Friday, June 20, 2008

Rape is a Weapon

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.)

8 comments:

DJ Dual Core said...

It's nice to know that those in power can occasionally be shocked into doing the right thing.

On the glass-half-empty side, is this what it takes? Does is take a professional documentary of the systematic rape many thousands of women to move the ruling class in the direction of human rights?

If so, the bar is way the *%&$ too high.

Erica said...

Could your blog title be a nod to the Velvet Underground?

I'm sure thats been asked before, and you have my permission to politely ignore this comment...

Except for this part: Great blog, i'm adding a link!

Habladora said...

Erica,
I'm glad you like the blog! Your profile is closed to me though, so I can't read your site.
As for how I settled on a blog title, the best representation might be found in this post. "Lisa Says" might have worked too, though...

Amelia said...

Thanks for writing about this. I was informed about this after getting an e-mail from a member of my college's feminist group.

I really wish I had enough time to write my own post about it. Yarg. Maybe I should just direct people to this lovely blog.

daedalus2u said...

I think this ruling by the Security Council is very important because it becomes an issue of human rights, a war crime, and a crime against humanity which all nations have legal jurisdiction to prosecute.

LynnAlexander said...

Yes, hope. But we have seen so many resolutions pass without the money and will to follow.

Of course each time I try to be hopeful, and try to look for results. But I am discouraged by the fact that we have a tendency to learn about issues (or relearn about the same ones over and over and pretend to be shocked when we really know!) then we resolve to do this or that, take this step or pass this new resolution...but we do not include the tools really needed to get things done.

This often amounts to nodding at our faces, stabbing us in the back. We have have to really REALLY push for REAL action. Then we have to follow up and see if this action has met our expectations of if its a token promise.

I'm discouraged by token promises!

LynnAlexander said...

Oh by the way, I like the name. There's Democratic Underground, as well. To me, Feminist Underground kind of suggests that we are working together in ways that are not as conspicuous but are still powerful..

Someday I hope we see our struggles as open discussions. I don't want to be underground. I want to be in their faces. :) So glad to have found you guys!

Habladora said...

We're glad you found us too! I worry that feminism has always had to be 'underground' - or at least subversive, and that there is a pretty strong movement aimed at keeping it that way. At the very least, resolutions such as these call attention to the real issues that still face so many women and bring them out into the open, and I also hope that this will help people see rape for the violent crime that it is.