Archive for the ‘Women rights’ Category

Ashutosh Bhardwaj : NewdelhiThu Dec 26 2013

Maoist exile
Soni Sori with nephew Lingaram Kodapi in Delhi. IE

Away from their forested home in Dantewada, two alleged Maoists are living in exile in a crowded lane in Delhi. Barred from entering their “motherland” Chhattisgarh, tribal teacher  and her nephew Lingaram Kodapi, both accused in the Essar-Maoists payoffs case, spend their days meeting activists, students and readingMarx among other things.

“If you say Lal Salaam or use the word Marx in , you will be termed aNaxal and arrested immediately. In Delhi many people say Lal Salaam,” says Sori, 37.

“I am surprised that Marx is taught in colleges here. Arrest all these students,” adds Kodapi, 25.

In Chhattisgarh, Marx is considered to constitute Maoist literature — sufficient evidence for arrest under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

After spending over two years in , the duo were released after being granted interim  by the Supreme Court last month. But they were prohibited from entering Chhattisgarh.

“My tragedy is not the jail term. I could have lived with that. Tribals in my region (Bastar) are usually put in jail for no reason. The bigger tragedy is that I lost my motherland. Puri duniya men badnaam ho gayi main (I have been dishonoured in the whole world),” says Sori.

Her two daughters and a son live with her brother in Dantewada. “I cannot go back to my children. Their childhood has been destroyed,” she adds. After being released on bail, Sori was given little time to even meet her children, as she and Kodapi had to leave Chhattisgarh within 24 hours. They now live in the office of their lawyer,Colin Gonsalves. Always accompanied by a guard, they have to report to the nearest police station every week.

“Policemen in Delhi don’t know our case, they taunt us saying that we are notorious Naxals. They say `tumhen chhorna nahi chahiye tha. Supreme Court ne tum par meharbani kar di (you should not have been released. The Supreme Court did you a favour),” says Kodapi.

“It’s not bail. We are still living in a jail,” adds Sori.

These days, Kodapi is watching Steven Soderbergh’s Che, a gift from a British friend. He reads English books and quotes Nelson Mandela.

“The government of India has not done justice to tribals. We never asked for anything. We only want liberation, not reservations. My Constitution gives me the right to equality,” he says.

The duo have been acquitted in all other cases except the Essar-Maoists payoff case. Sori was in jail when her mother died last year. Her husband and co-accused Anil Futane reportedly succumbed to injuries he sustained in jail days after he was acquitted in August this year.

“They granted bail to the Essar general manager and B K Lala (Essar’s contractor), but denied it to us. If the high court had given me bail, I could have gone back to live in my village, but now I have been evicted, without a home,” says Sori.

Essar is alleged to have paid “protection money” to Maoists, and Sori and Kodapi are alleged to have acted as conduits.

Kodapi blames both the security forces and the Maoists. He says while the former wanted him to become a special police officer (SPO), the Maoists also wanted him to join their ranks. He refused both offers, he says.

“Maoists force tribal youths to join them. Several years ago, Badru (a Maoist commander) called me and asked me to fight against the police. I refused. Now, Badru is the police’s man,” he says.

He says the trial has steeled his resolve and “faith in the Constitution and non-violence”. “They have pitted me against myself. When they arrested me, I asked them to kill me, or else I will defeat them. Even if you keep me in jail for 20 years, I will come out and defeat you,” he says.

Read more here- http://m.indianexpress.com/news/this-isn-t-bail-we-are-still-living-in–jail-says-soni-sori–exiled–in-delhi/1211809/

 

 

Soni Sori Released

 

Soni Sori urges activists and groups to continue their fight for justice for people like her, who continue to languish in jails.

After their release from the Jagdalpur jail, Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi went to the Ma Danteshwari Temple and then onto their villages Palnar and Sameli respectively.

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu , may 30, 2013

An activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo
The HinduAn activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo

There are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years. Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in one of the eight cases filed against her.

Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in south Chhattisgarh in one of the eight cases filed against her.

She has already been acquitted in six cases, her lawyer K.K. Dubey told The Hindu.

A charge sheet was filed against Ms. Sori and others in December 2010 at the Bacheli court for allegedly torching vehicles in Nerli, near Dantewada.

Recently, she was awarded bail in the case.

