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Stop Rape in War

Every year, tens of thousands of men, women, and children endure sexual violence during and after armed conflict. According to international law, using rape as a weapon of war is a war crime. Despite this legal protection, in dozens of global conflicts, armies have used rape as a tactic of war, ethnic cleansing, and genocide with impunity.

Ending impunity must be at the core of any systematic response to the crisis of sexual violence as permitting perpetrators to escape punishment results in elusive justice and ineffective reparation for survivors.

The crisis is acute in many countries around the world, including those where the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating mass atrocities: Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

PHR launched the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a multi-year training and advocacy initiative in 2011, with the aim of forging coalitions among regional medical, law enforcement, and legal experts in CAR, the DRC, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda. PHR’s goal is to dramatically increase local capacity for the collection of court-admissible evidence of sexual violence to support prosecutions for these crimes.

Learn more about the program.

Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR’s Partnership

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC. Since he founded the hospital in 1998, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence. For the last eight years, Dr. Mukwege has been PHR’s close colleague and, more recently, we have been partnering with him and his staff at Panzi Hospital through our Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones (based at Panzi Hospital).

Learn more about Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR's parternship.

Join the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict

PHR, Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels are launching an international campaign. Help create a world without war, rape, and gender violence where women and men are equal—join the campaign.

Judicial Colloquium

PHR, in collaboration with Brandeis University and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, convened the first-ever judicial colloquium in October 2013 aimed at bringing together military and civilian judges from the DRC with a distinguished group of jurists from international criminal courts and regional tribunals.

PHR Expertise in Documenting Mass Rape

PHR has longstanding experience in forensic investigations and advocacy to end rape in armed conflict. For more than 20 years, PHR has conducted pioneering research and advocacy on this issue, including in its landmark studies in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan/Chad.

Learn more about stopping the use of rape as a weapon of war.

How to seize the huge opportunity created by the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict (June 20, 2014)

“What a fabulous suit. She was perfect, perfect,” said a French woman standing behind me on the escalator. We had just emerged from two hours in a giant auditorium on the outskirts of London where we heard politicians, UN officials, and Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee speaking at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Still I Rise (June 13, 2014)

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took the stage to give the keynote speech at the closing plenary of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, I expected words that would strike all the correct notes.

Show Me (June 12, 2014)

Words, words, words. At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, I spent most of the day listening to words and phrases used by human rights activists to describe sexual violence in conflict – words that are being co-opted by government officials.

Blowin’ in the Wind (June 11, 2014)

In the opening plenary of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, I listened to speaker after speaker recount the pervasiveness of sexual violence in war and the toll it takes on survivors. It made me wonder: how many rapes does it take before we make the world a place where all people live free – free from the fear of sexual violence?

More Darfur and Chad Posts »
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Physicians for Human Rights to Host Panels & Film Screening at Global Summit on Sexual Violence (June 4, 2014)

Experts from the medical, law enforcement, and justice fields from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, the United States, and other countries will discuss how these sectors can work together to help collect, document, and preserve forensic evidence of sexual violence and prosecute these cases at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London.

ICC Finds Germain Katanga Guilty of War Crimes, but Acquits Him of Sexual Violence Charges (March 7, 2014)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Germain Katanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) guilty of war crimes, but acquitted him of sexual offences in the first case that specifically involved these charges.

PHR Submits Statement on Syria’s Refugee Crisis to Senate Committee (January 7, 2014)

The United States should immediately convene a humanitarian summit with Russia and other nations in order to improve humanitarian aid in Syria; take steps to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States; and provide funding to address their health and other needs.

PHR Calls for Unfettered Access for Humanitarian Assistance in Syria (November 26, 2013)

PHR is calling on the U.S. government to immediately enter into high-level negotiations with the Russian government to ensure unfettered access in Syria for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other U.N. and humanitarian organizations that urgently need to provide vital services and supplies.

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Summary of Roundtable Discussion (June 2014)

PHR convened a Roundtable on Reparations for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University on February 24, 2014. This report summarizes major points of discussion from this workshop.

A Call to Action for States (June 2014)

The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights urges all states to take important steps to ensure justice and accountability for crimes of sexual violence.

Statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis (January 2014)

PHR submitted a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis to a Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.

PHR Joins Letter Urging UN Member States to Support Women’s Rights (March 2013)

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict today has urged the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to conclude the session with a strong communiqué that will pave the way for accelerated action to end gender violence.

More Darfur and Chad Research »
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Featured Investigation

Nowhere to Turn

PHR's report documents the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad. Read More »