Sectarian War in Syria Introduced New Gender-Based Crimes
Huffington Post, February 2016
5 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 16, 2016
Rape and other forms of sexual violence have been a horrific component of the Syrian sectarian war, becoming a widespread weapon of terror and a form of torture. Several reports indicate that the situation for Syrian women and girls is frightening. Many families have fled the country to protect their women from rape, which was employed as a weapon of “sectarian cleansing”. Firsthand information collected from Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, reveals that Syrian women and young girls were gang-raped and many of them had been impregnated. They have been assaulted in detention and interrogation centres; during home raids and searches, often in front of members of their families; and in public at checkpoints and roadblocks. This paper explores a number of newly invented conflict-related gender-based crimes, emerging as a result of the ongoing sectarian war in Syria. To be prosecuted adequately at the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as at national courts with universal jurisdiction, this paper asserts that these crimes must be categorized, defined, and labelled with reference to their degree of gravity and culpability. Moreover, they must be incorporated into the provisions of the Rome Statute and national criminal legislations under core crimes, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Keywords: Syria; Civil War; Arab Spring; Hilmi M. Zawati; wartime gender-based crimes; International Criminal Court; International Criminal Law; Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; Human Rights; Wartime Sexual Violence; Conflict-Related Rape
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