UK: Amnesty International uses provocative new ad to shock governments into action on Darfur

Shock ad campaign uses sexual imagery to call for justice for rape victims

Amnesty International has produced a shocking new advertising campaign to draw attention to the horrific human rights violations taking place in Darfur, western Sudan.

The advert uses powerful sexual imagery, with a bayonet and two grenades posed as a penis and with the caption ‘rape is a weapon of war’. The accompanying text tells readers that rape continues to be used systematically by armed groups in Darfur, western Sudan, and in neighbouring eastern Chad to terrorise the Darfuri population.

Amnesty International has resorted to shock tactics because of the continuing failure of the international community to make the Sudanese government accept an effective peace-keeping force to protect civilians.

Heather Harvey, Amnesty International UK Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Rights Campaigner, said:

“The new Amnesty International advert is shocking – but what is more shocking is the inability of the international community to deal with the fact that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls are being systematically targeted in Darfur, that rape is literally being used as a weapon of war.

“Again and again we have said ‘never again’, but still governments across the world are failing to ensure that the people of Darfur are protected. How many times will we fail men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights in this way and look back afterwards and say we should have done more?

“Amnesty International is respected for its human rights campaigning work all over the world, and we do not take a decision to use shocking materials such as these lightly. We hope that it will put the blame where it belongs - on those who are committing these atrocities – and push the international community to act.”

Many thousands of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls have been raped in Darfur, western Sudan, since the crisis there seriously escalated in 2003. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported that last Summer, around one camp in Darfur, the number of reported rapes rose dramatically to 200 a month. Between October 2004 and February 2005, aid agency MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres) reported treating more than 500 rape victims in 25 clinics across Darfur. The Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls of Darfur rarely report rape, and so the number of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights receiving medical treatment is likely to be just a fraction of those raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence.

Rape is being used in Darfur to humiliate, punish, control, instil fear and to drive Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and whole communities from their land. The scale of sexual violence suggests that rape is being used to terrorise the whole community.

Despite many independent reports on the scale of sexual violence in Darfur, very little has been done to address it. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls do not feel safe to report rape, and those who commit rape benefit from almost total impunity.

The small African Union force in Darfur has tried to protect Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights by carrying out firewood patrols but they don’t have enough troops to protect all the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Darfur. If a rape is carried out, they tend to take no action.

The advert was designed by creative agency Different Kettle following a brief from Amnesty International. It is being placed in national newspapers.

On 29 April 2007, Amnesty International and many partner organizations are planning a Global Day for Darfur. This will build on two previous global events (in September and December 2006) which rallied support for the people of Darfur in cities all over the world. In April Amnesty International and partners will call for the prompt deployment in Darfur of an effective peacekeeping force with an effective mandate to protect civilians.

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