UN security council classifies rape a "war tactic"


47 Responses to “UN security council classifies rape a "war tactic"”

  1. heresyoftruth says:

    It’s about time.

    Does this mean they will go into those communities where women are being systematically raped, and stop it now? Like the ones that were posted here in the last year, where the women end up in hospitals that are overcrowded, and barely able to keep up with the colostomy’s, and other care from the horrific wounds these women undergo?

    I would like the think the answer should be yes, but I am too cynical to believe that.

  2. Takuan says:

    maybe for starters, all developed nations that have arms industries could pass laws forbidding the sale of weapons to Africa.

  3. dora_k says:

    That the mens’ suffering comes first. Gee, those poor men, watching “their” women be raped.

    I think in general you have a point, but:

    1. You’re referring to one interviewee’s choice of words here. And I actually assumed he meant to say it the other way around and misspoke (It makes more sense as “you punish the women, and you punish the men by doing it in from of them”).

    2. He’s not necessarily referring to men’s honor or manhood at all — there’s also pain. Compare to the sentence “they’re killing children in front of their parents.”

    3. If you’re going to say rape is used as a war tactic, it’s not irrelevant to mention that rape breaks the spirits of an entire community and leads to more warfare. These are facts.

  4. mrfitz says:

    War tactic? Does that mean genocide, slavery, torture, and infanticide are also war tactics?

  5. coaxial says:


    I’d say they were, albeit immoral tactics. What’s your point?

  6. Prairie Dog says:

    I am very surprised that a cynical guy like you would even think such a law was in any way worthwhile. Do you think China and Russia would have any qualms signing such a bill for the sole reason that it might keep the competition down?

    Well … yeah. I thought the whole point of UN Peacekeepers was to stop that sort of thing, not that they are very even-handed at it.

    I must be missing something, I didn’t read the part that dealt with problem of UN peacekeepers raping the civilians that Travelina mentioned. Admitting it was an issue at all would be quite a surprise.

  7. Tenn says:

    Egads. For a moment I read that as supporting it being used as a weapon- then turned in my certificate of graduation for 5th grade reading comprehension, and went through it again.

    Good thing. Very good thing. Would be a better thing if the powder-blue-berets would do anything.

  8. Christopher Lotito says:

    Just to clarify for those who are just joining, the UN is actually condemming the use of rape as a weapon, as they rightfully should.

    I clarify because when I first read the headline here, for a moment, I was concerned that perhaps the UN was actually condoning the practice.

    In fact, looking at the comments above, a few people made this same mistake too before we read the article.

    I’d like to voice my concern that using a headlines such as “UN Security Council Classifies Rape a ‘War Tactic’” is unnecessarily glib. In fact, from any less reputable source (long time BoingBoing reader and even occasional submitter here), it could definitely be sensationalist. I know you only get so many characters for the post title, but wouldn’t it have been more informative to write “UN Security Council Condemns Rape as a ‘War Tactic’”? I don’t comment often, but I love BoingBoing and I’d hate to see something like this used as fodder by less enlightened groups to bash what I find to be wonderful source of culture and current events.

  9. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#14, second to the last graf.

    @#16, No, I lifted the headline word for word from the BBC. People need to slow down and read. “Classified” doesn’t mean “condoned.”

  10. Prairie Dog says:

    I don’t think anyone doubted your point about arms to Africa. Sorry you had to do all that work. I guess your other point was that the Western nations also have their hands in Africa. Not a surprise.

    Strangely enough though, the main weapon of choice in Rwanda appeared to have been the machete. There are other factors at work. Simply removing weapons would not fix the problem. I know you weren’t saying that, I am just pointing it out.

  11. chgoliz says:

    @44: to follow up on #43, it wasn’t just “one interviewee,” it was “the former commander of the UN peacekeeping force in eastern Congo, Maj Gen Patrick Cammaert.” His talking points could have been about the torture, disease and death suffered by the women, but instead his focus made it sound as if he believes that rape “punishes” men and women equally.

  12. mrfitz says:

    The terminology makes no sense. In traditional military terms, a tactic is some small specific part of a strategy. For example, a strategy might be to cut off enemy supply lines. One tactic belonging to this overall strategy might be to send a squad behind enemy lines to attack weak points. Calling rape a ‘tactic’ makes it sound like a legitimate part of military operations.

