Rape can occur anywhere, even in the family, where it can take the
form of marital rape or incest.
It occurs in the community, where a woman can fall prey to any
It also occurs in situations of armed conflict and in refugee
the United States, national statistics indicate that a woman is raped
every six minutes.
In 1995, the case of a Brazilian jogger raped and murdered in New
York City's Central Park drew international attention once again to the
The incident occurred only a few years after an earlier
sensational jogger-assault case in which the victim - an American
assaulted in the same general area of the park - barely survived after her
assailants left her for dead.
between residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa and American GIs were
thrown into turmoil in 1995 after two marines and a sailor allegedly
kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old-girl.
Special Rapporteur's report underlines the importance of education to
sensitise the public about the special horrors of rape and of sensitivity
training for the police and hospital staff who work with victims.
Sexual assault within marriage:
In many countries sexual assault by a husband on his wife is not
considered to be a crime: a wife is expected to submit.
It is thus very difficult in practice for a woman to prove that
sexual assault has occurred unless she can demonstrate serious injury.
report of the Special Rapporteur noted that light sentences in sexual
assault cases send the wrong message to perpetrators and to the public at
large: that female sexual victimisation if unimportant.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a growing concern for women.
Employers abuse their authority to seek sexual favours from their
female co-workers or subordinates, sometimes promising promotions or other
forms of career advancement or simply creating an untenable and hostile
Women who refuse to give in to such unwanted sexual advances often
run the risk of anything from demotion to dismissal.
in recent years more women have been coming forward to report such
practices -some taking their cases to court.
her report, the Special Rapporteur stressed that sexual harassment
constitutes a form of sex discrimination.
not only degrades the woman", the report noted,
re-inforces and reflects the idea of non-professionalism on the part of
women workers, who are consequently regarded as less able to perform their
duties than their male colleagues."
women are forced into prostitution, either by their parents, husbands or
boyfriends or as a result of the difficult economic and social conditions
in which they find themselves.
They also may be lured into prostitution, sometimes by
"mail-order bride" agencies that promise to find them a husband
or a job in a foreign country.
As a result, they very often find themselves illegally confined in
brothels in slavery-like conditions where they are physically abused and
their passports withheld.
women initially victimised by sexual traffickers have little inkling of
what awaits them.
They generally get a very small percentage of what the customer
pays to the pimp or the brothel owner.
Once they are caught up in the system there is practically no way
out, and they find themselves in a very vulnerable situation.
Since prostitution is illegal in many countries, it is difficult
for prostitutes to come forward and ask for protection if they become
victims of rape or want to escape from brothels.
Customers, on the other hand, are rarely the object of penal laws.
In Thailand, prostitutes who complain to the police are often
arrested and sent back to the brothels upon payment of a fine.
extent of trafficking in women and girl-children has reached alarming
proportions, especially in Asian countries.
Many women and girl-children are trafficked across borders, often with
the complicity of border guards.
In one incident, five young prostitutes burned to death in a
brothel fire because they had been chained to their beds.
At the same time, sex tours of developing countries are a well-organised
industry in several European and other industrialised countries.
Special Rapporteur has called on Governments to take action to protect
young girls from being recruited as prostitutes and to closely monitor
AGAINST WOMEN MIGRANT WORKERS
migrant workers typically leave their countries for better conditions and
better pay - but the real benefits accrue to both the host countries and
the countries or origin.
For home countries, money sent home by migrant workers is an
important source of hard currency, while receiving countries are able to
find workers for low-paying jobs that might otherwise go unfilled.
But migrant workers themselves fare badly, and sometimes
Many become virtual slaves, subject to abuse and rape by their
the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions, there are an estimated 1.2
million women, mainly Asian, who are employed as domestic servants.
According to the independent human rights group Middle East Watch,
female migrant workers in Kuwait often suffer beatings and sexual assaults
at the hands of their employers.
The police are often of little help.
In many cases, women who report being raped by their employers are
sent back to the employer - or are even assaulted at the police station.
conditions are often appalling, and employers prevent women from escaping
by seizing their passports or identity papers.
The report of the Special Rapporteur draws attention to the fact
that there are many international instruments that can be used to prevent
abuse against migrant women and suggests some measures to protect the
human rights of migrant women.
Another concern highlighted in the Special Rapporteur's report is
pornography, which represents a form of violence against women that
"glamorises the degradation and maltreatment of women and asserts
their subordinate function as mere receptacles for male lust".
PERPETRATED OR CONDONED BY STATES
Custodial violence against women: Violence
against women by the very people who are supposed to protect them -
members of the law enforcement and criminal justice systems - is
widespread. Women are physically or verbally abused; they also suffer sexual
and physical torture.
According to Amnesty International, thousands of women held in
custody are routinely raped in police detention centres world-wide.
The report of the Special Rapporteur underlines the necessity for
States to prosecute those accused of abusing women while in detention and
to hold them accountable for their actions.
Violence against women in situations of
Rape has been widely used as a weapon of war whenever armed conflicts
arise between different parties.
It has been used all over the world in Chiapas, Mexico, in Rwanda,
in Kuwait, in Haiti, in Colombia.
Women and girl-children are frequently victims of gang rape
committed by soldiers from all sides of a conflict.
Such acts are done mainly to trample the dignity of the victims.
Rape has been used to reinforce the policy of ethnic cleansing in
the war that has been tearing apart the former Yugoslavia.
so-called "comfort women" - young
girls of colonised or occupied countries who became sexual slaves to
Japanese soldiers during the Second World War - have dramatised the
problem in a historical context.
Many of these women are now coming forward and demanding
compensation for their suffering from Japanese authorities.
rape is the symbolic rape of the community, the destruction of the
fundamental elements of a society and culture - the ultimate humiliation
of the male enemy,"
the report by the Special Rapporteur
noted. It stressed the need to hold the perpetrators of such crimes fully
Violence against refugee and displaced
and children form the great majority of refugee populations all over the
world and are especially vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
In refugee camps, they are raped and abused by military and
immigration personnel, bandit groups, male refugees and rival ethnic
They are also forced into prostitution.
In her report, the Special Rapporteur proposes the following
measures to be taken for the protection of women and girls in refugee
camps: improvement of security, deployment of trained female officers at
all points of the refugees' journey, participation of women in
organisational structures of the camps and prosecution of government and
military personnel responsible for abuse against refugee women.