On May 6, Nobel Peace Laureates and advocacy organizations around the world made a pledge to campaign for the end of rape and gender based violence in times of conflict. As outlined on the organization’s website, The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict is dedicated to providing voices to survivors and compelling political leaders to taking preventative measures against rape and gender violence. Rape is often deliberately used as a tactic of terror, and too often as well are survivors stigmatized and left with the burden of shame in addition to physical trauma. The Campaign also states that current commitments to end rape and gender violence are inadequate or unenforced.
The Campaign website includes news updates, resources, information about rape as a weapon, and more. If you are interested in getting involved, their site offers ways to volunteer, use social media or offer donations to further the cause. You can also take a pledge as outlined on the home page.
Rape is not always an act of violence between two individuals, but oftentimes implicated on a much larger scale, as part of a much larger agenda. Gender violence can include and is not limited to, rape, sterilization, and sexual slavery. These kinds of tactics can be used to destroy communities by both state security and arme forces, even after peace has been established. For all the above reasons and more, this campaign is crucial to advocating for human rights that have been heretofore under or little addressed.
The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict
In an article in the Guardian, journalist Will Storr reports about the invisibility of men as victims of rape in war-torn African countries. He talks to survivors in Uganda, whose experiences are not only horrific, but are endured in silence and fear of being discovered.
Storr explains that rape is often used as a brutal weapon of war, but not exclusively against women as is commonly thought. Men run great risks if they admit that they have been raped: police may think they are homosexual–a crime in most African countries–and arrest them. Wives and family may leave and shun them, thinking they have lost their ability to be men. And if they do approach organizations for help, they are often rejected by NGOs and UN initiatives, whose mandates are focused on women only.
Underlying much of these issues in dealing with the rape of men has to do with the ideas of gender and the nature of this kind of violence. The article states that gender roles in African societies tend to be rigid and traditional in their concepts of masculinity, and a man who has been raped does not fit those concepts. However, the organizations that serve war-stricken areas perpetuate the invisibility of this violence against men by failing to acknowledge that it happens when they do encounter it. These groups function according to the the idea that women are the only victims, and that men are only perpetrators of rape.
The rest of the article can be found here.
Storr’s photographs from his trip to Uganda can be found here.