  13. r0llinrosie says:


  14. rebdav says:

    There might some situations that a nuclear or chemical weapon might be found to be the best tool to save a greater number of lives by quickly ending a conflict.
    Rape is not a weapon or a tool, it is not even torture which might be very questionably useful in a “ticking time bomb” scenario.
    Rape is a war crime, and should be punished both on the military leadership level and directly against the criminals.
    Rape on a wholesale level has always been the ultimate way an evil victor can demonstrate his dominance over a vanquished foe.

  15. travelina says:

    It’s nice to pass a resolution and all, but actions speak louder than words, and unfortunately, U.N. peacekeepers have been found guilty of using this weapon repeatedly against the people they were supposed to protect, in Sudan, Haiti, the Ivory Coast, etc.:

  16. Xeni Jardin says:

    Travelina, the article and the discussion at the UN speak to this point, too…

  17. Rindan says:

    No the security council did not collectively lose their marbles and justify rape as weapon. The point of classifying rape as a weapon of war is not to legitimize it. The point of classifying rape as a weapon of war is so to basically make it the UN’s business to deal with it. In the same way if all of a sudden one nation started to poison water supplies as a military tactic the UN would, in theory (and probably only in theory), step in.

    I know that the US is the great devil at the UN, but the US deserves a big round of applause for this one. This was a US sponsored and pushed resolution that China, Russia, Indonesia, and Vietnam (according the BBC article) all had reservations with. The measure was passed unanimously and hailed by human rights organizations. This was a good thing.

    The practical use of this regulation can certainly be questioned. At best, this is just a new inroad to scoring sanctions. I wouldn’t expect to see UN soldiers on the ground pointing gun barrels to stop atrocities any time soon.

  18. Takuan says:

    so who makes the rape possible?

  19. boingboing ate my name says:

    Its also possible the interviewee speaks english as a second language, he might have said it differently had he been speaking his in native language.
    #45: Im not sure what Takuan’s point about arms really was

  20. Takuan says:

    have you listened to the Stephen Lewis Massey lecture on Africa and HIV? look it up.

    another item:

    “Rape as a weapon of war
    It persists in Africa where HIV/AIDS takes a heavy toll

    César Chelala

    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Rape as a weapon of war is taking a particularly heavy toll on women’s lives in today’s conflicts around the world, particularly in several African countries. It is a form of gender genocide.

    A high proportion of the women who are victims of rape end up infected with sexually transmitted diseases and infections, including HIV/AIDS. Because most of the countries experiencing internal strife lack medicines and basic health care services, becoming HIV-infected is virtually a death sentence. “

  21. sokushitsu says:

    “tactic” or lack of correct terminology aside,
    Rape has been used as weapon for domination, humiliation, breaking the mind/will of women, children, and young men since the beginning of time, and that’s the file they’re on NOW, 2008 ACE??
    Better late than never.

    Although–I’m little wary of believing any declaration will STOP it.
    I don’t expect the world to become a hand-holding peace-a-thon ever, but you’d think we would have
    come to this conclusion A LOT sooner.

    The word rape inspires so many disgusting feelings and emotions in any basic human being that isn’t a sociopathic monster—by giving it a neat little classification title that is sterlizing to the crime– that’s what putting people off from the actual CONTENT of the article.

  22. rebdav says:

    Rindan, I re-read the article after my blood pressure dropped, guess that response was a bit knee-jerk.
    Unfortunately though the UN is either toothless or so corrupt and hypocritical on almost every issue that even this very important measure rates just above a sick sad joke.

  23. Daemon says:

    So, in theory, every country on the planet is now in a state of civil war.

  24. boingboing ate my name says:

    maybe for starters, all developed nations that have arms industries could pass laws forbidding the sale of weapons to Africa.

    Because an 11 year old girl will be just fine against a gang of unarmed men…..

    If i lived in a place where gangs of people (possibly from the government) might come by and rape my daughter, then i would make sure that she could shoulder and accurately fire an AK-47 as soon as she was able.

    After all, whats the alternative? Accept the rape and hope they dont kill or totally mutilate her? Beg the UN to come and help, then hope they dont rape her too? No thanks.

    Dont forget, weapons work the same weather your attacking someone, or resisting an attack.

  25. Takuan says:

    and the NRA comes to Africa to save the day….
    I do not think plentiful,cheap automatic weapons enhances the security of the ordinary African. They tried that. Cut off the ammunition supply. Make the warlords and insane bandit captains dependent on nothing but the strength of an arm with a panga. At least then the contest would be equal.

