Sexual Brutality in Armed Conflicts- A Delict of International Humanitarian Law : Analysis of a Law Student.

Sexual Brutality in Armed Conflicts- A Delict of International Humanitarian Law

The purpose of international humanitarian law is to reduce the effects of the war. However, sexual Brutality was widespread in armed conflicts and the trend continued. Sexual violence is one of the reasons for being part of an armed conflict. International humanitarian and human rights restrict any type of sexual violence. This article discusses the basic rules of humanism law, with its prior pertinence and later discussions on the regulation of sexual Brutality in international humanitarian law.


International humanitarian law is a branch of international law. It is also called the law of armed struggle and which was formerly known as martial law. This is a special branch that controls the situations of armed conflict. International humanitarian law focuses on reducing the effects of war. Sexual Brutality is one aspect which prevails in armed conflict and is still prevalent in armed conflict. Sexual enemies are also used by parties as tactics and strategies to threaten and embarrass their enemies. However, international humanitarian law and human rights explicitly restrict all forms of sexual Brutality.


What Is International Humanitarian Law?

International humanitarian law is one of the aspects of international law which aims to create and ensure peaceful relations among the people. It contributes significantly to peace control by promoting mankind in times of war.

The main purpose of international humanitarian law is to protect humans and protect human dignity in the event of extreme warfare and lack of humanity or at least the veto. The duty of respecting and protecting the person is most important when there is a criminal state of danger and violence. Therefore, international humanitarian law is part of this branch of international law that protects human rights from misuse of state power.


Prior Pertinence-

The horrific act of sexual brutality in armed conflict is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, all types of military conflicts worldwide have experienced sexual brutality at some point. Two of them are:

  • War of religion, for example. When the knights and pilgrims made sexual assaults because they climbed the first crusade in Constantinople;
  • The War of Independence, example. During the war of independence of Bangladesh, which ran for nine months in 1971, unfortunately the rape became “skid” in altruism of the Pakistani army. This was the first case where rape related to the dispute was considered internationally as political-military-strategic.

Sexual Brutality related to war has served various objectives from historical prior pertinence. At the top, there was a very old and traditional ideology of women, which were part of the “loot” of the war, in which the brave soldiers were entitled. Another notion was that women are assets – this property is available for winning warriors. Second, rape and sexual brutality were used in the form of instruments to terrorize and humiliate the enemies, indicating that he could not save women from his country. Thirdly, he was used as a weapon of vengeance and revenge.


Fundamental Rules of Humanitarian Law

i- People responsible for the fight and who are not directly involved in the struggle, should be concerned about their life and their integrity and should be respected. Therefore, they should be treated with humanity.

ii- An enemy is forbidden to kill or hurt, who surrenders or competes.

iii- The spirit of the Red Cross should be fought at all costs for the struggle by the parties, so that the injured and the sick can be treated medically and adequately protected.

iv- Captured fighters and other citizens should be treated with proper respect for their life and personal rights. They also have the right to match their respective families and get relief.

v- Everyone should be treated fairly and guarantee their fundamental rights, and no one should be subjected to physical or mental torture or other forms of abusive treatment.

vi- Parties should avoid using weapons and methods, which can result in excessive loss and pain. Therefore, it is said that in this regard the parties have no unlimited alternatives.

vii- It is important to ensure that citizens are not terrorized or attacked. Attacks can only be against military targets.


Sexual Brutality in Armed Conflict-

Sexual Brutality can be broadly defined as a sex drive that is used by violence, force or rape or by taking advantage of aggressive environment or inability of the people to do something to do so.

The case was in the Akayesu International Chamber of Investigation (ICTR) of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; Sexual violence was “committed against a person under the pressure of any sex”.

In the armed conflict, especially in rape, the period of sexual brutality is another interpretation, sometimes a “weapon of war” and / or “the law of war”.

