The Guardian: “Why has it taken 65 years to recognise that rape is a weapon of war?”
February 8, 2012
Jane Martinson for The Guardian's "Women's Blog"
Outrage over history's failure to acknowledge the devastating legacy of sexual violence in conflict zones has inspired a brilliant new online project.
It took generations for the extent of sexual violence against Jewish women in the Holocaust to be fully documented in a book published just over a year ago – a period of time which horrified activist and journalist Gloria Steinem who said: "Why had it taken 65 years to reveal these facts. Why were they ignored at Nuremberg? If we'd known, might it have helped prevent rape camps in the former Yugoslavia? Or rape as a weapon of genocide in the Congo?"
Her outrage has directly inspired a brilliant new website, womenundersiegeproject.com, which launched this week and aims to document sexual violence as a tool of war. In an interview with the project's new director Lauren Wolfe, Steinem explains the thinking behind the site, which allows victims of sexual violence to bear witness: "For me, inspiration comes from seeing positive results. For instance, a woman survivor of brutal rape in the Congo is rejected by her family, but learns she's not alone or at fault from the story of a Jewish woman who survived rape and the Holocaust only to be shunned as if she had collaborated. Each example illuminates another."