The Rome Statute, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, recognizes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, "or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" as crime against humanity if the action is part of a widespread or systematic practice.
Rape was first recognised as crime against humanity when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War. Specifically, it was recognised that Muslim women in Foca (southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina) were subjected to systematic and widespread gang rape, torture and enslavement by Bosnian Serb soldiers, policemen and members of paramilitary groups after the takeover of the city in April 1992.
The indictment was the first time that sexual assaults were investigated for the purpose of prosecution under the rubric of torture and enslavement as a crime against humanity. The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes again humanity.
On June 19th, 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1820 unanimously, which describes rape as a “tactic of war and a threat to international security,” and can now constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. In the past, rape was seen as an inevitable side-effect of war when men are deprived of female companionship for long periods of time, but in the 20th century rape has become a tactic of physical and psychological warfare. It remains highly unacknowledge that men as well as women can be victims of rape and sexual torture. In particular, men often do not find any help from international agencies and organisations but might even face social marginalisation when they speak up. Furthermore, male victims of rape often have wounds that impede them for the rest of their lifes.
Rape in figures
United States of America
According to research by the National Organization of Women (NOW): every year approximately 132,000 women report that they have been victims of rape or attempted rape, and more than half of them knew their attackers. It's estimated that two to six times that many women are raped, but do not report it. Every year 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once.
The United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 4 times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.
1,5 % of women between the age of 18 and 59 have declared having been raped or victims of an attempted rape. One in five rapes were committed by an ex-partner, and the half of the victims knew their agressor. Sexual violence is less frequent within a relationship although women without a university degree are three times more likely to suffer from domestic violence than women with a university degree.
Democratic Republic of Congo
According to the New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, "the rape capital of the world is eastern Congo, where in some areas three-quarters of women have been raped." A former U.N. force commander there, Patrick Cammaert, says it is “more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier. Amnesty International in 2004 estimated that 40, 000 women had been raped since 1998. According to a 2011 report in The Guardian, up to 100% of imprisoned men were victims of rape and sexual torture which was often performed in a regular way. Severe health problems remain for the whole life.
As South Africa began its transition to democracy in the early 1990s, it saw a rapid increase in reported rapes and other violent crimes. Rapes increased from 27,056 reported cases in 1993 to a peak of 55,114 between April 2004 and March 2005, reflecting a prevalence rate of 118.3 per 100 000 of the population. This is amongst the highest reported rates of rape in the world. In 1997 the Human Sciences Research Council released a report claiming that child rape in South Africa had reached “epidemic proportions”. Between 1993 and 1996 child abuse cases reported to the South African Police Service’s Child Protection Unit increased by 47%, from 15,224 to 32,033 cases, with 18,079 of these being cases of child rape. Five years later, on 15 May 2002, it was reported in Parliament that out of 15,650 child rapes reported to the police in South Africa between January and September 2001, 5,859 were of children between 0-11 years of age.
Rape in South Africa has also emerged as a crime of extreme violence. Commentators liken the types of rape they see in South Africa to those perpetrated during armed conflict, in terms of the degradation, ritual humiliation and extent of injuries involved. Studies at various sites have found multiple perpetrator involvement in between 25% to 55% of rapes. Indicating the extremity of the violence that accompanies rape, researchers have found that twelve times more women are raped and then murdered in South Africa every year than in the United States. A recent national mortuary-based study concluded that in South Africa a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner, another record-setting statistic. The horror of rape in this context is compounded by the fact that around 10% of South Africans are estimated to be HIVpositive. The highest rates of infection are found among women below the age of 30, who make up 80% of the complainants in this study, with almost one in three estimated to be infected. Scholars have started to draw a link between these high levels of HIV infection and the prevalence of coerced sex within that group. Research conducted by the Medical Research Council suggests a reporting rate of around 1 in 9 rapes, which has been generally accepted as credible by both government and civil society. Of the 52 617 rape cases reported in South Africa between April 2006 and March 2007, 60% of the cases were withdrawn. A recent study by the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre showed 44% of those cases were closed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and 16% by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The conviction rate for cases in their sample was around 4%.
