Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Mercy Seat

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Mercy Seat

Article excerpt

Is rape a war crime, or `collateral damage'?

Sex slaves. Type that into your "search" field and the filtering software will get a workout. You'll also get steered to the U.N.'s International War Crimes Tribunal Web site highlighting information on this winter's groundbreaking conviction of three Bosnian Serbs for the systematic rape of Muslim women during the Bosnian war. The charge? Sexual enslavement.

The Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia is the first to write rape and sexual enslavement into international war-tribunal statutes ,as a criminal offense and a crime against humanity in war. The Nuremberg Tribunal heard sex crime evidence, but did not allow it in the formal records. The Tokyo Tribunal allowed rape to form part of the evidence for those convicted during the Rape of Nanking, but sexual crimes were not prosecuted on their own merit.

"I support wholeheartedly the decision of the War Crimes Tribunal to convict these men of rape," said Subhija Sejdic, program director of Sarajevo Phoenix, a micro-business that works primarily with women suffering from effects of the war. "However, the lasting consequences of this violence against the thousands raped--grandmothers, mothers, and daughters--can in no way restore to these women the dignity they enjoyed prior to being violated. …

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