First Reliable Evidence of Widespread Rape in Chechen Conflict
The first substantial body of reliable evidence on the use of rape in the armed conflict in Chechnya is presented today in a report by British charity the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.
The report, Rape and Other Torture in the Chechnya Conflict, is based on medical and psychological documentation of 35 asylum seekers, 19 women and 16 men, from the Chechnya conflict at the Medical Foundation 's treatment centre in London.
During assessment and treatment, 16 of the women and one man disclosed that they had been raped. In 13 of these cases, the alleged perpetrators were Russian soldiers, in three cases they were said to be Russian police officers, and in one Chechen rebels.
Of the 17 rape victims, 10 were Chechens, five of mixed Chechen-Russian parentage (including the woman who described being raped by Chechen fighters) and two were Russians. All rape survivors were interviewed by health professionals with years of experience interviewing victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. The Medical Foundation found their testimony reliable and consistent with that of rape survivors from other conflicts.
Report author Dr Charlotte Granville-Chapman said: "Human rights groups have long suspected that sexual violence in the Chechnya conflict is widespread but have faced major difficulties documenting such cases due to the stigma attached to the issue. One female victim told the Medical Foundation said she had been insulted and physically attacked by a woman in her own community when it became known she had been raped."
In its report, the Medical Foundation also documents other forms of torture and ill-treatment, including repeated kicking, beating and burning. Its medical doctors have documented shoulder dislocations, fractures, and damaged kidneys.
Last week the Medical Foundation joined with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Moscow-based human rights organisation Memorial in calling for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to issue a strong resolution condemning "gross and systematic violations"of human rights in Chechnya at the hands of Russian troops and pro-Moscow Chechen militias.
Dr Charlotte Granville-Chapman, "Rape and Other Torture in the Chechnya Conflict: Documented Evidence from Asylum Seekers Arriving in the United Kingdom,"Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, London, April 2004. Read the report here or request a copy from Medical Foundation's press office at telephone number +44  20 7697 7792.