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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

PPHR 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.

Ebola: Dying of Poverty for Lack of a Functioning Health Care System (October 21, 2014)

It was foreseeable that if an Ebola outbreak in an impoverished African country moved from rural to urban areas, the existing heath care systems would be unable to treat everyone or prevent further transmissions. Years of conflict, lack of education, corruption, distrust of government, and chronic underinvestment in the health care system would take their toll.

Misguided Criticisms of the International Criminal Court (October 15, 2014)

The ICC has received a variety of criticism. The African Union, for example, has accused the court of anti-African bias. One of the most vocal critics is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who charged the ICC with “shallowness” for pursuing the Kenya cases.

Let’s Talk About Sexual Violence (October 2, 2014)

When studying in Jordan last fall, I was stunned by the silence around sexual violence experienced by women in Syrian refugee camps. In Arab communities, where social stigma and family honor carry huge weight, consequences of sexual violence extend far beyond scarring psychological trauma to fear of alienation and even honor killing.

The Key to Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones (September 29, 2014)

Sexual violence is a grave problem the world over, but it is particularly prevalent in conflict zones like the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where I live and practice medicine. I frequently treat survivors of sexual violence, and many of my patients have been victims of this terrible crime on more than one occasion.

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Physicians for Human Rights to Host Panels & Film Screening at Global Summit on Sexual Violence (June 4, 2014)

Experts from the medical, law enforcement, and justice fields from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, the United States, and other countries will discuss how these sectors can work together to help collect, document, and preserve forensic evidence of sexual violence and prosecute these cases at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London.

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.

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Summary of Roundtable Discussion (June 2014)

PHR convened a Roundtable on Reparations for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University on February 24, 2014. This report summarizes major points of discussion from this workshop.

A Call to Action for States (June 2014)

The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights urges all states to take important steps to ensure justice and accountability for crimes of sexual violence.

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.

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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 »