“She could not be acquitted like in other cases as the witnesses did not appear,” said Mr. Dubey.

Earlier this month, Ms. Sori and her relative, activist-journalist Lingaram Kodopi, were acquitted in the Avdesh Gautam case.

They were accused of planning and executing an attack on a local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Gautam in which two persons were killed. Thirteen other co-accused, including Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi, were also acquitted and released for want of evidence by a Dantewada court.

The only case pending against Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi is the controversial Essar Steel case. They have been accused of arranging “protection money” on behalf of the company to Maoists. The main accused, D.V.C.S Verma, general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, Essar contractor, were arrested for allegedly disbursing the money.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi are in jail, like thousands of undertrial tribal people of south Chhattisgarh, Mr. Verma and Mr. Lala had been granted bail.

The charge sheet has been presented to Dantewada district and sessions judge Anita Dehariya. Charges will be framed by the court sometime in June.

“I hope after this bail and previous acquittal it will not be a problem to get a speedy trial and hopefully acquittal in all cases,” said Mr. Dubey.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi’s cases were defended by a team of lawyers and monitored by the press, national and international rights groups, there are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years.

“I once tried to put the number of cases together and it was over 600 only in the Dantewada court. It must have crossed 800 now,” said senior advocate Ashok Jain. Majority of these tribal people do not speak any other language than Gondi, have little or no money to pay a fee, have no national or international rights group to defend their cases and have been booked for allegedly participating in Naxal activities.

In private conversation, top bureaucrats, politicians and lawyers acknowledge that a majority of these cases do not merit a trial in higher courts. “This is a tragedy for a democracy,” said Mr. Jain.

In an interview to The Hindu earlier this week, Chief Minister Raman Singh acknowledged that a “huge number of cases” were pending in various district courts.

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu, May 1, 2013

 A member of All India Students Association (AISA) at Jantar Mantar on Jan. 2, 2013, demanding the release of tribal activist Soni Sori who has been languishing in Chhattisgarh jail. A file photo V.V.Krishnan
  • The HinduA member of All India Students Association (AISA) at Jantar Mantar on Jan. 2, 2013, demanding the release of tribal activist Soni Sori who has been languishing in Chhattisgarh jail. A file photo V.V.Krishnan
  • A file picture of tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: Special Arrangement.
    The HinduA file picture of tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), and Lingaram Kodopi, the activist-journalist trained in Delhi, have been acquitted in one more crucial case by Dantewada court.

The case filed in 2010 by Dantewada police alleged that Ms Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are among several others involved in planning and executing an attack on local Congress leader, Avdesh Singh Gautam, in which two persons were killed.

15 others, including activists of various mainstream political parties, who were booked with Ms Sori were also acquitted. Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a Panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi are among the accused who got acquitted on Wednesday.

Soni Sori has now been acquitted in six out of eight cases filed against her.

A FIR filed in Kuakonda police station in Dantewada court said that on 7 July, 2010 midnight, more than 150 Maoist soldiers attacked local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam’s house. Mr Gautam’s brother in law, Sanjay Singh and house attendant Dharmendra were killed, while his son and a guard were injured.

17 accused, including Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi, were present at the scene of crime, said Mr Gautam, according to the FIR. On basis of available evidences and witness’ statements several charges were brought against the accused under Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosive Substance Act which includes criminal conspiracy, rioting, arson causing death, and attempt to murder, besides a host of other allegations.

“Due to lack of enough and proper evidence additional sessions Judge Anita Dehariya acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and others,” said Ms Sori’s lawyer in Dantewada K K Dubey on phone.

In February, this year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two other cases. One in which, she was accused to have opened fire and used explosives to blow up vehicles of Essar Steel. In another, she was accused of firing on police near Essar Beneficiation Plant in Kirandul. “Witnesses could not confirm her involvement,” Mr. Dubey told The Hindu earlier. Last year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two more cases.

Two more cases against Ms Sori are still in court. One of the allegations, pending in Bacheli court, accused Ms Sori of torching several vehicles. In the other case – the most crucial one – pending in Dantewada court, it is alleged that Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi were planning to hand over “protection money” from Essar Steel to the Maoists. D.V.C.S. Verma, the general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, one of Essar’s contractors, were arrested in the same case, allegedly for disbursing money. According to police, Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori were carrying the money to the rebels. While Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi are languishing in jail, like thousands of tribal under trials (UTs) of south Chhattisgarh, two of their co-accused, Mr Verma and Mr Lala, got bail soon within months after the arrest.

