On the 13th of April Robin May Schott gave her talk on sexual violence in conflict. As is the case for most issues in human rights, we are dealing with a very complex issue. Rape has always been part of war, but it has only recently become the focus of scholarly research and political action. The genocide in Rwanda and the Yugoslavian civil war made the public aware of the issue.
Though the new found focus on preventing rape is indeed positive, much can be criticized about the way the issue has been tackled in international politics. The political discourse has been dominated by a binary logic – with women as victims and men as perpetrators. This focus tends to both diminish the agency of women and overlook male victims of rape. In this, the political discourse reproduces a binary concept of gender.
The language ‘rape as a weapon of war’ is equally problematic. Rape is not only a strategy used during conflict, but might better be described as a practice of war. Something tolerated, but not necessarily planed. The challenge is then, how can we focus on changing the social conditions that lead to rape?
See below to listen to the full presentation.