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Paragraph 145(d) – Beijing Platform for Action. Chapter IV


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): The Good Men Project

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/11/16

Strategic objective E.2.

Reduce excessive military expenditures and control the availability of armaments

Actions to be taken

145. By Governments and international and regional organizations:

d. Reaffirm that rape in the conduct of armed conflict constitutes a war crime and under certain circumstances it constitutes a crime against humanity and an act of genocide as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;/27 take all measures required for the protection of women and children from such acts and strengthen mechanisms to investigate and punish all those responsible and bring the perpetrators to justice;

Beijing Declaration (1995)

When we look at the conditions of the world’s women in a number of contexts, one of the main impediments to equality sources itself in the contexts of the violence. In particular, the forms of extreme physical and sexual violence, e.g., rape. Rape as a weapon of war against women, mostly, for the purposes of combat and, probably, destruction of the morale of the enemy.

An entire suite of problems emerge from this including the violation of the rights of women and girls, consequent births and even forced pregnancies, group or gender-based violence as an implication, base violation of human rights, and further breaches of international law. As former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, stated, “…the United Nations and I personally are profoundly committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by our own personnel. That means zero complacency. When we receive credible allegations, we ensure that they are looked into fully.”

The OHCHR defines rape in the contexts of war as a “weapon of war.” Rape, an extreme form of sexual violence – amongst the most violent – is an extreme weapon of war not leading to the murder of the body, but the destruction of the psyche. How does one lead a dignified and upstanding life with this experience behind oneself? I see no reason to acquiesce, be complacent, or appease in an obsequious manner either individuals with a sole focus on women or on men, or other genders.

Men and women suffer sexual violence in war. Women remain the majority recipients of this form of violence outside and inside of war. The OHCHR stated, “In the resolution, passed 19 June, the Security Council noted that ‘women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.’ The resolution demanded the ‘immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians.'”

The violence perpetrated against women and girls continues – well past 1995 – as a focus on the forms of sexual violence committed in combat as acts of a larger war with women and girls becoming tools for means of battle. The focus here is the generalization of the crime into a “crime against humanity” with, obviously, women as a categorization qualifying in the class of humans, of persons, endowed with inalienable rights.

The next point is an interesting emphasis on genocide. In that, women become the recipients of extreme sexual violence and then the crime against humanity becomes an act of genocide alongside a crime against humanity, and a human rights violations. The implied point being made here, probably, to do with the emphasis on the collective action against women rather than petty criminals and individual rapists who rape individual women and men. Individual crimes rather than crimes of state against collectives or classes of individuals recognized by international law.

The protection of women and children with these definitions could make differences in, statistically speaking, collective actions of violence against women and men in war times through rape. The idea is to “strengthen mechanisms to investigate and punish all those responsible and bring the perpetrators to justice.” Those improved mechanisms could be one of the means by which to reduce the problems inherent in the crimes and the levels of the crimes perpetrated.

For those upon whom threats of criminal justice systems or international law do not hold weight, this, of course, becomes a separate issue in the continuance of the extreme forms of sexual violence seen in cases of rape and sexual assault against women in times of war. And as before, the reduction in the number of arms through the reduction in the military expenditures around the world would provide some contexts in which women may be provided with some protection from the ravages of war as, more often than not, non-combatants.

Also, even if we take the Canadian Armed Forces, we may pretend gender equity or gender equality as the righteous ideal; however, we see both ill-treatment in the forces and poor motivation to enter into them – thus, a dual-issue on the gender equality on the part of institutions and men, and then, also, on the part of women – with the current statistics telling the story.

The $21-billion-dollar national investment of the Canadian Armed Forces brags, “Women have been involved in Canada’s military service and contributed to Canada’s rich military history and heritage for more than 100 years. They have been fully integrated in all occupations and roles for over 20 years, with the exception of serving on submarines which was eventually lifted by the Royal Canadian Navy on March 8, 2000.”

NATO echoes this sentiment of no restrictions:

There are no restrictions on the incorporation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. There is a military entity that deals with the integration of gender perspectives in the armed forces. The Directorate of Human Rights and Diversity (DHRD) is responsible for ensuring that CAF policies and programmes are implemented in accordance with the Employment Equity Act to achieve the Canadian Armed Forces’ representation goals for women, and to provide a better work environment for all of their members.

No restrictions, a proud heritage, a lifting of barriers, and yet, we see the entirety of the statistics with 15.1% of “all active duty military personnel.” Once more, the rhetoric, as the emperor in this play, has no clothes; it mouthes the words of the ideals of the day. Approbation, approval, and applause follow from this. The increased murder of civilians or non-combatants, by implication, represents the murder or killing of women and children, mostly, and the combatants or hired killers will be, mostly, males as men.

Reductions in military expenditure may reduce the number of men hired or with jobs to maim, disarm, or kill in the case of defence or aggression for the stature and standing of the nation, but the reductions, as well, would result in fewer women and children killed. The international conversations around violence against women will inevitably need to include a gender-based perspective as a consequence.

In a manner of speaking, as we continue high levels of investment in the army, in some perverse interpretations of the data, and the presentation of the rhetoric on official lines, nation-states care more about jobs for men than lives for women.

(Updated 2019-08-21, only use the updated listing, please) Not all nations, organizations, societies, or individuals accept the proposals of the United Nations; one can find similar statements in other documents, conventions, declarations and so on, with the subsequent statements of equality or women’s rights, and the important days and campaigns devoted to the rights of women and girls too:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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