- ↑ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2010). Rape: Weapon of War. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from United Nations Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/en/newsevents/pages/rapeweaponwar.aspx
- ↑ The rape of men, The Guardian, 17.7.2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men
The rape of men, The Guardian, 17.7.2011
- French national statistics: http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/document.asp?reg_id=0&id=2221
- National Organization for Women: http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats_old.html
- US Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/rape.htm
- Artz, L. and Smythe, D. (Eds) Should we Consent? Rape law reform in South Africa, Cape Town, Juta, 2008.
- South Africa’s crime statistics are not uncontroversial. In July 2000 the Minister of Safety and Security placed a moratorium on the release of crime statistics pending a review of data collection practices. Although publication of crime statistics was resumed the following year the SAPS has retained a reluctance to make such statistics available outside the annual release. See Antony Altbeker, Puzzling Statistics: Is South Africa Really the World’s Crime Capital? SA CRIME QUARTERLY, 11 (2005)
- Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, Media Release, 1 June 1997. Available at http://www.hsrc.ac.za/media/1997/6/19970601.html.
- Approximately 10% of all rapes reported during that period in South Africa were of children under the age of 12. Joan van Niekerk, Failing our Future: Responding to the sexual abuse of children, 3 SA CRIME QUARTERLY, 1 (2003).
- Lillian Artz & Kristi Kunisaki, Rape During Armed Conflict and Reflections on the ‘Uncivil War’ on Women In South Africa, in WHY IS THERE SO MUCH VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA?, Proceedings from a conference held on 14 April 2003 (Somayah Abdullah, et al. eds). Artz & Kunisaki point to factors such as the high levels of mutilation and other injuries that attend rape in South Africa, as well as the prevalence of multiple perpetrator and gang rapes and forced pregnancy.
- Denny forthcoming = 25%. SWART, L., ET AL RAPE SURVEILLANCE TROUGH DISTRICT SURGEONS OFFICES IN JOHANNESBURG, 1996–1998: EVALUATION AND PREVENTION IMPLICATIONS. (1999); LORNA MARTIN, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: AN ANALYSIS OF THE EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PATTERNS OF INJURY IN RAPE HOMICIDE IN CAPE TOWN AND IN RAPE IN JOHANNESBURG.(1999).
- The Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust reported in 1998 that 55% of the women they counseled had raped by more than one offender. 25% of these rapes were perpetrated by known gangs. In multiple perpetrator rapes the number of offenders ranged from 2-30 in respect of any one victim.
- Shanaaz Matthews, et al, EVERY SIX HOURS A WOMAN IS KILLED BY HER INTIMATE PARTNER: A NATIONAL STUDY OF FEMALE HOMICIDE IN SOUTH AFRICA, Medical Research Council Policy brief No. 5, June 2004.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (SOUTH AFRICA), SUMMARY REPORT: NATIONAL HIV AND SYPHILIS SERO-PREVALENCE SURVEY OF WOMEN ATTENDING PUBLIC ANTENATAL CLINICS IN SOUTH AFRICA – 2001 (2001).
- Dee Smythe’s research on 1 242 cases reported at three police stations in Cape Town shows that 945 of the victims were less than 30 years of age. See also RACHEL JEWKES & NAEEMA ABRAHAMS, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA: A REVIEW STUDY, Pretoria: Crime Prevention Resource Centre (2000).
- Medical Research Council and Department of Health, SOUTH AFRICA DEMOGRAPHIC AND HEALTH SURVEY (1999); Medical Research Council, Violence Against Women in Three South African Provinces (1999). Jewkes et al REF. As Shaw and Gastrow point out (at 237) South Africans are particularly skeptical of official crime statistics given how pervasive the fear (and rhetoric) of crime and criminality is. The 1998 government imposed moratorium on the release of crime statistics, based on their assertions that these statistics were sometimes incorrect and often incorrectly interpreted just added to the perception that the South African government was hiding the true extent of criminal victimization. See Mark Shaw, Of Crime and Country: Reported Crime Trends in South Africa and Future Scenarios, NEDCOR ISS CRIME INDEX 2(3) (May-June 1998). Also see Department of Safety and Security, REPORT OF THE ORKIN COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY INTO CRIME STATISTICS (1998).
- Vetten, L., Jewkes, R., Sigsworth, R., Christofides, N., Loots, L., Dunseith, O. 2008 Tracking Justice: The attrition of rape cases through the Criminal Justice System in Gauteng, Johannesburg: Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, the South African Medical Research Council and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. View at http://www.tlac.org.za .