By Jaya Ramachandran

GENEVA | NAIROBI (IDN) – A new United Nations report lists China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Britain and the U.S. among countries that are benefiting from ‘trade misinvoicing’ practised by a large number of Commodity Dependent Developing Countries (CDDCs).

Trade misinvoicing – involving resort to deliberately misreporting the value of a commercial transaction on an invoice submitted to customs – “continues to be used as a key mechanism of capital flight and illicit financial flows from developing countries”, says a study by the Geneva-based UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Nearly 90 of developing countries are losing commodity export earnings worth billions of dollars in valuable foreign exchange earnings, taxes and income that might otherwise be spent on development. $3.9 trillion is the estimated annual investment required for achieving Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030 ,

- Photo: 2020

US Policing and Militarism Perpetuate Sexual Violence

Viewpoint by Olivia Pace*

The original version of this article was published on Waging Nonviolence and is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

PORTLAND, Oregon (IDN)From the forces of policing to the military, these arms of the US state claim to be arbiters of justice and safety in the most superficial way. In reality, not only do these forces fail to create safety or bring justice to survivors of sexual violence. These systems actively perpetuate sexual violence and gendered violence on their own.

Between 2005 and 2013 police officers in the United States were charged with “forcible rape” or “forcible fondling” over 1,000 times. These numbers don’t take into account many instances that do not fall into legal standards of rape and sexual assault, such as undercover police officers engaging in coerced sex with sex workers during sting operations, an issue that Juno Mac and Molly Smith explored in Revolting Prostitutes.

Police perpetuate this kind of gendered violence in their personal lives as well as in their professional lives. Some studies have found that somewhere between 24 per cent and 40 per cent of police officer families experience domestic violence, twice to four times the rate of within the general population. These numbers don’t even begin to speak to the millions of prisoners who are raped while they are incarcerated after initial contact with the police.

As Martin Luther King Jr. insisted, the US government is the world’s greatest purveyor of violence. This violence comes not only by way of weaponry but through economic, cultural, diplomatic as well as sexual violence, only to name a few. Reductive, racist and xenophobic notions about people living in the global South, particularly those from Muslim countries, presume that women in these countries are subjugated to a degree that women in the United States could never imagine.

These notions, along with widely held ahistorical delusions about the US role as a champion of democracy, serve to justify the presence of the US military abroad. Sexual violence within the US military is rampant, and violence against non-military personnel abroad is a seldom-discussed, but still an extremely prevalent issue. 

For decades, local residents of Okinawa, a prefecture of Japan and station for tens of thousands of US Marines have expressed deep concern about sexual violence committed by Marines. Several higher-profile cases from the island involve the sexual abuse of children. Sexual violence in Colombia at the hands of the US military has been extremely pervasive over the past few decades, from alleged sexual abuse of minors by army sergeants, to mistreatment and abuse of sex workers by members of the DEA and secret service. A 2015 Colombian truth commission report aptly labelled these acts as examples of “sexual imperialism”.

On top of all of this, these violent, militaristic and carceral systems don’t mitigate sexual violence in any significant way within the communities they police. It’s estimated that about 4.6 per cent of people who commit rape go to jail, though this number is probably much lower as sexual violence is often not reported to the police. Within the current system, violence persists, and while violent crime rates decrease, prisons selectively lock up those who are less privileged, while the Epsteins and Weinsteins of the world get away with innumerable rapes and sexual assaults before being held “accountable”. 

Violence in our society is primarily a function of racial capitalism, a system built atop the violence of slavery and genocide.

With this understanding, the notion that sexual violence can be solved with policing, incarceration, and militarism, becomes farcical. And yet when the question of abolition is broached, the first question from sceptics (the majority of the population) is generally something to the effect of “what about murderers and rapists?”. 

This means that the question of what is needed for a global call for police abolition largely rests on developing consciousness around how our current system perpetuates violence rather than solves it and understanding what the root of violence in our society actually is. If we understand sexual violence perpetrated by the state as a part of the broader problem of violence in our society, rather than somehow being separate from it, we can glean real answers on why things like sexual violence persist, and how to address them.

Sexual violence does not persist so rampantly because of a lack of law and order, individual failures, or deficiencies of any specific culture. Violence in our society is primarily a function of racial capitalism, a system built atop the violence of slavery and genocide, a topic that Ibram X. Kendi explores in the book How To Be An Anti-Racist. This is why those mechanisms which serve to protect capital perpetuate the same kind of violence we are made to believe they prevent. 

If militarism could solve sexual violence, the Me Too movement would be obsolete in this age of mass incarceration. Addressing sexual violence means addressing white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism – broad social issues which cut across culture. This cannot be done through policing and punishing individuals, but through a method like transformative justice. Transformative justice entails not only dealing with individual instances of violence within a community, and away from carceral punishment, but also building movements to address economic and social injustice.

The current movement for Black lives begins to address this through the call to defund the police, inviting people to imagine how funds currently put toward policing could be funnelled toward building up mechanisms which genuinely promote the safety and welfare of communities, such as tuition-free child care, or Medicare for all.

Policing and militarism destabilise and bring violence into communities. Transformative justice promotes stronger communities which address issues of violence holistically when they emerge. By tying these issues (which are often treated as solely interpersonal) to broader social and economic issues being addressed through anti-militarism and anti-carceral movements like Black Lives Matter, we truly stand a chance to substantially mitigate sexual violence in our world. [IDN-InDepthNews – 07 December 2020]

* Olivia Pace is a Black queer woman writer, educator and organizer from Portland, OR. Her work has been featured in AYO Magazine, Prism Reports, the Forgive Everyone Collective blog and Stylist Magazine. To learn more about her work, see

Photo: Poster for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Credit: UN Women

IDN is flagship agency of the non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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