Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Can tracking rape in conflict prevent genocide?

Writing a blog for the campaign 'Women Under Siege', a project which documents and advocates sexualised violence in conflict, Alex Zucker, a director of the Auschwitz Institute, and a director of the Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies at Cardozo Law School, asks whether tracking rape in conflict can prevent genocide.

Arguing that "one of the basic tenets for preventing genocide, after all, is the understanding that it is a process, not an event", Zucker drew attention to the example of Rwanda in 1994:

"Tutsi women were often raped with objects such as sharpened sticks, destroying their internal organs so they couldn’t bear any more children. This assault on bodily and reproductive functions, on a group’s life force, reveals the perpetrators’ aim of destroying the group as a whole."

Highlighting conflicts in Burma, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zucker added,

"Looking through this lens, we may recognize genocide, or the risk of it, in a number of conflicts around the world that most observers have yet to consider “genocidal.”

"Sri Lanka: Although armed conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009—a conflict that saw many instances of state security forces raping Tamil women in reprisal for rebel attacks—Human Rights Watch has reported that “politically motivated sexual violence by the military and police continues to the present.” Here, too, in addition to systematic rape of Tamil men and women in custody by members of the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups, life force atrocities have occurred.

A Tamil man, whose account was corroborated by medical evidence, told HRW: “Two officials held my arms back [while] a third official held my penis and inserted a metal rod inside. They inserted small metal balls inside my penis. These had to be surgically removed after I escaped from the country.”

See Alex Zucker's full blog here.

See here for Women Under Siege's feature on Sri Lanka, including 'How sexualised violence is used as a weapon of war'.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.