“An act of a sexual nature is not limited to physical violence,” the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, noted in a policy paper issued on Thursday at the court’s headquarters in The Hague. “Forced nudity is an example of the latter.”
Other international courts have already handed down convictions that have classified rape as a war crime or as torture, but the International Criminal Court’s statute for the first time included rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, sterilization and other forms of sexual violence as crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Since becoming the court’s chief prosecutor in December 2011, Mrs. Bensouda has emphasized her office’s commitment to fighting sexual and gender-based crimes. The lengthy policy paper is her strongest effort to date to exhort both the court and national governments to pay more attention to such crimes.
The new policy paper, however, seems intended to place such crimes at the center of the court’s examination of war crimes. “The office will apply a gender analysis to all of the crimes within its jurisdiction,” Mrs. Bensouda wrote, adding that her office would integrate “a gender perspective and expertise” into all its activities.
“The office will also seek to highlight the gender-related aspects of other crimes within its jurisdiction — for example, in the recruitment of child soldiers and enslavement, and, in the case of the latter, their manifestation as trafficking in persons, particularly women and children,” the policy paper said.
Mrs. Bensouda also argued that the suffering of victims of sexual and gender-based violence should be taken into account when reparations are ordered by the court after successful prosecutions of those responsible for such crimes.