IHEU condemns Sudan and Iran for using rape as a “political weapon”

  • Date / 1 October 2009

Speaking in the plenary debate at the Human Rights Council on 30 September on the Rights of Women, IHEU representative Cathy Buchs condemned the increasing use of rape as a political weapon in Sudan, Iran and other States, contrasting this with the “perverted sense of morality” that condemned 10 women to being whipped in Sudan for wearing trousers.

Here is the full text of her speech.

Abuse and rape of women, and the culture of impunity

Thank you, Mr President,

Recent events have shown graphically how much remains to be done in integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations System. We have heard for example of the recent lashing of 10 women in Sudan for wearing trousers, their crime apparently was dressing ‘indecently’. [i]

Lashing women is a cruel and degrading punishment in contravention of Article 7 of the ICCPR.

Worldwide, rape is being increasingly used as a political weapon. We also hear from Sudan, for example, of the systematic rape of women and children in Darfur, which United Nations peacekeepers say is now the biggest issue affecting the region. Thousands of women, and girls as young as four, have become victims of rape. But despite the extent of this problem, Sudan claims there is no problem – adding to the suffering of the victims who are often ostracized by their communities, or fall foul of a legal system favouring the rapists.

As another example, we have heard in this session of the Council of the systematic rape of women in prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the election in June.

We could cite many more examples, but these cases demonstrate once again the total lack of women’s equality – or even the most basic standards of civilised behaviour towards women in certain States.

Mr President, the Council must condemn without equivocation: rape, impunity and the barbaric punishments imposed for breaching the perverted view of morality that exists in certain States. What hope is there of “integrating the rights of women throughout the United Nations system”, if their most basic rights are ignored by this Council.

We urge all States to recognise their responsibility for legislation and affirmative action in favour of women’s right to equality and for the effective implementation of such measures.

The goal of the Council must surely be the full implementation of resolution 6/30.

Thank you, Sir.

[i] These women were victims of Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 penal code, which demands up to 40 lashes for any woman “who commits an indecent act which violates public morality or wears indecent clothing.” However, such a ruling is dangerously vague and gives police officers undue latitude to determine that even trousers which completely cover a woman’s legs can be considered “indecent”.

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