Women and girls and the conflict in Uganda
Violence against women and girls has gained international recognition as a serious social and human rights concern affecting all societies. However, during conflict violence against women and girls is exacerbated.
Increasingly the victims of war are women and children. Men, women, girls and boys are all subjected to physical and sexual torture, however, many studies indicate that war rape is more frequently committed against females. This statistic could be due to the reluctance of men to come forward and report cases of rape and sodomy or could be a result of an institutional bias among the mass media and civic organizations that frequently focus on female victims. Regardless, the figures for women being raped during conflict are staggering, particularly in Africa. Nearly half a million women were raped during the genocide in Rwanda. In Darfur, some estimates show that 10,00 girls and women have been raped each year since 2003. Between 50,000 and 64,000 internally displaced women in Sierra Leone during the war were sexually attacked by combatants. In the Democratic Republic of Congo approximately 500,000 women have been raped throughout the last decade of conflict there. Although rape of women is well documented, laws protecting civilians in armed conflict have tended to overlook sexual assaults on women. According to Kelly Dawn, the laws of war perpetuated the attitude that sexual assaults on women are less significant crimes, not worthy of prosecution. However, over the last two decades significant steps have been taken by the International Criminal Court to change this view. More and more trials regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity are including convictions of rape and sexual violence. When committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part of a target group, rape can also be considered a crime of genocide.
About the author
Rosemary Kakwanzi-Kezaabu has been passionate about gender issues since she began her studies in sociology at university. This led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies. Although she currently works for Uganda’s tax collection agency she has not forgotten her passion. In her spare time she volunteers for the organizations: Action for Development, Sustainable Development Initiative and Development Alternatives.