  26. boingboing ate my name says:

    I have a serious question for your collective contemplation. Lets say you have a place like Africa where rape and murder are commonplace, chances to do well are non-existent, and people (especially women) are miserable. Not all of Africa is like this, but assume that it is for this argument.
    What if a country like the United states were to make it known to everyone in Africa that we will take all the refugees that want to come here, but only the women (and possibly any small children they might have with them). In this hypothetical, the United States will offer to come and get them, transport them to the US, feed them, clothe them, educate them, make them citizens, do as much as possible to make this an attractive offer to women.
    Now lets assume that almost all the women in our theoretical Africa accept this offer and come to the US.
    Given all that, has the US committed genocide? Is this an immoral act? After all, without the ability to have children, a civilization dies when its last remaining members die, without women a culture becomes extinct.

  27. Xenu says:

    Murder is a “war tactic” too.

  28. boingboing ate my name says:

    Make the warlords and insane bandit captains dependent on nothing but the strength of an arm with a panga. At least then the contest would be equal.

    A fair fight? Really? How does your typical 11 year old girl fare against 3 grown men with machettes? Sorry, your totally wrong, guns are equalizers. With a gun my 80 year old mother could easily kill and NFL linebacker, without it, she has no real chance.

    Cut off the ammunition supply.

    Totally impossible. Just look at the utter futility of stopping drugs from coming into the US, despite a shitload of enforcement.

  29. Takuan says:

    and you seem to presume there are no normal families in Africa. Drugs flow into America because so many want them. Guns flow into Africa because so many sell them.

  30. Antinous says:

    With a gun my 80 year old mother could easily kill an NFL linebacker

    Unlikely for the following reasons:
    1) Psychological unwillingness to kill (although if your mother is anything like my mother…)
    2) Shaky hands, bad eyesight and other debilities which are not improved by the use of a firearm
    3) Lack of practice and knowledge

    Shooting a target, let alone a human, is not that easy. I’m not anti-gun, but if you’re going to have one, you should service it regularly, understand how it works and be ready, willing and able to use it. Otherwise, it becomes a liability.

  31. boingboing ate my name says:

    “and you seem to presume there are no normal families in Africa.”
    I presume no such thing.
    “Drugs flow into America because so many want them. Guns flow into Africa because so many sell them.”
    So, what, the gun dealers force Africans to buy weapons? Your argument is absurd. Guns flow into Africa because people want them. They want them to visit violence on others or to resist said violence.

  32. Antinous says:

    The bottom line is that guns that go to Africa go to warlords, not to the defenseless. Given that we can’t even get food aid to the hungry without the warlords selling it to raise gun money, would you care to hypothesize how we might arm the victims without arming the perps?

  33. boingboing ate my name says:

    How many of those factors apply to an unarmed 80 year old woman? Shaky hands and bad eyesight are no great help in a fist fight either, but it doesnt matter because an 80 year old woman cant beat an NFL linebacker in a fist fight. She might not win a gunfight either, but at least its possible.
    I totally agree that service, training, and a willingness to kill are essential to the proper use of a firearm. Just like any tool, you have to know how to use it.
    Oh and for the record, my mom is an NRA life member ;-)

  34. boingboing ate my name says:

    “would you care to hypothesize how we might arm the victims without arming the perps?”
    Im not really trying to make a policy proposal, just saying what i would do if i had to live in a place like that: Arm the shit out of myself and any woman I cared about.
    But sense you asked, there are groups in these places whose purpose is to resist, we can arm them. At a minimum we shouldnt try to disarm them.

    Check this out

    If we really wanted to do it, we could flood the affected countries with guns so they become cheap as hell, your typical supply and demand thing. I dont think that arming the shit out of everyone is a great solution, but trying to disarm everyone is a terrible one.

  35. Anonymous says:

    What I think is the most striking thing here is that no one has said a word about the quote

    ‘You punish the men, and you punish the women, doing it in front of the men.”

    That the mens’ suffering comes first. Gee, those poor men, watching “their” women be raped. How will they ever regain their manhood? Honestly. If that’s the most important thing to the local authorities, it’s no wonder that merely the suffering of countless women isn’t enough to get the world involved. Now threaten a guy’s manhood… hey, let’s start a task force.

    In all social change, gender equality is the last hurdle and the true yardstick.

  36. stickystyle says:

    Okay, so I read the article, but I don’t get what is different now.

    Come tomorrow, now that rape is a “war tactic”, what will be different in the world?

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