Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Bartram S. Brown
Chapter 5: Crimes against women under international criminal alw
5 Crimes against women under international criminal law Kelly D. Askin Since time immemorial, women have endured a number of abuses, particularly ones of a sexual nature, committed exclusively or disproportionately against them because of their gender. Over the centuries, women and girls have been treated as subservient to men, for it was they who ruled the world. Women’s primary purposes were to serve man, bring him pleasure, bear him children, and take care of his children and household. That custom and attitude remains in some parts of the world, but in the twenty-first century, much of the globe now recognizes, at least in law, equality between men and women, notwithstanding some physical and anatomical differences between these two sexes. As women have struggled for equality and autonomy domestically, they have also struggled internationally. Ironically, it has been in international courts where women have made the greatest progress in both clarifying international laws and in redressing international crimes. The past 16 years in particular have witnessed unprecedented advancement in ending impunity for some of the most serious international crimes, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This improvement has been achieved through criminal trials of individuals by international or hybrid (mixed international and domestic) courts seated in Europe, Africa and Asia. In these courts, enormous – yet nonetheless grossly insufficient – progress has been made in holding some political and military leaders and others accountable for sex crimes. The prosecution of gender-related crimes (crimes committed primarily against women as a...
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