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Impunity or Immunity: Wartime Male Rape and Sexual Torture as a Crime against Humanity

Hilmi Zawati

2007

Volume: 17 Issue: 1
Torture

Abstract

This paper seeks to analyze the phenomenon of wartime rape and sexual torture of Croatian and Iraqi men and to explore the avenues for its prosecution under international humanitarian and human rights law.
Male rape, in time of war, is predominantly an assertion of power and aggression rather than an attempt on the part of the perpetrator to satisfy sexual desire. The effect of such a horrible attack is to damage the victim’s psyche, rob him of his pride, and intimidate him. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Iraq, therefore, male rape and sexual torture has been used as a weapon of war with dire consequences for the victim’s mental, physical, and sexual health. Testimonies collected at the Medical Centre for Human Rights in Zagreb and reports received from Iraq make it clear that prisoners in these conflicts have been exposed to sexual humiliation, as well as to systematic and systemic sexual torture.
This paper calls upon the international community to combat the culture of impunity in both dictator-ruled and democratic countries by bringing the crime of wartime rape into the international arena, and by removing all barriers to justice facing the victims. Moreover, it emphasizes the fact that wartime rape is the ultimate humiliation that can be inflicted on a human being, and it must be regarded as one of the most grievous crimes against humanity. The international community has to consider wartime rape a crime of war and a threat to peace and security. It is in this respect that civilian community associations can fulfill their duties by encouraging victims of male rape to break their silence and address their socio-medical needs, including reparations and rehabilitation.


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