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Sexual violence

The use of widespread and systematic sexual violence to attack civilian populations was defined as a crime against humanity in 1998. Prosecutions remain rare. More evidence is required to end the widespread impunity for perpetrators. Evidence needs to prove that rapes were part of a widespread and systematic campaign and not isolated events. Victims’ accounts on the context and patterns are crucial. At the same time, the identity of survivors needs to be protected to prevent from further victimisation.

Insecurity Insight has developed a method that converts accounts of individual rapes into quantitative data that provides insight into the patterns that underlay individual events and removes all identifiable information about the victims. Data gathered in this way is a very effective tool to examine the widespread and systematic nature of sexual violence in different contexts.

The approach was first used in a study commissioned by the Alliance for Direct Action against Rape in Conflict (AllianceDARC). It used 220 reports of investigations into sexual violence carried out by the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). The analysis was able to show how different armed actors perpetrate sexual violence in specific ways. The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (JAMA. 2008 Aug 13;300(6):653-4). AllianceDARC has requested Insecurity Insight to make the method more widely available.

In 2009 Nathan Taback of Insecurity Insight worked with Aids-Free world (www.aids-freeworld.org) in systematically analysing the testimonies of rape victims affiliated with the opposition movement during the election campaign in Zimbabwe. The analysis is based on the information gathered by attorneys, who spent more than 300 hours interviewing 72 survivors and witnesses. These interviews documented 380 rapes committed by 241 perpetrators across Zimbabwe’s ten provinces. With the use of this method, Aids-free World was able to generate sound evidence that these rapes were both widespread and systematic. Striking patterns emerged from analysing the victims’ data, which demonstrates that the incidents are unlikely to be coincidental.
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