Under the most forgiving light, the secretary’s omission is an expedient political calculation. The presence of a genocide, after all, invokes broad international legal obligations. Under the harshest light, the omission is gender-discriminatory, ignoring the genocidal acts committed against Rohingya women.
As the secretary should well know, genocide is more than massive-scale killing. International courts have long held that genocide can be committed through rape, torture and expulsion from homes — all crimes that, by his own account, are occurring against the Rohingya. Still, the international community tends only to recognize mass killings and their disproportionately male victims as warranting the g-word. Such a narrow view ignores women’s experiences of genocidal violence.
Mr. Guterres stated that the response to the Rohingya crisis must be a global one. To be successful, it must also be a gendered one.
Grant Shubin, New York
The writer is deputy legal director of the
Global Justice Center.