90 per cent cases against tribals are concocted

Ashok Jain, a senior lawyer of Dantewada, representing some of the accused, who got acquitted with Ms Sori, said Wednesday’s judgement proves how tribals are detained under “false charges.”

“These tribals are detained under completely concocted charges, at least most of them. Their families get ruined as they spend several years as undertrials. Whenever the cases are followed well, like the case of Soni Sori, the accused gets acquitted,” Mr Jain said.

A battery of lawyers representing the high profile case of Ms Sori and other accused feel, while the case of Soni Sori or Dr Binayak Sen got enough “attention from all quarters,” cases of thousands of undertrial tribals are getting “absolutely no attention from media or civil society.”

“Most of these cases are so flimsy that higher courts may not even admit those or the accused will get bail within hours of admission. But lack of financial and people’s support, keep these tribals behind bars for years,” said one of the lawyers. “How can a poor tribal be arrested for just being a resident of an area controlled by the Maoists or sharing a lunch with the rebels, possibly under duress,” said another lawyer.

Ms Sori’s lawyers, however, sounded optimistic and said they have moved a bail petition in Chhattisgarh High Court. “I hope, Ms Sori and others will get bail soon after this acquittal in a crucial case,” said Mr Dubey.

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013, 8:00 IST | Agency: DNA

Police in the Indian Union often organizes local football tournaments. A smiling lion of a man handing a cup to some sweat-soaked youths. In other nations where police atrocities happen less frequently, the police organize fewer football tournaments.
The Justice Verma commission, set up in the aftermath of the Delhi rape-murder case, invited views from the public. It received many inputs from many quarters on their own. Not a single Director General of Police responded to the commission’s notice. They were probably giving prizes at football tournaments. Image building becomes important when it fails to protect the rights of common people.
But I am dirty-minded enough to suspect that there is more to this ‘failing’. Let me ask — which domestic organization, getting monthly salaries and occasional bravery medals, happens to employ the largest number of alleged rapists and serial abusers? Hint: they also fight against ‘vices’ by extracting money from sex-workers of all genders after raping them. The ‘rule of law’ comes down hard when certain lines are crossed, so I will not answer the question. Are you thinking what I am thinking?
This punyabhumi is choc-a-bloc full of men and women whose sensitivities are bruised by the ‘non-desi’ concept of a sexual woman — in paint, on screen, in public. Stones are the weapon of choice of these people against this anti-national evil. Where do these stones go after national duty like attacking artists is done? Since every inch of the land is punyabhumi, the stones also carry heavenly qualities. The national fervour that is embedded in every such piece of stone does not decay with time like radioactivity. The stones continue their holy duty by marching forward to Chhattisgarh.
Some of the stones made their way into the vagina and the rectum of one Soni Sori, held by Chhattisgarh police for 8 cases. In spite of the stones that were inserted deep inside her vagina and rectum, the police could not prove the charges in 4 out of 8 cases. The other four are going on. The patriotic stones might have continued to torment an adivasi woman like Sori unless her medical examination was shifted out of Chhattisgarh to less godly Kolkata. Sori has also alleged that she has been repeatedly raped. But some of the prime witnesses, the patriotic stones, have been removed by the Kolkata doctors.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose of Kolkata, in his later years, started finding ‘the living response’ in many inorganic matters, including rocks. Nothing short of the expertise of that departed soul can help make sense of the testimony of the stones. Till such time, Sori’s rape will remain ‘alleged’.
The charges against Sori that were proven false in court included very specific things like opening fire and using explosives to blast the vehicles of Essar Steel, attacking the police at Kirandul and blowing up a police station. If the state were a person that conjured such crimes from thin air, concerns about mental health would arise. If the state deliberately made up these cases, then it is sociopathic. Last week, the state, after failing to prove charges against Sori (incidentally, a school-teacher), has started an enquiry to ascertain whether she should be sent to the mental asylum in Agra.
Let’s concentrate on the football tournament instead. SP saheb has already arrived for the prize distribution ceremony. I think we should all stand up, clap and smile because our culture teaches us that we should be respectful to elders, especially those who win gallantry medals. Brown women need not fear — too many lions of Bharatmata are protecting them in every street.
The writer is a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
@gargac

RAIPUR, April 15, 2013

NHRC gives clean chit  o Chhattisgarh Government on Soni Sori  

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu

  While various national women’s organisations decried an attempt to make Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and outlawed Maoists, undergo a “psychiatric evaluation” as a “sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to the State government on the treatment meted out to the tribal school teacher. Last week, Ms. Sori informed the NHRC members that she has been “treated better” over the last few months, the NHRC claimed in a press statement.

