Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Rape is prohibited in every major domestic legal system and has long been a violation of customary international law, yet it is rarely prosecuted in either context. It was not until the 1990s, when women became actively involved in the international community through lobbying and occupying leadership positions, that the idea of rape as a crime against honor was reevaluated and modified to recognize rape as a violent crime. However, rape victims are still denied justice in many cases under international law and are denied protection from their attackers under U.S. domestic asylum law. This paper will examine the successes and failures of rape prosecutions in ad hoc international criminal war tribunals and in the International Criminal Court. Additionally, this paper will consider the obstacles faced by rape victims who claim asylum in the United States based on prior incidents of rape, and the shared dilemmas in international law and U.S. refugee law related to the protection of and justice for rape victims.