Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:02 a.m. DST, 25 February 2014
When discussing tools of warfare, one tends to think of guns, tanks, espionage and bombs. Unfortunately though, the damaging and lasting elements of war go far beyond this list and are seldom given the attention they deserve.
For instance, rape has been utilized in war for hundreds, even thousands, of years, but since it's harder to monitor than death tolls, it commonly gets overlooked and goes unpunished.
Armies and rebel groups use it as a weapon to exert dominance, spread anarchy, and disturb the mentality of their opponents. This sad reality still happens across the globe during conflicts, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where HearCongo.org says 40% of the DRC's female population has experienced rape.
In a huge stride to fight impunity for rape, Libya's cabinet has determined that rape victims from the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi should be recognized as war victims that are entitled to the same compensation. The legislation still needs congressional approval before it will be institutionalized and thus officially recognize rape victims as equals to wounded ex-fighters.
If passed, the women like Eman al-Obeidy who was raped over the course of 72-hours by 15-soldiers loyal to Gaddafi, will have access to measures that include financial assistance, and physical and psychological care. (Anderson Cooper 360 Interview with Obeidy)
This piece of legislation is especially impressive and groundbreaking because of Libya's staunch conservatism that causes rape to be a taboo topic. Setting an example in postwar recovery will not only allow hundreds of women to come forward, but will also exemplify to other countries that rape is a war crime worth discussing, confronting, and reconciling.
Women have deserved this recognition and solace for centuries, and its long overdue for civil society stakeholders and governments to ensure this respect for human dignity is carried out. After all, investing in a healthy and safe population provides for more stable and prosperous future.
- Libya recognizes victims of rape during anti-Gaddafi uprising (voiceofrussia.com)
- Libya to compensate women raped during 2011 uprising (businessinsider.com)
- Libya recognises victims of rape as victims of war (aoav.org.uk)
- Libya rape victims to be compensated (bbc.co.uk)