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Stop Rape in War

Every year, tens of thousands of men, women, and children endure sexual violence during and after armed conflict. According to international law, using rape as a weapon of war is a war crime. Despite this legal protection, armies in dozens of global conflicts have used rape as a tactic of war with impunity.

Ending impunity must be at the core of any systematic response to the crisis of sexual violence. Permitting perpetrators to escape punishment results in elusive justice and ineffective reparation for survivors.

The crisis of sexual violence is acute in many countries around the world, including those where the International Criminal Court is currently investigating mass atrocities. The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is currently working on improving accountability for such crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya.

Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

PHR launched the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a multi-year training and advocacy initiative in 2011, with the aim of forging coalitions among regional medical, law enforcement, and legal experts in Central and East Africa. PHR’s goal is to dramatically increase local capacity for the collection of court-admissible evidence of sexual violence to support prosecutions for these crimes.

Learn more about the program.

PHR Expertise in Documenting Mass Rape

PHR has longstanding experience in forensic investigations and advocacy to end rape in armed conflict. For more than 20 years, PHR has conducted pioneering research and advocacy on this issue, including in its landmark studies in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan/Chad.

Learn more about stopping the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Join the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict

PHR, Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels have launched an international campaign to stop rape and gender violence in conflict. Help create a world without war, rape, and gender violence where women and men are equal.

Join the campaign.

Lack of Accountability Fuels Police Impunity in Kenya (July 22, 2016)

The terrifying news of the discovery of the dead bodies of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda, and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri at the beginning of this month sent shock waves through the Kenyan population and the global community.

‘Someone banged on my door’: 7 years after election rapes, justice still missing for Kenya survivors (October 26, 2015)

Following the elections in late 2007, Kenya endured significant atrocities, including murder, ethnic cleansing, and rape... years after that violent crisis, women are still seeking justice.

From Inevitable to Preventable: A Survivor-Centered Approach to Sexual Violence (October 7, 2015)

In both conflict and non-conflict scenarios, women face a daily risk of assaults at home, in the workplace, on the street, and even in college dorms. In addition, victim blaming and other negative responses from first responders is commonplace, leading to underreporting of these crimes.

Tech & Human Rights Blog Series: Bringing Low-Resourced Areas Out of Darkness (June 9, 2015)

Power cuts are a daily reality of working in low-resourced, conflict-affected countries like the DRC, and are only one of many such hurdles. These challenges are not insurmountable.

More Darfur and Chad Posts »
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PHR Welcomes Arrest of Congolese Official Accused of Leading Militia That Raped Young Girls (June 24, 2016)

This week, officials in the DRC arrested provincial deputy Frederic Batumike Rukembanyi for allegedly leading a militia that is accused of raping and mutilating dozens of young girls and toddlers in the country’s South Kivu province. Members of that militia were also arrested. PHR welcomes these developments as a first step toward justice in a surge of rapes in eastern Congo that has produced few investigations and prosecutions.

ICC Sentences Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo to 18 Years for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity (June 21, 2016)

The International Criminal Court sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to 18 years in prison for rape, pillage, and murder carried out by troops under his command in the Central African Republic from 2002 to 2003.

PHR Denounces ICC Decision to Vacate Charges Against Kenya’s Deputy President (April 5, 2016)

PHR denounced the decision by the International Criminal Court to declare a mistrial in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang.

ICC Finds Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo Guilty of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity (March 21, 2016)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in his capacity as president and commander-in-chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC).

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Enhancing a Regional Response to Crimes of Sexual Violence (December 2015)

PHR convened a three-day regional roundtable discussion between February 25 and 27, 2015 at the Lukenya Getaway in Athi River, Kenya. This report summarizes major points of discussion from this workshop.

Banning of Film in DRC Represents Attempt to Silence Survivors of Sexual Violence (September 2015)

PHR strongly condemns a decision by the government of the DRC to ban a film on sexual violence in the country in an attempt to cover up this pervasive issue.

Virginity and Hymen Testing: No Factual, Scientific, or Medical Basis (May 2015)

This forensic brief examines the validity of the use of hymen examinations to determine a women’s “virginity.”

Tribute to Our Beloved Partner and Friend, Victor Inyanje Kabaka (April 2015)

It is with great sadness that we at PHR pay tribute to Victor Inyanje Kabaka, who died on April 9, 2015, following a tragic car accident.

More Darfur and Chad Research »
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Featured Investigation

Nowhere to Turn

PHR's report documents the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad. Read More »