n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - The status of acts of sexual violence in international criminal law

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Crime has been with humanity since time immemorial. Acts of sexual violence are criminalized and punished in national legal systems as they constitute direct attacks on the most basic of human rights. Historically, acts of sexual violence have been left to the jurisdiction of national or military courts within individual states and the international criminal law demonstrates an historical silence on recognizing sexual violence as international crimes. De Than and Shorts expose the fact that neither the Nuremberg nor Tokyo tribunals mentioned sexual violence in their Charters whatsoever, even though rape had undeniably been a crime during warfare for centuries. Chinkin refers to the worldwide rape of women by so-called enemy and 'friendly' forces as well as members of United Nations peacekeeping forces and concludes that sexual violence towards women in armed conflict has a long history.

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