexts in which it occurs. There is considerable overlap between forms of sexual violence and intimate partner violence. There are factors increasing the risk of someone being coerced into sex, factors increasing the risk of an individual person forcing sex on another person, and factors within the social environment including peers and family influencing the likelihood of rape and the reaction to it. [36]

Research suggests that the various factors have an additive effect, so that the more factors present, the greater the likelihood of sexual violence. In addition, a particular factor may vary in importance according to the life stage.

Risk factors

The following are individual risks factors: [37]

The following are relationship risk factors: [37]

The following are community factors: [37]

There is also post-catastrophe sexual opportunism. Sexual opportunism during and after catastrophic events goes largely unreported. Massive spikes in human trafficking of girls and other humanitarian abuses has been reported in events such as after the devastating April 2015 Nepal earthquake. [38] [39] [40]

Perpetrators

There is no stereotypical profile of sexually violent persons. Perpetrators may be coming from various backgrounds, and they may be someone known by the victim like a friend, a family member, an intimate partner, an acquaintance, or they may be a complete stranger. [41] The primary motivators behind sexually violent acts are believed to be power and control, and not, as it is widely perceived, a sexual desire. Sexual violence is rather a violent, aggressive and hostile act aiming to degrade, dominate, humiliate, terrorize and control the victim. [42] Some of the reasons for committing sexual violence are that it reassures the offender about his sexual adequacy, it discharges frustration, compensates for feelings of helplessness, and achieves sexual gratification. [43]

Data on sexually violent men are somewhat limited and heavily biased towards apprehended rapists, except in the United States, where research has also been conducted on male college students. Despite the limited amount of information on sexually violent men, it appears that sexual violence is found in almost all countries (though with differences in prevalence), in all socioeconomic classes and in all age groups from childhood onwards. Data on sexually violent men also show that most direct their acts at women whom they already know. [44] [45] Among the factors increasing the risk of a man committing rape are those related to attitudes and beliefs, as well as behavior arising from situations and social conditions that provide opportunities and support for abuse.

Consequences

"Sexual and gender-based violence destroys people, it destroys local communities and it is extremely difficult to mend the damage. That's why we have to do more to prevent it." — Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide [46]

Sexual violence is a serious public health problem and it has both short and long term negative physical and psychological effects on health and well-being. [47] There is evidence that male and female victims of sexual violence may experience similar mental health, behavioral and social consequences. [48] [49] [50] Watts, Hossain, and Zimmerman (2013) reported that 72.4% of the victims had at least one gynecological complaint. 52.2% suffered from chronic lower abdominal pain, 27.4% from abnormal vaginal bleeding, 26.6% from infertility, 25.3% from genital sores, and 22.5% from swellings in the abdomen. 18.7% of the participants also suffered from severe psychological and surgical morbidity including alcoholism. 69.4% showed significant psychological distress, 15.8% attempted suicide, 75.6% had at least one surgical complaint. 4.8% of the participants had a positive HIV status. [51] In child sexual abuse (CSA) cases, the child may suffer mental health disorders that can extend into adult life especially if sexual abuse involved actual intercourse. [52] [53] [54] Studies on abused boys have shown that around one in five continue in later life to molest children themselves. [55] CSA may lead to negative behavioral patterns in later life, learning difficulties as well as regression of or slower development. [56]

The table below gives some examples of possible physical and psychological consequences of sexual violence: [57]

Examples of fatal outcomes related to sexual violence

  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • AIDS-related

Examples of non-fatal outcomes related to sexual violence

Physical consequences

Psychological consequences

  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Infertility
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Sexually transmitted infections (stis), including hiv/aids
  • Obesity or anorexia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Gynecological and pregnancy complications
  • Migraines and other frequent headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Rape trauma syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social phobias
  • Shock
  • Increased substance use or abuse;
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Alienation
  • Eating disorders

In addition to the above-mentioned outcomes, in some cases victims of sexual violence may also be stigmatized and ostracized by their families and others. [58] Societal perceptions that the victim provoked sexual violence lead to a lack of disclosure of sexual assault which is associated with even more severe psychological consequences, particularly in children. [59] Thus, more interventions are needed in order to order to change societal attitudes towards sexual violence as well as efforts designed to educate those to whom the survivors may disclose the assault. [60] [61]

