Tag: Elimination

Sexual harassment
BlogCommitteeWomen’s Rights

International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

 

On International Day, June 19th, we aim for a world without sexual violence in conflict, ensuring everyone’s dignity and safety. “Wartime sexual violence is one of history’s greatest silences and one of today’s most extreme atrocities…It is perhaps more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.” [1]

Throughout history, rape has been used in conflicts as a tool of psychological warfare to punish, intimidate, and devastate entire communities. According to Inge Skjelsbæk, a professor at PRIO, the conversation has evolved from viewing rape as something that “inevitably happens in war because men are men,” to acknowledging that “rape is a clear war strategy and a war crime that threatens international peace and security.”[2]

Sexual Violence was condemned as a tactic of war and an impediment to peacebuilding in 2008 by the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, rape continues to be widespread and prevalent in armed conflicts, situations of violence, and detention settings. It manifests in diverse contexts and results in severe humanitarian consequences. [3]

The data available reveal alarming rates of rape during and after conflicts: during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, between 250,000 and 500,000 women and girls were raped; over 60,000 were raped in the Sierra Leone civil war; between 20,000 and 50,000 in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and at least 200,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996. Although these figures are shocking, they likely represent serious underestimates, as the majority of victims do not report these crimes to authorities. [1]

Sexual violence amidst armed conflict manifests through various motives and scenarios. It may be wielded as a tool of warfare strategy, as a tacitly condoned practice, or opportunistically driven by personal motivations. [3]

Kirthi Jayakumar, a legal researcher and lawyer, in her blog, delves into the psychological reasons behind sexual violence in conflict. “Rape and sexual violence at the micro level can be a product of lustful intentions, mental disorders or depravity, as criminology offers. However, at the macro level – where the cases are not individual instances, but a collective of several individual instances that happen at dizzying speed, it is about dominance.”[4]

In an article Guardian published, a Conglese soldier admits to raping 53 women and five and six year old children only because they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted during war.[5]

While women are disproportionately affected, men and LGBTIQ+ individuals can also be victims of sexual violence during war. They may face sexual violence from armed personnel, humanitarian workers or peacekeepers, or be trafficked for sexual exploitation.[3]

When a woman endures any form of sexual violence, the repercussions extend beyond physical and psychological harm; she also bears the weight of stigma. This burden, compounded by the trauma of humiliation, often leads families to ostracize these women, forcing them out of their homes.[4]

The repercussions of sexual violence on physical, mental, and emotional well-being can overshadow every facet of a survivor’s life. Even seemingly mundane tasks, such as getting out of bed, taking a shower, or stepping outside, can become daunting.[6]

Every individual deserves to live free from violence that strips them of their dignity and safety. As we observe the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on the 19th of June, let us reflect on this profound issue and aspire for a world where no one is ever forced to endure such degradation to their very essence.

BY CEYDA BETUL KEMANCI 

 

Sources: 

[1] EVAWkit_06_Factsheet_ConflictAndPostConflict_en.pdf (unwomen.org)

[2] Sexual Violence As A Weapon Of War – The Organization for World Peace (theowp.org)

[3] Five things to know about sexual violence in conflict zones (icrc.org)

[4] Why is sexual violence so common in war? — Peace Insight

[5[ Congo: We did whatever we wanted, says soldier who raped 53 women | Democratic Republic of the Congo | The Guardian

[6] Impacts of sexual violence and abuse | Rape Crisis England & Wales

fight-racism-fullbleed
Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

Reflecting on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established by the United Nations in 1966 to combat racial.. discrimination worldwide. It commemorates the tragic events of March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa, where police killed 69 peaceful protesters during a demonstration against the apartheid pass laws, which enforced severe racial segregation and discrimination. This day serves as a reminder of the continuous struggle against racism. It promotes activities and actions to raise awareness and find solutions for those most affected by racial discrimination. Despite the abolition of apartheid in 1991 and similar racist legislation in other countries, the fight against racial prejudice is far from over.

Racial discrimination remains a prevalent issue, as evidenced by statistics from the UK, where racially motivated hate crimes are the most reported, with racially aggravated offenses increasing by 19% to 109,843 incidents in 2021/22. This stark reality underscores the vital importance of this day in advocating for and raising awareness about the ongoing efforts needed to educate future generations and eradicate racism. The belief that some people are inherently superior or inferior due to skin color is a harmful notion that we must actively work against to ensure everyone has the freedom and dignity they deserve.

After establishing the definitional framework of hate crimes and the specific strands monitored in England and Wales, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into these incidents’ nuanced statistical tapestry and real-world ramifications. The following section provides a comprehensive dissection of hate crime data, casting light on the demographic profiles of victims, the typologies of hate crimes most frequently documented, and the profound emotional and psychological repercussions these transgressions inflict upon individuals.

This transition from a generalized overview to a granular analysis offers a more lucid comprehension of the prevailing terrain of hate crimes in the United Kingdom. It illuminates the diversity of victims and occurrences and the formidable obstacles encountered in confronting and mitigating these profoundly impactful crimes.

Within this crucible of analysis, we witness the complexities of addressing hate crimes. These complexities extend beyond legislative frameworks and encompass the arduous task of catalysing attitudinal shifts and fostering community empathy.

The definition of hate crime in England & Wales was agreed in 2007 by the Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service, and other agencies.

Hate crime in England and Wales is defined as ‘any criminal offense which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic:

There are five centrally monitored strands of hate crime:

  • race or ethnicity.
  • religion or beliefs.
  • sexual orientation.
  • disability
  • transgender identity.

