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Janet Walsh – Mass Rapes to Mass Protests: Violence Against Women in 2016

From historic convictions to impunity for gang rapes, 2016 has been a year of highs and lows when it comes to efforts to stem violence against women.

The annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10) are a time to take stock of progress and failings in combatting this pervasive human rights abuse.

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) reached its first conviction for sexual violence. It found a former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, guilty of rape, murder, and pillage in neighbouring Central African Republic. Bemba was found guilty under the concept of “command responsibility,” in which civilian and military superiors can be held criminally liable for crimes committed by troops under their control.

In Senegal, a court convicted Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, of personally committing rape as an international crime. In May, decades after his victims started fighting for his prosecution, Habré was convicted of torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to life in prison.

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