On June 19th 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that included the following statement:
“Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.”
The resolution also mentions,
“Women/girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including in some cases as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”
Just a few years later, circa 2015, in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a woman was stripped naked by five men – including one army official.
It was the district of Udhampur where the incident took place. A woman was reportedly riding pillion on a motorcycle with a male friend. Five men intercepted them and started misbehaving. Upon her resistance, it is reported, the five men overpowered her and stripped her naked. A case has been registered.
The resolution has been passed and the case has been registered.
And now, a blog is being written. A reader will leave a comment. Maybe they might even discuss it between themselves when they lock their smartphones or shut their laptops. Until the next round of news, perhaps, this news is yet another statistic.
In the pre-modern era, women were subject to similar fates. They were considered property by the victors and rape or sexual harassment was not considered as a legitimate crime. In fact, the term sexual harassment has only come forth once modern era has lent a voice to feminism and the cause of gender equality.
It is thus, both shameful and an insult to international law itself that incidents like these are highly common in conflict-ridden areas. In a report by the Human Rights Watch, it was noted that Indian government authorities have rarely investigated charges of rape or sexual harassment committed by the security forces in Kashmir. This came after the Indian military was given the Armed Force Special Powers Act where Army officers had immunity for the use of force and brutality against their offenders. This act was widely condemned by human rights activists – but it stands in the parliament. It is rightly opposed – but also advocated.
In the legal battle, or in terms of international law, the case to argue for the protection of rights of women is simple. Who could oppose the idea that women must not be raped, harassed or sexually mistreated, regardless of what side of the border they belong to?
It’s almost a no-brainer, right?
Human rights violations in warzones are terrible and unethical occurrences, and women and children are the most vulnerable victims of it all. They are unarmed, mostly, and have no way to defend or protect themselves from armed assailants who attempt to take away their strength and dignity.
There are neither strict actions nor strict laws that protect women from such barbaric acts. Countries set no precedent for war criminals when it comes to women. Masses take to streets and politicians give hefty statements for the sake of sound bites – but what needs to happen is that war criminals of this sort need to be publicly shamed for their actions.
Barbarians who find it in their stride to abuse a woman and attack her by stripping or any other kind of sexual violence just because they have a khaki uniform or just because they think they are men – need to face the strictest forms of justice. And if that does not happen, crimes will continue to grow and governments will continue to shelter war criminals and sex offenders under the guise of national integrity and strategic silences.