Various military strategies have been employed in war zones and at same time numerous weapons have been used. However, one weapon exists that is possessed by men and often used in war zones. Men have used their bodies and more specifically their manhood as one of the weapons employed in battlefields during war for a long time in war confrontations (Clifford and The Foreign Policy Association, 2008).
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Rape, as a weapon of war has been utilized as a military strategy usually employed for punitive purposes or just for ‘enjoyment’ for both sides of military confrontation. However, as more literatures explain on the international law on illegalizing rape, other literatures have exploited in deep the social, economical and psychological impact of rape on the individual, community and nation at large.
Nevertheless, more information is still needed on the social issues that act as motivation for war rape to flourish despite its international outlaw. Thus, the research will look at social motivators of war rape.
Rape as a War Weapon
According to Howard (2001) and Turshen (2000), rape in war zones normally takes place on captured women, children, and men among population under attack (cited in Anderson, 2005). Being a weapon of war, rape has been illegalized in international law and this can be evidenced from international convections.
For example, Geneva Convection outlaws rape and regards the act as violation of the Universal Human Rights Declaration that identify humans rights to life, security, equality, equal protection, freedom from torture and degrading treatment (cited in Anderson, 2005).
The use of rape as a weapon can be described as one of the most violent and humiliating offences that can be directed to people perceived to be ‘enemies’ (Clifford and The Foreign Policy Association, 2008). As a weapon of war, effects of rape do not stop at the victim but runs down in the entire family, village, and community (Clifford and The Foreign Policy Association, 2008).
Social Aspects That Motivate Rape as a War Weapon
Patriarchy and Gender-Biased Society
High concentration of societies experiencing wars is in the developing and third world countries. One peculiar element in these societies is the male-dominant society in which women are considered voiceless and mere objects (Allan, 2007).
Women feelings, needs, and personality are all disregarded and in most cases, women become victims and tools of men satisfaction. Women in war zones are regarded as tools for men to access and utilize for pleasure without being reprimanded by the society (Allan, 2007).
As such, women largely are valued in terms of their ability to satisfy men’s needs and desires and more so, to support self-images of men and punishment on the part of men is almost non-existence (Allan, 2007). As a long as such system exists, victims of rape are neither spared and hence are likely to receive harsh treatment from men.
Culture of Stigmatization
Many cultures in less developed societies still require a woman to be pure and any instances of ‘impurity’ then such woman is victimized and even ostracized. There is still strong customs regarding virginity, sex, and sexuality in war tone zones and women raped are unlikely to receive sympathy from the society (Amnesty International, 2004).
In overall, society does everything to create a culture of silence and ignorance, always putting a blind eye on the plight of victims. In fact raped victims suffer from shame and are stigmatized by family members, couples and community at large (Amnesty International, 2004).
Even despite of all evidence showing women rape cases happened at their inability to defend themselves; in most cases, they are regarded to be ‘unclean’, and unfaithful hence subjected to punishment by the society (Oxfam International, 2004).
Rape as a weapon for the enemy
Majority of cultures in war zones still accept and regard rape to be a weapon of war that an enemy should be punished with. In such cases, weak societal punitive measures exists and in fact perpetrators are in some instances rewarded for their ‘good’ job in punishing the enemy (Anderson, 2005).
Rape as a weapon of war, has been used by many communities as a tool of ethnic cleansing where different cultures perceive and regard rape as a way of either totally dealing with enemy (Anderson, 2005). In this way, rape is seen to play the role of destroying both the culture and the spirit of the men through torturing the women (Anderson, 2005).
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Society acceptance of rape as a war culture
Cultures in war-prone zones have accepted rape as a war culture in that, it is necessary if objectives of the war are to be achieved. In such way, women are regarded to be the prime targets of military actions as a way of advancing the course of war, punishing the enemies, or accelerating war.
In such ways, communities have established loose systems that can regard such rapes as illegal. As a result, rape of women is carried out unpunished even with existence of punitive systems (Oxfam International, 2004).
Challenges Faced by International Worker
The biggest challenge for the international worker has to do with operating in an environment that is not supportive, harsh and not ready to change the cultural inclination towards women violence through sex.
In such an environment, the worker’s efforts and progress are limited by loosely established structures and systems to identify, prosecute and punish perpetrators of rape and also government is unwilling to provide support and necessary help. Moreover, the worker operates in an insecure environment where his or her efforts may result in the loose of life.
Violence against women persists in many societies especially in developing and less developed countries. Rape in war is rampant as evidenced in Darfur, where women have become victims. Efforts to deal with this still receive blocks from cultural, social, and political factors.
However, what can be said is that with international law in place, there is need for collaborative efforts to ensure awareness at community level is realized in attempt to change cultural perception regarding rape victims of war.
Allan, J. (2007). The Gender Knot. New Delhi: Pearson Education India. Web.
Amnesty International. (2004). “Sudan, Darful rape as a weapon of war: Sexual violence and its consequences”. International Secretariat, United Kingdom. (Attached notes).
Anderson, A. B. (2005). Reproductive health: women and men’s shared responsibility. MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Web.
Clifford, C. and The Foreign Policy Association. (2008). “Rape as a weapon of war and its long-term effects on victims and society.” 7th Global Conference on Violence and the Context of Hostility, Budapest: Hungary. Web.
Oxfam International. (2004). “Towards ending violence against women in South Asia”. Oxfam Briefing Paper. Web.