Date Published: January 27, 2009
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Abstract: This month’s Editorial discusses the unconscionable use of rape as a weapon of war and calls for more pressure to be put on international authorities to take concerted action and to make protection from sexual violence a central part of peacekeeping efforts.
Partial Text: Rape in war is by no means a new phenomenon, but its escalation as a deliberate, strategic, and political tactic is now undeniable. Most of its victims are women and girls, but men and boys suffer too. Whether isolated or systematic, rape’s effects are devastating to individuals and damaging to whole communities. The physical consequences can include unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and genital injury including fistula, all of which can leave women scarred, disabled, unable to conceive, and deemed unsuitable for marriage [1,2]. The brutality of war rape is evident in genital mutilation, forced captivity, gang rapes in public or in front of family members, and rape with objects such as glass, sticks, gun barrels, and machetes [1,3]. Psychologically the effects are no less devastating. Traumatized by the event, women are often unable to care for their children or households, fear leaving their homes, can become socially ostracized and isolated, and may be rejected by their husbands, families, or communities [1–3].