Rape in Chad, Bosnia – and right here in the city.
For the last two days, reports of women’s rights abuses have dominated the homepage of our site amnesty.org.uk, bringing the subject of violence against women to the fore of Amnesty UK’s online campaigning.
Two of the items concern women’s rights in conflict and post conflict situations, one of the 2 most dangerous situations for women in today’s world. In Bosnia and Herzogovina, the people who raped women during the 1992-1995 conflict have still not been brought to justice. In Chadian refugee camps, women who have escaped the Darfur conflict continue to face further sexual violence and rape.
In both of these cases, the women are not just victims of rape – but victims of how society relates to their situation. The Bosnian authorities have failed thousands of rape survivors by not providing them with the the support they need and the reparations they deserve for these war crimes. In Chad, women are ostracised for having been raped and face rejection from current or prospective husbands; to add to their plight, it is the very people who are looking after the women in the camps that are raping them.
Sexual violence is inescapable for these women. To varying degrees, violence against women is accepted by all societies worldwide – making it an inescapable reality of our times. While politically unstable countries seem an obvious environment for mass violence against women, the other most dangerous envrionment for women is in fact the home. The home – that is, in any and every country.
At last night’s launch of the book Created Equal, the pervasive nature of violence against women was brought into sharp relief. Clips from Rape in the City (channel 4 Dispatches) showed how widespread violent attitudes towards women are in London. An informal street interview with a group of young young men quickly revealed a belief that sexual violence serves as a just punishment for women who are seen to insult or offend them. I was left in disgusted shock, seeing how casually and confidently these men relayed what they would do to ‘offending’ women; listening to a 14 year old girl talk about how she became the victim of gang rape left me reeling.
How to change this situation was a key question for last night’s panel. Damion Carnell of the Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum believes we need to educate young men and boys on non-violence towards women. For producer of Rape in the City, Karen Edwards, it is perhaps raising awareness to incentivise people to take action in their own communities. For Patrick Stewart, who witnessed domestic violence against his mother when he was young, it is patronising and supporting women’s aid organisations and Amnesty’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign.
So back to our homepage. It is because so many women face the horror of sexual violence everywhere that Amnesty reports so prolifically on it. It is startling to what level women are at risk from gender based violence (i.e. because they are women) in the world today. It is of course our duty to shout about it, show people that women’s rights are being abused - and to give you the opportunity to do something about it. So here it is: please pay attention to each item on the homepage and help women who have suffered or are suffering violence in Bosnia, Chad, here – and everywhere.
See Patrick Stewart talk about his experience of violence against women – watch the video below.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.