There was sexual brutality and there was something inclined in silence. However, negative impact on individuals and society has been better understood in the last two decades. In the former Yugoslavia and the Rwandan massacre, two historical conflicts have lifted the veil and as a result of sexual brutality in light, the suffering of men, women, boys and girls and community has brought pain.


Regulation of Sexual Brutality under International humanitarian law-
The following three are the Provision of opinion with respect to sexual Brutality-
  1. International and Non-International Armed Conflicts – In the case of international armed conflicts, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocol of 1977 clearly mention rape and other forms of sexual brutality. In the case of non-international armed conflicts, Article 3, which is common to four Geneva conventions, is very important. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has described it as “the fundamental idea of ​​humanity” applied to all types of armed conflict.
  2. The law governing crime – contract law, d. H. In international law, conclusions were drawn by sovereign states and international organizations; And traditional law, which includes customs as the aspect of international law.

III. State’s responsibility for international armed conflict – serious violation – The notable fact of the Geneva Act is the introduction of “serious crime” provisions in all its conventions. Specifically, GC I-IV and AP I include lists of offenses that constitute a “serious violation” of their terms. The lists deliberately include killer, torture or inhuman treatment, which deliberately causes severe pain or serious injury to the body or health.


The Prohibition of Sexual Brutality under International humanitarian law-

One of the main criticisms of the International Humanitarian law Treaty is that they do not respond to the needs of women in armed conflicts because they do not adequately penalize and prohibit sexual brutality. Although the provisions of 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Protocol 1977 do not address all issues, they provide protection and prohibition against sexual brutality.

The outcomes of sexual brutality have been born in communities and have led many initiatives from various humanitarian organizations, United Nations agencies, civil society artists, governments, military and academics. The draft constitution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a long-awaited initiative.

A major extension of the Hague Law, the Geneva Convention of 1949, and additionally the Protocol was started by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) of 1977. The goal of these important treaties is to expand the scope of international humanitarian law by regulating the war for the protection of the civilian population.

Apart from this, rape has always been despised in international and non-international armed conflicts. The Geneva Convention IV prohibits such bearing as “attack on women’s glory”, the additional protocol extends the specific scope of security and presents “the original section” against general restrictions against sexual and gender-based violence.

The term “contradictory sexual violence” is not legal and it has not been used in the international treaty. However, not every “contradictory sexual violence” is a violation of international humanitarian law and war crimes. International humanitarian law applies only to armed conflicts and situations of those who have direct or least adequate links with armed conflict.

According to international law, the United Nations bans the charter war; Apart from this, the threat of violence against regional integrity or political freedom of the state has been banned.

A state which relies on the use of force against any other state to achieve its objectives violates international law and thus creates an aggression, even if it is explicitly provided by law. However, the United Nations Charter does not affect the authority of the State to use force in the use of self- defence


Contemporary Scenario-

Unfortunately, we have not changed the scenario yet. One of the most common characteristics of the current conflict is the rape used as a means of broader sexual violence and destruction.

For example, even in the 2000s, the Uganda Lords Resistance Army used sexual Brutality as a military strategy to spread panic and tension among the citizens. In addition, rudeness and other forms of sexual brutality in Sudan are mainly forced by government forces to eliminate family and community networks and to free the residents from fear-stricken areas by spreading fear.



This article scrutinizes the legal development of the concept of sexual violence in armed conflict in the field of international humanitarian law. International humanitarian law clearly prohibits sexual and other forms of violence. The most important thing is that it requires respect for other humans and reflects the historical value of sanctions when IHL is developed. According to the rules of traditional law, this prohibition also applies to international and non-international armed conflicts. It also shows that, after international armed conflicts, sexual violence and such crimes constitute “serious violation” of international humanitarian law and deliberately suffer serious injury or serious injury to the body or health. In light of all of this, international humanitarian law considers sexual violence to war crimes related to state responsibility.

By : Eesh Chaudhary, Amity Law School, Noida.