As the BBC reports, "[t]he UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war."
Filmmaker Lisa Jackson is largely to thank for this action on behalf of women in war torn countries, for it was her documentary that inspired Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to push for this vote.
As Jackson explains, the women she interviewed while filming The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo repeatedly asked her to please make their stories known, so that people in positions of power might be motivated to take action to help them. In an effort to ensure that their voices were heard, Jackson screened the film in the US Senate, in the British House of Commons, and in the Belgian Parliament. When American Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad saw the film, the hopes of the Congolese women Jackson had interviewed were realized, for he immediately decided to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council that would afford greater protections to women in countries where rape is systematically being used as a weapon of war.
In the past, the UN has not considered rape as a security issue, but as a health or women's issue. Jackson hopes that, by elevating the attention given to rape to that afforded other security issues, this vote will lead to more being done to prevent rape by providing security to women in areas where war and hate make them vulnerable. She also hopes that this resolution will lead to the creation of greater protections against attacks by UN Peacekeepers, who are currently sent back to their host countries if accused of rape, where generally the incident is not investigated.
This resolution brings hope.
(This piece has been updated since it was first posted at noon, the last two paragraphs and final line were added at 1:30 pm EST. Oh, and a special Tip of the Hat to Coffee Shop Philosophy for writing about the travesty of ignoring -or accepting as normal - the high number of rapes in war torn communities.)