Sexual violence has always happened in times of war. International campaigns such as Stop Rape Now bring attention to the issue. These gendered crimes are often being perpetrated outside the jurisdiction of institutions willing and able to bring the perpetrators to justice. In 2014, Angelina Jolie and William Hague launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative with projects to aid in the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict. But the crimes are still overlooked.
Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, constituent of genocide and in crimes against humanity by Da’esh in Iraq and Syria. Since 2011, over 30 000 people have travelled from 89 countries to fight with Da’esh and other extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria. Many of those people come from countries where war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are outlawed under domestic legislation. What if those countries simply prosecuted the perpetrators?
If countries prosecuted their own nationals for the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide we would finally go some way to achieving justice for the victims, ending impunity for sexual and gender based violence in conflict, and implementing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. That is what this campaign is all about. Sexual violence in war should not go unpunished. War does not excuse sexual violence. We need to show that if you rape someone, wherever you are, whatever the circumstance, you will be prosecuted.