The recent ‘Hate Crime Summary’ report sheds light on the concerning prevalence of hate crimes in the UK, with racial bias being the primary motivating factor, accounting for 45% of reported incidents. Disability-related hate crimes followed closely, comprising 15% of the total cases, underscoring the multifaceted nature of this issue. Notably, the report documents a staggering 1,426% increase in gender identity-motivated incidents, soaring from 18 to 276 cases. Furthermore, there has been a significant 462% increase in reports related to sexual orientation, highlighting the evolving landscape of hate crimes in the country.

The interaction with authorities reflects the urgency and the spectrum of needs among the victims; 60% of the contacts were to report incidents or update ongoing cases. In parallel, 23% sought listening support, advice, or referrals, indicating the critical role of supportive services in the aftermath of hate crimes.

According to the report, racial motivations persist as the predominant driver of hate crimes, with incidents related to disability following as a significant concern. The pronounced rise in gender-motivated incidents by 322% signals an urgent call for attention to this growing issue.

Analysing the types of hate crimes reported reveals verbal abuse at the forefront with 287 incidents, closely followed by threatening behavior in 238 incidents. Harassment, offensive language, and anti-social behavior were also significantly reported, with 209, 132, and 98 cases, respectively. These statistics not only depict the severity of hate crimes in the UK but also emphasize the need for robust response mechanisms to support the victims and address the root causes.

In efforts to gather comprehensive data on instances of hate incidents, the report strives to include a wide range of demographic details such as age, gender, and ethnicity of those affected. This information aids in the nuanced understanding and addressing of hate incidents. However, sometimes, individuals may be hesitant to disclose such personal information, or when a report is made on someone else’s behalf, the informant may lack access to these details. Additionally, there are circumstances where it becomes impractical or insensitive to pursue these questions further, such as when a person is too distressed to communicate effectively or the conversation ends prematurely.

Among individuals who reported experiencing a hate incident and were willing to share personal information, 2% identified as transgender, with the majority identifying as female (61%) and male (36%). Our team endeavors to gather as much demographic information (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity) about those affected by hate incidents. However, there are instances where individuals may choose not to disclose such information, or the information might be unavailable if the report is made on someone else’s behalf. In situations where it is either impossible or appropriate to inquire for more details (e.g., the person is too upset or the conversation ends abruptly), no data can be recorded.

Regarding disability, 54% of individuals who disclosed information reported being neurodiverse, with autism accounting for 17% of this group. There was a significant increase in individuals reporting physical/mobility disabilities, rising by 176% (from 13 to 40 individuals).

Concerning ethnicity, 28% of the individuals who disclosed their background described themselves as coming from a white background, with 17% specifying White British. Additionally, 27% identified as having a Black background, 32% as Asian, and 5% as Mixed. Notably, there was a significant rise in reports from individuals identifying with an “Other Black Background,” increasing from 7% to 18%.

Age-wise, the bulk of individuals reporting hate incidents and willing to share their age fell within the 25 to 64 age range (74%), with those between 35 to 54 years old being the most likely to report such incidents (39%).

From a religious perspective, 38% of those disclosing information identified as Christian, and 17% as Muslim. Specifically, for faith or religious hate incidents, a majority identified with Islam (71%) or Christianity (9%).

Concerning living situations, over 75% of those experiencing a hate incident and willing to disclose this information were in some form of rented accommodation, with 36% in local authority housing, 20% in housing association properties, and 17% renting from a private landlord.

In the 2022/23 period, law enforcement agencies documented 145,214 incidents where hate crimes, as identified by central monitoring criteria, were considered a motivating factor. This marks a 5% reduction compared to the statistics from 2021/22. The historical rise in the documentation of hate crimes has been partially linked to improvements in recording practices and an enhanced awareness regarding the importance of reporting such offenses.

Since April 2015, notable increases in hate crimes, particularly those of a racial or religious nature, have been observed during significant events such as the EU referendum, the terrorist attacks in 2017, and the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Although similar upsurges were seen in the summers before and after these events, the patterns of increase were consistent across both categories of offenses. When looking at data by Police Force Area for 2022/23, the highest incidence rate of hate crimes, considering all types of offenses recorded by the police, was in the West Yorkshire Police Force area, with 441 incidents per 100,000 people. Conversely, Dorset reported the lowest rate, with 103 incidents per 100,000 population.

Individuals who fall victim to hate crimes are significantly more likely to endure emotional and psychological distress than those affected by crimes in general. Specifically, 42% of hate crime victims reported feelings of vulnerability or a loss of confidence, a stark contrast to the 19% among general crime victims. Additionally, nearly 29% of those targeted by hate crimes struggled with sleep disturbances, compared to 13% for all crime victims. Anxiety or panic attacks were reported by 34% of hate crime victims, a figure that more than doubles the 14% reported by victims of other crimes. Moreover, 18% of those subjected to hate crimes faced depression afterward, doubling the rate of 9% seen in victims of all types of crime.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we reflect on the progress and challenges in our fight against racism. While societies have become more aware and legal frameworks have been established, individuals, communities, and groups continue to suffer from injustices and stigma perpetuated by racist ideologies and practices.

The data on hate crimes in England and Wales serve as a reminder that racism is still deeply entrenched, manifesting in violence, harassment, and marginalization. This day is a call to redouble our efforts, challenge and dismantle prejudices that fuel hate, and amplify the voices of the oppressed and marginalized.

Everyone’s encounter with racism is unique, shaped by their circumstances and intersecting identities.

On this day, we must reaffirm our commitment to creating a welcoming and diverse society where individuals of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds can live together harmoniously, free from fear of abuse or harm.

By BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS