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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.

A Crime against our Humanity (December 10, 2014)

Today, the 65th annual celebration of Human Rights Day, we must reflect on the need to treat sexual violence as a pressing human rights concern.

The Lasting Effects of Sexual Violence (December 4, 2014)

I remember my feelings of shock and helplessness after learning about traumatic fistula, which – in addition to its debilitating physical symptoms – leads victims to be shunned and isolated from their communities. Traumatic fistulas are common in conflict and post-conflict settings, and are often the result of violent rape coupled with deliberate damage.

Changing the Narrative on Sexual Violence in the DRC (November 26, 2014)

This week in Strasbourg, France, the European Parliament bestows its most prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize, to Dr. Denis Mukwege, who is world-renowned for the struggle to prevent rape in the war-ravaged and underdeveloped Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Moving Forward to End Sexual Violence (November 25, 2014)

PHR has helped local activists create numerous self-governing medical-legal networks across Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help facilitate collaboration and cooperation among medical professionals, legal and judicial experts, the media, local communities, and NGOs.

More Darfur and Chad Posts »
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International Criminal Court Withdraws Charges Against President Kenyatta (December 5, 2014)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague said today it was withdrawing charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The court’s prosecutor said the Kenyan government failed to cooperate during the investigation, compromising the case.

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.

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Prepared Remarks: Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Plenary Panel Session on Cooperation and Sexual and Gender Based Crimes (December 2014)

Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships at PHR, attended and presented at the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Plenary Panel Session on Cooperation and Sexual and Gender Based Crimes on December 11, 2014.

States Should Not Issue Blanket Quarantine Orders for Medical Workers Returning from Ebola-Stricken Countries (October 2014)

The decision by several states, including Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, to impose a mandatory quarantine on health workers – mostly volunteers – returning from the three countries in West Africa where there is a significant Ebola outbreak should be reversed.

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.

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 »