Treatment

In the emergency room, emergency contraceptive medications are offered to women raped by men because about 5% of such rapes result in pregnancy. [62] Preventative medication against sexually transmitted infections are given to victims of all types of sexual assault (especially for the most common diseases like chlamydia, gonorhea, trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis) and a blood serum is collected to test for STIs (such as HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis). [62] Any survivor with abrasions are immunized for tetanus if 5 years have elapsed since the last immunization. [62] Short-term treatment with a benzodiazepine may help with acute anxiety and antidepressants may be helpful for symptoms of PTSD, depression and panic attacks. [62]

Prevention

The number of initiatives addressing sexual violence is limited and few have been evaluated. The approaches vary with most interventions being developed and implemented in industrialized countries. How relevant they may be in other settings is not well known. Early interventions and the provision of psychological support may prevent or minimize many of the harmful and lasting psychological impacts of sexual assault. [63] [64] [65]
The interventions that have been developed can be categorized as follows.

Initiatives to prevent sexual violence
Individual approachesHealth care responsesCommunity based effortsLegal and policy responses
Psychological care and supportMedico-legal servicesPrevention campaignsLegal reform
Programmes for perpetratorsTraining for health care professionalsCommunity activism by menInternational treaties
Developmental approachesProphylaxis for HIV infectionSchool-based programmesEnforcement mechanisms
Centres providing comprehensive care to victims of sexual assault
West Midlands Police campaign poster against sexual violence West Midlands Police - Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Campaign (8102670311).jpg
West Midlands Police campaign poster against sexual violence

There is also a public health approach to prevention. Because sexual violence is widespread and directly or indirectly affects a community as whole, a community-oriented approach encourages not just victims and advocates to spread awareness and prevent sexual violence, but allocates responsibility to wider community to do so as well. The CDC's report on Sexual Violence Prevention: Beginning the Dialogue [66] suggests following its four step model.

  1. Define the Problem: Collect data about the victims, perpetrators, where it's occurring, and how often it's happening.
  2. Identify Risk and Protective Factors: Research the risk factors that may put people at risk for victimization of perpetration
  3. Develop and Test Prevention Strategies: Work with community leaders, practitioners to test different sexual violence prevention strategies
  4. Ensure Widespread Adoption: Implement and spread awareness about the successful prevention strategies

Child sexual abuse prevention programmes were developed in the United States of America during the 1970s and originally delivered to children. Programmes delivered to parents were developed in the 1980s and took the form of one-off meetings, two to three hours long. [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] In the last 15 years, web-based programmes have been developed.

Statistics

Sexual violence is a widely underreported phenomenon, therefore available statistics are unlikely to inform about the true scale of the problem. The available data are scanty and fragmented. Police data, for instance, are often incomplete and limited. Data from medico-legal clinics, on the other hand, may be biased towards the more violent incidents of sexual abuse. In addition, the proportion of people who seek medical services for immediate problems related to sexual violence is also relatively small.

Reasons for non-reporting include shame and embarrassment, fear of not being believed, fear of the perpetrator of the crime, fear of the legal process, or disbelief that the police would be able to do anything to help them. [73] Men are even more reluctant to report sexual violence due to extreme embarrassment and concerns about opinions of other people, their masculinity and the fact that they were unable to prevent the assault. [74] Thus information about the extent of sexual violence against males is especially limited. Child sexual abuse is also largely underreported. Most of the data comes from asking adults about their past experiences. [75]

How rape statistics are formulated and how they correspond to the extent of the problem: Table.GIF
How rape statistics are formulated and how they correspond to the extent of the problem:

One of the reasons for non-reporting is that children lack independent access to resources. They normally require the cooperation of one of their parents who may refuse to believe their child, or may, in fact, be the perpetrator. [76]

Data on sexual violence typically come from police, clinical settings, nongovernmental organizations and survey research. The relationship between these sources and the global magnitude of the problem of sexual violence may be viewed as corresponding to an iceberg floating in water (see diagram). [77] The small visible tip represents cases reported to police. A larger section may be elucidated through survey research and the work of nongovernmental organizations.

