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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, armies in dozens of global conflicts have used rape as a tactic of war with impunity.

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

The crisis of sexual violence is acute in many countries around the world, including those where the International Criminal Court is currently investigating mass atrocities. The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is currently working on improving accountability for such crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya.

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 Central and East Africa. 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.

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.

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 have launched an international campaign to stop rape and gender violence in conflict. Help create a world without war, rape, and gender violence where women and men are equal.

Join the campaign.

On the Cutting Edge – Without Electricity or Internet (June 5, 2018)

PHR’s award-winning mobile app MediCapt enables doctors, clinical officers, and nurses to collect, store, and securely share forensic medical evidence in cases of sexual violence. The app has already been field-tested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and earlier this year PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones launched MediCapt in Kenya.

Pioneering a Game-changer in the Fight Against Sexual Violence (May 16, 2018)

PHR’s award-winning MediCapt mobile app enables doctors, clinical officers, and nurses to collect, store, and securely share forensic medical evidence in cases of sexual violence. After field-testing the app in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones launched MediCapt in Kenya earlier this year. Kenya Program Associate Suzanne Obanda Kidenda shares her experiences introducing this innovative tool.

Documenting Violence Against the Rohingyas Firsthand: Evidence That Can’t Be Ignored (December 22, 2017)

Military leaders in Myanmar falsely claim they have mounted this brutal attack on civilians, many of them children, because they are “terrorists.” The forensic evidence in these cases tells a vastly different story — the truth.

A Victory for Justice in the Congo (December 19, 2017)

In a stunning victory for justice, a Congolese court has convicted 11 men of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison for the rapes of dozens of little girls over a three-year period in the village of Kavumu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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ICC Bemba Ruling Sends Devastating Message to Sexual Violence Survivors (June 8, 2018)

PHR finds the overturning of the conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba to be a devastating setback for the pursuit of justice. This ruling deals a hard blow to the families of the victims of the brutal campaign of sexual violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003. It also unwinds the meaningful work that led up to the first and only conviction for sexual violence at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Justice is delivered for the children of Kavumu (December 13, 2017)

In an extraordinary and landmark ruling, 11 Congolese militia members were convicted today of crimes against humanity for murder and the rape of 38 young children. The verdict represents a stunning victory for the victims, their families, their community of Kavumu, where the crimes occurred, for the wide array of organizations that mobilized around them, and also for justice in the DRC.

PHR Statement on Post-Election Developments in Kenya (August 12, 2017)

As post-election demonstrations in Kenya continue, PHR condemns excessive use of violence against peaceful protesters as well as credible allegations that police have threatened sexual violence against Kenyans. We demand swift investigations and accountability into any wrongdoing, and call for respect for human rights on all sides.

PHR Welcomes Arrest of Congolese Official Accused of Leading Militia That Raped Young Girls (June 24, 2016)

This week, officials in the DRC arrested provincial deputy Frederic Batumike Rukembanyi for allegedly leading a militia that is accused of raping and mutilating dozens of young girls and toddlers in the country’s South Kivu province. Members of that militia were also arrested. PHR welcomes these developments as a first step toward justice in a surge of rapes in eastern Congo that has produced few investigations and prosecutions.

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Enhancing a Regional Response to Crimes of Sexual Violence (December 2015)

PHR convened a three-day regional roundtable discussion between February 25 and 27, 2015 at the Lukenya Getaway in Athi River, Kenya. This report summarizes major points of discussion from this workshop.

Banning of Film in DRC Represents Attempt to Silence Survivors of Sexual Violence (September 2015)

PHR strongly condemns a decision by the government of the DRC to ban a film on sexual violence in the country in an attempt to cover up this pervasive issue.

Virginity and Hymen Testing: No Factual, Scientific, or Medical Basis (May 2015)

This forensic brief examines the validity of the use of hymen examinations to determine a women’s “virginity.”

Tribute to Our Beloved Partner and Friend, Victor Inyanje Kabaka (April 2015)

It is with great sadness that we at PHR pay tribute to Victor Inyanje Kabaka, who died on April 9, 2015, following a tragic car accident.

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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 »