Rape Is Now An Issue Of National Security

Condoleezza Rice is in New York today, chairing a debate at the Security Council over a U.S.-sponsored resolution to define rape and sexual violence against women as a tactic of war and calling upon countries to take concrete actions to stop and punish it. Of course, it's been going on for thousands of years, but, you know, better late than never. Rice's opening statement at the debate:

Rape is a crime that can never be condoned, yet women and girls in conflict situations around the world have been subjected to widespread and deliberate acts of sexual violence. As many of you know, for years, there's been a debate about whether or not sexual violence against women is a security issue for this forum to address.

I am proud that today, we respond to that lingering question with a resounding yes. This world body now acknowledges that sexual violence in conflict zones is indeed a security concern. We affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability of their nations.

Which is totally great and something none of us would potentially expect being said by the foreign policy mouthpiece of an Administration that led us into a war under false pretenses but, you know, bygones. McCain's got to get women to vote for him, after all.

Unfortunately for the resolution, it's not got a lot in the way of teeth: "Specifically, the resolution requests that the Secretary General prepare an action plan for collecting information on the use of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and then reporting that information periodically to the Council." Great, well, I think that's kind of what the Fourth Estate has already been doing, whether it's reporting on the increasingly prevalence of rape in Darfur or using historical records to document the brutality visited upon German women 60 years ago or any of the other known examples cited in Rice's speech or left out. Does the world really not recognize that rape is used as a weapon in a time of war? Does it have to be defined as an issue of national security before we give a shit about it? And, while it is important to call attention to the issue, do the women of the world need to be studied before they are protected?

Sexual Violence Is Security Issue, Rice Tells U.N. [Reuters]

Thematic Debate on Women, Peace, and Security [U.S. State Department]

Rape A Way Of Life For Darfur's Women [CNN]

The Russians in Germany [Harvard University Press]