[m2c] Women take brunt of human rights abuse: Amnesty
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Thu May 26 02:34:29 MDT 2005
Last Update: Wednesday, May 25, 2005. 11:18pm (AEST)
Women take brunt of human rights abuse: Amnesty
Women and girls faced "horrific" levels of abuse in 2004 worldwide, Amnesty
International said in its annual human rights review, blaming widespread
rape and violence on a mix of "indifference, apathy and impunity".
From honour killings carried out by the victims' families to sexual violence
used as a weapon of war, abuse frequently went unpunished and survivors were
often abandoned by their own communities, the London-based group said.
Amnesty said it had sought in the past year to argue that violence against
women in conflict situations was "an extreme manifestation of the
discrimination and abuse they face in peacetime", notably domestic violence
and sexual abuse.
"When political tensions degenerate into outright conflict, all forms of
violence increase, including rape and other forms of sexual violence against
The annual report, covering 131 countries, noted abuse across the world but
highlighted several grave examples: in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), both armed groups and UN forces are guilty of rape; in Turkey, family
abuse of women is widespread; in Darfur, Sudan, gang rape is systemic; and
in eastern Europe, economic need fuels the trafficking of women.
In Darfur, where a local rebellion sparked a brutal government backlash,
Khartoum-backed militias have staged mass rapes, including of schoolgirls,
and "frequently abducted" local women into sexual slavery, Amnesty said.
Tens of thousands of women and girls were also subject to rape and sexual
slavery in the DRC, and as in Darfur, victims were often then abandoned by
their husbands and families, "condemning them and their children to extreme
All parties in the ongoing conflicts in the eastern DRC have committed the
abuses against women, including military and police officers, and United
Nations peacekeepers charged with the protection of civilians.
The two African cases were "not exceptional", Amnesty warned.
Latin America had the highest risk of all types of sexual victimisation,
according to UN report findings cited by Amnesty.
In Colombia, the group said, security forces, left-wing rebels and
paramilitaries targeted women and girls to "sow terror, wreak revenge on
adversaries and accumulate 'trophies of war'."
In Turkey, between one-third and one-half of all women are estimated to be
victims of physical violence by their families - raped, beaten, murdered or
forced to commit suicide - while the country sorely lacked shelters and
legal protection for victims.
Amnesty noted some progress in Ankara, with legal reforms that recognised
marital rape as a crime and did away with the possibility that a rapist's
prison sentence could be reduced or annulled if he agreed to marry his
victim. Still, authorities largely failed to investigate most women's
complaints of abuse.
Serbia and Montenegro "remained a source, transit and destination country"
for women and girls who were trafficked to the West into forced
prostitution, while the problem existed throughout the poorer countries of
"With clients including international police and troops, the women and girls
are too afraid to escape," Amnesty said.
Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That ís the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What's more, it's a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well.
- Caliban, in Aime Cesaire's "The Tempest"
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