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Rape as a weapon of war

Par   •  21 Août 2018  •  6 106 Mots (25 Pages)  •  248 Vues

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Later, during 1960's and 1970's, rape was an omnipresent weapon during the military operations led by the army of the United States to Vietnam (Bergman, on 1974; Brownmiller, on 1980). At the same time, during the dictatorships tearing Chile (1973-1989) and Argentina (1976-1983), thousands of political prisoners were subjected to rape in the centers of torture (Conroy, on 2000; Moenne Acuna, on 2005). Somewhere else in Latin America the women were raped during armed conflicts in Salvador, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala and in Peru.

Furthermore, in a report of 1994 entitled The New Year's Rebellion: violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law during the Armed Revolt in Chiapas, Mexico, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals that, in the war led against the population of Chiapas in Mexico, which is still happening, rapes were used in a systematic way to undermine the movement of resistance which got organized in this region, to terrorize the native (autochthonous) communities, to force them to leave their houses and to give up their lands, and to affect the essence of the culture and the identity of these peoples (HRW, on 1994).

Moreover, a document of HRW (1996) entitled Shattered Lives: Sexual Violence during the US Rwandan Genocide and its Aftermath underlines that, during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, about 250,000 women, most of the origin Tutsi, were made prisoners, tortured, mutilated and raped by members of the Hutu militia, by civilians, and by soldiers of the Rwandan Armed forces, amongst which were members of the Presidential guard (HRW, on 1996: 2). Today, almost two thirds of the survivors are infected by the HIV / AIDS.

HRW also reveals that in 2002 hundreds of thousands of women and girls were victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (HRW, on 2002). In 2004, the same organization publishes a report on the armed conflict which since 2003 until today, strikes the region of Darfur in Sudan. Entitled Darfur in Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan, this report sounds the alarm on mass rapes


committed by soldiers and militiamen janjaweed in cities, villages and refugees' camps of Darfur (HRW,on 2004).

So, from the first World War to the more recent armed conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Darfur, we notice to what extent the rape is far from being an exceptional and isolated phenomenon arriving only in periphery of the armed conflicts. It is entirely a part of the war. As underlines it Ruth Seifert (1996) in his entitled study "The Second Front, The Logic of Sexual Violence in Wars": " during war, women are always on the frontline " (Seifert, on 1996: 37).

A definition of rape in wartime requires that we linger at first in the concept of rape. The rape can be briefly defined as an imposition by strength of unwanted sexual relations. However, this short definition does not reveal the various dimensions, stakes and social meanings associated with this act of violence. Studies made on sexual violence demonstrate that instead of being an aggressive expression of sexuality, rape is rather an act of violence, domination and misogyny having its roots in the patriarchy (Brownmiller, on 1980; Ellis, on 1989).

Rape Patriarchy and militarism

The feminist papers define the patriarchy as a dynamic structure based on uneven reports of power between the women and the men (Walby, on 1990; Hurtig, Kail and Rouch, on 2002). The patriarchy is a real system that has a clean historicity and shows itself by practices of domination, the purpose of which is to maintain the women in a subordinate position (Walby, on 1990; Hurtig, Kail and Rouch, on 2002). The feminist researches show that the patriarchy is a system which legitimizes the discrimination and the violence against the women to insure their oppression in society (Moore, on 1994; Heise, on 1995).Whether it is by threat, constraint or strength, the violence towards the women takes on numerous forms, the violence of which domesticates, the sexual harassment, the psychological violence, the verbal abuse, etc. Rape is only an example of the multiple manners, violence against women is shown in the patriarchy.

For a long time, the subject of rape was considered as being a matter of private life (Ellis, on 1989; Bevacqua, on 2000). Rape was then collected as a personal act which concerned only the rapist and the victim. Dislodged from the shadows of the "private" by the women's movement in the 1960s, rape is perceived today not as a "private" act but as an act of violence and domination (Ellis, on 1989; Bevacqua, on 2000). In the entitled work Theories of Rape: Inquiries into the Causes of Sexual Aggression, Lee Ellis (1989) underlines that rape is an instrument of social control to immortalize the subordination of the women in the community. She writes: " in theory feminist, rape is a shape of aggression which is not used to satisfy a sex drive but rather so that the women are frightened and intimidated enough so that men can maintain their socioeconomic and political supremacy " (Ellis, on 1989: 21). Rape, and even the simple fear of rape, tends to limit the freedom of action of women and comes to modify their capacity of assertion, self-determination and insertion in the society. As a consequence, in the Patriarchal societies, rape represents a permanent take over on the body and the life of the women. Because if it affects directly those who are victims, rape is also an infringement on the autonomy and on the fundamental rights of all women.

Rape which occurs in wartime is, in many respects, an extension of the disparities and the violence which undergo the women daily in peace period. In her book, Brownmiller (1980) writes that, if it can be used during war for strategic purposes, rape does not need complicated political motivation except in a " general contempt for the physical integrity of the women " (Brownmiller, on 1980: 51). Brownmiller (1980) does not separate the


problem of rape in wartime from that committed in peacetime. For her, wether it is committed during the war or in peacetime, rape is always an act of misogyny.

For his part, Ruth Seifert (1994) is not as categorical as Brownmiller (1980). In " War and Rape: A Preliminary Analysis ", she underlines that the sexual abuses committed against the women during the war differ from those committed in peacetime because they occur in a context of more generalized and systematic violence. Yet, Seifert (1994) specifies that if the rape in wartime


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