Several national women’s organisations in Delhi decried psychiatric examination conducted on Ms. Sori recently in Jagdalpur jail where she is currently lodged. In a joint statement, seven women’s organisations said that in December 2012, a team of National Commission of Women (NCW) conducted a jail visit here and met Ms. Sori in custody.

“While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by NCW member Shamina Shafiq, that Ms. Sori needed psychological counselling seems to have provided the Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound,” the organisations said in a joint statement. Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that Ms. Shafiq’s remark was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence, does not have the legitimacy of a formal observation. Hence, in a letter to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the organisations demanded quashing of further proceedings in “psychiatric evaluation” and initiate steps to redress Ms. Sori’s genuine grievances of “sexual torture and ill-treatment.”

Another statement issued by the NHRC a day after the statement made by the women’s organisation, however, gave a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh government. The NHRC sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail on April 10 to “meet her to know her condition.”

“Ms. Sori informed the team that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit,” the statement said. The Commission expressed “hope that the jail authorities would continue to give proper treatment to Ms. Sori.” A.G. Balakrishnan, chief of the Commission Justice, read out the statement here.

While the NHRC’s maiden ‘full commission’ in Chhattisgarh ended in a damp squib on Friday, the Commission took up certain matters and asked the government for a follow-up report. For example, in the case of 7,000 allegedly fake hysterectomies under the Centre’s insurance scheme Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY), the Commission has asked the State government for a detailed report within a month. Hysterectomies, or removal of the uterus, have been carried out in 169 hospitals in Chhattisgarh to claim money under RSVY, according to the Commission’s press statement.

In two cases of fake encounters, mentioned in the press statement, the Commission recommended a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those killed in separate police encounters are Kunjami Joga of Kurtrem village of Dantewada and a Naxalite named Ramesh Barumana for “violation of human rights”. Compensation has also been recommended in cases of custodial killing of 25-year-old trial prisoner Kunjami Kosa and Santosh Dahriya. The State government “gracefully agreed” to pay compensation in all the cases, said the statement.


  • NHRC had sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail to know Sori’s condition
  • ‘Sori informed that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visitSONISORICOLLAGE

There is no “clean chit” to the Chhattisgarh government.

On 28 July 2012, Soni Sori wrote a letter to the Supreme Court Judge saying that she is being subjected to humiliating treatment inside the Raipur jail:

“Your Honour, at this time, I am in great mental turmoil and suffering. 1. I am being made to sit naked on the ground. 2. I am suffering from hunger 3. Each part of my body is touched as I am searched. I am being labelled as a “traitor” and “naxalite” and tortured. My clothes, soap, detergent have all been confiscated and all kinds of accusations are heaped upon me. All my belongings are searched after I am taken for a hearing.”  This formed the basis of an NHRC complaint, and it was to investigate this complaint that the NHRC visited Soni Sori in the Raipur Central Jail on 19 Nov 2012.  The visiting NHRC team confirmed that Soni Sori was being mistreated inside the jail.  The NHRC’s summary page says:

“The report of the Commission’s team shows that there are grounds to believe that Soni Sori has on several occasions beensingled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment. Even as a prisoner, she has a right to personal dignity and the right not to be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. It appears that these rights have sometimes been violated. The Commission expects the Government of Chhattisgarh to ensure that the traumatic ordeals and the odious practices to which Soni Sori has been subjected more than once are immediately stopped and do not recur.”

The visiting NHRC team reportedly reprimanded the Raipur jail staff, following which Soni has reported, that these daily harassments stopped.
Subsequently, Soni Sori was shifted out of the Raipur Central Jail on 24 Jan 2013 and taken to Jadgalpur Central Jail.  Now, on 10 April 2013, another 2 member team of the NHRC visited Soni Sori in Jagdalpur Jail and inquired whether the mistreatment of which she had complained was continuing, and she has reportedly told them (as she has told us) that she is no longer being singled out for harassment on a daily basis inside the jail.
This is hardly a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh Government!  The findings of the Commission still remain – and the findings are that Soni Sori was being subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” inside the Raipur Central Jail. Just because the ill-treatment stopped after a reprimand doesn’t erase the fact that gross ill-treatment existed at all!

 

“The greatest pleasure in life is to defeat your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, and to ravage their wives and daughters.”

– Genghis Khan, in an address to his courtiers

 

By: Subhi  Safvi, in Tehelka

Wars have been fought since civilization began. These have been for resources, expansion among other reasons. Women have begun to play an active role in wars more recently as they have been recruited in the various militaries of the world. But even before, they had important roles. Women served as nurses, cooks and laundresses. During the Second World War, the Soviet military employed women in many combative positions where they served as aviators and combat soldiers, as well as non-combative ones.

War is a masculine action, one that involves defending women and children and our country- which is almost always considered female. War is about taking charge, feeling strong and powerful, hurting and killing. War demands strength and power, it requires soldiers to go beyond the realm of being mere mortals to perform feats that earn them immortality. Though women have played active roles in many conflicts through the ages, they continue to be perceived as the weaker sex, to be protected by the men in the community. Hollywood’s depiction of the US military, based on actual practices, often shows a loud mouthed officer shouting abuses at fresh recruits. The abuses, while innovative, follow a common pattern. If a soldier performs well at tasks, he or she is considered strong and powerful, like a man. Those unable to perform as well are generally likened to women and homosexuals. These associations are then carried forward to the mind-set of soldiers in active duty. Women are often treated as second class, no matter how worthy they have proved themselves.

According to Amnesty International, in modern warfare, 90% of casualties are civilian; of these 75% are women and children. Women, while regarded as inferior to men in many cultures, are thought to hold the honour of a community. Raping a woman is a method used to destroy the progeny of the family and annihilate a community. It is now included as a tool of genocide and regarded as a war crime.

Rape during Indian wars and conflicts

 

“Rape, as with all terror-warfare, is not exclusively an attack on the body- it is an attack on the ‘body-politic’. Its goal is not to maim or kill one person but to control an entire socio-political process by crippling it. It is an attack directed equally against personal identity and cultural integrity.”

Though being held accountable for rape or, for that matter, considering rape as a tool of war is recent, instances where rape was used as a weapon of war have been highlighted in other wars and struggles in the recent past. It is reported that 100,000 women were abducted during the India-Pakistan partition and only 10% returned to their homes. These women were raped and tortured as a way of humiliating the enemy and ruining their honour. Muslim men abducted Sikh and Hindu women to later rape them while Sikh and Hindu men abducted and raped Muslim women. The anti-Sikh riot in 1984 showed the same type of brutality. Men were killed and the women were raped. Official figures state that 2,146 people were killed in Delhi and 586 people in other parts of the country.

The Gujarat riots in 2002 saw a similar mob fury. According to an Amnesty International report, close to 300 women were killed by the violent mob. Most of these girls were first stripped naked and forced to parade in front of their families after which they were raped or gang raped.

Areas of conflict within our country like Kashmir, the North East and the Maoist regions, particularly Chhattisgarh have also had several reports of women being raped by the Indian armed forces. A study by an international organisation, ‘Doctors without Borders’, found that the number of victims of rape was close to 10,000. These numbers exceed that of Sierra Leone and Chechnya. Yet these crimes are often unreported as according to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) the armed force personnel are provided immunity. Under this Act, the army can “Enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.”

These powers have been used by several men in the army to rape women that are suspected of harbouring militants or helping them in some other way. Many accounts of the victims have been published by reputed international organisations but the rapists themselves are rarely punished. The militant groups have also been responsible for their share of rapes in Kashmir. Women have been abducted and raped as they are held hostage by rival militant groups, making Kashmiri women doubly vulnerable.

