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The U.N. Security Council has unanimously declared that rape is a weapon of war. My first thought upon hearing this was “yay!” My second thought was that perhaps “yay” is not the right response to anything pertaining to rape; in any event, thinking about the news even now stirs a dull pang of hope.
Reiterating deep concern that, despite its repeated condemnation of violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict, including sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, and despite its calls addressed to all parties to armed conflict for the cessation of such acts with immediate effect, such acts continue to occur, and in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality,—United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820
This shouldn’t be shocking or mind-blowing. Perhaps my response is a result of setting the bar so low that even the shoddiest expression of respect for women’s autonomy can’t help but trip over it. But it is shocking. Mind-blowing. All in the most fantastic way. The articles read ever-so-slightly like dispatches from an alternate universe, one where the UNSC is a powerful force for improving human rights, where rape is non-controversially regarded as systemic, institutionalized, and oppressive, where the U.S. Secretary of State, a black woman, says things like, “We cannot forget as we examine this issue other women activists who struggle for freedom under violent environments,” and “As an international community we have a special responsibility to punish perpetrators of sexual violence who are representatives of international organisations.”
Or the U.S. military.