Hastings Journal on Gender and the Law


For centuries, women have been "spoils of war." In some corners of the world, forced marriage remains a method of extermination, and rape and sexual violence against women are still the inevitable consequences of armed conflict. Amidst significant recent advances in protecting women during war, forced marriages have been recognized as a crime against humanity. However, this recognition is limited and does not address the gravity of forced marriages. This Article seeks to draw attention to the practice of forced marriages as an instrument of genocide and, thus, a "heinous reality that calls for a historic response." As the landmark Akayesu decision held that rape and sexual violence can be used as tools of genocide, forced marriages must also be recognized as a crime of genocide. Remedies and reforms, which involve legal, economic, social, political and cultural approaches, are vital to prevent the reoccurrence of sexual slavery and forced marriages.