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    321693

    Breaking the silence -- rape as an international crime.

    Ellis M

    [Unpublished] 2004. Presented at the Conference on Gender Justice in Post-Conflict Situations, "Peace Needs Women and Women Need Justice”. Co-organized by the United Nations Development Fund for Women [UNIFEM] and the International Legal Assistance Consortium. New York, New York, September 15-17, 2004. 5 p.

    In 1999, I stood among a sea of 20,000 desperate people on a dirt airfield outside Skopje, Macedonia, listening to one harrowing story after another. I had come to the Stenkovec refugee camp to record those stories and to help set up a system for documenting atrocities in Kosovo. The refugees with whom I spoke described being robbed, beaten, herded together and forced to flee their villages with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Yet, what I remember most vividly are the lost expressions on the faces of the young women and girls in the camp. At first, they did not speak a word. Their silence acted as a veil, concealing crimes that they could not emotionally recollect. However, slowly, through time and comfort in speaking to female counsellors, their stories emerged. The brutality and systematic consistency of the sexual violence perpetrated on these women were mind-numbing. The widespread practice of rape against Muslim women was more than a consequence of war, it was an instrument of war with the intent of destroying the cultural fabric of a targeted group. This experience brought home to me a truism in international and national conflict: women suffer disproportionately to the atrocities committed against civilians. (excerpt)
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