FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 7, 2018
[New York] – Today, the Global Justice Center (GJC) released the first comprehensive legal analysis of the gender-based crimes of genocide. Over the past four years, the world has witnessed at least two genocidal campaigns—against the Yazidis in Iraq and against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Widespread sexual and gender-based violence was central to both, as in the genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Guatemala. The new report, Beyond Killing, details the role that gender plays in the commission of genocide and the role it must therefore play in efforts to prevent and punish it.
For too long, the understanding of genocide has centered on killing, a genocidal act that most often impacts men. Women and girls are more likely to survive the initial wave of killings—facing enslavement, beatings, starvation, degradation, and other acts that form constitutive acts of genocide. Survivors of these abuses are not just witnesses to the genocide: they are its intended targets and require accountability and reparations. When the gendered, non-killing crimes of genocide go unrecognized, women and girls, in particular, are denied justice for the abuses they have suffered.
Despite the prevalence of non-killing gender-based crimes in genocidal campaigns, genocide has been prosecuted mostly in situations where mass killings have occurred, whereas non-killing genocidal acts have been tried as crimes against humanity, war crimes, or not at all. “The continued failure to acknowledge the complexity of genocidal violence, especially the role gender plays in the planning and commission of the crime, has undercut the development of an effective legal framework,” explains Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan. “It has weakened the legal obligations to prevent and punish genocide, to the detriment of victims and their communities.” Seventy years after the signing of the Genocide Convention, the international community must ensure that a gendered understanding of genocide is incorporated into prevention and accountability efforts.
“With accountability proceedings on the horizon for the Yazidis and Rohingya, the gendered crimes of genocide must not be ignored,” says international law barrister Sareta Ashraph, who authored the report. “The widespread and well-documented sexual and gender-based crimes committed during these genocidal campaigns requires a gender-sensitive response.” The international community must learn from the shortcomings of seven decades of genocide prosecutions and failed prevention efforts. A gender-blind analysis of genocide provides no real justice for women and girls. Just as gender is central to the planning and commission of genocide, it must also be central to accountability.
View a copy of the report: Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, and Obligations Under International Law.
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The Global Justice Center (GJC) is an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. We combine advocacy with legal analysis, working to expose and root out the patriarchy inscribed in so many international laws. Our projects forge legal precedents in venues that have the greatest potential for global impact, such as the United Nations Security Council, and in places with the most potential for systemic change, like conflict and post-conflict situations and transitional democracies. We believe that enforcing treaties and international human rights laws can be a catalyst for radical change, moving these hard-won rights from paper to practice.