Exploding munitions. The endless rat-a-tat of bullets bursting out of military assault weapons. Tanks rolling through streets and villages.
Those are often the sights and sounds of weapons of war. But one horrific use of force that often goes unmentioned is rape, which has been used in genocides, such as the one in Rwanda that claimed 800,000 lives. The job of collecting the number of rape crimes amid bloodshed is a tall task. So in lieu of concrete numbers, researchers have estimated that an estimated 20,000 children were born from rape during the Rwandan genocide.
Shedding much-needed light on sexual violence amid conflicts is “The Uncondemned,” a documentary about the historic prosecution of rape as a war crime. Award-winning investigative reporter Michelle Mitchell of PBS produced the documentary. The film will be screened at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
What separated these tribunals from others was that this was the first time rape was being prosecuted as a war crime. And the people behind the cases were not seasoned lawyers or investigators but a group of underdog lawyers and activists who pursued justice despite the odds. The film also tells the story of the brave survivors who testified to the atrocities.
“These were the leads who intersected on the way to making judicial history,” the documentary states on its website. “They were between 27 and 34, making up international criminal law as they went along. They probably had absolutely no business being the leads on the first genocide trial in history, but there was no one else to do it. And as for tying sexual violence into the charges—no one was sure they could make it stick. The case at hand was a small-potatoes mayor who hadn’t raped anyone himself.
“But then, three women came forward…and the world of criminal justice changed forever.”
Absolutely a must-see.