This year has been especially horrific for the women of South Africa.
On October 15, two little girls, aged 2 and 3, were found in a public toilet in Diepsloot, a settlement in the north of Johannesburg, according to news reports. The girls, both cousins, who had been abducted in broad daylight, had been raped and strangled.
Lauren Wolfe, director of WMC’s Women Under Siege, visited the camp in May and captured photographs of everyday life. Her images show that for the Syrians living together in this vast camp, life goes on as usual—families cook dinner, children play in the streets, vendors sell their wares at makeshift shops. On display is everything from desolate communal kitchens in concrete bunkers to the children selling everything from cotton candy to lollipops for 10 hours a day.
Just as rape and other forms of sexualized violence have historically been viewed as a “natural” part of war, they have often been recognized as occurring in genocide but not necessarily as an act of genocide in itself.
Almost every day, readers write to tell us that women will always be targeted in conflict. Rape, they say, is just a natural part of war, and there’s no way to stop it.
Yet research shows that this isn’t actually the case.
Read the full report from Women Under Siege.
Just a few weeks ago, some 50 Kashmiri women came together to demand that police reinvestigate a well-known case of mass rape. The women—teachers, students, journalists, human rights workers, lawyers, and other professionals—filed a public interest litigation case before India’s Jammu and Kashmir high court. The alleged set of crimes, known as the Kunan Poshpora case, happened more than 20 years ago, on February 23, 1991, when armed forces allegedly raped at least 32 teenaged, adult, and elderly women.
Just before 2 a.m. and nearly half a world away, I watched a guilty verdict from Guatemala scroll by tweet by tweet on my phone. Former President Efrain Rios Montt was convicted on May 10 of genocide and crimes against humanity and given 80 years in prison. As the news came through, I felt a satisfied chill—decades after the murder of 200,000 Guatemalans and the rape of 100,000 women, mostly Mayans, justice has actually come in our lifetime.
By Lee Ann De Reus/Guest Blogger - April 23, 2013
In August 2010, reports began trickling out of Democratic Republic of Congo about another tragic episode of mass sexualized violence perpetrated by rebel troops over four days in the eastern town of Luvungi. The International Medical Corps, or IMC, an American aid group, was first on the scene to provide help and assessment. Their data informed reports by UN Peacekeeping that indicated that there were 37 victims; months later, an official UN document stated that 387 civilians had been raped.
One day in the fall of 2012, Syrian government troops brought a young Free Syrian Army soldier’s fiancée, sisters, mother, and female neighbors to the Syrian prison in which he was being held. One by one, he said, they were raped in front of him.