Many of us have heard the phrase ‘War is a necessary evil’ and this statement still holds in the 21st century. While many people associate wars with murders, slavery, and destruction, the tradition of raping people along with it continues. And here we are not only talking about the women but also the men and children who are the victims of the rape culture, during the pre and post war conflicts, giving rise to rape zones.
Rape has accompanied wars right from ancient times and still carries on to haunt humanity. During the middle ages, the Scandinavians who raided Europe were famous for ‘Rape and Pillage’. In World War II, there were 971 convictions for rape in the U.S. Military as reported by the Judge Advocate General. Many Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Filipino women were used as sex slaves in the Japanese military brothels. In the Iraq war, the male prisoners were subject to sexual violence; The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) used women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority group as sex slaves, and they wanted to revive the institution of slavery.
When analysed closely, we realised that the main reason why the Army combats and terrorist groups use rape as an object of war is that everyone wants to exert their power on the people they want to dominate, and the only way to do that is to kill their spirit. Here people want to establish reputations of aggressiveness to force them into complete physical and mental submission.
Silvia Dominguez, an assistant professor of Sociology at Northeastern University, recently visited Liberia to help develop a national mental health policy related to Sexual and Gender-based violence where they want to help the victims heal physically as well as mentally from acts of sexual exploitation.
In a declaration by the United Nation in 2012, it was reported that during the Syrian civil war the women who were raped refused to report those outrageous acts only out of shame. The consequences of this rape-culture during wartime have various physical and psychological effects on the victims which include Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancies, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSDs), feelings of isolation, and the social stigma that comes with it.
Maybe, that is why ‘healing’ is necessary not only on the physical level but on the mental level too. Once a person’s spirit is destroyed, it is difficult to bring them back. Those people have to find ways to restructure their lives and find a new normal which they shouldn’t be forced to do alone.
Therefore, we need to contribute towards building institutions where rape victims can find shelters, heal, and rebuild their lives and search for ways to spread awareness about the repercussions of war without any fear or shame. It is crucial for the restoration of humanity after all the inhumane actions done by people in the war zones.