Major and Classification
History, Political Science
- Alison D. Renteln, Ph.D.
- Political Science
Shattering the Silence: The Criminal Prosecution of Rape as a War Crime
In early 2003, Sudanese government forces and ethnic militias known as “Janjaweed” commenced war crimes begun “ethnic cleansing” in the Darfur region of Sudan. Part of the “ethnic cleansing” prominently included rape and sexual assault. Women and girls as young as seven years-old were raped, tortured and genitally mutilated, while authorities meant to protect did nothing. The recent events in Darfur, sexual violence in Sierra Leone and femicide in Guatemala has left several questions about what is being done to help and prevent further atrocities. It is the intent of this paper to examine one aspect of prevention, criminal prosecution under international law. The presentation will focus primarily on the prosecution of rape as a crime of war. Through the examination of three cases, Prosecutor v. Furundzija (ICTY), Prosecutor v. Kunarac, Kovac & Vukovic (ICTY), and Prosecutor v. Akayesu (ICTR) which helped define rape in international law, I intend to explore the expansion of new jurisprudence surrounding the prosecution of gendered crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as the problems. While these cases suggest a growth of feminist jurisprudence in international humanitarian law regarding crimes committed against women, a new phenomenon in human rights, problems still plaque the ICC. Such issues of stare decisis, witness testimony and most importantly the sensitivity of the crime or the theory of “spirit injury” impede the criminal prosecutions from serving justice to victims of rape.