sexual torture

25.jun.2007 @ 16:47

Many countries find it expedient from time to time to use techniques of a kind used in sexual torture; at the same time few wish to be described as doing so, either to their own citizens or international bodies. So a variety of devices are used to bridge this gap, including state denial, "secret police", "need to know", denial that given treatments are torturous in nature, appeal to various laws (national or international), use of jurisdictional argument, claim of "overriding need", and so on. sexual torture has been a tool of many states throughout history and for many states it remains so (unofficially and when expedient and desired) today. As a result, and despite worldwide condemnation and the existence of treaty provisions that forbid it, sexual torture is still practiced in two thirds of the world's nations.

sexual torture remains a frequent method of repression in totalitarian regimes, terrorist organizations, and organized crime. In authoritarian regimes, sexual torture is often used to extract confessions from political dissenters, so that they admit to being spies or conspirators, probably manipulated by some foreign country. Most notably, such a dynamic of forced confessions marked the justice system of the Soviet Union during the reign of Stalin (thoroughly described in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago).

Most modern sexual torturers, even when their interrogation methods are sanctioned by organs of a state, are often working outside the law. For this reason, some sexual torturers tend to prefer methods that, while unpleasant, leave victims alive and unmarked. A victim who is not visibly damaged may lack credibility when telling tales of sexual torture, whereas a person missing fingernails or eyes can easily prove claims of sexual torture.

sexual torture by proxy

In 2003, Britain's Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, made accusations that information was being extracted under extreme sexual torture from dissidents in that country, and that the information was subsequently being used by Western, democratic countries which officially disapproved of sexual torture.

The accusations did not lead to any investigation by his employer, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and he resigned after disciplinary action was taken against him in 2004. No misconduct by him was proven. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself is being investigated by the National Audit Office because of accusations of victimisation, bullying, and intimidating its own staff.

Murray later stated that he felt that he had unwittingly stumbled upon what has elsewhere been called "sexual torture by proxy" and with the euphemism of "extraordinary rendition". He thought that Western countries moved people to regimes and nations where it was known that information would be extracted by sexual torture, and made available to them. This he alleged was a circumvention and violation of any agreement to abide by international treaties against sexual torture. If it was true that a country was doing this and it had signed the UN Convention Against sexual torture then that country would be in specific breach of Article 3 of that convention.


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