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Rape as a tool of war

Sexual violence against women is no longer seen as just a by-product of conflict, yet there is still more to be done to ensure perpetrators of rape are brought to justice, writes Hilary Lennox

11 July 2017

This year the United Nation’s theme is ‘Preventing Sexual Violence Crimes through Justice and Deterrence’ and 19 June marked the now annual International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is designed to raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence. Sadly, women’s bodies are being used now as a tool of war and a deliberate strategy for terrorism. It is not just a by-product of war, or a result of sexual gratification – it is a deliberate strategy used by terrorist groups to punish, humiliate, and control communities. If you destroy the women’s dignity, you destroy the whole community.

There are several terrorist groups currently at play. Somali women have been liberated from Al-Shabaab, Nigerian women from Boko Haram, and Yezidi women from Isis. These extremist groups specifically target women and girls. Isis justifies...

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