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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .

Justice for All: Wartime Rape and Women's Human Rights
Mary Ann Tetreault,

Global Governance 3, 2, (May-Aug. 1997),
pp. 197-212.

'Rape as a weapon of war', although hardly a new problem, has begun to be discussed much more freely as a result of the evidence from a number of recent conflicts. This article provides an analysis of the complex issues surrounding acts of sexual violence committed during wars and examines the problems which still limit the ability of the international community to make clear its condemnation of both the individual perpetrators and governments who sanction their actions.

Whilst the problematic nature of all attempts to try war crimes is stressed the author suggests that tribunals have been particularly ineffective in handling charges of sexual violence against women. This is seen as the result of two intertwined sets of problems - the historically unequal treatment of women in relation to human rights and traditional social responses to female victims of sexual violence. Both these areas are examined in detail and the latter is graphically illustrated with evidence from conflicts in Kuwait and Bosnia. Throughout the author emphasises the paradox that whilst women are inhibited by shame, family honour and very real fear of rejection from giving evidence it is only through use of legal structures that the seriousness of wartime rape will be internationally acknowledged.

Valerie Morgan, University of Ulster

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