Rape as a Tool of War

This seeks to analyze and discuss ‘Rape as a tool of war’ as elucidated by James R. Mchenry III in the case of Muslim women raped at Foca and separate case Akayesu and Kunarac. In this paper we will find why rape is used as a tool and international law seeks to address rape as crime against humanity. This will also discuss the meaning of rape itself and the psychological processes involved in the context of using it as a tool of war. Why rape is being used as tool of war?

MacKinnon in discussing, genocidal rape, said that the use of rape in the conflict in Yugoslavia is ethnic rape as an official policy of war in a genocidal campaign for political control. She explained, “That means not only a policy of the pleasure of male power unleashed, which happens all the time in so-called peace; not only a policy to defile, torture, humiliate, degrade, and demoralize the other side, which happens all the time in war; and not only a policy of men posturing to gain advantage and ground over other men. It is specifically rape under orders. This is not rape out of control. It is rape under control.

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It is also rape unto death, rape as massacre, rape to kill and to make the victims wish they were dead. It is rape as an instrument of forced exile, rape to make you leave your home and never want to go back. It is rape to be seen and heard and watched and told to others: rape as spectacle. It is rape to drive a wedge through a community, to shatter a society, to destroy a people. ” It is a tool in the sense that the rape is use to crash the enemy not only physically but psychologically, making the enemy to feel that it would have been better not to have borne or existed upon the earth. What happened in the case of Akayesu and Kunarac?

What are the psychological processes involved in that rape, if any? For us to appreciate a rape as a tool let use discuss the said actual case. Mchenry III said that sometime in 1996, prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted eight Bosnian Serb police and military officers who raped and sexually assaulted fourteen Bosnian Muslim women in the town of Foca, a bucolic village in southeastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mchenry III said, “All of the women, including some girls as young as twelve years old, were subjected to ‘almost constant rape, sexual assault, and torture.

” Citing Kate Nahapetian, Mchenry III described the impact of these attacks as both psychologically and physically devastating: The physical and psychological health of many female detainees seriously deteriorated as a result of these sexual assaults. Some of the women endured complete exhaustion [and serious gynecological harm]…. Some of the sexually abused women became suicidal. Others became indifferent as to what would happen to them and suffered from depression…. All the women who were sexually assaulted suffered psychological and emotional harm; some emain traumatized.

One could feel the suffering that these women experienced. One would most probably condemn everything. Humans are believed universally to be created with dignity. Why would the men in war be so cruel that they would need to resort to psychological torture by raping the women to attain their goals? It is not correct either to view that the rape must be part of war, that is, to attain by all means the goal by all means. To sustain the argument that rape is part of war would be to reduce war as nothing but killing for the sake of killing.

The attacks on the Muslin women of Foca were part campaign of ethnic cleansing campaign by Bosnian Serbs to reduce if not to remove from the face of the earth the non-Serb population in Serbian-claimed regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In effecting the objective, the Bosnian Serb leaders in charge of Foca murdered most of the non-Serb men in the town and sent the survivors to concentration camps but the women were not killed immediately but were sent to rape camps where they were forced to perform sexual services for the Bosnian Serb soldiers.

Some of these women were gang-raped and while others were forced to live in a condition of sexual slavery. A similar series of events occurred in Rwanda two years later where Jean-Paul Akayesu, the mayor of Taba, a small Rwandan village, knowingly allowed the mass rape of hundreds of Tutsi women in 1994, even though as mayor he controlled the police and could have prevented the attacks. Mchenry III said that many women were forced to endure multiple acts of sexual violence which were at times committed by more than one assailant and that these acts of sexual violence were generally accompanied by explicit threats of death or bodily harm.

Conviction of genocide and crimes against humanity for his encouragement of the rape of Tutsi women in Rwanda was rendered by Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1998 and his conviction was upheld by Appeals Chamber in 2001. Akayesu’s conviction was viewed historic because it was the first time in history that a defendant was tried and convicted by an international tribunal for genocide and that his conviction paved the way for later prosecutions of sexual crimes by international tribunals, including the recent trial of some of the perpetrators of the events in Foca.

Mchenry III narrated that in 2001, about nine years after event in Foca, Trial Chamber II of the ICTY found three Bosnian Serb soldiers–Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic–guilty of committing crimes against humanity including torture and rape. Said verdict in Prosecutor v. Kunarac was also hailed worldwide because wartime rape campaigns were unequivocally defined as both a crime against humanity and a war crime and the court expanded the definition of slavery as a crime against humanity to include sexual slavery.

Is there justice for the victims of rape as tool for war? There is justice for victims after all because a crime committed during is always a crime. With the first conviction in the case Akayesu, 1998 and second case of Kunarac in 2001, an elusive justice found its way. It just prove that the universality of human rights find their reason for vindication in the ever expanding knowledge of mankind. Justice though abstract may after all be reality even in the international scene.

What are the then implications of convictions of Akayesu and Kunarac of rape as crimes against humanity? Well the implications could be broad enough to benefit mankind particularly the women groups. It can be said now that rape is a crime in times of peace and in times of war. One would be committing a fallacy to argue that rape is part of war or a necessary consequence of gaining power in war. This means that the illegitimacy of going to war is not made less illegitimate by committing rape as a tool for war. Neither could it be said that there are no rules on how to win a war.

The maxim that the end does not justify the means does hold here. To conclude, it must be stated that rape as tool for war may have been resorted to by the people engaged in war and after their arguments that it is a necessary effect or consequence of war. But international human law has considered the same as crime against humanity and they deserve to be punished. The ICTR decision in the case of Kunarac expanding the definition of a crime against humanity has basis in logic and in morality for the preservation of what is just in society.

It is also humane, and Mchenry III has concluded that it follows closely from the example set by the ICTR in Akayesu in which rape is condemned as genocidal. With the decisions in both cases defining rape there is now a clear condemnation of rape as both a war crime and a crime against humanity . The decision implies that women now possess “truly equal legal standing with men in the human community as both men and women are shielded from personal sexual violations like those that occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Rape in times of war may not be prevented by the decisions but it would prove to the world that justice has its own way of vindicating itself and such decisions by the international courts could send a strong message that crime has its penalties. Cruelty in crimes is an aggravating circumstance, in the same way rape in times of war, though viewed by the perpetrators as way to attain to attain political objective, should also be taken as aggravating to related crimes against humanity.