Darfur: When Assault Becomes A Case For GenocideLuis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has pressed charges against Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir for a variety of things and is awaiting the decision of 3 judges on what basis, if any, they will issue a warrant for his arrest. One of the many charges Moreno-Ocampo has asked be brought against Bashir is for the use of rape as a weapon on genocide. If the court agrees, it will be the first time that anyone has been charged with using mass rape to commit genocide.David Scheffer, who served under Clinton as the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, writes in the LA Times that, in this case, there is more than enough evidence to show that Bashir is using rape to not just oppress the women in Darfur but to exterminate their ethic groups. Moreno-Ocampo bases his charge that Bashir is committing genocide through the orchestrated and targeted use of rape as a weapon of war based on two rarely-used ways of eliminating an ethnic group or people:
"causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" or "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
Although the mass-rapes in Darfur are not as fast-acting a method of genocide as killing everyone in the area, they do accomplish several things that might legitimately end the existence of the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. For one, the brutality of the assaults leaves many women infertile, which means that less children can be born. Furthermore, the women contend that they are raped in order to impregnate them with babies of mixed ethnicity who are not accepted as members of their ethnic group, which means that many of the children aren't considered part of the groups that Bashir is trying to destroy. Furthermore, because of the stigma of rape and having a baby fathered by a Janjaweed rapist, Moreno-Ocampo contends that "infanticide and abandonment are common" in Darfur among rape victims, reducing the children born to the ethnic groups targeted for destruction even more. Scheffer writes of his experience:
In the 1990s, when I was the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, I met scores of women who had been raped during the atrocities in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the eastern Congo. In most cases, the experience was devastating to their character, their ethnic bonds and often to their physical health. Even if they were still physically able to bear children, these women typically were ostracized from their communities and could not marry their ethnic men. Confronted with these stories, I recognized that mass rape can destroy a substantial part of a group and thus constitute genocide.
He also urges the U.S. to continue blocking efforts by China, Russia and the African Union to block the ICC from issuing an arrest warrant for Bashir, which they claim is for the sake of UN peace keepers in the region. Protecting the peace keepers worked really well in Rwanda, right guys? Rape As Genocide In Darfur [LA Times]