News / Africa

ICC Prosecutor Hails Shift in Fight Against Sexual Violence

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gives a press conference on in Dakar, November 12, 2012.
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gives a press conference on in Dakar, November 12, 2012.
Nancy Palus
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says governments and civil society are showing increased commitment to fighting sexual crimes and other violence against women. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda spoke to reporters in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, at the opening of a five-day conference on women in the legal sector. 

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who was in Dakar for a conference of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers - an organization aimed at protecting the rights of women worldwide - said she is hearing communities speak more and more openly about sexual violence against women, and seeing an increased commitment by governments and civil society to tackling such crimes. She said it is all part of an evolution in how the world regards sexual violence.

"I do believe that states are getting more and more committed to addressing the sexual and gender crimes that take place," Bensouda said. "This is what we need to see, to ensure that we address these crimes, because unless we do that it will always be taken for granted that they should not be addressed."
 
The International Criminal Court, which marks its 10-year anniversary this week, has 15 cases on its docket.
 
Bensouda noted to delegates at the conference in Dakar that of these 15 cases, 11 concern sexual violence charges, one sign, she said, of how far international criminal law has evolved in giving sexual crimes the attention they warrant.  In the 1990s rape was classed as an instrument of genocide. And the Special Court for Sierra Leone has called forced marriage a crime against humanity.
 
All 15 of the cases currently on the ICC’s docket concern alleged crimes in Africa.  Responding to a reporter’s question of whether the ICC is unfairly “targeting” Africa, Bensouda called for a shift in focus from perpetrators to victims - who are also Africans.
 
"ICC is working with the victims of these crimes," she said. "We are also working for the victims of these crimes. They are African victims. And they deserve justice. And they deserve a voice. ICC’s intervention in Africa is largely as a result of Africa coming towards the ICC and requesting the ICC to come and address these crimes.  I think that we have to readjust our thinking and start thinking of the victims of these crimes.  They deserve justice. They deserve peace. They can have both."
 
Addressing a legal case long hanging over Senegal - that of former Chadian leader Hissène Habré, who has lived in the country for decades - Bensouda said the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the case as the alleged crimes occurred before the court existed. But, she said, the court “stands ready to share experiences” with Senegal should it embark on investigating and prosecuting the case.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs