“Militarism privileges certain forms of masculinity with grave consequences for the equality, safety and security of women and girls, and of men who do not conform to conventional gender roles,” said Madhu Malhotra, Director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme.
“In the context of the fighting in eastern DRC and countless other conflicts and crisis situations around the world, militarism – as an important root cause of sexual and gender-based violence – must be challenged and adequate safeguards put in place to protect women and girls affected during and after war.”
Besides being prevalent during an active armed conflict like that in eastern DRC, militarization and its negative effects often precede fighting and continue to be felt as a legacy of war.
Amnesty International’s 16 Days of Activism campaign includes five country actions in five different regions to convey the global dimension of gender violence and militarism. Alongside the DRC, activists will highlight the following situations:
Colombia: The government is being pressed to support an initiative currently in Congress to guarantee access to justice to victims of sexual violence – especially the thousands of victims who were targeted during the country’s longstanding armed conflict.
Egypt: A letter to the Minister of Interior calls for security forces to issue a total prohibition on the use of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, after women protesters were targeted with forced “virginity tests” in detention last year.
Indonesia: A web action urges the government to set up a national truth commission to adequately address sexual and gender-based crimes against women and girls that took place over several decades during the rule of Suharto and the reformasi period after 1998.
Japan: A letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs urges the government to apologize and accept full responsibility – including legal responsibility – for the Japanese military’s systematic practice of sexually enslaving women throughout the Asia-Pacific region from 1932 until the end of World War II.
In addition, activists are targeting their national ministries of foreign affairs to call for a reference on gender-based violence to be kept in the text of the global Arms Trade Treaty – which enters its final round of negotiations at the UN in New York in March 2013.
“Sadly, no region of the world has been immune from experiencing sexual and gender-based violence in the context of militarism,” said Malhotra.
“We want to make sure that survivors of sexual violence and wartime rape have full access to justice, truth and prompt and effective reparation. Our 16 Days of Activism campaign will also send a clear message that women and girls must never be targeted for such violence anywhere or at anytime, including during protests and detention.”