Culture

Sexual violence occurs in all cultures with varying definitions of what constitutes it. [78] It is possible that in cultures where man and his manly role are prized better, additional perceived or real power may encourage them to think of their "rights". [79] If a woman resists sexual intercourse, it may be perceived as a direct threat by men to their masculinity, triggering a crisis of male identity and contributing to sexual control and violence as it is seen as a way of resolving this crisis. It has been reported that victims who attempt resistance or escape from the situation are more likely to be brutalized by the offender,32 thereby giving an inflated sense of power to the abuser as was seen in the New Delhi gang rape case of Nirbhaya in December 2012. It is likely that in patriarchal cultures, any resistance from the woman victim is perceived by the offender as an insult to his “manhood” further provoking him to resort to more violent means to control the victim.

There is a theory that explains sexual violence as socioculturally constructed which disproves the biological framework that suggests sexual violence is a result of a man's sexual urges. This theory looks to prove that sexual violence is a natural behavior that originates from the "biological propensity to reproduce have a net positive effect on the person's (resorting to sexual violence) reproductive success. [80] The sociocultural theory takes into account gender power equations, moral values, male dominance, and attitudes toward violence." [81]

Feminism and sexual violence

Feminist scholars and activists have made unique contributions to the discourse on sexual violence against women and men . They have proposed that the root causes of sexual violence lie in the social structure characterized by severe inequality, in which the male is dominant and the female exploited. Feminists also hold that the weak institutional arrangements in place to address consequences of sexual violence, as well as unfair treatment of the victims (or survivors, an alternatively proposed terminology) are direct reflections of the ways in which society regards men, women and the sexual relations between them. Furthermore, feminist critique has led to a closer convergence between feminism and psychology in the study of sexual violence. [82]

Conveying a connection between gender-based sexual violence and concepts of power-seeking and subordination was pioneered in the 1970s and has proven to be very influential. Within this context, rape has been assessed as a foremost tool of intimidation used by men against women. [83] Similarly, domestic violence can be viewed as a particularly severe form of patriarchal domination and oppression. [84]

Some feminist views on pornography also suggest a link between rape and pornography, by which pornography that degrades, humiliates and exercises violence upon the female body feeds a culture which a culture which validates this kinds of behavior; [85] however, there is little evidence to prove this.[ citation needed ] There are also feminists positing that certain feminist forms of pornography could actually stimulate emancipation. [86]

An intersection of Marxist and feminist theories has been utilized to offer additional insight to the topic of sexual violence. According to this argument, labor and sex are analogous in the roles they play in their respective overarching exploitative systems: both are produced by the exploited person and both are forcefully taken away from them. [87]

Some feminist scholars have illuminated the idea that all women cannot have uniformly similar experiences of sexual violence or its aftermath. For instance race and ethnicity are significant determinants of these experiences, which serves to show that approaches which are exclusively feminist or exclusively anti-racist in nature are misguided. Instead, a proposition has been made for use of inter-sectionality when studying these cases. [88]

Feminist ideas have served as catalysts for transnational movements to combat violence against women, including sexual violence. This agenda has also been adopted by feminist organizations, as illustrated by the current initiative titled the Rape Task Force of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

History

Antiquity

The oldest textual references to sexual violence can be traced back to, amongst other cultures, the ancient Greeks and Romans, where women were seen as property without any rights over their bodies or sexual integrity. Rape of women during peace times was therefore considered as property crime only affecting their owners: the husbands, sons or brothers. [89] A linguistic clue can still be found in verb to rape, which derives from Latin rapere , which originally meant 'to steal, seize, rob, carry away'; any infringement or damage to a woman or girl was primarily considered to be an offence against her husband if she was married, or against her father if she was not, and a crime against the community and public morality instead of a crime against the individual woman or girl herself. [90] Generally speaking, the victim was blamed for having put the family to shame, especially if she was not married yet and lost her virginity during the rape; many cultures tried to resolve this by allowing the rapist to marry the victim in order to restore the 'family honour' of the latter. [91] During armed conflict sexual violence, particularly rape, was perceived as a normal byproduct of war, as "a socially acceptable behavior well within the rules of warfare". [92] In Ancient Greece, women were sometimes the reason for the attack of a city, conquering women as new wives or concubines, legitimate booty, as slaves or as trophies. The fact that sexual violence to women was commonplace during both war and peace times led to the negligence of any indications of what the methods, aims and magnitude of such violence was; it was face- and nameless. [93]

Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

The European Middle Ages strongly reflected the patriarchal sexual violence view. During times of peace, female spouses had no right to refuse sex with their husbands. [94] Even though laws punishing rapes existed, sexual violence was usually considered as justified or inconsequential. Usually, depending on the elite's views, which perceived sexual violence as a minor issue, sexual violence was not prosecuted. [95] This view was also transferred to the colonies. In Alta California, for example, the Catholic clergy relied heavily on corporal punishment such as flogging, placing in the stocks or shackling of Amerindian women within their programs of Christianization. [96] Within this context of trying to restore a certain social order, women were often the victims of sexual violence if politically active and posing a threat to the existing order. [97] With regard to times of war, jurists, writers and scholars argued that as soon as war is just, no boundaries would be set towards methods used in order to achieve victory. However, with Alberico Gentili (1552–1608) discussions started that suffering of women should be reduced and rape prohibited during peace and war times. However, this view was not accepted for a long time, as women and children not participating in the fighting were still considered as being the enemy and the patriarchal view on women prevailed during peace and war times.[ citation needed ]

Gradually, over the centuries laws and customs of war changed in direction of a wider understanding of sexual violence and the need to protect potential victims.[ citation needed ] During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the US started to codify the customary rules regulating land-based wars. On 24 April 1863, President Abraham Lincoln tried to inter alia regulate the sexual conduct of Union soldiers towards civilians in hostile territory with the Lieber Code, which contained one of the first explicit prohibitions on rape. [98] Paragraphs 44 and 47 of the Lieber Code contained provisions prohibiting several crimes including all rape by an American soldier in a hostile country against its inhabitants under the penalty of death, or such other severe punishment as may seem adequate for the gravity of the offense.' [99] Thus, the only enforcement mechanisms were the military commanders themselves, having the right to execute the soldiers immediately. [98]

Scholars usually interpret Article 46 of the Annex to the Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of the Second Hague Convention (18 October 1907), which stipulated that 'Family honour and rights (...) must be respected', [100] to be an implicit prohibition of sexual assault [101] or rape. [98] However, because sexual assault was once again conceptualised as a crime of honour against the family instead of a violent crime against the individual person, Clack (2018) regarded this provision as 'a step backwards from the Lieber Code.' [101]

Control Council Law No. 10 (1945) listed 'rape' as a 'crime against humanity' Control Council Law No. 10 excerpt - rape listed as a crime against humanity.png
Control Council Law No. 10 (1945) listed 'rape' as a 'crime against humanity'

After World War I, a War Crimes Commission was established in order to bring war criminals before justice.[ citation needed ] Forced prostitution and rape was seen as grave violation of the customs and laws of war.[ citation needed ] After World War II (1939–1945), under the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (IMT) and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East at Tokyo (IMTFE), the spectrum of sexual violence as war crime was widened[ citation needed ] even though rape was not explicitly mentioned in the final verdicts. [98] [101] The transcripts of the trials did contain evidence of rape, sexual slavery, sexual sadism, sexual torture, sexual mutilation, forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced nudity, forced pornography and forced prostitution. But only after the Tokyo Tribunal, when Japanese commanders were prosecuted – for the first time based on the chain of command – for not having prevented rape and sexual slavery of comfort women during the Second World War, was sexual violence gradually considered as a grave war crime in itself. [102] [103] This view was expresssed for the first time after Nuremberg and Tokyo in the second series of trials for the prosecution of "lesser" war criminals in Allied-occupied Germany, where the Allied Control Council Law No. 10  [ de ] (Article II §1.c), enacted on 20 December 1945, explicitly listed rape as constituting a "crime against humanity". [104] [105]

After 1945, an extensive amount of both hard and soft law instruments have set rules, standards and norms for the protection of victims of sexual offences. These include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, United Nations 1979); [106] the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (United Nations June 1993); Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (United Nations December 1993); the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (Belém do Pará Convention) (Organization of American States 1994); [107] the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) (African Union 2003), and the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) (Council of Europe 2011).

The resulting, ever growing body of international humanitarian law (IHL) strongly prohibits sexual violence in all armed conflicts, and international human rights law (IHRL) and international customary law strongly prohibit it at all times. [4] [5] [11] [12] IHL ensures women are protected through a two-tiered approach, being covered by general (equal protection as men) and specific protections. IHL mandates special protections to women, according to their additional needs when they are more vulnerable, such as widows, the sick and wounded, migrants, the internally displaced, or those held in detention. [108] Meanwhile, second-wave feminists launched the anti-rape movement in the 1960s and 1970s, leading to national legal prohibitions on marital rape by most countries around the world by the 2010s, [109] while marry-your-rapist laws were increasingly abolished in the same decades. [110] [111]

Groundbreaking case law both by the ad hoc Tribunals of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established acts of rape and sexual violence as crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. [112] [113] ICTR's conviction of Jean-Paul Akayesu for genocide and crimes against humanity on 2 September 1998 is the first case in which sexual violence is perceived as an integral part of genocide as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. [114] [115] The first trial solely focused on the perpetration of systematic sexual violence (rape camps) and on crimes against humanity committed against women and girls was the Foča case, a ruling before the ICTY. [116] [117] The Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) also explicitly incorporates rape and other forms of sexual violence in the list of war crimes and therefore recognizes sexual violence as a grave breach of IHL and of the Geneva Conventions. [11] [118]

The UN Security Council, ECOSOC and the UN Commission on Human Rights do not take into account the nature of the conflict with respect to the protection of women in war time. [108] Three reports from the UN Secretary-General and five UN Security Council resolutions specifically address sexual violence. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1888 (2009), in particular, created the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict (SRSG-SVC). The Office highlighted six priorities and identified eight priority countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic (CAR), Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, South Sudan, and Sudan. SRSG-SVC is also engaged in the Middle East (Syria) and in Asia and the Pacific (Cambodia). [119] Despite strong prohibitions of international law, enforcement mechanisms against sexual violence are fragile or do not exist in many parts of the world. [4] [5] [11] [12]

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

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Violence is "the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy". Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization's definition of violence as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation."

Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence, which includes child sexual abuse, groping, rape, or the torture of the person in a sexual manner.

Acquaintance rape is rape that is perpetrated by a person who knows the victim. Examples of acquaintances include someone the victim is dating, a classmate, co-worker, employer, family member, spouse, counselor, therapist, religious official, or medical doctor. Acquaintance rape includes a subcategory of incidents labeled date rape that involves people who are in romantic or sexual relationships with each other. When a rape is perpetrated by a college student on another student, the term campus rape is sometimes used.

A significant proportion of victims of rape or other sexual violence incidents are male. Historically, rape was thought to be, and defined as, a crime committed solely against women. This belief is still held in some parts of the world, but rape of males is now commonly criminalized and has been subject to more discussion than in the past.

Psychological abuse, often called emotional abuse, is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often associated with situations of power imbalance in abusive relationships, and may include bullying, gaslighting, and abuse in the workplace. It also may be perpetrated by persons conducting torture, other violence, acute or prolonged human rights abuse, particularly without legal redress such as detention without trial, false accusations, false convictions and extreme defamation such as where perpetrated by state and media.

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. The study of victimology seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims, and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders. There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as the greater tendency to blame victims of rape than victims of robbery if victims and perpetrators knew each other prior to the commission of the crime.

Violence against women Violent acts committed primarily against women and girls

Violence against women (VAW), also known as gender-based violence and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), are violent acts primarily or exclusively committed against women or girls. Such violence is often considered a form of hate crime, committed against women or girls specifically because they are female, and can take many forms.

Rape by gender classifies types of rape by the sex and/or gender of both the rapist and the victim. This scope includes both rape and sexual assault more generally. Most research indicates that rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men; however, since the broadening of the definition of rape in 2012 by the FBI, more attention is being given to male rape, including females raping males.

