Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Synopsis

Rethinking Rape Law provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of contemporary rape laws, across a range of jurisdictions. In a context in which there has been considerable legal reform of sexual offences, Rethinking Rape Law engages with developments spanning national, regional and international frameworks. It is only when we fully understand the differences between the law of rape in times of war and in times of peace, between common law and continental jurisdictions, between societies in transition and societies long inured to feminist activism, that we are able to understand and evaluate current practices, with a view to change and a better future for victims of sexual crimes. Written by leading authors from across the world, this is the first authoritative text on rape law that crosses jurisdictions, examines its conceptual and theoretical foundations, and sets the law in its policy context. It is destined to become the primary source for scholarly work and debate on sexual offences laws.

Excerpt

Akayesu 10 years on

It is the inequality and systematic de-humanization against certain groups which makes them susceptible to violence. When those who perpetrate sexual violence can do so with imptional Criminal Court, and former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I heard many harrowing accounts of human rights violations and sorrow from individuals who refused to remain silent, seeking justice rather than revenge. To redress the suffering, individual accountability and responsibility for crimes of sexual violence must be pursued. The aim must be not only to punish perpetrators, but to deter violations of human rights and advance gender equality; and in times of war, also to promote justice and peace.

Rape and sexual violence are sustained by the patterns of gender inequality which cut across geo-political, economical and social boundaries. Justice is needed on the individual and national level to redress rape and other expressions of sex inequality that women experience as a part of their everyday lives, as well as on the international level for sexual violence and other crimes perpetrated in times of conflict and war that are not effectively addressed at the national level. I was appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2008. On behalf of the United Nations, my Office seeks national and international co-operation to assist and support governments in their efforts to promote human rights. This is not just a matter of overseeing the equality of laws which protect fundamental human rights, but also of focusing on the implementation and enforcement of those laws to make changes which will affect and improve individuals’ lives in the struggle for social justice.

Accordingly, I was pleased to be invited to speak at the Durham University conference Rethinking Rape Law: Akayesu 10 Years On in July 2008. This conference marked the tenth anniversary of the judgment of the ICTR in the case of Akayesu in which the mayor of Taba commune in Rwanda was convicted for genocide, explicitly including rape as a form of genocide, and in which rape was defined with a focus on the coercive circumstances in which . . .

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