A critical appraisal of the criminalisation and prosecution of sexual violence under international criminal law
Sexual violence leaves the victims psychologically traumatised and stigmatised in the eyes of its community. Used on a large scale, sexual violence can destabilise a society as a whole and when used during armed conflicts, it serves as a powerful weapon against members of a community. During armed conflicts, sexual violence is widespread and systematically used as a tool of war and this makes sexual violence amount to crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. This research paper critically analyses and evaluates sexual violence as an international crime, as well as its prosecution under international criminal law mainly by the International Criminal Court (hereafter ICC), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (hereafter ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (hereafter ICTR). It discusses the problem of selectivity that can be observed in prosecuting sexual violence that has in fact, left many victims of sexual violence dissatisfied. By doing so, it analyses the law as it is to determine whether the law applied during sexual violence prosecutions is sufficient. The paper also states recommendations that can contribute to the effective prosecution of sexual crimes under international criminal law.