What Is Forced Pregnancy?
Forced pregnancy is the practice of forcing a woman to become pregnant, often as part of a forced marriage, or as part of a programme of breeding slaves, or as part of a programme of genocide. Forced pregnancy is a form of reproductive coercion.
Female prisoners of Unit 731 were forced to become pregnant for use in experiments.
The practices of bride kidnapping and forced marriage typically (with the exception of purely symbolic “bride kidnappings” which are actually consensual elopements) involve the rape of the “bride” with the intention of forcing her to become pregnant, putting her in a position where she becomes dependent on the rapist and his family and, because of cultural attitudes toward rape, unable to return to her own family.
Slave breeding in the United States
During the period of slavery in the United States, many slave owners attempted to influence the reproduction of slaves in order to increase the wealth of slaveholders.
Slave breeding included coerced sexual relations between male and female slaves, promoting pregnancies of slaves, sexual relations between master and slave with the aim of producing slave children, and favoring female slaves who produced a relatively large number of children.
The purpose of slave breeding was to produce new slaves without incurring the cost of purchase, to fill labor shortages caused by the termination of the Atlantic slave trade, and to attempt to improve the health and productivity of slaves. Slave breeding was condoned in the South because slaves were considered to be subhuman chattels, and were not entitled to the same rights accorded to free persons.
As a means of genocide
Rape, sexual slavery, and related actions including forced pregnancy and sexual slavery, are now recognized under the Geneva Convention as crimes against humanity and war crimes; in particular from 1949, Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and later also the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, explicitly prohibit wartime rape and enforced prostitution. The Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, recognises rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and forced pregnancy as crimes against humanity if part of a widespread or systematic practice.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda identified rape as capable of amounting to genocide when used systematically or on a mass scale to destroy a people; later the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia also categorized rape as capable of being a crime against humanity. In 2008 the U.N. Security Council’s resolution 1820 identified such acts as capable of being “war crimes, crimes against humanity or … genocide”. Despite these measures, rape, whether systematic or otherwise, remains widespread in conflict zones.
- Marable, Manning, How capitalism underdeveloped Black America: problems in race, political economy, and society South End Press, 2000, p 72
- “Geneva Conventions as Discussed in Rape Crime”. Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- As quoted by Guy Horton in Dying Alive – A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section “12.52 Crimes against humanity”, Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360
- “Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”. legal.un.org. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- “Security Council Demands Immediate and Complete Halt to Acts of Sexual Violence Against Civilians in Conflict Zones, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1820 (2008)”. UN.org. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
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