In 2004, the women of Manipur held a protest after the brutal murder of Thangjam Manorama who was taken into custody from her home by the Assam Rifles under suspicion of having links with rebels. Her bullet ridden body was found a few kilometres away from her home, bearing signs of torture. Twelve Manipuri women came out naked, holding a banner saying ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ to protest against the paramilitary forces of the Assam Rifles demanding justice and taking a stand against the many rapes of other girls. Despite the curfew imposed, the protests by the women continued as they wanted the men responsible to be punished.

Chhattisgarh, one of the newer states in India, is home to a violent Naxalite problem. People of the villages face threats from both the police and the Naxals in the region. Women have been detained, raped and tortured when they are suspected of having links with Naxalites.

Soni Sori, from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, was arrested and raped on allegation of being a messenger between the Essar Group and the Maoists. A hospital in Kolkata found stones in her private parts- which was part of the alleged torture used by the Chhattisgarh police. Other members of the police have been accused of molestation and rape as well.

The report submitted by the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law headed by Justice Verma has suggested that AFSPA be reviewed and that any gender based violence by the armed forces be punishable under the law. The report was aimed to examine the changes required to the criminal law when it came to sexual violence and had a portion on sexual violence in conflict zones. This report was completed in a month and was monumental since the committee was formed in the wake of the gang rape of a 23 year-old girl inNew Delhi in December 2012.

Reasons for rape during conflicts

 

“…They stripped a girl naked…she looked scared and lost…three of them held her down. The soldiers told me I should rape her and the others too…“ The recollections of a soldier in Bosnia-Herzegovina who was forced to prove he was a man by his commanding officer, by raping 12 women.

In the wars of the past, the permission to rape women of the conquered community was considered a normal part of war. The lower ranks of the soldiers had some form of enjoying ‘the spoils of war’. It brings with it another feeling of conquest, this time over a woman’s body. Violence of this nature is not just for the sake of sex, it has more deep rooted reasons. These crimes are not committed to claim a woman’s body, but to claim a community.

In groups, men find it necessary to prove their masculinity. In the case of groups, this generally means that men have to prove they are strong, dominant and powerful, especially when it comes to sex. This is a phenomenon that is seen in the civilian population very often, but during a conflict these feelings are elated. They are stretched to dominating the struggle and teaching the opposing side a lesson. This lesson often comes in the form of raping and mutilating women, thereby taking control of the means of reproduction. Raping women and girls is a way for a soldier to prove that he is devoted to the cause and is willing to do whatever it takes to destroy a community.

Rape is used as a violent means to subdue, humiliate and control a population. There are fears among the community because any one of them might be next. Children born of rape are often shunned as well as they are not a part of the community where they live and were conceived from a ‘shameful’ deed. It has often been used as a tool of ethnic cleansing; in this case women are raped in an attempt to eradicate a community, national, ethnic or religious, from an area. Women that have been raped are often scared to go to the authorities. In many cases when they go to file a report they are raped again by the police. Governmental agencies, while aware of these crimes, are hesitant to gather proper data as the survivors are unwilling to report their experiences, and when they are, there are few eye witness reports.

In order to stop the use of rape as a tool of war it is necessary for the world to understand how commonplace it is in conflict zones. There is also a need to hold all perpetrators of this crime to be held accountable and punished. There are many international peacekeeping agencies that have deployed a large number of troops to protect civilians and reduce the fighting in conflict zones, but the sexual violence continues, there should be troops deployed that focus on preventing gender based violence as well. The authorities that are responsible for handling these charges must also be sensitised to the plight of the victims so they are not forced to relive the trauma. The state should also be held responsible to ensure that the victims of these human rights violations receive financial and medical support. Care centres should be set up to counsel these victims along with their families. There should also be more ground level awareness to help the community become more sensitised.

The use of rape as a weapon of war results in long term consequences that are usually ignored. As a part of the community, women play an important part in the reconstruction of a post conflict zone, a task that becomes difficult when they suffer from trauma and/or are ostracised by their families and their community.

Peace becomes difficult to achieve when a large section of society is still stuck in the traumas of the conflict. The long after effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the violence they face within their families because they were raped makes them unable to take part in the post conflict reconstruction. As their scars serve as a daily reminder of the conflict, it is often difficult for the community to move past these atrocities as well. While there are still people who seem to be ignorant about the prevalence of this tool or about its effects, the international community as a whole has taken this up as a humanitarian crisis that must be resolved. With the increasing number of conflicts in the world there is little room left for the victimisation of females.