Historically speaking, gender has not been viewed as a relevant category of persecution in international criminal law, whereas victimisation on the basis of race, religion, politics, nationality and ethnicity has long been considered relevant. This was also the case with persecution, a fundamental crime against humanity. In the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), however, ‘gender’ was included among the list of relevant grounds. This was a monumental step forward for the recognition of the plethora of ways in which women and men are targeted in the context of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations.
Despite this, until late 2019, no suspect had been charged for persecution based on gender but rather on other grounds only. What are the main causes of this significant lacuna and how are we to overcome challenges in the future to ensure adequate recognition of these crimes, their successful prosecution and a victim-sensitive approach to the collection of evidence?