Statistics on rape and other sexual assaults are commonly available in industrialized countries, and are becoming more common throughout the world. Inconsistent definitions of rape, different rates of reporting, recording, prosecution and conviction for rape create controversial statistical disparities, and lead to accusations that many rape statistics are unreliable or misleading. In some jurisdictions, male-female rape is the only form of rape counted in the statistics. Countries may not define forced sex on a spouse as "rape". Rape is a severely under-reported crime with surveys showing dark figures of up to 91.6% of rapes going unreported. Prevalence of reasons for not reporting rape differ across countries. They may include fear of retaliation, uncertainty about whether a crime was committed or if the offender intended harm, not wanting others to know about the rape, not wanting the offender to get in trouble, fear of prosecution, and doubt in local law enforcement.

Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behavior by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. When force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester. The term also covers any behavior by an adult or older adolescent towards a child to stimulate any of the involved sexually. The use of a child, or other individuals younger than the age of consent, for sexual stimulation is referred to as child sexual abuse or statutory rape. Live streaming sexual abuse involves trafficking and coerced sexual acts and or rape in real time on webcam.

Rape Type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse without consent

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

There are many different theories explaining the causes of sexual violence. The theories that will be discussed in this article include military conquest, socioeconomics, anger, power, sadism, traits, ethical standards, laws, and evolutionary pressures that lend some explanation to the causes of sexual violence. Please note, most of the research on the causes of sexual violence has only been done on male offenders and is in no way fully developed.

Initiatives to prevent sexual violence

As sexual violence affects all parts of society, the responses that arise to combat it are comprehensive, taking place on the individual, administrative, legal, and social levels. These responses can be categorized as:

Victimisation is the process of being victimised or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimisation is called victimology.

Domestic violence Pattern of behavior involving abuse of members of the same family

Domestic violence is violence or other abuse in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Domestic violence is often used as a synonym for intimate partner violence, which is committed by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner, and can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. In its broadest sense, domestic violence also involves violence against children, parents, or the elderly. It takes a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive, and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as choking, beating, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include stoning, bride burning, honor killings, and dowry deaths.

Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the east of the country in particular, has been described as the "Rape Capital of the World," and the prevalence and intensity of all forms of sexual violence has been described as the worst in the world. Human Rights Watch defines sexual violence as "an act of a sexual nature by force, or by threat of force or coercion," and rape as "a form of sexual violence during which the body of a person is invaded, resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim, with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or other part of the body."

Research published from 2000 to 2020 illustrates increased prevalence rates of sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities compared to the general population.:61 The World Health Organization funded a study that found 15% of the adult population worldwide have a disability, putting them at increased risk of physical, sexual, and intimate partner violence. Of that 15%, 6.1% or an estimated 7,008,716,704 adults worldwide have intellectual disability with 5.5% experiencing sexual violence. In another report, the WHO found that worldwide, children with intellectual disabilities experience a 4.6 times greater risk of sexual violence than those without disability. In the United States, The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in the National Crime Victimization Survey the rate of sexual violence for those with an intellectual disability is five times higher than for those without any disability. Both men and women with intellectual disabilities experience sexual violence that includes rape, sexual coercion without physical force, and sexual experiences without physical contact. Perpetrators of sexual violence are not only strangers but can be caregivers, acquaintances, and intimate partners. The perpetrator of the assault often determines if the crime will be reported.

Domestic violence in the United States

Domestic violence in United States is a form of violence that occurs within a domestic relationship. Although domestic violence often occurs between partners in the context of an intimate relationship, it may also describe other household violence, such as violence against a child, by a child against a parent or violence between siblings in the same household. It is recognized as an important social problem by governmental and non-governmental agencies, and various Violence Against Women Acts have been passed by the US Congress in an attempt to stem this tide.

Violence against men consists of violent acts that are disproportionately or exclusively committed against men. Men are overrepresented as both victims and perpetrators of violence. Sexual violence against men is treated differently than that committed against women in most societies and is largely unrecognized by international law.

Sexual violence in Finland

Sexual violence is defined as the use of force or manipulation to get someone to engage in unwanted sexual activity without his or her consent. Such violence takes place in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, as well as outside intimate relationships. All sexual offenses violate the basic right of sexual self-determination. In Finland, sexual violence and taking advantage of a person is always a crime, even if the assaulter was the victim's spouse, relative or their friend. Sexual offences include but are not limited to rape, forcing someone into a sexual act and taking sexual advantage of a person. The victims of sexual violence are predominantly women, but 26 percent of Finnish men have experienced sexual harassment since their 15th birthday.

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