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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, in dozens of global conflicts, armies have used rape as a tactic of war, ethnic cleansing, and genocide with impunity.

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

The crisis is acute in many countries around the world, including those where the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating mass atrocities: Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

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 CAR, the DRC, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda. 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.

Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR’s Partnership

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC. Since he founded the hospital in 1998, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence. For the last eight years, Dr. Mukwege has been PHR’s close colleague and, more recently, we have been partnering with him and his staff at Panzi Hospital through our Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones (based at Panzi Hospital).

Learn more about Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR's parternship.

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 are launching an international campaign. Help create a world without war, rape, and gender violence where women and men are equal—join the campaign.

Judicial Colloquium

PHR, in collaboration with Brandeis University and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, convened the first-ever judicial colloquium in October 2013 aimed at bringing together military and civilian judges from the DRC with a distinguished group of jurists from international criminal courts and regional tribunals.

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.

Physician Accounts from the Front Lines of the Syrian Conflict (April 8, 2014)

My recent experiences in training Syrian physicians in a border community opened my eyes to levels of courage and commitment I have never seen in my 30 years of practice and international work.

The Rwandan Genocide: An Indelible Stain (April 7, 2014)

PHR's director of international policy and partnerships/senior advisor, Susannah Sirkin, discusses the Rwandan genocide 20 years later, highlighting that "never again" has not been adhered to. Conflicts in Syria, Sudan, and the Central African Republic continue, and the world is incapable of an effective response.

Strength in the Face of Terror (April 4, 2014)

Qusai Zakarya is by all definitions an incredible human being. After surviving the 2013 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiya, he became a tireless public opponent of the oppressive Assad regime and rallied worldwide support during a 33-day hunger strike that called attention to the illegal siege of cities across Syria.

Sometimes Laughter is the Only Medicine (March 26, 2014)

The resilient spirit of the Syrian people is nowhere more evident than in the group of doctors and lawyers I recently spent an evening with in the Middle East. Their capacity to find joy in life, even during this horrific conflict, is remarkable.

More Darfur and Chad Posts »
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ICC Finds Germain Katanga Guilty of War Crimes, but Acquits Him of Sexual Violence Charges (March 7, 2014)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Germain Katanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) guilty of war crimes, but acquitted him of sexual offences in the first case that specifically involved these charges.

PHR Submits Statement on Syria’s Refugee Crisis to Senate Committee (January 7, 2014)

The United States should immediately convene a humanitarian summit with Russia and other nations in order to improve humanitarian aid in Syria; take steps to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States; and provide funding to address their health and other needs.

PHR Calls for Unfettered Access for Humanitarian Assistance in Syria (November 26, 2013)

PHR is calling on the U.S. government to immediately enter into high-level negotiations with the Russian government to ensure unfettered access in Syria for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other U.N. and humanitarian organizations that urgently need to provide vital services and supplies.

PHR Welcomes Confirmation of Charles Taylor’s Sentence (September 26, 2013)

PHR today welcomed the confirmation of a 50-year sentence for former Liberia President Charles Taylor for his role in encouraging rebels in Sierra Leone to commit war crimes and planning some of the attacks during the country’s civil war.

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Statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis (January 2014)

PHR submitted a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis to a Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.

PHR Joins Letter Urging UN Member States to Support Women’s Rights (March 2013)

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict today has urged the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to conclude the session with a strong communiqué that will pave the way for accelerated action to end gender violence.

PHR Experts Urge Somalia’s President to Halt Use of Discredited Medical Test (February 2013)

In a letter to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, two PHR medical advisors who are experts in sexual violence evaluations urge him to void the use of unscientific medical evidence used to convict a Somali woman of making a false claim of having been gang-raped by soldiers. Both the woman and a journalist who interviewed her have been sentenced to a year in prison.

PHR Endorses Statement of International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict on the Attack Against Dr. Denis Mukwege (October 2012)

Physicians for Human Rights, a founding Advisory Committee member of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, strongly endorses the statement the Campaign released today following the violent attack last week on our esteemed colleague Dr. Denis Mukwege in Bukavu, DRC.

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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 »